California and Massachusetts are the nation's frontrunners in the emerging nanotechnology market, a study released this week shows.

Among all metropolitan areas, San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, Boston, and Middlesex-Essex have the biggest concentration of nanotech companies, university research labs, and other organizations involved in nanotech R&D, according to the Woodrow Wilson International Center's Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies.

Nanotechnology is the ability to manufacture products between 1 and 100 nanometers in size -- a nanometer being one billionth of a meter. Last year, worldwide spending on nanotech R&D climbed to $12.4 billion, a 30 percent increase over 2005.

"Nanotechnology is usually seen as a worldwide or national enterprise," said David Rejeski, the project's director. "But what some describe as the next industrial revolution is actually taking place a local and state level."    

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