Pan Pacific Symposium Conference Proceedings


Authors: James Short and Clifford Lau
Company: Defense Research and Engr.
Date Published: 2/10/2004   Conference: Pan Pacific Symposium

Abstract: Technological superiority is a cornerstone of the United States national military strategy. To maintain and enhance this superiority the Department of Defense supports six strategic research areas: nanoscience, bioengineering sciences, human performance sciences, information dominance, multifunction materials, propulsion and other energetic sciences.

The objective of our nanoscience research area is to enhance performance of structures, materials, and devices used by American soldiers, sailors and airmen. The ability to affordably fabricate structures at the nanometer scale will enable new approaches and processes for manufacturing novel, more reliable, lower cost, higher performance, and more flexible electronic, magnetic, optical, and mechanical devices.

Applications of nanoscience envisioned by the Department of Defense include ultra-small, highly parallel and fast computers with terabit nonvolatile random-access memory and teraflop speed; image information processors; low-power personal communication devices; lasers and detectors for weapons and countermeasures; optical sensors for improved surveillance and targeting; integrated sensor suites, including chemical and biological agent detection; catalysts for enhancing and controlling energetic reactions; synthesis of new compounds for advanced electronic, magnetic, and optical sensors; and significant life-cycle cost reductions in many systems through failure prevention.

United States Department of Defense support for nanoscience research is focused on creating new theoretical and experimental results involving atomicscale imaging methods, sub-angstrom measurement techniques, and fabrication methods with atomic control that will provide reproducible material structures and novel devices. It also includes investigations of phenomena dominated by size effects or quantum effects.

Since the traditional disciplines of physics, chemistry, biology, and materials are essentially indistinguishable at the nanoscale, interdisciplinary efforts are strongly emphasized. This paper briefly reviews some general implications of nanoscience and then touches on the nanoscience initiative at the Department of Defense. In addition to the research aspects of nanotechnology, the Department of Defense has considerable interest in the educational aspects of nanotechnology since this impacts the future S&T readiness of the Defense Establishment.

The last part of this paper briefly reviews the current status and future prospects of education in nanoscience. In conclusion, our presentation shows that nanotechnology is poised to make significant impact upon our research, education and industrial infrastructure. This in turn will significantly affect the future of weapons systems.

Commercially, nanotechnology applications are projected to be a one trillion dollar industry within the next decade. To support this, the House on November 20 gave final approval to legislation (S. 189) authorizing nearly $4 billion over four years to strengthen federal planning and coordination of programs in nanotechnology and to support nanotechnology research and development.

Said House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), "The idea behind this bill is simple yet powerful - the American economy will grow bigger if America's scientists and engineers focus on things that are smaller."

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