The process and methodology defined in Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances (NRC, 2005) is being employed in this report (with modifications) for consistency, to convey the response of this committee in a traceable way as it seeks to predict a potential adversary’s military utilization of nanophotonics during a 10-to-15-year time frame (i.e., from 2017 to 2022).

This section identifies and describes the methodology that is used to gauge the importance of nanophotonics to the different applications areas. In the next section, “Potential Enabling Technologies and Applications,” the committee members report their assessments of some exemplary applications vignettes using this methodology. Each of the eight such committee assessments on pros, cons, and military risks; and presents recommendations to address the Defense Intelligence Agency’s (DIA’s) concerns about the applications with respect to Joint Vision 2020 (JCS, 2000). As illustrated in the sample Chart 4-1, “Example of Technology Assessment Chart,” the methodology employed addresses the following 10 areas:

  1. Application area: area in which a nanophotonics-based technology can be employed.

  2. Potential technology: described briefly (in general terms) with respect to the application.

  3. Observables: which are indicators of research progress and investments or products derived from nanophotonics, such as publications, funding sources and amounts, and open-market artifacts that the sponsor should monitor to determine growth within the realm of potential military usefulness.


Example of Technology Assessment Chart

Application Area

Text and/or graphical representation



Brief description of technology

Brief description of observables




Level 1, 2, or 3

Technology Futures

Technology Watch

Technology Warning

Technology Alert

Short characterization of consequences

Enablers and Key Technical Parameters

Put the technology into a lay person’s perspective


List new developments to watch that may enable warfare capability.


Summarize current research and development.

Assessment Summary

Include pros, cons, overall view, and military utilization, where available.

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