• Although military funding has driven research and development (R&D) in advanced materials in the past, the majority of applications for advanced materials today are commercial, not military.

  • A significant part of U.S. industrial know-how in advanced materials is being "exported" through the sale of small U.S. companies to larger, multinational firms.

  • A Department of Commerce study indicates that the United States no longer leads Japan in advanced materials or component technologies that are highly dependent on advanced materials. Consequently, the ability of the United States to control global diffusion of these technologies is limited. Further, there is a growing shortage of domestic suppliers of specialty materials for defense-related purposes.

Findings and Conclusions

  • Advanced materials should be grouped and defined differently than they currently are for control purposes. The physical or chemical properties of materials do not necessarily indicate criticality. Design code and fabrication technology generally lead to military use.

  • A number of materials currently controlled were developed under Department of Defense (DoD) contract, but they have not yet been incorporated into weapons prototypes or systems.

  • Advanced materials should be controlled on the basis of their demonstrated ability to enhance significantly the performance of weapons systems.

  • Based on a selective review of the U.S. Commodity Control List, a number of advanced materials currently controlled for national security purposes should be decontrolled (see Annex A3).


Defense-critical materials technologies figure prominently in those emerging technologies identified by a Department of Commerce study as potentially having a multitude of civilian applications and substantially advancing production and quality levels.1 The same study also concluded that the United States is currently behind Japan, and likely to continue to lose ground, in advanced materials and technologies that are highly dependent on advanced materials, such as semiconductor devices, optical electronics, and high-density data storage media.

The ability of the United States to compete in the advanced materials market is being further weakened by the sale to large, multinational firms of small U.S. companies that specialize in fabricating advanced materials. Foreign ownership of U.S. materials suppliers also is increasing. Foreign

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