The intelligence community (IC) of the United States faces a different set of challenges from those that dominated its formative years during the Cold War. The collapse of the Soviet Union, the acceleration of globalization, and the emergence of terror as the primary threat to U.S. society are but a few of the salient aspects of this new environment.
Another dimension of change is the revolutionary advance in scientific understanding and its application across many new technologies. An example is nanotechnology and the development of new tools to analyze and manipulate matter at the molecular level. The pace of technology growth and its rate of proliferation across the world also present major new challenges. The opportunities that these advances represent require new and more aggressive ways to extract positive advantage. The ability of terrorists and other threats to access these advances is a growing concern relating to our security.
STATEMENT OF TASK
The IC requested that the National Materials Advisory Board of the National Research Council undertake a study of the rapidly developing area of nanotechnology and its implications for the IC's various missions. Specifically, the statement of task for this work was as follows:
The National Materials Advisory Board will form a Committee that will conduct a number of activities to illustrate the potential for nanotechnology to address key intelligence community needs. The Committee of experts undertaking this task shall
also discuss new and disruptive technologies to address these needs, and assess opportunities to counter these technologies.
The Committee will:
1. Describe the technology challenges and opportunities for nanotechnology to enable new functions and systems for use by the intelligence community. Consider the implications of miniaturization, science at the nanoscale, and atomistic and molecular assembly in two separate workshops for the following:
a. Power technologies
b. Sensing and positioning technologies
2. Evaluate the potential for advances in these technologies to address needs as presented to the Committee by the intelligence community.
3. For each technology, describe a path and associated risks to achieve near-term (immediate), mid-term (3-5 years), and long-term (10 years) goals. Consider the infrastructure, including equipment, human resources, and knowledge base, needed to carry out these activities.
4. In addition, discuss potential new and disruptive ways that nanotechnology can address these intelligence community needs.
5. Assess opportunities to counter these predicted technology capabilities.
In response to Task 1 above, the Committee held a workshop on power technologies on October 9-10, 2003, in Washington, D.C., and a workshop on sensing and positioning technologies on October 27-28,2003, in Washington, D.C. Proceedings of those workshops were prepared by an outside rapporteur, and are publicly available. Using sponsor briefings and the workshop proceedings, the Committee identified 23 topical areas in which it believed nanotechnology could contribute materially to IC mission capabilities (Task 2). Assessments of these topics, along with associated findings and recommendations, comprise the final report of this study, which can be accessed at: http://www.jicrd.cia.gov/papers/reportslindex.htm. The unclassified version of this final report is presented here. Biographical sketches of Committee members are given in Appendix A.