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Nanophotonics Accessibility and Applicability 6 Overall Comments THE RELEVANCE OF NANOPHOTONICS TO STRATEGIC AND CRITICAL MILITARY TECHNOLOGIES Many capabilities and technologies are properly considered important to U.S. security, but some are considered strategic and critical, such as those listed in Table 6-1. Consistent with current policies and practices, the nation has retained the domestic industrial capacity in the selected strategic and critical military capabilities listed in the left-hand column of Table 6-1. The Committee on Nanophotonics Accessibility and Applicability thus assumes that none of the critical capabilities listed in Table 6-1 are likely to be left for foreign industries to fill. The intelligence technology warning community is encouraged to monitor the worldwide development of the specific nanophotonics technologies listed in Table 6-1 that have been assigned probability levels of impacting the listed strategic and critical military capabilities. Table 6-1 lists the four main categories of nanophotonics technologies—plasmonics, photonic crystals, metamaterials, and confined semiconductor structures—and the committee’s estimate concerning whether these technologies will have an Extremely High (EH), High (H), Medium (M), Low (L), or No probability of impacting the military strategic and critical capabilities of the United States listed in the left-hand column of the table. Making such a ranking in these early stages of the development of nanophotonics is a “judgment call”; it had to be based on the committee’s expertise in nanophotonics technology and on the data that the committee considered during the course of the study. MAJOR STRATEGIC AND CRITICAL MILITARY CAPABILITIES AND THE PROBABILITIES OF NANOTECHNOLOGIES IMPACTING THEM The committee expects that some foreign nanophotonics products will be included in the military systems making up the strategic and critical capabilities listed in Table 6-1. The committee further expects that foreign nanophotonics products will be introduced under the management of a U.S. supplier that would be under close government oversight. The committee expects that such a U.S. supplier
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Nanophotonics Accessibility and Applicability TABLE 6-1 Committee Estimates of the Probability of Impact of Four Areas of Nanophotonics on U.S. Strategic and Critical Military Capabilities Strategic and Critical Military Capabilities Plasmonics Photonic Crystals Metamaterials Confined Semiconductor Structures Mid- and long-wavelength in infrared imaging EH M EH EH Chemical/biological threats EH H H H Secure communications (encryption, decoding, electromagnetic eavesdropping) H H H H Situational awareness H H H H Secure computing H H H H Electronics systems on weapons platforms H H H H Battlefield control H M H H Stealth H L H L Countermeasures—infrared and visible M L M H Weapons platforms — — — — Nuclear weapons — — — — NOTE: Code for estimated probability of impact: EH = Extremely High; H = High; M = Medium; L = Low; — = None. would have the opportunity, obligation, and competence to prohibit unacceptably risky nanophotonics components, modules, or subsystems from being used in each of the militarily critical capabilities listed in Table 6-1. A summary of the rankings given in Table 6-1 follows. The committee believes that plasmonics and metamaterials could eventually play an important role in this nation’s stealth capability, especially in the shorter electromagnetic (EM) wavelength region of the spectrum—namely, the ultraviolet (UV), visible, and near- and far-infrared (IR) regions. This is the EM region where nano dimensions play a role, thus falling within the nanophotonics purview of the committee. The committee believes that photonic crystals and confined semiconductor structures have a low probability of playing a role in stealth technology. The committee recommends that the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Technology Warning Division pay particular attention to the two nanophotonics technologies (plasmonics and metamaterials) assigned a High impact probability in the stealth area because, while large obstacles still remain to be overcome before nanophotonics can impact the short-wavelength (i.e., visible, near IR, and far IR) stealth area, one needs to be prepared to take advantage of any technical breakthroughs that may occur.
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Nanophotonics Accessibility and Applicability The committee believes that there is a High probability that the physics of negative-index materials, plasmonics, and metamaterials may play an important role in stealth technology when applied in the longer-wavelength regions of the EM spectrum where nano dimensions do not play a major role (i.e., in the terahertz, millimeter-wave, and microwave regions). The ability of nanophotonics materials and/or devices to selectively scatter, emit, and absorb UV, visible, and IR radiation makes this technology potentially fruitful for research concerning its application in enhancing U.S. countermeasures capabilities. The committee’s estimated rankings are two Medium (plasmonics and metamaterials), one Low (photonic crystals), and one High (confined semiconductor structures) ranking regarding the probability that the four nanophotonics technologies listed in Table 6-1 will eventually play a role in the area of IR and visible countermeasures. Detectors for night-vision applications are already highly developed for both military and commercial applications. Unfortunately, the technology is now already globally dispersed. The committee believes that nanophotonic antennas and nanoscale semiconductor/photonics technology will enhance the nation’s night-vision capability by making smaller detectors possible and by improving detector sensitivities without requiring the use of cryogenic cooling in the 5 to 12 micrometer region. Such a capability is believed to be game-changing by the committee. Consequently, in the area of mid- and long-wavelength in infrared imaging, the committee has assigned three Extremely High (plasmonics, metamaterials, and confined semiconductor structures) and one Medium (photonic crystals) ranking regarding the probability that nanophotonics will impact the U.S. night-vision capability to the extent that the technology would represent an upheaval of the U.S. military’s “control of the night” capability. Control of the battlefield requires military superiority over the sea, under the sea, on the ground, in the air, and in space and is a strategic and critical goal of the U.S. military. The committee believes that nanophotonics will eventually play a role in stealth, countermeasures, secure communications, secure computing, night vision, fiber communications eavesdropping, and improvements in the performance of electronic systems onboard air, space, sea, ground, and undersea systems, as well as in miniature sensors and remote sensing. The committee has thus assigned three High (plasmonics, metamaterials, confined semiconductor structures) and one Medium (photonic crystals) ranking regarding the probability that the four fundamental nanophotonics technologies will impact the nation’s capability in the area of control of the battlefield. The committee believes that a non-negligible probability exists that nanophotonics in the form of negative-index materials and metamaterials could experience a breakthrough so as to have a major impact on one’s ability to tap into fiber-optics communications lines. The committee believes that nanophotonics has a high probability of impacting secure communications, encryption, decoding, and electromagnetic eavesdropping. Consequently, this area deserves close attention by the intelligence technology warning community. Quantum computing can have a high probability of impacting secure computing systems, but the committee believes that it would occur beyond the 15-year time horizon of this study. Even though it is difficult at present to foresee how nanophotonics can impact secure computing, the committee’s vision is that nanophotonics will eventually impact this field. The committee has assigned four High probability rankings for this area of secure computing. The change in optical and IR transmission, scattered through or by nanophotonics devices, materials, or structures, makes nanophotonics a rich area of research for miniature sensors and in the remote sensing of biological agents. These technologies can be game-changing if the sensor can be made small enough to be used widely by individual soldiers. The committee has assigned one
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Nanophotonics Accessibility and Applicability Extremely High impact probability ranking (plasmonics) and three High probability rankings (photonic crystals, metamaterials, and confined semiconductor structures) that nanophotonics will impact the area of chemical/biological threats. The committee sees little direct application of nanophotonics in weapons platforms, such as aircraft, spacecraft, and sea-surface/undersea, or land-based platforms. The committee believes that the use of nanoscale semiconductor or photonics devices, modules, and structures will bring improvements in the electronic systems deployed in U.S. weapons platforms by replacing standard semiconductor devices and night-viewing detectors incorporated within these electronic systems and improving their performance. The electronic systems are radars, communications, controls, jamming, night vision, countermeasures, and so on. The committee believes that nanophotonics will not have a major impact on this nation’s nuclear weapons capability. There is no probability that plasmonics and nanoscale semiconductor or photonics devices or structures could eventually play a role in fusing such weapons. CONCLUSIONS Accessibility Following are the conclusions of the committee regarding the accessibility of nanophotonics technology in a 10-to-15-year time frame (between 2017 and 2022): Nanophotonics will increasingly provide foundational building blocks for militarily relevant capabilities. Advances in nanophotonics device technology will enable new applications and systems, both commercial and military. As nanophotonics matures, the field will be driven largely by commercial markets rather than by the U.S. military and intelligence agencies. Advancements in nanophotonics are expected to enhance the nation’s critical military capabilities, as summarized in Table 6-1. More-specific important expected technological advances are described below: Optical wavelength limitations in electronic devices may be surmounted with advances in nanophotonics technology, enabling breakthroughs in quantum computing, sensing technology, and imaging systems. Dramatic enhancements in computation, sensing, and secure communications are predicted as a result of confining photonic elements and devices to the nanoscale. Profound advances in the control of single photons, the increased efficiency of photonic devices, and the interaction of photons with matter have been realized over the past 15 to 20 years. The committee expects that the pace of innovation and implementation will only increase with the availability of novel nanophotonics building blocks, the development of enabling technologies, and the insights gained by characterizing nanophotonics devices and phenomena. The ability to alter the optical properties of virtually any material in a top-down manner will be possible, profoundly altering the capabilities for signaling, switching, detection, and concealment.
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Nanophotonics Accessibility and Applicability Applications Nanophotonics-based systems will have far-reaching applications, including the following, in both military and commercial markets: Power, weight, and volume savings with higher speed and functionality on all military systems, including these: Uncooled infrared sensors and night vision, Ultrasecure communications and quantum information processing, and Photovoltaic power sources. External photonic communications between nanophotonic-enabled silicon chips, having widespread application within a few years. Heat-assisted magnetic recording, using plasmonic focusing, part of the roadmap in the hard disk drive industry. Internal photonic communication within chips, enabling militarily significant functions such as these: Power savings within computing systems, Image recognition, and Multicore processor interconnects. Biosensing systems based on fluorescent molecules, plasmonics, and quantum dots, for use in the following: Medical in-field diagnostics, Bioagent detection, and Bioremediation. Foreign Capabilities and Investments There are very large, focused foreign investments under way in nanophotonics, including these: In Europe: Large multicountry collaborations in plasmonics, metamaterials, and nanocavity quantum electrodynamics are being promoted in the European Union; In Japan: Nanophotonics research takes place at two primary centers—the Nanotechnology Researchers Network Center, founded in 2002,1 and the Research Institute of Nanophotonics,2 founded in 2005. Both research centers are coordinated through the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology and are funded primarily through the Japan Science and Technology Agency. Some of the more recently funded projects include the Localized Photon Project, which was coordinated under the Exploratory Research Agency for Advanced Technology with a total budget of U.S. $8.3 million between 1998 and 2003, and the Nanophotonics Team research occurring under the Solution-Oriented Research for Science and Technology Program, which was supported at a budget of U.S. $2.5 million between 2003 and 2008.3 1 For more information, see http://cnfrs.get-telecom.fr/pages/pages_evenements/journees_scient/docs_journees_2007/5.3%20%20TANAKA_JS07.pdf. Last accessed on October 11, 2007. 2 See the Research Institute of Nanophotonics Web site at http://www.nanophotonics.info. Last accessed on October 11, 2007. 3 See http://cnfrs.get-telecom.fr/pages/pages_evenements/journees_scient/docs_journees_2007/5.3%20-%20TANAKA_JS07.pdf. Last accessed on October 11, 2007.
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Nanophotonics Accessibility and Applicability In China: China continues to make huge investments in education and research infrastructure. In the past 5 years (through 2006), the Chinese publication rate in areas related to nanophotonics has increased enormously. A closer inspection of the publication topics indicates a large proportion of research related to the simulation and modeling of nanophotonic structures and devices rather than to demonstrations of fabricated devices and systems. However, as the required experimental infrastructure is further developed and employed, further technological demonstrations of nanophotonic systems can be expected. A critical precursor technology, silicon integrated circuit planar fabrication, is already gaining a large foothold in China (JTEC, 1996). Foreign technical capability in nanophotonics: It is likely that certain foreign nations will have equal or superior technical capability in nanophotonics compared with that of the United States within the next 10 to 15 years. These capabilities include fabrication, design and systems integration, fundamental research, and trained and talented workforce and educators. The military capabilities (strategic and critical items or subsystems) listed in the left-hand column of Table 6-1 are not outsourced. The committee thus assumes that the United States will continue to follow this past course of action of not outsourcing these capabilities and technologies to foreign industries. FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS Finding 6-1. Nanophotonics is a highly interdisciplinary field requiring expertise in many areas of materials science, chemistry, applied physics, optics, electrical engineering, systems engineering, and modeling and simulation, among other disciplines. Recommendation 6-1. The committee recommends that the intelligence technology warning community monitor the worldwide development of nanophotonics technologies that have a high probability of impacting U.S. strategic and critical military capabilities, such as in mid- and longwavelength infrared imaging systems, chemical and biological threat detection with compact and rugged instruments, secure communications, situational awareness, secure computing, enhancement of the electronics systems capabilities on U.S. weapons platforms, and enhancement of U.S. battlefield control capabilities. Finding 6-2. The necessary fabrication facilities are becoming increasingly expensive and difficult for U.S. research institutions to maintain. For the United States to maintain a leading role in the development of the interdisciplinary field of nanophotonics, a stable funding profile must be maintained. For the Department of Defense to have assured access to nanophotonics capabilities, a healthy commercial nanophotonics sector is essential, with the ability to conduct pioneering research and development. Historically, feedback from basic research to applications and back to basic research has been a major factor in U.S. technological success; in an interdisciplinary field this cycle is even more vital. Recommendation 6-2. The committee recommends that the U.S. government funding agencies continue to support the research and development of nanophotonics technology in the United States across all phases from basic research to applications development.
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Nanophotonics Accessibility and Applicability Finding 6-3. It is likely that certain foreign nations will have equal or superior technical capability in nanophotonics compared with that of the United States within the next 10 to 15 years. These capabilities include fabrication, design, and systems integration; fundamental research; and a trained and talented workforce and educators. Recommendation 6-3. The intelligence technology warning community should develop a sustained relationship with nanophotonics scientific and technical communities, not only within government agencies, but also in industry, academia, and technical societies, to bolster its understanding and anticipation of nanophotonics technology trends. REFERENCE JTEC (Japan Technology Evaluation Center). 1996. Optoelectronics in Japan and the United States. Baltimore, MD: Loyola College. February. Available online at http://www.wtec.org/loyola/opto/toc.htm. Last accessed on January 17, 2008.
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