Emerging nanotechnologies are expected to play a critical role in helping to maintain national security. These include new and powerful biodetection schemes that can analyze a potential bioterrorism threat at the point-of-care, materials that can detoxify an area or human exposed to a set of toxins, and novel ways of encoding structures that can be used to secure computer systems.
As the battlefield moves from military targets to civilian, biological and chemical weaponry may play an increasingly dominant role. Protection from these threats depends on the ability to detect, respond, and control biological and chemical threats before they can harm the body.
Nanosensors’ ability to detect at the molecular or even atomic level is critical. While in the realm of medicine, biosensors can detect the onset of disease; in the area of national security, they could be used to detect radioactive materials or toxins like anthrax.
Another concern is the vulnerability of public works and public buildings. The scale of nanotechnology could mean the development of sensors embedded in clothing or painted on the side of a building. The high sensitivity of nanosensors also means that large public works, like a water system, could be routinely tested and even extremely small amounts of contaminants would be detected.