Editorial Feature

Applications and Key Driving Factors Behind Nanotechnology Advancement

The United States, even more so since September 11, is the dominant global powerhouse of world defence and aerospace spending by a wide margin. United States regard technological advancement as critical to maintaining their edge in national defence, especially with regard to aerospace capabilities.

Exploiting New Technologies For Drivers

Drivers for the aerospace industry for exploiting new technologies include:

•        Increased safety

•        Reduced emissions

•        Reduced noise

•        Increased capacity

•        Increased mobility

Prime contractors in the commercial aerospace industry face almost no threats of substitute products because of an airplane’s uniqueness in speed and ability to travel over water. However, the threat of substitute products exists at the part/component level in the aerospace industry. For example, new material technology can make obsolete the materials previously in common use in the construction of airplanes and engines. Current manufacturing technologies are limiting the reliability, performance, and affordability of aerospace materials, systems, and avionics.

Nanotechnologies Enormous Potential In Aerospace And Defence

Nanotechnology has enormous potential to improve the reliability and performance of aerospace hardware while lowering manufacturing cost. For example, nanostructured materials that are perhaps 100x lighter than conventional materials of equivalent strength are possible. Embedding nanoscale electromechanical system components into earth-orbiting satellites, planetary probes, and piloted vehicles potentially could reduce the cost of future space programs. The miniaturised sensing and robotic systems would enhance exploration capabilities at significantly reduced cost.

Advances In Civil Technologies Within IT, Electronics And Communications

The advance of civil technologies, particularly in the area of IT, electronics and communications, has particular relevance to the design of military systems. These are challenging developments for the defence industry.

The UK’s Strategic Defence Review envisaged that by 2015 there will be a single battle space in which maritime, land and air forces will be directed, targeted and supported by a new generation of platforms, weapons and systems incorporating advanced information and communications technology, offering a step change in military capability.

Nanotechnology Impact On Critical Aspects

Nanotechnology will impact on all critical aspects of maintaining a technologically superior defence capability, the key drivers of which are:

•        Biological and chemical threat detection

•        High performance information technology/remote control

•        Military uniforms with enhanced features including protection and self-healing

•        New vaccines and medical treatments

•        Minimising civilian casualties through the use of smart munitions

United Kingdom and World Defence Spending

In the United Kingdom defence spending is approximately £22bn per annum (Boeing), and in 2001/2002, the UK Government spent an estimated £24.5bn on defence. It is estimated that 44.6% of this figure was allocated to the purchase of defence equipment. The world defence market has now stabilised, following a steep decline in the early 1990’s. The most recent data available indicates that the UK has maintained its position as the second-largest global supplier of defence equipment, after the US.

World Defence Expenditure Table

Table 1. Projection of defence spending from around the world.

Projection of defence spending from around the world.

Primary author: Institute of Nanotechnology

Source: Introduction to Nanotechnology CD ROM

For more information on this source please visit Institute of Nanotechnology

Uploaded March 2004

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