1.9.1 Security - Executive Summary
This report looks at the economic impact of nanotechnology for ‘homeland' or civil security applications, excluding military applications. Three applications are considered in more detail; Detection of Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CNRNE),
Estimates of the size of the global security market range from €30bn to €50bn. Drivers to innovation include new security threats - particularly terrorism - public procurement, and a high research intensity of security firms. This report uses the ESRAB security framework, considering missions (border control, protection against terrorism and organised crime, critical infrastructure protection, and restoring security in case of crisis) and capabilities. Nanotechnology could potentially impact several capabilities; CBRNE detection, stand-off scanning, materials for blast and impact protection, and marking, tracking and tracing of components.
Nanotechnology applications in detection of CBRNE include conductive polymers for chemical detection, vertically aligned carbon nanotube arrays functionalised to react to the presence of biological substances, and scintillators for detection of radioactive materials. Functional requirements of detection technologies include reliability, sensitivity, stability and cost. Existing products include portable chemical detectors which employ a Field Asymmetric Ion Mobility Spectrometry (FAIMS) chip, produced by Owlstone Nanotech. Other companies working in this area include Xintek, Kromek, ICx Technologies and Nanōmix.
Anti-counterfeiting and authentication technologies are intended to ensure that a physical product is genuine. Nanotechnology-based approaches to this need include laser surface authentication and magnetically patterned tags, which are capable of satisfying the functional requirements of uniqueness, replicability, and appropriate total cost. Companies developing products in this space in SingularID, Ingenia, DataDot Technology, and Oxonica Security.
Technologies with an impact on forensic analysis are currently at a very early stage of development, though a UK-based company has developed a method which uses nanoparticles to bind to the chemical residues that compose a latent fingerprint. These can be used to both enhance the quality of the recovered fingerprint pattern, and to derive additional information - such the presence of narcotics in the bloodstream of the fingerprint owner. This work is still at a development stage, and there are believed to currently be no commercially available nanotechnology-based solutions in this area.
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