Long-time nanotechnology trackers have assumed that nanotech will be useful for chemical and biological defense, and sure enough, at least one national government is exploring this issue. See the website for the Nanotechnology Initiative at the Special Projects Office at the Joint Science and Technology Office for Chemical and Biological Defense, which falls under the U.S. DoD Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
This effort is scheduled to begin in 4th quarter FY 05 and proceed through the end of FY07 and will consist of the following four major tasks; (1) identify cutting-edge candidate nanotechnologies/ nanomaterials for inclusion in a follow-up nanotechnology-oriented DTO(s) [Defense Technology Objective(s)] at the 6.2/6.3 level in support of CBDP S&T [chemical and biological defense program science and technology] goals to begin in FY08, (2) leverage existing research efforts within government laboratories, and in industry and academia, by identifying and augmenting, or funding, existing nanotechnology-related projects that have applicability in the areas of Detection, Protection, and Decontamination (3) perform initial developmental Testing & Evaluation of COTS [commercial off-the-shelf] nanotechnologies to assess suitability for inclusion into the proposed Nanotechnology DTO, (4) identify S&T gaps that can not be satisfied by the previous three tasks and initiate supplemental basic research projects.
The budget for the project is $5 million. And if you explore the site, one thing jumps out: whoever put this together is very enthusiastic about the kind of artifical molecular machine systems which Foresight has been focusing on. Those graphics look quite familiar.
I write this from the Albuquerque airport, returning from a workshop on this general topic. Eventually there will probably be a public report on the meeting, which I will post here, but meanwhile I can say that thinking about this for three days straight makes me very glad not to be one of the people who do this full-time! —Christine