This report presents the results of the third biennial
National Critical Technologies Review. This report presents
27 National Critical Technology Areas in seven categories, as
shown in Table 1.1. It includes
information about the state of development in each technology
area, and about the US competitive position relative to the
worldwide leading edge developments. It also discusses
factors in the policy environment which influence the
development of technology, including national critical
Purpose of the Report
The development and use of technologies remain a driving
force in U.S. economic prosperity and national security.
Maintaining the strength and competitiveness of the U.S.
technological enterprise, therefore, continues to be vital.
In the current climate of intensifying global competition,
rapid technological change, and geopolitical uncertainties,
the need for identifying critical technologies for
concentration of effort becomes even greater. This report
designates the technology areas and specific technologies
which constitute priorities for the federal R&D effort. Specifically, it is intended to
- Identify necessary areas of focus for R&D;
- Help leverage limited resources most effectively in times when science and technology budgets are not growing as fast as they once did;
- Help coordinate government R&D activities by supplying agencies with a common set of priorities and
providing Congress with information to support policy
- Serve industry as a guide for possible areas of
Technology selection criteria and detailed description of the
selection process and rationale are found in Appendix B.
This report does not address issues of technology diffusion.
It is important to note that leading in technology
development does not necessarily imply having the leading
share of the market. In order to reap the economic benefits
of technological development it is important to move
technology out of the laboratory into products and services,
something that requires aditional skills and investments.
While it is exciting to note that the United States has a
leading technological position in critical technology
areas, this should not lead to the conclusion that the nation
cannot do better in world-wide markets for products and
services based on critical technologies.
Organization of the Report
The remainder of the report is organized as follows. Sections 2 through 8 provide descriptions of the critical
technologies and the rationale for their selection at the
technology sub-area level, i.e., one level further in depth
than shown in Table 1. Each subsection also includes a
benchmarking analysis of U.S. standing vis a vis the world-
wide state of the art. Section 9 discusses federal
government R&D activities in areas related to critical
technologies and provides examples of specific programs in
government and the private sector. Finally, Section 10 draws
together the analyses in the previous sections and presents
findings and recommendations as they relate to the
development of critical technologies.
The names and activities of specific companies appear in many
places in this report. These are included in order to
provide specific examples in the discussion. No endorsement
of any company or its activities is implied. The mention is
also not intended to imply that those companies are the only
ones engaged in the activities under discussion.
 The complete National Critical Technologies List, including specific technologies and sample
applications, is presented in Appendix A.
 For the purposes of this report, the
quality of being critical or "essential" is tied to the
importance of the system of which a technology is a part.
For a full discussion and a more comprehensive definition,
see Appendix A.