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Royal Armouries Museum

Nanomaterials, new technologies and war

Does size matter?
5th April, 10:00 am to 11:00 am

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This will be an online presentation.

Speaker: Dr Kobi Leins, Honorary Research Fellow, King’s College

Discover how nanomaterials change the landscape of war – and how they don’t. What should we be considering in regard to the field of emerging technologies and the battlefield, and what are we not seeing?

The desire for humanity and the desire for security have co-existed as long as humans have been alive. As science has become increasingly sophisticated, so have the methods of self-defence by states. Nanotechnology – the manipulation of matter on the atomic and molecular scale – is already changing warfare by increasing capabilities upon which armed forces are heavily reliant: more efficient energy storage, advanced photovoltaics, and improved military protective equipment, to name a few of these developments.

Yet other applications of nanomaterials by the military are both powerful and subtle and have neurological and biological applications: from ‘devices that can infiltrate electronics and seize control at crucial moments’ to ‘artificial “disease” agents that can rest harmlessly in victims’ bodies until activated by an external signal’. As militaries either contemplate or begin to use these types of nanotechnologies, international law must keep ahead of the situation, particularly in light of their potential effects on humans and on the environment.

This presentation provides concrete examples of uses of nanomaterials in warfare, including an introduction to the technologies and how they work. It explains the complex legal and scientific questions behind their use in plain language and applies an interdisciplinary approach to link scientific knowledge to existing legal frameworks.

Join us online and learn about this fascinating aspect of military weapons development.

Please register your interest by booking online. A link to join the online presentation will be emailed to you a few days before the event.

This is a free lecture. Royal Armouries is a charity, please consider making a donation when booking to support our work as guardians of the UK’s national collection of arms and armour.