When the U.S. arm of Italian defense giant Leonardo bought a small tech startup called Daylight Solutions in 2017, almost nobody noticed. Two years later though, the logic of the acquisition is becoming increasingly clear. DRS Daylight Solutions, as it is now called, has developed a microscope using a “quantum cascade laser” that reduces the time needed to conduct cancer biopsies from days or weeks to minutes. The results are 95-99% accurate, and easily interpreted by clinicians. That’s a breakthrough, but it’s just the beginning: the same technology can be used to defeat heat-seeking missiles, analyze combat wounds, and detect pathogens spread by enemies such as smallpox. Policymakers have been talking for years about the importance of “dual use” (civilian/military) technologies, but it isn’t often that such innovations have as much potential as the Spero microscope that DRS Daylight Solutions has developed. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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