Export Control: Emerging Technologies


UC researchers lead the world in academic research, including cutting-edge areas of science and engineering, which may require use of state-of-the-art technological tools and information. Oftentimes, it is these technologies that are the most sensitive and, therefore, export controlled. The government has created a list of technologies with the goal of preventing proliferation of defense or other sensitive technologies that could provide a military or special strategic advantage to foreign governments.

What Faculty Should Do

Faculty should review the list below based on the White House Critical and Emerging Technologies List Update report, and let the Export Control Office (ECO) know if you have any research or projects in these areas. As a best practice, be sure to contact the ECO prior to working with any international partners so we can perform a risk assessment and work with you to ensure compliance.

Steps faculty can take to mitigate risk:

  • Contact the ECO to determine if the technology you are working with is export controlled.
  • Ask the ECO to perform a Restricted Party Screening to ensure that your collaborators are not on a U.S. Government restricted party list.
  • Contact ECO about any work with entities from sanctioned or embargoed countries, especially any travel to them.
  • Contact the ECO if you plan to travel with any equipment, technology, or research that involves these technologies.
  • Ensure that you are following the campus best practices for data protection.

In general, controlled technologies will relate to technology areas and items listed as export controlled (i.e. appearing on the Commerce Control List [CCL] or U.S. Munitions List [USML]). Relevant technologies typically involve military, space, nuclear, and similarly sensitive applications. An example of controlled technology that can be utilized within a university research environment is infrared cameras developed for the military but utilized for research on eye disease.

Emerging Technologies

The federal government is also moving to add a separate list of technology areas, termed “Emerging Technology,” as broader areas where there is an economic or strategic defense advantage to control proliferation of those technologies. Contact the ECO to determine if the technology you are working with is export controlled.

Some examples of emerging technologies include:

  • advanced surveillance technologies
  • additive manufacturing
  • advanced computing technology
  • advanced materials
  • artificial intelligence and machine learning
  • biotechnology
  • brain-computer interfaces
  • data analytics technology
  • hypersonics
  • logistics technology
  • microprocessor technology
  • position, navigation, and timing (PNT) technology
  • quantum information and sensing technology
  • robotics

This list is not exhaustive and may be updated based on U.S. government priorities and other developments. Please refer to the U.S. National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) published Critical and Emerging Technologies List Update report listing critical and emerging technologies (CET) essential to U.S. national security and guidance above when working with these technologies.

How the Government Uses These Lists

The government uses the technologies on these lists as the basis for new export control restrictions. Some recent examples from the Commerce Department of new export control restrictions on certain emerging technologies include:

  • Software to operate nucleic acid assemblers and synthesizers for the purpose of generating pathogens and toxins without the need to acquire controlled genetic elements and organisms (ECCNs 2D352.j, 2E001) (Proposed Rule, 11/6/20)
  • Hybrid additive manufacturing (AM)/computer numerically controlled (CNC) tools (Export Control Classification Number ECCN 2B001) (Final Rule, 10/5/20)
  • Computational lithography software designed for the fabrication of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) masks (ECCN 3D003) (Final Rule, 10/5/20
  • Technology for finishing wafers for 5nm production (ECCN 3E004) (Final Rule, 10/5/20)
  • Digital forensics tools that circumvent authentication or authorization controls on a computer (or communications device) and extract raw data (ECCNs 5A004.b, 5D002, 5E002) (Final Rule, 10/5/20)
  • Software for monitoring and analysis of communications and metadata acquired from a telecommunications service provider via a handover interface (ECCNs 5D001.e; 5E001.a) (Final Rule, 10/5/20)
  • Sub-orbital craft (ECCNs 9A004.h, 9A515.a) (Final Rule, 10/5/20)
  • Chemical Weapons Precursors: 24 precursor chemicals and mixtures containing 30 percent or more of one of these chemicals (ECCNs 1C350.d, 1D390, 1E351, 1E350, 1E001) (Final Rule, 6/17/20)
  • Human and Animal Pathogen and Toxins: Middle East respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus (MERS-related coronavirus) (ECCNs 1C351.a, 1E001, 1E351) (Final Rule, 6/17/20)
  • Equipment Capable of Use in Handling Biological Materials: single-use cultivation chambers with rigid walls (ECCNs 2B352.b, 2E001, 2E002, 2E301) (Final Rule, 6/17/20)
  • Discrete microwave transistors used in wideband semiconductors (ECCN 3A001.b) (Final Rule, 5/23/2019)
  • Software that ensures continuity of operation when electronics are exposed to an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) or Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) (ECCN 3D005) (Final Rule, 5/23/2019)
  • Post-quantum cryptographic algorithms (also known as quantum-safe or quantum-resistant algorithms) (ECCN 5A002) (Final Rule, 5/23/2019)
  • Underwater transducers designed to operate as hydrophones (ECCN 6A001) (Final Rule, 5/23/2019)
  • Aircraft specially designed or modified to be air-launch platforms for space launch vehicles (ECCN 9A004) (Final Rule, 5/23/2019)
  • Geospatial imagery software specially designed for training deep convolutional neural networks to automate the analysis of geospatial imagery and point clouds (ECCN 0Y521) (Interim Final Rule, 01/06/20)