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research and development

Science and Technology Challenge Strives to Create First-of-Its-Kind Qubit

June 2009
By Rita Boland

A three-year science and technology project is aiming to transform abstract quantum theories into actual quantum products. A goal of the effort is to create the world’s first silicon spin-based quantum bit, which would be a major advancement in the development of quantum computing. Additionally, the work includes its own theoretical piece that addresses the design of a quantum error correction circuit. Applications include enhancing the basic understanding of spin device physics for potential spin-based microelectronics and determining the feasibility of certain aspects of silicon quantum bits for future research and use.

Flexible Circuits Unfold

June 2009
By Henry S. Kenyon

Warfighters one day may have electronics literally painted onto their uniforms thanks to a new technology for printing circuitry. The process involves spraying a film composed of carbon nanotubes onto a surface to form thin, flexible circuits. This capability potentially can be applied to cloth, plastics or other soft materials, opening the possibility for communications devices built into clothing or solar panels sprayed onto the tops of tents.

Programmable Matter Research Solidifies

June 2009
By Henry S. Kenyon

A revolutionary new technology may allow future warfighters to command their equipment to physically change itself to meet new operational needs or to form spare parts or tools. Researchers are developing techniques to order materials to self-assemble or alter their shape, perform a function and then disassemble themselves. These capabilities offer the possibility for morphing aircraft and ground vehicles, uniforms that can alter themselves to be comfortable in any climate, and “soft” robots that flow like mercury through small openings to enter caves and bunker complexes.

Patterns Emerge From Chaos

June 2009
By Rita Boland and Maryann Lawlor

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher is developing a way to take simple descriptions of behavior patterns and assemble them to uncover complex dynamics. Once achieved, this capability would enable data to drive the learning mechanism with as little external intervention as possible. Although only in the basic research phase, this methodology could one day enable warfighters and analysts to take seemingly unrelated information and reveal underlying behavior—a valuable commodity in fighting the Global War on Terrorism.

Morphing Robot Under Development

December 2008
By Maryann Lawlor

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has embarked on a quest to develop a soda-can-size robot that can shape shift enough to fit through a hole the diameter of a quarter. Working with industry and academia, the agency’s Chemical Robots program seeks to create a new class of soft, flexible, meso-scale mobile device that can navigate through arbitrarily shaped openings. As envisioned, the robot would then perform tasks related to search and rescue or reconnaissance, depending on the payload.

Deep Green Helps Warriors Plan Ahead

November 2007
By Henry S. Kenyon

Uncertainty has challenged military operations since the days of the ancient Greeks. An experimental decision-making technology could help future commanders see through some of the fog of war by helping them plan operations, recognize when a plan is not working and develop alternatives to keep ahead of the enemy.

Lasers Detect Targets From the Sky

December 2006
By Henry S. Kenyon

An experimental sensor technology may one day permit reconnaissance and combat aircraft to detect and identify ground targets more rapidly and efficiently than with radar. The prototype equipment uses a laser to create a high-resolution image of an object from an aircraft in flight, something that only radar had been able to achieve.

Diamonds Are a Technology's Best Friend

December 2006
By Rita Boland

Electronic devices across an array of fields may soon experience major improvements because of advancements in diamond film technologies. The material results in the enhanced functioning of various technological tools, and organizations from the military to the medical community could reap the benefits.

Small Sensors Show Big Potential

December 2006
By Henry S. Kenyon

Researchers have developed nanoscale sensors capable of detecting trace amounts of chemical and biological agents. The tiny devices can be placed on microchips, creating the potential for highly accurate networked sensors embedded in a variety of equipment and systems.

Rapid Changes Lie Ahead for Computing

December 2006
By Robert K. Ackerman

Businesses, the military and consumers have never seen the pace of change in computing that may be just around the corner, according to a leading technologist at the world's largest software company. Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer at Microsoft Corporation, predicts that new hardware and software architectures will open up a host of revolutionary capabilities and applications-but they also will tax information system developers and managers who must stay abreast of advances without sacrificing the integrity of their systems.

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