An experimental hybrid technology that combines both laser and radio frequency communications into a single system may soon provide warfighters with robust, high-bandwidth data networks. Software protocols will allow nodes in these networks to switch automatically between the two transmission modes based on the type of message sent and on prevailing atmospheric conditions.
science and technology
Laser-based position location systems are entering a new era that is based on quantum mechanics. The research could lead to the dawn of technologies such as entangled lasers that surpass a fundamental limit on the accuracy of classical systems and add a built-in cryptographic capability.
A new digital signal processing technology originally developed for the commercial world now is being incorporated in military systems where it offers significant improvements over current techniques. Known as pipelined frequency transform, the architecture is a licensable intellectual property of cores, or engines, that can be included in programmable logic devices such as semiconductors or system-on-chip designs. Major defense application areas include advanced radar, signals intelligence, secure wireless communications and electronic warfare.
Researchers have developed highly efficient thermal transfer devices that can cool or heat an area thousands of times faster than existing methods. An alloy-based substance can be deposited in microscopic layers on hot spots in electronics or next-generation fiber optic switches to improve their efficiency. The technology also makes possible the creation of tiny, localized heat sources for use in biochemistry, laboratory-on-a-chip systems, and mobile power sources for soldiers.
Engineers have updated and improved a 60-year-old lens antenna technology to create a low-cost, high-gain steerable microwave antenna for satellite tracking applications. Conceived in 1944, the Luneberg lens currently is being employed to maintain two-way satellite contact when a satellite, a receiver or both are moving.
Analysts who must search hours of audio recordings for key words of particular importance to a mission now can find them in a matter of seconds with nearly 100 percent accuracy. Because the technology supports any task that requires the search, analysis and monitoring of voice content, potential customers for the capability range from intelligence organizations looking for terrorist code words to customer service personnel seeking to improve client relations. Additional applications include knowledge management, training and education.
A project underway aims to develop a variety of nanomaterials that will aid threat detection and neutralization, enhance human performance, provide real-time automated medical treatment and reduce logistical footprint on the battlefield. The materials will be integrated into uniforms to protect soldiers and increase survivability.
Exciting a land mine may not sound like a good idea, but developers of the Seismic Landmine Detection System are doing just that. A group of researchers from the Georgia Tech Research Institute in Atlanta, Georgia, has developed a land mine detection system that sends seismic waves through a minefield, slightly moving the earth and items buried beneath. A noncontacting radar sensor measures the ground displacement to identify and locate plastic anti-personnel or antitank mines.
A new approach to guided munitions may empower small warheads with the same targeting precision employed by larger glide bombs and missiles. The technology takes a low-cost approach to guidance that could improve precision for artillery rounds, mortar shells and grenades for as little as $100 per warhead. Mass-production ultimately could open up the technology for bullets at an even lower cost.