science and technology

January 2005
By Maryann Lawlor

 
Dust Networks developed the SmartMesh architecture that features miniature communications nodes to form a self-healing mesh network of sensors that collect and transmit information. Each node is approximately the size of a postage stamp.
Applications for tiny sensor packages sure to grow as technology develops.

January 2005
By Cheryl Lilie

 
Each module in the crystalline robot system attaches to another using a key and lock mechanism. This two-dimensional system moves and alters its shape across the plane by expanding and contracting, but it cannot move vertically.
Linked arm in arm, they march up mountains and crawl through tunnels.

December 2004
By Maryann Lawlor

 
The Integrated Router Interconnected Spectrally (IRIS) program aims to create an optical packet routing system. Lucent Technologies’ Bell Labs is leading the team that is researching a photonic router.
Optical packet router could facilitate ultrafast terabit computing.

December 2004
By Maryann Lawlor

 
Alan Huffman, research engineer, Microelectronics Center of North Carolina Research and Development Institute (MCNC-RDI), examines an experimental silicon wafer for a U.S. Defense Department project being conducted at the institute.
Military turns to nonprofit organization for advanced systems groundwork.

December 2004
By Robert K. Ackerman

North or south may point the way to a new generation of small systems.

Researchers at a national laboratory have discovered a way to construct microelectrical systems using magnetic fields to arrange internal structures. The technology already is opening the door to breakthroughs in sensor and magnetic identification systems, and yet-undiscovered capabilities such as realistic artificial limbs and more esoteric applications may lie on the horizon.

December 2004
By Maryann Lawlor

 
University and military researchers are developing technologies based on biology that would allow unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs) to be agile enough to dock in submarine tubes.
Flies, fish and the inferior olive help improve unmanned undersea vehicle design.

March 2001
By Sharon Berry

Disposable sensing and communications systems converge into a cubic-millimeter bundle.

Advances in miniaturization, integration and energy management show that a complete wireless sensor/communication system can be merged into a package the size of a grain of sand and networked. Applications are far-reaching—from military sensor networks to industrial quality control.

May 2001
By Sharon Berry

Multicolored emissions could allow storage of more than one bit of information per data point.

What began accidentally could be the foundation for a revolutionary approach to optical data storage. By enhancing and controlling fluorescence exhibited by nanoparticles, scientists can rapidly switch the particle colors on and off, creating robust nanoscopic storage elements that can pack a large amount of data in a small amount of space.

November 2004
By Henry S. Kenyon

January 2002
By Sharon Berry

Quantum properties may improve precision of object locators while adding security.

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.

January 2002
By John Lillington

Real-time processing enables rapid detection of fleeting signals.

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.

March 2002
By Henry S. Kenyon

Tiny heat pumps offer rapid cooling for electronics, fiber optics.

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.

April 2002
By Paul Dixon

Versatile antenna goes with the flow of communications.

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.

June 2002
By Maryann Lawlor

Software locates spoken words and phrases at maximum velocity.

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.

July 2002
By Sharon Berry

University helps soldiers suit up with nanotechnology-enhanced clothing.

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.

July 2004
By Cheryl Lilie

Researchers pick up good vibrations to locate buried mines.

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.

March 2004
By Robert K. Ackerman

Simpler seekers and simpler steering can lead to more on-target warheads.

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.

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