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Archive for the ‘Design’ Category

SBIR Grant Fast-Tracks 3D-Printed Runway Mat Development

Monday, August 24th, 2020

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A $1 million SBIR Phase II grant from the U.S. Air Force will help fast-track the development of a new innovative runway mat.

Pablo Zavattieri, the Jerry M. and Lynda T. Engelhardt Professor in civil engineering at Purdue University, is working with Indiana Technology and Manufacturing Companies (ITAMCO) to develop the new runway mat. The team uses metal 3D printing methods for its technology.

“The objective of the research is to develop a robust sheet or roll technology that serves as an alternative to the AM-2 mat for temporary or expeditionary flight operations,” Zavattieri said. “AM-2 matting has served the U.S. military well since the Vietnam War, but the materials and technology in the ITAMCO-led research project will offer many benefits over AM-2 matting.”

The proposed matting solution is composed of an upper surface that mates with a lower surface and contains a type of architectured material called Phase Transforming Cellular Material (PXCM) geometry to mitigate anticipated loading and shear stresses.

Zavattieri said a portable and lightweight airfield mat must be easy to install and store, yet capable of withstanding the stresses of repeated takeoffs and landings of aircraft.

“Products made with PXCM geometry have the ability to change from one stable configuration to another stable or metastable configuration and back again,” Zavattieri said. “This means the new runway mat could potentially heal itself, resulting in a much longer life span than a runway made with AM-2 matting. Another benefit is that debris on the runway will not hamper the runway’s performance with our technology.”

In Phase II, the team will move into the prototype and testing stage. The prototype’s ability to restore itself to its original contour and attain full operational capability 30 minutes after compaction and preparation of the final repair site will be tested.

Quantum Chip Fabrication Paves Way for Scalable Processors, Producing the Largest Quantum Chip of its Type Using Diamond-Based Qubits and Quantum Photonics

Sunday, August 2nd, 2020

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — An Army-funded project marks a turning point in the field of scalable quantum processors, producing the largest quantum chip of its type using diamond-based qubits and quantum photonics.

Millions of quantum processors will be needed to build quantum computers, and new research at MIT and Sandia National Laboratories, funded and managed in part by the U.S. Army Combat Capability Development’s Command’s Army Research Laboratory’s Center for Distributed Quantum Information, demonstrates a viable way to scale-up processor production.

“Building large scale quantum devices will entail both the assembly of large numbers of high-quality qubits and the creation of reliable circuits for transmitting and manipulating quantum information between them,” said Dr. Fredrik Fatemi, Army researcher and CDQI co-manager. “Here, the research team has demonstrated exceptional progress toward reliably manufacturing complex quantum chips with both critical elements.”

Unlike classical computers, which process and store information using bits represented by either 0s and 1s, quantum computers operate using quantum bits, or qubits, which can represent 0, 1, or both at the same time. This strange property allows quantum computers to simultaneously perform multiple calculations, solving problems that would be intractable for classical computers.

The qubits in the new chip are artificial atoms made from defects in the diamond, which can be prodded with visible light and microwaves to emit photons that carry quantum information. The process, which the researchers describe in the peer-reviewed journal Nature, is a hybrid approach, in which carefully selected quantum micro-chiplets containing multiple diamond-based qubits are placed on an aluminum nitride photonic integrated circuit.

“In the past 20 years of quantum engineering, it has been the ultimate vision to manufacture such artificial qubit systems at volumes comparable to integrated electronics,” said Dirk Englund, an associate professor in MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “Although there has been remarkable progress in this very active area of research, fabrication and materials complications have thus far yielded just two to three emitters per photonic system.”

Using their hybrid method, the researchers were able to build a 128-qubit system — the largest integrated artificial atom-photonics chip yet.

The artificial atoms in the chiplets consist of color centers in diamonds, defects in diamond’s carbon lattice where adjacent carbon atoms are missing, with their spaces either filled by a different element or left vacant. In the chiplets, the replacement elements are germanium and silicon. Each center functions as an atom-like emitter whose spin states can form a qubit. The artificial atoms emit colored particles of light, or photons, that carry the quantum information represented by the qubit.

Diamond color centers make good solid-state qubits, but “the bottleneck with this platform is actually building a system and device architecture that can scale to thousands and millions of qubits,” said Noel Wan, MIT research and the paper’s coauthor. “Artificial atoms are in a solid crystal, and unwanted contamination can affect important quantum properties such as coherence times. Furthermore, variations within the crystal can cause the qubits to be different from one another, and that makes it difficult to scale these systems.”

Instead of trying to build a large quantum chip entirely in diamond, the researchers decided to take a modular and hybrid approach.

“We use semiconductor fabrication techniques to make these small chiplets of diamond, from which we select only the highest quality qubit modules,” Wan said. “Then we integrate those chiplets piece-by-piece into another chip that wires the chiplets together into a larger device.”

The integration takes place on a photonic integrated circuit, which is analogous to an electronic integrated circuit but uses photons rather than electrons to carry information. Photonics provides the underlying architecture to route and switch photons between modules in the circuit with low loss. The circuit platform is aluminum nitride, rather than the traditional silicon of some integrated circuits.

Using this hybrid approach of photonic circuits and diamond chiplets, the researchers were able to connect 128 qubits on one platform. The qubits are stable and long-lived, and their emissions can be tuned within the circuit to produce spectrally indistinguishable photons, according to the researchers.

While the platform offers a scalable process to produce artificial atom-photonics chips, the next step will be to test its processing skills.

“This is a proof of concept that solid-state qubit emitters are very scalable quantum technologies,” Wan said. “In order to process quantum information, the next step would be to control these large numbers of qubits and also induce interactions between them.”

The qubits in this type of chip design wouldn’t necessarily have to be these particular diamond color centers. Other chip designers might choose other types of diamond color centers, atomic defects in other semiconductor crystals like silicon carbide, certain semiconductor quantum dots, or rare-earth ions in crystals.

“Because the integration technique is hybrid and modular, we can choose the best material suitable for each component, rather than relying on natural properties of only one material, thus allowing us to combine the best properties of each disparate material into one system,” said Tsung-Ju Lu, MIT researcher and the paper’s co-author.

Finding a way to automate the process and demonstrate further integration with optoelectronic components such as modulators and detectors will be necessary to build even bigger chips necessary for modular quantum computers and multichannel quantum repeaters that transport qubits over long distances, the researchers said.

“The team has made an incredible advance toward the large-scale integration of artificial atoms and photonics and, looking forward, we are very excited for increasingly complex testing of the devices,” said Dr. Sara Gamble, program manager at the Army Research Office, an element of CCDC ARL, and CDQI co-manager. “The modular approach so far successfully demonstrated by the team has enormous promise for the future quantum computers and quantum networks of high interest to the Army.”

By U.S. Army CCDC Army Research Laboratory Public Affairs

*Adapted with permission from an article by Becky Ham, MIT News.

The Smuzzle – The US Army’s Latest Invention Combines Muzzle Brake and Suppressor

Thursday, July 23rd, 2020

Engineers at the U.S. Army’s CCDC Armaments Center have designed a firearm sound suppressor that incorporates the features of a high-performance muzzle brake.

Known as the smuzzle, this hybrid device limits the muzzle climb of automatic and semi-automatic weapons while simultaneously providing significant sound suppression.

The Smuzzle’s flow-through design features asymmetric venting through tiny holes which researchers claim results in a 50% drop in volume at the shooter and a 25% reduction in the flash signature downrange with a minimal weight increase. They also incorporated a feature they refer to as a “bottom blocker” which reduces how much dust is kicked up.

The initial design work comes from a muzzle device for a 155mm Howitzer, but they say it is scalable you any caliber. The team has manufactured multiple devices based on this technology; they’ve made short and light cans (.8 pounds) with the design, and longer three-pound versions.

In these two photos, you can see the Smuzzle mounted to a 6.8mm Next-Gen Squad Weapon Technology Demonstrator. The Smuzzle is 3D printed Titanium and incorporates a bore evacuator.

This weapon was used by Army researchers to establish a baseline during the early stages of the NGSW program. It’s important to note that this demonstrator was manufactured by Textron and based on years of development under the Lightweight Small Arms Technology project of the Joint Service Small Arms Program. It fires Case Telescope ammunition.

Its refinement has included the use of sophisticated engineering techniques including computational fluid dynamics modeling and the center’s state-of-the-art testing equipment.

The size, weight, and durability of the device are tailorable, ie., its manufacture is adaptable.

Prototypes for the NATO 7.62mm and 6.8mm cartridges have been constructed using titanium and/or Inconel 718 steel. 3D printing techniques have also been successfully used.

Based on this research, they have two patents:
U.S. Patent 10,598,458 (33)
U.S. Patent 9,347,727

Below, you can see the Smuzzle attached to an M240B machine gun mounted in a test cradle in a full auto failure test.

Those interested in licensing this technology should visit techlinkcenter.org.

WTF Roll Rasslers (with Split Bar FirstSpear Tubes)

Monday, July 6th, 2020

Whiskey Two Four are excited to offer an expanding line of workspace management tools for gearmakers.

WTF’s Roll Rasslers (with split bar FirstSpear® Tubes™) will wrangle even the peskiest of difficult to store rolled goods.

WTF’s Roll Rasslers help prevent premature wear of your MultiCam® printed VELCRO® USA brand wide loop.  WTF’s Roll Rasslers help prevent unnecessary depressions in softer, squishier fabrics like tricots and mesh.  WTF’s Roll Rasslers help prevent dust and debris from collecting on expensive rolls of fabric.

ITW 1.5″ Tri Glides and 60″ Texcel solution dyed, milspec, Berry compliant, MIL-W-17337, webbing straps offer a wide range of adjustment.

wtfidea.com

Sold in pairs. USA SALES ONLY. NO EXCEPTIONS. “FirstSpear® Tubes™” is owned by FirstSpear® LLC.

New Research Leads to Army Drones Changing Shape Mid-Flight

Monday, June 22nd, 2020

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Soon, the U.S. Army will be able to deploy autonomous air vehicles that can change shape during flight, according to new research presented at the AIAA Aviation Forum and Exposition’s virtual event June 16.

Researchers with the U.S. Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory and Texas A&M University published findings of a two-year study in fluid-structure interaction. Their research led to a tool, which will be able to rapidly optimize the structural configuration for Future Vertical Lift vehicles while properly accounting for the interaction between air and the structure.

Within the next year, this tool will be used to develop and rapidly optimize Future Vertical Lift vehicles capable of changing shape during flight, thereby optimizing performance of the vehicle through different phases of flight.

“Consider an [Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance] mission where the vehicle needs to get quickly to station, or dash, and then attempt to stay on station for as long as possible, or loiter,” said Dr. Francis Phillips, an aerospace engineer at the laboratory. “During dash segments, short wings are desirable in order to go fast and be more maneuverable, but for loiter segments, long wings are desirable in order to enable low power, high endurance flight.”

This tool will enable the structural optimization of a vehicle capable of such morphing while accounting for the deformation of the wings due to the fluid-structure interaction, he said.

One concern with morphing vehicles is striking a balance between sufficient bending stiffness and softness to enable to morphing,” Phillips said. “If the wing bends too much, then the theoretical benefits of the morphing could be negated and also could lead to control issues and instabilities.”

Fluid-structure interaction analyses typically require coupling between a fluid and a structural solver.

This, in turn, means that the computational cost for these analyses can be very high – in the range of about 10,000s core hours – for a single fluid and structural configuration.

To overcome these challenges, researchers developed a process that decouples the fluid and structural solvers, which can reduce the computational cost for a single run by as much as 80 percent, Phillips said.

The analysis of additional structural configurations can also be performed without re-analyzing the fluid due to this decoupled approach, which in turn generates additional computational cost savings, leading to multiple orders of magnitude reductions in computational cost when considering this method within an optimization framework.

Ultimately, this means the Army could design multi-functional Future Vertical Lift vehicles much more quickly than through the use of current techniques, he said.

For the past 20 years, there have been advances in research in morphing aerial vehicles but what makes the Army’s studies different is its look at the fluid-structure interaction during vehicle design and structural optimization instead of designing a vehicle first and then seeing what the fluid-structure interaction behavior will be.

“This research will have a direct impact on the ability to generate vehicles for the future warfighter,” Phillips said. “By reducing the computational cost for fluid-structure interaction analysis, structural optimization of future vertical lift vehicles can be accomplished in a much shorter time-frame.”

According to Phillips, when implemented within an optimization framework and coupled with additive manufacturing, the future warfighter will be able to use this tool to manufacture optimized custom air vehicles for mission specific uses.

Phillips presented this work in a paper, Uncoupled Method for Massively Parallelizable 3-D Fluid-Structure Interaction Analysis and Design, co-authored by the laboratory’s Drs. Todd Henry and John Hrynuk, as well as Texas A&M University’s Trent White, William Scholten and Dr. Darren Hartl.

By U.S. Army CCDC Research Laboratory Public Affairs

New 5G Switch Provides 50 Times More Energy Efficiency Than Currently Exists

Saturday, May 30th, 2020

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — As 5G hits the market, new U.S. Army-funded research has developed a radio-frequency switch that is more than 50 times more energy efficient than what is used today.

With funding from the Army Research Office, an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Lille in France, have built a new component that will more efficiently allow access to the highest 5G frequencies, in a way that increases devices’ battery life and speeds up how quickly users can do things like stream HD media.

Smartphones are loaded with switches that perform a number of duties. One major task is jumping back and forth between different networks and spectrum frequencies: 4G, WiFi, LTE, Bluetooth, etc. The current radio-frequency switches that perform this task are always running, consuming precious processing power and battery life.

“Radio-frequency switches are pervasive in military communication, connectivity and radar systems,” said Dr. Pani Varanasi, division chief, materials science program at ARO. “These new switches could provide large performance advantage compared to existing components and can enable longer battery life for mobile communication, and advanced reconfigurable systems.”

The journal Nature Electronics published the research team’s findings.

“It has become clear that the existing switches consume significant amounts of power, and that power consumed is useless power,” said Dr. Deji Akinwande, a professor in the Cockrell School of Engineering’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering who led the research. “The switch we have developed can transmit an HDTV stream at a 100GHz frequency, and that is an achievement in broadband switch technology.”

The new switches stay off, saving battery life for other processes, unless they are actively helping a device jump between networks. They have also shown the ability to transmit data well above the baseline for 5G-level speeds.

Prior researchers have found success on the low end of the 5G spectrum – where speeds are slower but data can travel longer distances. This is the first switch that can function across the spectrum from the low-end gigahertz frequencies to high-end terahertz frequencies that could someday be key to the development of 6G.

The team’s switches use the nanomaterial hexagonal boron nitride, a rapidly emerging nanomaterial from the same family as graphene. The structure of the switch involves a single layer of boron and nitrogen atoms in a honeycomb pattern sandwiched between a pair of gold electrodes. Hexagonal boron nitride is the thinnest known insulator with a thickness of 0.33 nanometers.

The impact of these switches extends beyond smartphones. Satellite systems, smart radios, reconfigurable communications, and Internet of Things, are all examples of potential uses for the switches. In addition, these switches can be realized on flexible substrates making them suitable for Soldier wearable radios and communication systems that can benefit from the improved energy efficiency for longer battery life with faster data speeds as well as other defense technologies.

“This will be very useful for radio and radar technology,” Akinwande said.

This research spun out of a previous project that created the thinnest memory device, also using hBN. Akinwande said sponsors encouraged the researchers to find other uses for the material, and that led them to pivot to RF switches.

In addition to the U.S. Army, support through a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the U.S. Office of Naval Research and The National Science Foundation’s Engineering Research Center funded the research. The Texas Nanofabrication Facility partly fabricated the switch and Grolltex, Inc., provided hBN samples.

By U.S. Army CCDC Army Research Laboratory Public Affairs

HENSOLDT and Nano Dimension Achieve Breakthrough in Electronics 3D Printing

Saturday, May 23rd, 2020

New multi-layer PCB boosts electronics rapid prototyping

 

Munich, Germany/Nano Dimension’s USA HQ, South Florida (Nasdaq, TASE: NNDM), May 19, 2020 – Sensor solutions provider HENSOLDT together with the leading Additively Manufactured Electronics (AME)/Printed Electronics (PE) provider, Nano Dimension, has achieved a major breakthrough on its way to utilizing 3D printing in the development process of high-performance electronics components. Utilizing a newly developed dielectric polymer ink and conductive ink from Nano Dimension, HENSOLDT succeeded in assembling the world-wide first 10-layer printed circuit board (PCB) which carries high-performance electronic structures soldered to both outer sides. Until now, 3D printed boards could not bear the soldering process necessary for two sided population of components.

“Military sensor solutions require performance and reliability levels far above those of commercial components.” says HENSOLDT CEO, Thomas Müller. “To have high-density components quickly available with reduced effort by means of 3D printing gives us a competitive edge in the development process of such high-end electronic systems.”

“Nano Dimension’s relationship with HENSOLDT is the type of partnership with customers we are striving for,” commented Yoav Stern, Nano Dimension President & CEO. “Working together and learning from HENSOLDT led us to reach a first-of-its-kind in-depth knowledge of polymer materials applications. Additionally, it guided us in the development of Hi-PEDs (High Performance Electronic Device) that create competitive edges by enabling unique implementations with shortest time to market.”

AMEs are useful to verify a new design and functionality of specialized electronic components before production. AME is a highly agile and individual engineering methodology to prototype a new electronic circuitry. This leads to significant reduction of time and cost in the development process.  Furthermore AME allows for a verified and approved design before production starts, leading to higher quality of the final product.

HENSOLDT started working with Nano Dimension’s DragonFly 3D printing system in 2016, in order to examine the possibilities of 3D printing electronics. Last year, HENSOLDT successfully implemented the DragonFly Lights-Out Digital Manufacturing (LDM) printing technology, the industry’s only additive manufacturing platform for round-the-clock 3D printing of electronic circuitry.

Rescue Ready RetroFit – Fire Escape Ladders That Make Sense

Friday, May 15th, 2020

Local Norfolk Firefighters Brett and Eric created the Rescue Ready RetroFit, an escape ladder for homes. Initially, they took it Sharktank but ended up bringing the concept to the finish line themselves and are funding initial production via Kickstarter.

You configure the Rescue Ready RetroFit in your home, preattached to load bearing members in your wall, allowing you to quickly place it into action in case you need to get out of your house in the event of fire.

Offered in a 2-story model, with a 3-story version coming soon.

www.kickstarter.com/projects/rescueready/rescue-ready-retrofit-fire-escape-ladders-that-make-sense