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Archive for the ‘Disruptive Tech’ Category

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.

Meet PEO SOF Digital Applications – USSOCOM’s Newest Program Office

Wednesday, May 13th, 2020

In order to realign efforts in accordance with the National Defense Strategy, United States Special Operations Command took a look at its Acquisition, Technology & Logistics enterprise and decided to do a little reorganization. Acquisition Executive Jim Smith made the determinant to stand up the new Program Executive Office Special Operations Forces Digital Applications. After all, Mr Smith’s goal is systems that are “Software Defined, Hardwear Enabled”.

On 1 June, 2020, PEO SOF Digital Applications will charter with US Army COL Paul Weizer at the helm. An aviator and member of the Army’s Acquisition Corps, he started out in SOCOM’s PEO Rotary Wing but was handpicked to shepherd the command’s software development. Think of the new team as the software guys. They will be the cradle-to-grave, one-stop-shop for software intensive digital applications into the SOF enterprise.

PEO SOF Digital Applications inherits it’s new portfolio from other PEOs. These include Distributed Common Ground Station – SOF, Mission Command/Common Operating Picture, Integrated Survey Program, SOF Planning, Rehearsal and Execution Preparation, Tactical Assault Kit Core, Special Operations Mission Planning Environment as well as a few others.

Along with those programs, comes personnel. But COL Weizer is hoping to attract some new talent from industry. He relates that the current PEO structure is “jello” and he is working to shape the organization to best work with industry to acquire the proper software. By no means are they “vendor locked” and he looks forward to engagement. COL Weizer also wants to look at what software the components are using and share it with more of the Force where appropriate.

Currently, as part of TAK efforts, the command operates a marketplace where operators may download specialized applications. COL Weizer related that this capability will transition to PEO SDA and he sees it as a model for software dissemination across the SOF enterprise.

The PEO will be located at MacDill AFB, With satellite offices at Ft Belvoir and Joint Base Langley-Eustis, both in Virginia.

New Design Could Make Fiber Communications More Energy Efficient

Friday, April 24th, 2020

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — Researchers say a new discovery on a U.S. Army project for optoelectronic devices could help make optical fiber communications more energy efficient.

The University of Pennsylvania, Peking University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology worked on a project funded, in part by the Army Research Office, which is an element of U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory. The research sought to develop a new design of optical devices that radiate light in a single direction. This single-sided radiation channel for light can be used in a wide array of optoelectronic applications to reduce energy loss in optical fiber networks and data centers. The journal Nature published the findings.

Light tends to flow in optical fibers along one direction, like water flows through a pipe. On-chip couplers are used to connect fibers to chips, where light signals are generated, amplified, or detected. While most light going through the coupler continues through to the fiber, some of the light travels in the opposite direction, leaking out.

A large part of energy consumption in data traffic is due to this radiation loss. Total data center energy consumption is two percent of the global electricity demand, and demand increases every year.

Previous studies consistently suggested that a minimum loss of 25 percent at each interface between optical fibers and chips was a theoretical upper bound that could not be surpassed. Because data centers require complex and interwoven systems of nodes, that 25-percent loss quickly multiplies as light travels through a network.

“You may need to pass five nodes (10 interfaces) to communicate with another server in a typical medium-sized data center, leading to a total loss of 95 percent if you use existing devices,” said Jicheng Jin, University of Pennsylvania doctoral student. “In fact, extra energy and elements are needed to amplify and relay the signal again and again, which introduces noise, lowers signal-to-noise ratio, and, ultimately, reduces communication bandwidth.”

After studying the system in more detail, the research team discovered that breaking left-right symmetry in their device could reduce the loss to zero.

“These exciting results have the potential to spur new research investments for Army systems,” said Dr. Michael Gerhold, program manager, optoelectronics, Army Research Office. “Not only do the coupling efficiency advances have potential to improve data communications for commercial data centers, but the results carry huge impact for photonic systems where much lower intensity signals can be used for the same precision computation, making battery powered photonic computers possible.”

To better understand this phenomenon, the team developed a theory based on topological charges. Topological charges forbid radiation in a specific direction. For a coupler with both up-down and left-right symmetries, there is one charge on each side, forbidding the radiation in the vertical direction.

“Imagine it as two-part glue,” said Bo Zhen, assistant professor, department of physics and astronomy at University of Pennsylvania. “By breaking the left-right symmetry, the topological charge is split into two half charges – the two-part glue is separated so each part can flow. By breaking the up-down symmetry, each part flows differently on the top and the bottom, so the two-part glue combines only on the bottom, eliminating radiation in that direction. It’s like a leaky pipe has been fixed with a topological two-part glue.”

The team eventually settled on a design with a series of slanted bars, which break left-right and up-down symmetries at the same time. To fabricate such structures, they developed a novel etching method: silicon chips were placed on a wedge-like substrate, allowing etching to occur at a slanted angle. In comparison, standard etchers can only create vertical side walls. As a future step, the team hopes to further develop this etching technique to be compatible with existing foundry processes and also to come up with an even simpler design for etching.

The authors expect applications both in helping light travel more efficiently at short distances, such as between an optical fiber cable and a chip in a server, and over longer distances, such as long-range Lidar systems.

This project also received funding from the Air Force Research Laboratory, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Natural Science Foundation of China, and HPCP of Peking University.

By US Army CCDC Army Research Laboratory Public Affairs

Integrated Visual Augmentation System Soldier Touchpoints

Saturday, April 18th, 2020

Soldiers at Fort Pickett, Virginia are testing a Microsoft-designed prototype goggle, the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS). New technology offers capabilities that troops need to regain and maintain over-match in multi-domain operations on battlefields that are becoming increasingly complex and unpredictable.

US Army video by Mr Luke J Allen

Army Files Patent on New 40mm Camera Drone

Friday, April 10th, 2020

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Scientists from the Army Research Laboratory have designed a camera drone capable of being fired from a 40 mm grenade launcher, researchers say, on the heels of a patent filed last month.

There are two variants of the Grenade Launched Unmanned Aerial System, or GLUAS, one is a is a small, paragliding system with folding blade propellers and Mylar paragliding wings to help it stay in the air, and the other is a helicopter-style that hovers on a gimbaling set of coaxial rotors, said John Gerdes, a mechanical engineer with ARL.

The GLUAS is a small projectile, 40 millimeters in diameter, can cover a long distance with a gun-launching system. The breakthrough, he said, is with how miniaturized autonomous flight hardware has become.

The drone has a 2-kilometer range with a projected battery life that could top 90 minutes, and is capable of operating up to 2,000 feet in the air, according to researchers.

After launching, the drone spreads its wings and soars at a fixed airspeed controlled by ground troops with a joystick or handheld device. On the drone, a camera is equipped to provide a video feed to a ground station below.

“In battle, there are multiple scenarios of when Soldiers would use this technology,” Gerdes said. “How it’s used depends on which theater they’re operating in.”

For example, on the mountain ranges of Afghanistan, if Soldiers found themselves under sniper fire, they could deploy the drone to check over the area and determine the enemy’s location.

The lightweight GLUAS drone is designed to increase Soldier lethality by giving them a bird’s eye view of the battlefield, he explained, and will easily integrate into most kits carried by Soldiers in the field.

“This device provides an autonomy and intelligence platform to help Soldiers perform useful missions while having a lookout from hundreds of feet in the air,” Gerdes said. “This integrates modern types of intelligence.”

“[GLUAS] is aligned with Army modernization priorities,” said Hao Kang, another mechanical engineer with ARL. “We’re trying to provide capabilities to individual Soldiers. The most exciting part of this is the viability of this platform, coupled with its gun-launched deployment capabilities.”

“Things like GPS receivers and flight controllers are very feasible to install [onto the GLUAS], which makes it easy to maintain a position or follow a ground unit,” Gerdes said. “Basically, if there is something you want to look at, but you have no idea where it is yet, that’s where the drone comes in.”

Although they’re making technological breakthroughs at ARL, the scientists aren’t working on the same timelines as other developers, Kang said.

“We’re here to develop innovative concepts for the warfighter’s needs, which generally means we bring the size and weight down of a device, and push up the range and lethality,” Gerdes said. “At ARL, we’re typically focused on the basic innovation and discovery aspects of research.”

ARL is part of the Combat Capabilities Development Command. As the Army’s corporate research laboratory, ARL discovers, innovates and transitions science and technology to ensure dominant strategic land power.

By Thomas Brading, Army News Service

UCSD Medical Center Requesting MCSC’s Help to Support COVID-19 Crisis

Wednesday, March 25th, 2020

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. —

The University of California San Diego Medical Center has requested Marine Corps Systems Command’s assistance to help medical professionals as they deal with the evolving crisis of COVID-19.

On March 16, Dr. Sidney Merritt, an anesthesiologist at UCSD Medical Center, contacted MCSC’s Advanced Manufacturing Operations Cell requesting assistance in coordinating 3D printer assets to design parts to enable the simultaneous ventilation of multiple patients.

AMOC initiated collaboration with the Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific Reverse Engineering, Science and Technology for Obsolescence, Restoration and Evaluation Lab to rapidly design, print, test and evaluate prototype ventilator splitters using various materials.

The AMOC team also worked with the Navy’s Bureau of Medicine and Surgery for support in evaluating, certifying and approving the parts prior to delivery to the medical center.

MCSC, NIWC Pacific and UCSD have established a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement to facilitate current and future support requests. A Memorandum of Understanding among MCSC, NIWC Pacific and the Navy’s Bureau of Medicine and Surgery is also being established to codify roles and responsibilities.

MCSC’s involvement

On March 18, Merritt provided design files for the ventilator splitter based upon a successful test print conducted by the UCSD engineering team. UCSD requested assistance in printing ventilator splitters in higher resolution and with diverse materials that could meet specific design requirements.

After receiving the design files, AMOC and the NIWC Pacific RESTORE lab printed several prototypes using different materials. In less than a day, AMOC used its industrial printer in Quantico, Virginia, and the RESTORE Lab employed its organic printers to produce initial prototypes. 

The 3D-printed ventilator splitters were scanned to ensure accuracy with the design files and then brought to UCSD Medical Center for fit testing and further design analysis.

AMOC’s reputation in advanced manufacturing has grown since its establishment in 2019. The cell has demonstrated the ability to produce 3D-printed parts and provide other sustainment and manufacturing solutions in a timely fashion. When called upon, the AMOC can produce parts in a fraction of the time it takes traditional manufacturers.

“AMOC’s response to this situation demonstrates how additive manufacturing can respond quickly to supply chain disruptions and rapidly prototype, evaluate and test new solutions to meet emerging urgent requirements,” said Scott Adams, AMOC lead at MCSC.

The rapid response by AMOC and the NIWC Pacific RESTORE lab to UCSD Medical Center’s request for support is indicative of how the Department of the Navy is prepared to respond to the medical community during the COVID-19 crisis.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the Marine Corps and NIWC Pacific team,” said Carly Jackson, NAVWAR Chief Technology Officer. “We are demonstrating the power, agility and speed of response that our Naval research and development centers bring to bear in times of national need.”

By Matt Gonzales, MCSC Office of Public Affairs and Communication | Marine Corps Systems Command

Army Scientists Create Innovative Quantum Sensor – Covers Entire RF Spectrum

Saturday, March 21st, 2020

ADELPHI, Md. — A quantum sensor could give Soldiers a way to detect communication signals over the entire radio frequency spectrum, from 0 to 100 GHz, said researchers from the Army.

Such wide spectral coverage by a single antenna is impossible with a traditional receiver system, and would require multiple systems of individual antennas, amplifiers and other components.

In 2018, Army scientists were the first in the world to create a quantum receiver that uses highly excited, super-sensitive atoms–known as Rydberg atoms–to detect communications signals, said David Meyer, a scientist at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory. The researchers calculated the receiver’s channel capacity, or rate of data transmission, based on fundamental principles, and then achieved that performance experimentally in their lab–improving on other groups’ results by orders of magnitude, Meyer said.

“These new sensors can be very small and virtually undetectable, giving Soldiers a disruptive advantage,” Meyer said. “Rydberg-atom based sensors have only recently been considered for general electric field sensing applications, including as a communications receiver. While Rydberg atoms are known to be broadly sensitive, a quantitative description of the sensitivity over the entire operational range has never been done.”

To assess potential applications, Army scientists conducted an analysis of the Rydberg sensor’s sensitivity to oscillating electric fields over an enormous range of frequencies–from 0 to 10^12 Hertz. The results show that the Rydberg sensor can reliably detect signals over the entire spectrum and compare favorably with other established electric field sensor technologies, such as electro-optic crystals and dipole antenna-coupled passive electronics.

“Quantum mechanics allows us to know the sensor calibration and ultimate performance to a very high degree, and it’s identical for every sensor,” Meyer said. “This result is an important step in determining how this system could be used in the field.”This work supports the Army’s modernization priorities in next-generation computer networks and assured position, navigation and timing, as it could potentially influence novel communications concepts or approaches to detection of RF signals for geolocation.

In the future, Army scientists will investigate methods to continue to improve the sensitivity to detect even weaker signals and expand detection protocols for more complicated waveforms.

The Journal of Physics B published the research, “Assessment of Rydberg atoms for wideband electric field sensing,” in its special issue on interacting Rydberg atoms. Army scientists David H. Meyer, Kevin C. Cox and Paul D. Kunz led this research, as well as Zachary A. Castillo from the University of Maryland. This work was supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

By US Army CCDC Army Research Laboratory Public Affairs

New Error Correction Method Provides Key Step Toward Quantum Computing

Monday, March 16th, 2020

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — An Army project devised a novel approach for quantum error correction that could provide a key step toward practical quantum computers, sensors and distributed quantum information that would enable the military to potentially solve previously intractable problems or deploy sensors with higher magnetic and electric field sensitivities.

The approach, developed by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology with Army funding, could mitigate certain types of the random fluctuations, or noise, that are a longstanding barrier to quantum computing. These random fluctuations can eradicate the data stored in such devices.

The Army-funded research, published in Physical Review Letters, involves identifying the kinds of noise that are the most likely, rather than casting a broad net to try to catch all possible sources of disturbance.

“The team learned that we can reduce the overhead for certain types of error correction on small scale quantum systems,” said Dr. Sara Gamble, program manager for the Army Research Office, an element of U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory. “This has the potential to enable increased capabilities in targeted quantum information science applications for the DOD.”

The specific quantum system the research team is working with consists of carbon nuclei near a particular kind of defect in a diamond crystal called a nitrogen vacancy center. These defects behave like single, isolated electrons, and their presence enables the control of the nearby carbon nuclei.

But the team found that the overwhelming majority of the noise affecting these nuclei came from one single source: random fluctuations in the nearby defects themselves. This noise source can be accurately modeled, and suppressing its effects could have a major impact, as other sources of noise are relatively insignificant.

The team determined that the noise comes from one central defect, or one central electron that has a tendency to hop around at random. It jitters. That jitter, in turn, is felt by all those nearby nuclei, in a predictable way that can be corrected. The ability to apply this targeted correction in a successful way is the central breakthrough of this research.

The work so far is theoretical, but the team is actively working on a lab demonstration of this principle in action.

If the demonstration works as expected, this research could make up an important component of near and far term future quantum-based technologies of various kinds, including quantum computers and sensors.

ARL is pursuing research in silicon vacancy quantum systems which share similarities with the nitrogen vacancy center quantum systems considered by the MIT team. While silicon vacancy and nitrogen vacancy centers have different optical properties and many basic research questions are open regarding which type(s) of application each may be ultimately best suited for, the error correction approach developed here has potential to impact both types of systems and as a result accelerate progress at the lab.

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