Blackhawk!

Archive for the ‘Disruptive Tech’ Category

SOFWERX – SOF Space, Cyber Space and Electromagnetic Spectrum Rapid Capabilities Assessment

Wednesday, March 11th, 2020

In conjunction with USSOCOM, SOFWERX will host a SOF Space, Cyber Space and Electromagnetic Spectrum Rapid Capabilities Assessment (RCA) 27 April – 01 May 2020 in Tampa.

The goal of the event is to develop and produce a “Technology Road Map” to provide a system/subsystem level breakdown of technology partners, their technology maturity, risk and provide insight for deciding next steps, such as technology investment opportunities.

Twenty (20) selected participants will be afforded up to $5,000 for the week to offset travel costs and provide for a modest stipend for their participation.

Request to Attend NLT 26 March 11:59 PM EST. For will details, visit www.sofwerx.org/rca2.

Army Scientists Develop Cutting-Edge, Durable 3D Printing Technology

Saturday, February 22nd, 2020

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Army scientists are on the brink of a pioneering additive-manufacturing technology to help Soldiers quickly swap out broken plastic components with durable 3D printed replacements, says a top Army researcher.

In the past, troops have either lugged replacement parts around or ordered them from warehouses thousands of miles away, only to wait weeks for them to arrive.

But with dual-polymer 3D printed parts — developed by scientists at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Army Research Laboratory, or ARL — Soldiers could be a few clicks away from swapping out broken pieces and heading back to the fight within hours.

“We’re crossing a threshold where low-cost, easy-to-operate and maintain printers will be proliferated on the battlefield — and able to produce engineering parts of very good quality with short turn-around times,” said Dr. Eric Wetzel, ARL’s research arealeader for Soldier materials.

“In order to do that, we need printing technologies that can print parts that are accurate geometrically and have mechanical properties that are sufficiently robust to survive conditions in battle,” he added.

The printing technology comes on the heels of Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy pushing an advanced manufacturing policy last October, intended to enhance supply chains in the field.

Until this point, 3D printing technologies that produce mechanically robust parts have required printers and print technologies that are not suitable for austere environments, while the printers suitable for austere environments produced poor-quality parts, Wetzel said.

That’s where the ARL scientists come in. For the last few years, they have delved into this issue, Wetzel said. For the first time, ARL scientists have developed a cutting-edge filament capable of being used in off-the-shelf, low-cost 3D printers to produce mechanically strong, battlefield-ready parts.

“By summer, we hope to have samples of the filament distributed to Army transition partners,” Wetzel added. Based on their feedback, ARL could ramp up production — with help from industry partners — and have it in the hands of Soldiers within the calendar year.

THE DUAL-POLYMER TECHNOLOGY

“Conventional polymer filaments for 3D printing are made up of a single polymer,” Wetzel said. “Our innovation is that we’ve combined two different polymers into a single filament, providing a unique combination of characteristics useful for printing and building strength.”

The dual-polymer filament combines acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, or ABS, with polycarbonate, or PC. A critical design feature of the filament is that the ABS and PC phases are not simply mixed together, a common approach for creating blended polymers. Instead, a special die-less thermal drawing process developed by ARL is used to create an ABS filament with a star-shaped PC core. Once coupled, the filament is used as feedstock in a desktop fused-filament fabrication, or FFF, printer to create 3D prints with a heavy-duty ABS/PC meso?structure.

FFF printers work with a heated nozzle that emits thin layers of melted plastic, similar to molten glass. The filament is deposited onto a print bed, one layer on top of another until it forms the 3D printed part. In order to fabricate a unique part, the nozzle, print bed, or both move while the hot plastic streams down.

The two polymers found in the new filament technology have distinct melting temperatures, Wetzel said.

After the solid bodies are initially printed, they are put in an oven to build strength. During this annealing process, the deposited material layers fuse together while maintaining their geometry and form. This stability is caused by the higher temperature resistance of the built-in framework.

“The second polymer holds the shape like a skeleton while the rest of it is melting and bonding together,” Wetzel said. “Through a series of filament design trials, we were able to identify that the star-shaped PC core provided a superior combination of part toughness and stability compared to other arrangements of ABS and PC in the filament.”

Current filaments — traditionally consisting of a single thermoplastic — produce parts that are brittle and weak, and would deform excessively during the annealing process, he said.

“We focused in on what can we do to improve those mechanical properties,” he added. “We wrote a series of papers getting very fundamentally down to the details of exactly why conventional single-polymer parts are not sufficient, what’s happening in the physics of the polymer — really at a molecular level — that prevents conventional printed polymer parts from meeting these requirements.”

The legacy thermoplastic deposits like a hot glue gun, he said. As the layers build, they don’t stick very well to the previous layer because by the time the second layer adds, the first one is cooled off.

“So, you’re not melting the layers together, you’re just solidifying material on top of one another, and they never really bond between layers,” Wetzel said. “Our technology is an approach that allows us to use these conventional desktop printers, but then apply post-processing to dramatically improve the toughness and strength between layers.”

“Manufacturing at the point-of-need provides some exciting possibilities,” Wetzel said. “In the future we can imagine Soldiers deployed overseas collaborating with engineers in the United States, allowing new hardware concepts to be designed and then sent as digital files to be coverted into physical prototypes that the Soldiers can use the same day. This paradigm shift could allow us to innovate at a much higher speed, and be keenly responsive to the ever-changing battlefield.”

Story by Thomas Brading, Army News Service

Photos by EJ Hersom

Rare-Earth Element Material Could Produce World’s Smallest Transistors

Thursday, February 13th, 2020

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — A material from a rare earth element, tellurium, could produce the world’s smallest transistor, thanks to an Army-funded project.

Computer chips use billions of tiny switches called transistors to process information. The more transistors on a chip, the faster the computer.

A project at Purdue University in collaboration with Michigan Technological University, Washington University in St. Louis, and the University of Texas at Dallas, found that the material, shaped like a one-dimensional DNA helix, encapsulated in a nanotube made of boron nitride, could build a field-effect transistor with a diameter of two nanometers. Transistors on the market are made of bulkier silicon and range between 10 and 20 nanometers in scale.

“This research reveals more about a promising material that could achieve faster computing with very low power consumption using these tiny transistors,” said Joe Qiu, program manager for the Army Research Office, an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory, which funded this work. “That technology would have important applications for the Army.”

The Army-funded research is published in the journal Nature Electronics. The Army is focused on integration, speed and precision to ensure the Army’s capability development process is adaptable and flexible enough to keep pace with the rate of technology change.

“This tellurium material is really unique. It builds a functional transistor with the potential to be the smallest in the world,” said Dr. Peide Ye, Purdue’s Richard J. and Mary Jo Schwartz Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

One way to shrink field-effect transistors, the kind found in most electronic devices, is to build the gates that surround thinner nanowires. These nanowires are protected within nanotubes.

Ye and his team worked to make tellurium as small as a single atomic chain and then build transistors with these atomic chains or ultrathin nanowires.

They started off growing one-dimensional chains of tellurium atoms, and were surprised to find that the atoms in these one-dimensional chains wiggle. These wiggles were made visible through transmission electron microscopy imaging performed at the University of Texas at Dallas and at Purdue.

“Silicon atoms look straight, but these tellurium atoms are like a snake. This is a very original kind of structure,” Ye said.

The wiggles were the atoms strongly bonding to each other in pairs to form DNA-like helical chains, then stacking through weak forces called van der Waals interactions to form a tellurium crystal.

These van der Waals interactions set apart tellurium as a more effective material for single atomic chains or one-dimensional nanowires compared with others because it’s easier to fit into a nanotube, Ye said.

Because the opening of a nanotube cannot be any smaller than the size of an atom, tellurium helices of atoms could achieve smaller nanowires and, therefore, smaller transistors.

The researchers successfully built a transistor with a tellurium nanowire encapsulated in a boron nitride nanotube. A high-quality boron nitride nanotube effectively insulates tellurium, making it possible to build a transistor.

“Next, the researchers will optimize the device to further improve its performance, and demonstrate a highly efficient functional electronic circuit using these tiny transistors, potentially through collaboration with ARL researchers,” Qiu said.

In addition to the Army Research Office, the National Science Foundation, Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency partly funded the work.

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

SOFWERX Presents The $225,000 Tech Sprint: Hyper Enabled Partner Force

Thursday, February 13th, 2020

In concert with the USSOCOM Joint Acquisition Task Force (JATF), SOFWERX is hosting The $225,000 Tech Sprint: Hyper Enabled Partner Force event, 04-14 May 2020.

Up to 15 selected technologies and their submitters will receive a prize award in the amount of $15,000 to combine and/or integrate their most provocative technologies into the Hyper Enabled Operator (HEO) system. Participants may also have the opportunity to showcase their technology at SOFIC.

The technologies of interest are those that will assist in providing new, novel or provocative solutions in the following categories:

• Linguistical Fluency

• Cultural Fluency

• Social Awareness

• Operational Awareness

• Other Hyper Enabled Capabilities

To get involved, you’ll need to submit NLT 23 March 11:59 PM EST.

For full details, visit www.sofwerx.org/partnerforce

USSOCOM J5 Donovan Group Disruptive Speaker Series – Humans over Hardware: Posturing the SOF Enterprise for the Future

Sunday, January 19th, 2020

Disruptive Speaker Series
Humans over Hardware:
Posturing the SOF Enterprise for the Future

03 March 2020

Are you smarter than a well-oiled machine?

On 03 March, SOFWERX, in collaboration with the USSOCOM J5 Donovan Group, will host a Disruptive Speaker Series entitled “Humans over Hardware: Posturing the SOF Enterprise for the Future,” led by Dr. Lydia Kostopoulos, Strategy and Innovation Advisor for the Donovan Group.

The presentation hopes to stretch the audience’s thinking about how USSOCOM can creatively leverage talent in the context of increased connectivity, demographic changes, new understandings of sovereignty and dynamic threats.

RSVP NLT 24 February 11:59 PM EST

www.sofwerx.org/hoh

See the Latest from Propel, LLC at the Consumer Electronics Show

Monday, January 6th, 2020

Propel, LLC has been doing some spectacular work in eTextiles and they’ve been invited by the Small Business Administration to exhibit at CES.

See them in booth #50000 at this week’s CES in Las Vegas.

SOFWERX – 3D Geospatial Tech Sprint Series

Friday, December 27th, 2019

On 24-28 February, SOFWERX, in concert with USSOCOM Program Executive Office for Special Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Exploitation (PEO-SRSE), will host a 3D Geospatial Tech Sprint to further automate production and dissemination of 3D geospatial data.

Selected software engineers and developers will be afforded the opportunity to collaborate with others to combine their tools for assessment and integration during the week-long event. Selectees will receive an $8,000 stipend for participation in the Tech Sprint.

 

Submit your technology for review, related to the technology focus areas, to be considered for attendance.

Submit NLT 27 January 11:59 PM EST

For full details, visit www.sofwerx.org/3dgeo

New Algorithm Could Mean More Efficient, Accurate Equipment For Army

Sunday, December 22nd, 2019

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. (Dec. 19, 2019) –  Researchers working on an Army-funded project have developed an algorithm to simulate how electromagnetic waves interact with materials in devices to create equipment more efficiently and accurately. The algorithm could be used in a wide range of fields – from biology and astronomy to military applications and telecommunications.

 

Electromagnetic waves exist as radiation of energies from charges and other quantum processes. They include radio waves, microwaves, light and X-rays. Mobile phones communicate by transmitting radio waves.

 

It takes a tremendous amount of computer simulations to create a device like an MRI scanner that images the brain by detecting electromagnetic waves propagating through tissue. Those simulations can take days or months to identify how the electromagnetic waves will react when they encounter the materials in the device. Because of the cost, there is a limit to the number of simulations typically done for these devices.

 

With funding from the Army Research Office, in a study, published in the SIAM Journal on Scientific Computing, SMU (Southern Methodist University) researchers revealed a faster algorithm for these simulations. It is a more efficient and less expensive way to predict the behavior of waves.

 

“We can reduce the simulation time from one month, to maybe one hour,” said lead researcher Wei Cai, SMU Clements Chair of applied mathematics. “We have made a breakthrough in these algorithms.”

 

“Electromagnetic waves are central to many important applications in sensing, power, and communication. Being able to conduct related simulations faster and less expensively will have many military applications,” said Dr. Joseph Myers, Army Research Office Mathematical Sciences Division chief. ARL is an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory. “For example, this work will help create a virtual laboratory for scientists to simulate and explore quantum dot solar cells, which could produce extremely small, efficient and lightweight solar military equipment.”

 

The new algorithm modifies a mathematical method called the fast multipole method, or FMM, which was considered one of the top 10 algorithms in the 20th century.

 

Using this new algorithm, the computer simulations map out how materials in a device like semiconductor materials will interact with light, in turn giving a sense of what a particular wave will do when it comes in contact with that device.

 

An engineer or mathematician would be able to use this new algorithm to test a device whose job is to pick out a certain electromagnetic wave. For instance, it could be used to test designs for a solar light battery that lasts longer and is smaller than currently exists.

 

“To design a battery that is small in size, you need to optimize the material so that you can get the maximum conversion rate from the light energy to electricity,” Cai said. “An engineer could find that maximum conversion rate by going through simulations faster with this algorithm.”

 

The algorithm could also help an engineer design a seismic monitor to predict earthquakes by tracking elastic waves in the earth, Cai noted.

 

“These are all waves, and our method applies for different kinds of waves,” he said. “There are a wide range of applications with what we have developed.”

 

The computational system used for this project, the SMU MANEFRAME II, is descended from the Army high-performance computing system “Mana,” formerly located at the Maui HPC Center in Hawaii, and donated and physically moved to SMU through the efforts of ARO and SMU.

By US Army CCDC Army Research Laboratory Public Affairs