Defense

Army to Get New IED Detector Technology

Detecting improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan requires constant, intensive monitoring using rugged equipment. When Sandia researchers first demonstrated a modified miniature synthetic aperture radar (MiniSAR) system to do just that, some experts didn't believe it. But those early doubts are long gone. Sandia's Copperhead — a highly modified MiniSAR system mounted on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) — has been uncovering IEDs in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2009. Now, according to senior manager Jim Hudgens, Sandia is transferring the technology to the U.S. Army to support combat military personnel.

Posted in: News, Defense, Electronics & Computers, Imaging, Antennas, RF & Microwave Electronics, Data Acquisition, Detectors, Sensors
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Researchers Build 'Invisible' Materials with Light

Metamaterials have a wide range of potential applications, including sensing and improving military stealth technology. Before cloaking devices can become reality on a larger scale, however, researchers must determine how to make the right materials at the nanoscale. Using light is now shown to be an enormous help in such nano-construction. A new technique uses light like a needle to thread long chains of particles. The development could help bring sci-fi concepts, such as cloaking devices, one step closer to reality.The technique developed by the University of Cambridge team involves using unfocused laser light as billions of needles, stitching gold nanoparticles together into long strings, directly in water for the first time. The strings can then be stacked into layers one on top of the other, similar to Lego bricks. The method makes it possible to produce materials in much higher quantities than can be made through current techniques. SourceAlso: See other Sensors tech briefs.

Posted in: News, Defense, Materials, Nanotechnology, Lasers & Laser Systems, Photonics, Sensors
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Inspired by Nature, Researchers Build a Tougher Metal

Drawing inspiration from the structure of bones and bamboo, researchers have gradually changed the internal structure of metals to make stronger, tougher materials. The new metals can be customized for a wide variety of applications — from body armor to automobile parts. The research team tested the new approach in interstitial free (IF) steel, which is used in some industrial applications.If conventional IF steel is made strong enough to withstand 450 megapascals (MPa) of stress, it has very low ductility – the steel can only be stretched to less than 5 percent of its length without breaking. Low ductility means a material is susceptible to catastrophic failure, such as suddenly snapping in half. Highly ductile materials can stretch, meaning they are more likely to give people time to respond to a problem before total failure.The researchers are also interested in using the gradient structure approach to make materials more resistant to corrosion, wear, and fatigue.SourceAlso: Find more Materials tech briefs.

Posted in: News, Defense, Materials, Metals, Automotive, Transportation
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New Technology Detects Bacterial Pathogens in Soldiers' Combat Wounds

A biological detection technology developed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists can detect bacterial pathogens in the wounds of U.S. soldiers that have previously been missed by other technologies. This advance may, in time, allow an improvement in how soldiers' wounds are treated.

Posted in: News, Defense, Medical, Detectors, Sensors
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Synthetic Aperture Sonar Can Help Navy Hunt Sea Mines

Since World War II, sea mines have damaged or sunk four times more U.S. Navy ships than all other means of attack combined, according to a Navy report on mine warfare. New sonar research being performed by the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) could improve the Navy’s ability to find sea mines deep under water.

Posted in: News, Defense, Imaging, Automation, Robotics, Detectors, Sensors
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Computer Program Analyzes Intelligence Data

Every day U.S. military and security units receive vast amounts of data collected by intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) sensors. Human analysts constantly review this data, searching for possible threats. To aid this effort, researchers from the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) are helping to improve the capabilities of the nation's Multi- Disciplinary Intelligence (Multi-INT) system, which monitors incoming data.

Posted in: News, Defense, Software
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Researchers Develop Harder Ceramic for Armor Windows

The Department of Defense needs materials for armor windows that provide essential protection for personnel and equipment while still having a high degree of transparency. To meet that need, scientists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) have developed a method to fabricate nanocrystalline spinel that is 50% harder than the current spinel armor materials used in military vehicles. With the highest reported hardness for spinel, NRL's nanocrystalline spinel demonstrates that the hardness of transparent ceramics can be increased simply by reducing the grain size to 28 nanometers. This harder spinel offers the potential for better armor windows in military vehicles, which would give personnel and equipment — such as sensors — improved protection, along with other benefits.

Posted in: News, Defense, Ceramics
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Insect-Inspired Technology Could Extend Situational Awareness

Soldiers' missions frequently lead them to locations where they must assess the status of structures, and where the presence of threats is not immediately known or easily detectable. These threats include everything from ambushes to chemical and biological threats that could be lurking around every corner. Current technology assists soldiers in detecting these possible threats by allowing them to assess structures and threats through the use of teleoperated sensing systems.

Posted in: News, Defense
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3D-Printing Aerial Robot Mimics Tiny Bird

Scientists from Imperial College London have developed a 3D-printing Micro Aerial Vehicle (MAV) that mimics the way that swiftlets build their nests.The MAV is a quad-copter, with four blades that enable it to fly and hover. The vehicle, made from off-the-shelf components, carries in its underbelly two chemicals that create polyurethane foam when mixed, and a printing module to deliver the foam. The foam can then be used to build simple structures or repair components.The texture of the polymer exuded from the 3D printer can also be used to create ’grippers,‘ which stick onto and transport objects to different locations. The MAV could therefore pick up and remove bombs, or dispose of hazardous materials without exposing humans to danger. The next step for the team is to enable the vehicle to fly autonomously in any environment. The scientists plan to incorporate high-speed cameras and sensors on board the MAV, which will act like a satellite navigation system for tracking and controlling of the flight trajectory.SourceAlso: Learn more about NASA's Robonaut 2.

Posted in: News, Aerospace, Aviation, Defense, Imaging, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Rapid Prototyping & Tooling, Materials, Plastics, Automation, Robotics, Sensors
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Wind Tunnel Tests Support Improved Design of B61-12 Bomb

Sandia National Laboratories has finished testing a full-scale mock unit representing the aerodynamic characteristics of the B61-12 gravity bomb in a wind tunnel. The tests on the mock-up were done to establish the configuration that will deliver the necessary spin motion of the bomb during freefall and are an important milestone in the Life Extension Program to deliver a new version of the aging system.

Posted in: News, Aerospace, Defense, Motion Control, Motors & Drives, Test & Measurement
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