The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) is the nonprofit applied research division of the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in Atlanta, GA. Founded in 1934 as the Engineering Experiment Station, GTRI supports eight laboratories in more than 20 locations around the country and performs more than $370 million of research annually for government and industry.

Advanced Concepts Laboratory (ACL)

GTRI conducts advanced training courses designed for the mobility air force — service members who fly large military aircraft that carry people and supplies. Master Sgt. Pedro McCabe (left), Lt. Col. Barrett Golden (middle), and Andrew Schoen (right), a GTRI senior research scientist, operate a C-130 flight simulator.

The ACL identifies and transitions advances in antennas, electromagnetics, counter-proliferation technologies, and integrated analysis of signals and systems, providing capabilities for numerical modeling, experimentation, and characterization to prove new technologies and concepts.

ACL conducts research and development in topics such as:

  • Electromagnetic analysis and measurements

  • Radio frequency (RF) and infrared (IR) signatures

  • Antennas, radomes, and frequency-selective surfaces

  • Materials science and characterization

  • Counter-proliferation technologies

  • Integrated analysis of signals and systems

The ACL has expertise in physics-based modeling and simulation of sensors and systems across multiple domains and is a leader in design and analysis of novel electromagnetic structures that span frequencies from VLF to the visible spectrum. ACL pioneered the development of genetically optimized ultra-wideband apertures (up to 30:1 bandwidth) and has applied its antenna expertise to designing electrically small antennas, conformal antennas, and three-dimensional radiators. ACL designs custom radome and frequency-selective surfaces to isolate EM structures from the outside environment using a suite of high-fidelity computational electromagnetic tools that execute on high-performance computing clusters.

GTRI tests multiple vertical lift robots that connect up to deliver supplies. The robots are programmed to take into account flexible logistics by connecting to the object (payload) and determining its weight and size and how to move it in a stable way. The small robots work together as a team, known as multi-agent control. The autonomous flying quadcopter could, in the future, lift a soldier.

The ACL’s counter-proliferation efforts focus on technical challenges ranging from advanced warfighting concepts (including maneuver drone warfare and multi-domain battle) to challenges posed by threats of weapons of mass destruction (chemical, biological, nuclear, and radiological weapons) and other asymmetric threats. ACL focuses on solving problems such as countering unmanned aircraft systems, countering improvised threats, applying technology to improve warfighter capabilities, and mitigating other technology-driven emerging threats.

Electromagnetic characterization capabilities include measurement of radar cross-section, material properties, and antenna performance. A systems analysis portfolio focuses on the development and execution of programs to provide integrated analysis across multiple domains (i.e. air, space, and cyber) in support of various communities. ACL maintains a broad set of in-house, government, and commercial modeling and simulation tools that provide support for systems analysis.

The ACL’s research in materials is focused on the enhancement of transport and mechanical properties through the synthesis of biologically inspired materials systems, with a focus on manufacturing. These efforts have led to a wide array of applications including high-temperature, acoustically absorptive, microchanneled structures; reticulated metal foams with tailored permeability for microscale evaporative cooling; diamond-metal matrix composite thermal shims; glass-matrix nanocomposite scintillators for gamma-ray spectroscopy; magnetic nanocomposite, micropatterned dielectrics; and biologically inspired reversible attachment systems. In support of these activities, ACL maintains materials processing, fabrication, and characterization capabilities.

GTRI researchers are adapting optical techniques from the photonics telecom arena to enhance U.S. electronic warfare (EW) capabilities including producing optical transceivers that can interface readily with existing digital or RF EW equipment. The 1- to 40-GHz, full duplex transmission, fiber optic link prototype shown here utilizes GTRI custom packaging and ruggedization. (Rob Felt, Georgia Tech)

Aerospace, Transportation & Advanced Systems Laboratory (ATAS)

The ATAS develops technologies and systems from concept development to prototypes. These include system simulations and test and evaluations related to threat radars, missiles, air and ground vehicles, unmanned and autonomous systems, transportation systems, power and energy systems, acoustics, flow control, and food processing technologies.

ATAS is known for work in jet aeroacoustics and air circulation control technology and offers expertise in flow control, aero-sensor development and testing, aero-acoustics, launch acoustics, quiet UAV propulsion packages, aero-optics, wind-tunnel testing, field testing of military systems and sensors, and signal processing as applied to blast events, hostile fire detection, and acoustic source localization and characterization. Industry-size acoustic anechoic chambers and two wind tunnels capable of simulating hurricane wind speeds are available.

Recent developments include an “ear in the sky” capability to put acoustic sensors on a UAV (quadcopter, fixed wing, etc.) to listen to sound sources of interest. Other capabilities include high-speed flow visualization, acoustic beamforming, particle imaging velocimetry (PIV), and high-energy laser applications.

Applied Systems Laboratory (ASL)

ASL conducts applied research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) of ground-based air and missile defense (GBAMD) and rotary-wing aviation systems. Activities include hardware-in-the loop (HWIL) and software-in-the loop (SWIL) RDT&E, system modeling and simulation, system-of-systems and family-of-systems interoperability for integrated air and missile defense (IAMD), GBAMD fire control and command and control (C2), and critical safety software development and engineering.

Research includes design and prototyping of manned and unmanned aviation and avionics systems, and development of offensive and defensive airborne cyber systems. Using test-based technical information and data analytics, ASL conducts engineering test and performance analysis to assess the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) capability based on test, simulation, real-world, and warfighter events.

ASL conducts applied research to design, develop, and prototype embedded systems that interface with and potentially control tactical networks made of ground-based, aviation, or kinetic weapon platforms. Examples include SWIL models for soldier training and miniaturization of legacy systems using modern components.

Cybersecurity, Information Protection, and Hardware Evaluation Research Laboratory (CIPHER)

CIPHER develops technologies that secure, defend, and respond to threats within our country’s information, distribution, and network systems. The lab provides solutions to cybersecurity problems for both government and industry. CIPHER engineers and scientists develop and apply technologies in computing, network architectures, signal and protocol analysis, network forensics, custom algorithms for cyber defense and attribution, malware analysis, insider threat detection and mitigation, hardware and software reverse engineering, and advanced analytics.

CIPHER is skilled in reverse engineering, vulnerability discovery, and forensics analysis of embedded systems, focusing on development and demonstration of RF and network-based techniques to gain unauthorized access to and/or exploit information networks. The lab specializes in wireless and embedded devices such as radios, modems, routers, and embedded controllers comprising military and Industrial Control System (ICS) networks.

Electro-Optical Systems Laboratory (EOSL)

Core research emphasis of the EOSL includes sensor information processing and visualization; optimization, modeling, and simulation of self-protection systems; and topographic and bathymetric LiDAR. Key research areas include electronic warfare modeling and analysis, atmospheric program modeling, infrared countermeasures, sensor intelligence and visualization, electro-optical systems, remote imaging, personnel detection, and augmented and virtual reality for situational awareness.

Tiny electric heaters are shown with vapor cells holding rubidium atoms. The heaters control the amount of rubidium in its gas phase. Atomic magnetometers work by detecting how the energy levels of atoms are modified by an external magnetic field applied to them. (Branden Camp, GTRI)

Electronic Systems Laboratory (ELSYS)

ELSYS ensures that deployed systems stay operable, intuitive, and relevant in fulfilling the warfighter’s mission by keeping mission-critical systems technologically suitable, supportable, and affordable over their lifecycle. ELSYS covers electronic warfare analysis and technology to solve complex survivability problems in real-world applications and human systems integration that provides rapid prototyping and fielding of systems for various applications including human sensor suites.

Avionics systems integration includes data fusion of multi-spectral electronic warfare systems, standards development and piloting, and defensive suite integration. Software and hardware tools test and train for both tactical and national data links. An unmanned systems and robotics area provides technology development in underwater unmanned systems, micro vehicle research, and vehicle autonomy.

John Trostel, director of GTRI’s Severe Storms Research Center (SSRC), and Madeline Frank, a research meteorologist at the SSRC, examine equipment built by GTRI for the North Georgia Lightning Mapping Array, a network of 12 sensors located around the metropolitan Atlanta area to detect lightning that may indicate storm intensification. (Branden Camp, GTRI)

The growth, synthesis, and characterization of optical/electronic materials, nanomaterials, and semiconductor materials also are core areas. Technology areas include thin film materials deposition, device fabrication, and testing; nanoparticle, nanocomposite, and nanostructure development; and RF, microwave, and other electronic circuit design, assembly, packaging, and testing.

Information and Communications Laboratory

Research at this lab solves complex problems in areas of computer science, information technology, communications, and networking. Technologies include ground electronic warfare (EW)/communications systems, emergency response, software defined radio development, smart city and Internet of Things development, and software modernization.

The future of communications is addressed through mobile/network convergence, communications/network vulnerability and protection, integrated sensor networks, machine-to-machine (M2M)/Internet of Things, and secure networks.

Sensors and Electromagnetic Applications Laboratory

SEAL develops prototype radio/microwave frequency sensor systems with emphasis on radar systems engineering, electronics intelligence, communications intelligence, measurement and signal intelligence, electromagnetic effects, radar system modeling and simulation, sensor fusion, and antenna technology.

Technology areas include avionics integration, ground and airborne moving target indication, synthetic aperture radar, medical applications of sensor technology, sensor development for missile defense, space-based surveillance and detection, UAV payloads, and transportation applications.

Technology Transfer

GTRI’s science and engineering expertise turns ideas into workable solutions. These ideas, often co-developed with Georgia Tech academic partners, turn into applications that provide a significant technological advantage over other approaches.

Find technologies available for licensing here . Contact Ashton Harrison at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; 404-354-4282, for questions involving technology transfer.

Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the September, 2019 issue of Tech Briefs Magazine.

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