A Week in Review: 3/18/12 to 3/24/12

A quick recap of AFRL and AFOSR news mentions over the past week.

March 19, 2012

10 Brilliant DARPA Inventions
The On-Line System was the brainchild of PC mouse inventor Douglas Engelbart, who in 1961 proposed to the director of information sciences of the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research to “develop a comprehensive framework for augmenting human intellect”.

Wright-Patt serves as support hub for Afghanistan
The Air Force Research Laboratory has responded to pleas from battlefield commanders for improvements that can help combat search and rescue specialists and the joint terminal attack controllers who work with U.S. aircraft to direct strikes on enemy targets. AFRL personnel at Wright-Patterson have helped develop and test lighter, longer-lasting batteries and more sophisticated night-vision technology.

March 20, 2012
Air Force Office of Scientific Research hosts nanotechnology pioneer
Dr. Mirkin’s presentation was part of a continuing series of events planned throughout the coming year as part of AFOSR’s 60th anniversary celebration and was scheduled during AFOSR’s annual Spring Review program, taking advantage of an audience from numerous science and technology organizations holding wide-ranging scientific and engineering interests.

March 21, 2012
Optoelectronics industry seeks manufacturing comeback
Several Ohio universities will work with the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson to create a facility that will eventually be designated as a “trusted assembly/packaging plant” for photonics.

March 22, 2012
AEDC’s Tunnel 9 is the site of unique program debut
Arnold Engineering Development Center’s White Oak site in Silver Spring, Md., is home to a new and innovative program sponsored by the Test Resource Management Center and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

Nanotechnology: Moving Beyond Small Thinking


The recently published National Geographic special issue titled “100 Scientific Discoveries That Changed the World,” leads off with a research program that began in 1997 when we funded a Northwestern University researcher by the name of Chad Mirkin. AFOSR took a chance on a process called Dip-Pen Nanolithography (DPN), and what Dr. Mirkin himself noted, was “a far out idea and a paradigm shift in scanning probe microscopy,” but indeed, proved to be an idea that changed the world.

Highlighted in the Journal of Science, January 1999, DPN is a technology that builds nanoscale structures and patterns by drawing molecules directly onto a substrate. This process was achieved by employing an Atomic Force Microscope (AFM), the tip of which has the innate capability to precisely place items and draw lines at the nanoscale level. The AFM was basically an extremely small paint brush. Mirkin’s fundamental contribution was recognizing that it could be used to print structures on a surface through materials, rather than through an energy delivery process–the latter being the approach taken by all previous researchers.

DPN has led to the development of powerful new nanofabrication tools, ways of miniaturizing gene chips and pharmaceutical screening devices, methods for making and repairing photomasks used in the microelectronics industry, and high-throughput methods for discovering structures important in biology, medicine, and catalysis. Since 1997 Dr. Mirkin has authored over 480 manuscripts, holds over 440 patents and applications, and is the founder of four companies, which specialize in commercializing nanotechnology applications.

Professor Chad Mirkin recently spoke at two AFOSR events on the following topics A Chemist’s Approach to Nanofabrication: Towards a “Desktop Fab” and Nanotechnology: Moving Beyond Small Thinking.

A Chemist’s Approach to Nanofabrication: Towards a “Desktop Fab”

Nanotechnology: Moving Beyond Small Thinking