A Week in Review: 6/17/12 to 6/22/12

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

June 18, 2012

The Next War Could Be Fought with Fireflies
The Department of Defense is a major funder behind a new biomimicry-based approach to lighting which harnesses the power of fireflies to create an energy efficient glow. How important could bug-powered light become? Well, as one indicator, the grant came through the U.S. government’s most prestigious channel for supporting the work of up-and-coming innovators, the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

Frequency comb helps evaluate novel biomedical decontamination
JILA researchers are using a laser frequency comb — a technique for making extraordinarily precise measurements of frequency — to identify specific molecules in gases. The project is helping biomedical researchers evaluate a novel instrument that kills harmful bacteria without the use of liquid chemicals or high temperatures.

Physicists make light matter
At first glance, a donut and a coffee cup do not have much in common, except that they complement each other really well. A second glance reveals that they share a geometrical property, their topology: the shape of one can be continuously deformed into the shape of the other.

Classified X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle Returns To Earth
A top secret robotic Air Force space plane that looks like a mini space shuttle has returned to earth after more than a year in orbit, with another set to blast off later this year…..Boeing’s research on the space-based unmanned vehicle spans a decade and includes support to the Air Force Research Lab’s X-40 program, NASA’s X-37 program, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s X-37 Approach & Landing Test Vehicle program.

Electrified graphene a shutter for light
An applied electric voltage can prompt a centimeter-square slice of graphene to change and control the transmission of electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths from the terahertz to the midinfrared. The experiment at Rice University advances the science of manipulating particular wavelengths of light in ways that could be useful in advanced electronics and optoelectronic sensing devices.

June 20, 2012

Air Force seeking renewable energy
The U.S. Air Force is the largest energy consumer in the federal government, spending more than $8.2 billion for electricity and fuel last year.

AFMC ready to transition to 5-Center construct
With three major milestones complete, Air Force Materiel Command officials are ready to consolidate the number of centers as part of its command-wide transition to the 5-Center construct.

June 21, 2012

Graphene is a tunable plasmonic medium
With a beam of infrared light, scientists have sent ripples of electrons along the surface of graphene and demonstrated that they can control the length and height of these oscillations, called plasmons, using a simple electrical circuit. This is the first time anyone has observed plasmons on graphene, sheets of carbon just one atom thick with a host of intriguing physical properties, and an important step toward using plasmons to process and transmit information in spaces too tight to use light.

Boeing Completes Upgrade of AEOS Telescope at Maui Space Surveillance Complex
The Boeing Company has completed a two-year modernization effort for the Advanced Electro-Optical System (AEOS), a powerful telescope used for research and space situational awareness by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). The Air Force has declared initial operational capability (IOC) for AEOS, which signifies that the telescope is fully upgraded and ready to provide imagery and surveillance of objects in near-Earth and deep-space orbits.