Forty years as an AFOSR PI: Rod Bartlett’s Personal History


Written By Rod Bartlett

When most read a popular account of scientific progress, the focus is on the ‘big name’ projects that one knows from the press: solar energy storage, hydrogen fuel, reduction of greenhouse gases, cures for cancer, etc. And the ‘experimental’ tools used to address these issues that measure the success or failure of some hypothesis. That, after all, is the scientific method. But as observations are made, science is trying to construct an underlying, organizing ‘theory’ that explains the experiment and will explain untold other future observations. An example is the difference between Newton showing that a prism splits light into many different colors—an experiment—and deriving the equations from his very general laws that explain the observed optics of the prism. The latter enable ‘predicting’ untold other optical phenomena in the absence of experiment.

Therefore, in this case Sherlock’s admonition that it is ‘dangerous to theorize without the facts’ needs some modification for ‘predictive’ theory. When the equations are correct and can be solved, the results have to be true. Today, that kind of predictive theory is what has been developed by quantum mechanics that in Dirac’s phrase underlies ‘all of chemistry.’ Except in his opinion, ‘the equations are too difficult to be soluble.’ The latter is no longer true. All those highly visible ‘big name’ projects depend upon chemistry, and chemistry deals with in Mulliken’s phrase, ‘what the electrons are really doing in molecules.’ With this knowledge, the energies of reactions, the activation barriers that control what reactions occur, and the spectroscopic fingerprints that identify the molecules become known.

The description of electrons requires the solution to the familiar, quantized equations of quantum mechanics for the electronic ‘wavefunctions’ and their energies, HΨk=EkΨk. But the H in these equations describe the Coulombic interactions among a molecule’s ‘many-electrons’. That means the water molecule’s 10 electrons produce a ‘10 body’ problem (45 electron-electron interactions), or for benzene, a’46 body one’ (1081 interactions), or for a piece of DNA, many more. Yet, we can only solve the Schrodinger equation of QM exactly for 1 electron, the hydrogen atom. So, we are faced with having to develop mathematical and computational tools that allow sufficiently accurate solutions of such many-electron problems to obtain the secrets of the molecules in question. When we are able to do that, we have a direct route to facts that are not typically amenable to experimental observation, like for molecules under extreme conditions as in explosions, or in interstellar space, or the detection and identification of rocket plumes, or the design of new concepts for fuels, among many other applications. Providing these solutions is the science of quantum chemistry.

But one major problem remained in its application. The problem of ‘electron correlation’. Electrons are charged particles meaning they interact instantaneously through Coulomb forces that cause their motions to be ‘correlated’, and these interactions are missing from an average (‘mean-field’ approximation) like the well-known Hartree-Fock theory. The latter approximates Ψ0 by Φ0, the familiar molecular orbital approximation that provides the conceptual interpretation of much of chemistry. Quantum chemical solutions to define Φ0 have been practical for many applications since the sixties, but the relatively small ‘correlation’ contribution that distinguishes the correct solution is critical to a ‘predictive’ theory for bond energies, activation barriers, spectra, and structure, indeed chemistry. As such, it has been the dominant unsolved problem in quantum chemistry for about 50 years.

In our forty years of AFOSR support, a number of notable advances have been made in the solution of the correlation problem. As a young scientist at Battelle in Columbus, Ohio, I approached Ralph Kelley, an AFOSR program manager in physics about support. I told him about using many-body perturbation theory (MBPT) and its diagrammatic framework borrowed from quantum field theory and Feynman diagrams to treat ‘electron correlation.’ He and AFOSR enabled me to start as an AFOSR PI in 1978.

As a postdoc at John Hopkins with Robert Parr, I had been given the freedom to pursue the many-body theory I had begun as an NSF postdoc at Aarhus, University in Denmark, in 1973. I and my collaborator, David Silver from the Hopkins Applied Physics Lab had written the first papers in chemistry in 1974-76 showing the potential power of MBPT. Prior work was due to Hugh Kelly in physics, who applied MBPT to atoms, but molecules require a very different treatment, so these were the first such applications. The reason it is called many-body perturbation theory (MBPT) is that the theory is based on the linked-diagram theorem of Brueckner and Goldstone that guarantees correct scaling with the number of electrons. Linked diagrams describe the electron-electron interactions in its most compact way. The energy of one of these quantum states has to be ‘extensive’ , so it should grow correctly with the number of electrons, a feature we later termed, ‘size-extensivity’ as the rationale for all many-body treatments. Although it should be obvious that when all the units (or atoms) in a molecule are too far apart to interact, the correct energy should be the sum of the energies of the units; but this condition is not met by the variational, configuration interaction approximations that were in dominate use during those 50 years. The many manifestations of size-extensivity were not to be fully realized until the turn of the century. Today, it is deemed a fundamental property that all worthy electronic structure approximations should satisfy.

Two years after our initial MBPT papers, John Pople decided to apply this method, but chose to call it Moeller-Plesset perturbation theory (MPPT) as he tried to avoid the less familiar diagrammatic tools we used. But his terminology hides the fundamental rationale for these many-body methods, in that the identification of ‘linked diagrams’ guarantees size-extensivity, and this feature is not apparent in ordinary perturbation theory. Today, the MBPT=MPPT methods for solving the Schrödinger equation are in virtually all quantum chemical programs. A search of the Web of Science shows that though there were only a hand-full of citations in the 70’s, and a couple of hundred until ~1989, there are now more than 295,700 citations to the method and 8105 papers written about it.

But perturbation methods are limited to some order and since the correlation correction is not small (in extreme forms it accounts for phase transitions in solids and super-conductivity), a far more powerful many-body approach is to sum many such linked diagram terms that describe correlation to infinite order. This is the idea of coupled-cluster theory that shows that the correct, infinite-order MBPT wavefunction for any system, Ψ0 = exp(T)|Φ0>. The exponential form guarantees size-extensivity. The cluster separation of, T=T1 +T2 +T3 +…where the subscripts indicate one-electron, two-electrons, three-electron,… provides a framework for a wealth of approximations determined by the number of clusters retained, like CCSD for single and double ones. The size-extensive property is at work at any truncation of T, providing superior solutions to any that had been previously obtained for the same computational effort. This is because the CC wavefunction even limited to T2, the double excitation cluster operator, automatically has all products like ⅟2T22 which are ‘quadruple’ excitations, and ⅟6 T23, ‘hextuple,’ etc., in its wavefunction. As T1, and T3 are added, one rapidly exhausts the effects of electron correlation converging to the exact solution.

The first report of general applications of CC theory, i.e. CCD for just T2 were reported in 1978 by us and Pople in back-to-back papers. Then George Purvis and I first reported CCSD (CC for single and double excitations) in 1982. Our CC papers were supported by AFOSR.

Because of the products included in exp(T2), unlike CI, most ‘quadruple’ effects are already included in CCSD, so the next most important term in due to T3. In our next AFOSR work (1984) we reported the first general inclusion of triple excitations (CCSDT-1), followed by the first non-iterative approximation CCSD[T], in 1985. A better non-iterative approximation, CCSD(T), that added one small term to [T] was introduced by the Pople group (1989) without a rigorous derivation. We presented that in 1993. The latter is now called the ‘gold standard’ in quantum chemical calculations. In 1987 we reported the full CCSDT method for the first time, sometimes called the ‘platinum standard’, followed later by full quadruples, CCSDTQ, and pentuples, CSDTQP! In this way we were able to show the rapid convergence of CC theory to the exact result, documenting its predictive character. Another citation check shows that from virtually no mention in the seventies, to less than a hundred citations in the eighties, CC theory has now spawned 28,780 papers and over 700,000 citations.

Another advantage that calculations have over experiment is the flexibility of application. In a second project with AFOSR, the physics program manager with responsibility for non-linear optics (NLO), Col. Gordon Wepfer, showed me experimental results for electric-field induced second and third harmonic generation experiments in the gas phase, compared to the theory of the time. The theory was hopeless! NLO effects are critical to all kinds of problems from protecting pilots’ eyes from lasers to doing selective surface chemistry. They are in principle, amendable to quantum chemistry, as they depend upon the higher terms in the expansion of a molecule’s energy in the presence of (frequency dependent) electric fields. These quantities are called hyperpolarizabilities, as they are higher-order generalizations of the well-known dipole polarizability for a molecule. I could not promise that we could resolve the discrepancy between theory and experiment, but with our new CC/MBPT methods I could promise to do calculations for such quantities with the best correlated quantum chemistry that existed. It took a few years and required some new theory for the treatment of the frequency dependent effects, but, indeed, we were able to explain the observed experimental values for the first time.

Another illustration of the flexibility of application occurred when Capt. Pat Saatzer of the Rocket Lab asked us at Battelle to provide a theory complement to two experimental efforts, one directed by John Fenn, later to be a Nobel Laureate, to determine the cross sections for vibrational excitations when components of combusted fuel collide with O atoms in the upper atmosphere. The idea is that depending upon the products in the fuel, a knowledge of these signatures allows one to identify whose missile it is. This kind of problem requires the combined efforts of molecular dynamics and quantum chemistry, the latter to provide the potential energy surface of interactions between the molecules and O atoms, and the dynamics, done by Mike Redmon, to add the time-dependent aspects. Both experiments failed, leaving only the theory to provide the cross sections required in the deployment of detectors.

A third illustration deals with NMR spectra. NMR has two components, a vector term that gives the chemical shift and a scalar term that provides the J-J spin-coupling constants for molecules. As the latter connects any two atoms in a molecule through its electronic density, the analogy with a chemical bond has inspired a lot of discussion. Once again, inspired by the lack of agreement between theory and experiment as pointed out in some review articles, Ajith Perera and I decided to apply our new CC/MBPT tools to resolving this issue. Once again these methods were remarkably successful, providing the first ‘predictive’ theory of J-J coupling constants. We went on to use them to further resolve the long-term argument between Georg Olah and H. C. Brown about the existence of non-classical C bonding, and with Janet Del Bene, to study the ‘two-bond’ coupling across an H-bond in nucleic acid bases. By measuring the latter, one can infer the location of the H- bond that cannot be seen in X-ray analysis. We also offered a J-J signature for the meaning of a strong, weak, or normal H-bond.

The next major theory effort for AFOSR was our further development of CC/MBPT but now focused on excited states. In the Schrodinger equation above, the ‘k’ indicates one of the many quantized solutions to the problem. The others are important to electronic spectroscopy and photochemistry among many other needs. In its original formulation, CC/MBPT provided very accurate results for one state, but we changed that by introducing what we call the equation-of-motion (EOM) CC starting in 1984-1992. This enables one to add a spectrum of excited states on top of a CC solution for the ground state. EOM also permits ‘excited’ states that differ from the ground state in the number of electrons, as in ionizations in photoelectron spectroscopy (IP-EOM-CC), or by adding an electron (EA-EOM-CC), or kicking out two electrons, DIP-EOM-CC or adding two, DEA-EOM-CC. Hence, one now has a wide array of ways to describe ‘what the electrons are doing in molecules’ for a wealth of different situations. Subjecting EOM-CC (sometimes called CC linear response) to the same measure of use as the other two developments shows over 23,500 citations and 690 papers using these methods today.

Armed with all these tools, a fascinating problem arose in the new, high-energy density material (HEDM) program geared toward new ideas for ‘revolutionary’ improvements in rocket fuels. I submitted a proposal entitled “An Investigation of Metastability in Molecules” to Drs. Larry Curtiss and Larry Burggraf in AFOSR chemistry, that asked the question how much energy could be stored in a molecule with a sufficient barrier to decomposition to keep it around long enough to be useful. Later Dr. Mike Berman became the program manager, and remains my program manager today. My proposal planned to use our predictive set of quantum chemical tools to address this question. Unlike synthesis, which is difficult, expensive, and dangerous, quantum chemical applications can explore prospects that exhibit different principles to see if any might be worthy of further study.

One strategy for storing energy into molecules would be to force some atoms to bind in unfamiliar ways, a concept we termed ‘geometric metastability.’ A case in point is the tetrahedral form of N4. As the normal form of P4 is a tetrahedron, and N and P are isovalent such a molecule makes sense. But while P2 is not very stable compared to P4, the N2 triple bond is one of the strongest bonds known, and four N atoms energetically prefer two N2 molecules to four single bonded N atoms in a tetrahedron. That, of course, is exactly what one would like, since if the four N atoms could be put into a tetrahedron, and if there is a barrier to decomposition that would keep it around; then under stimulus all the energy in N4 could be released to N2 molecules. Our calculations show that N2 would release 190 kcal/mol and would be held together by a barrier of 40 kcal/mol, once the four atoms could be put into the tetrahedron. That, of course, is the difficulty. Although there have been some potential experimental observations, perhaps the best one is from mass spec, where its isoelectronic analogue, N3O+ has been seen.

Another of our predictions was the existence of the N5 pentazole anion. Again, this makes perfect sense in terms of its bonding, even achieving extra stability via its pi electron aromaticity like in benzene. In this case we predict a barrier to decomposition of 27 kcal/mol. It has now been observed in negative ion mass spec as a byproduct of a known pentazole containing molecule. The targets for the HEDM project originated with theory that spun-off further work by DARPA and NASA, with the former pursuing serious synthetic efforts. Recently, another of our predictions, N8, seems to have been seen experimentally. Some have also been seen in high pressure experiments

Everyone in the computational field would love to be able to make accurate calculations by using an effective one-particle theory, so that all the complicated two-particle terms that must be described in CC theory could be avoided. This is the impetus for the development of Kohn-Sham density functional theory (KS-DFT). But unlike CC, there is no way to converge to the right answer, since the correct density functional is not known in any useful way. Instead, thousands of density based approximations to the KS-DFT theory are made and used to get answers quickly, without any guarantee of veracity.

In our current work for AFOSR we have tried to improve upon such an approach by insisting upon a rigorous foundation. That foundation starts by our formulation of a ‘correlated orbital theory’ (COT). It was derived from manipulating the IP/EA-EOM-CC equations that are formally exact into an effective one- particle form, whose eigenvalues have to correspond to the energy required to remove any electron from the molecule (IP) or to add an electron to the molecule (EA). This approach augments the mean-field Hartree-Fock approximation with a correlation orbital potential (COP)!

Since KS-DFT is a special case of COT, using this rigorous theory as a model, one can assess the accuracy of various DFT approximations. Finding that none satisfy our conditions, we took some well-known forms and, by virtue of the 2-4 parameters in them, fit them to satisfy our eigenvalue property initially only for water’s five Ip’s. In this way we introduced QTP(00). Two new minimally parameterized approximations, QTP(01), and QTP(02) followed. All provide accurate one-particle spectra to some threshold from the eigenvalue attached to each MO, proven by testing them against 401 experimental values from 63 molecules. QTP(01) gets all valence IP’s accurate to ~10%. An important application is core ionization and excitation, where QTP(00) is without peer. It accurately describes the core spectra of all the amino acids. Unlike any other DFT approximation, QTP(02) correctly describes the EA, both bound and unbound. The QTP family also gives excellent activation barriers, excited state excitation energies, and the molecular densities, themselves. As the avowed goal of DFT is to provide accurate densities, the QTP functionals do that better than most.

This QTP family defines what we call ‘consistent’ KS-DFT approximations, since one cannot get the IP-eigenvalues right without a good KS potential. Also, the connection between the orbital eigenvalues and Ip’s requires that the excitations given by adiabatic time-dependent DFT (TDDFT), be correct for excitation into the continuum, i.e. ionization. Further, an accurate potential mitigates the debilitating self-interaction error of KS-DFT, where electrons incorrectly interact with themselves. When we insist upon ‘consistency,’ we are a step closer to our goal of mimicking the predictive results of CC theory in a highly efficient one-particle theory. This is another testament to the CC revolution that began and was nurtured by AFOSR!

Besides the AFOSR work mentioned here, it is important to recognize that other aspects of our formative many-body developments benefitted from exceptional support from ONR (Bobby Junker) and ARO (Mikal Ciftan), and their successors. But it is true that ALL these accomplishments are uniquely a research product of the DoD agencies who had the foresight to back them in their infancy. I am extremely appreciative of the confidence shown in our effort over these 40 years.

AFOSR – The importance of basic science in science diplomacy


by Erin Crawley
Air Force Office of Scientific Research

11/23/2015 – ARLINGTON, Va. – The Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), a directorate within the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has a rich history of global engagement, building international partnerships and funding world class basic research scientists to support the science and technology aspects of the Air Force mission.

It seems now more than ever in this globalized era, that if the United States wants to hold its place as the world leader in technological advances and cutting-edge science, continued international engagement is a strategic must. Combining diplomatic efforts with U.S science and technology goals can be a wise approach to achieve that objective.

Dr. E. William Colglazier, former Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State (STAS), and currently a Visiting Scientist at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), would agree. A strong advocate of science diplomacy, he has worked with AFOSR Program Officer, Dr. Sofi Bin-Salamon, on international collaborations with South Africa, Italy and Australia over the past three years. The relationship between AFOSR and Dr. Colglazier rested on a single overarching principle – mutual trust. From that foundation, AFOSR and STAS set forth on an interagency strategy that opened unique pathways to build international partnerships.

“What I found is that AFOSR is one of those institutions that learned very early on the importance of what globalization is in terms of maintaining U.S. excellence in science and technology. I certainly want the U.S to be the world leader. If the U.S. is going to stay in the forefront, we’ve got to find out who the very good people are in other places doing interesting work and go out and engage with them,” Colglazier said.

Colglazier continued, “So the fact that AFOSR is engaged around the world, it has offices overseas, plus it can fund basic unclassified fundamental research, is surely the crown jewel of American science.”

link graphic A photo of Dr. E. William Colglazier, former Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State, and currently a Visiting Scientist at the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Over the past three years, Dr. E. William Colglazier, a strong advocate of science diplomacy, collaborated with the Air Force Office of Scientific Research to build partnerships with leading scientists and engineers of South Africa, Italy and Australia to strengthen and advance international engagement through science. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Cherie Cullen)

Colglazier’s first engagement with AFOSR was when he was invited to collaborate on the 2011 South Africa Joint Services & Technology Workshop, held in South Africa. “I think AFOSR found it useful to go with someone from the State Department in a joint effort with the Department of Defense (DoD) to help emphasize why it is in the interest of the South African researchers as well as in the interest of the U.S. to develop these relationships,” Colglazier said.

At the time, AFOSR was scouting the best universities, research laboratories, and companies performing unique fundamental science in South Africa, Italy and Australia that might be relevant to AFOSR’s mission. Since then the joint efforts of Dr. Colglazier and Dr. Bin-Salamon led to an unprecedented DoD basic research engagement in continental Africa by building linkages with S&T organizations such as the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR); the African Laser Centre, the Minerals Technology Laboratory, and many others. These relationships created partnership opportunities not just for AFOSR, but also for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), Army Research Laboratory, Office of Naval Research, Army Corp of Engineers, and United States Africa Command. In addition, AFOSR has gone on to fund and build relationships with top African scientists in the areas of materials science, physics, sensors and electronics and hosted the 2014 Joint Services & OSD Africa Technical Exchange, Arlington, VA.

Colglazier sees this new DoD basic research engagement in continental Africa as a great example of what he calls science diplomacy. He says using diplomacy to help advance our relations with other countries and advance the global scientific enterprise is essential.

“While historically, the U.S. has engaged in science and diplomacy efforts both in times of peace and war, it is especially important now for there to be universal acceptance by the U.S. government of the importance of international science and cooperation and its impact on protecting the United States,” Colglazier said.

To further support the efforts in Africa during this time, Dr. Bin-Salamon reached out to Professor Geraldine Richmond, Presidential Chair in Science, Professor of Chemistry at University of Oregon, National Academy of Science member, and President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, to join forces with AFOSR to visit CSIR and universities in South Africa in hopes of expanding research activities in Africa.

Richmond is a passionate advocate for women in science and is also the Director and co-founder of COACh, a grass-roots organization based at the University of Oregon, assisting in the advancement of women scientists and engineers in both the U.S. and in developing countries. “At that time I accompanied Sofi and a team from AFOSR along with other agencies, to visit CSIR and universities in South Africa, I was very interested in helping to increase research collaborations between scientists in the U.S. and in Africa, especially women scientists who often get overlooked in international collaborations,” Richmond said.

Richmond says the importance of basic science often comes up in discussions at the outset of these joint efforts, in both developing and developed countries. She says this is where AFOSR can assist in international collaborative ventures.

“In many less developed countries, in Africa and Asia, basic science, what I call ‘discovery science’, is a luxury that many believe they cannot afford.   With limited resources I often see the strategy of these countries to instead want to invest in development or applications science rather than discovery science, relying on the more scientifically advanced countries to provide that fundamental knowledge. While I believe that this is a wise choice it is short term oriented. Many of the scientists in those countries still have an interest in doing fundamental science but they generally know that they will likely need international collaborations to do that, or funding from outside of their country. AFOSR can play a role in both assisting in collaborations between U.S. scientists and those in less developed countries and also help to fund discovery science in those countries,” Richmond explained.

“I believe that we have a lot to learn from such joint ventures. In many parts of the world, problems that they face today often foreshadow what we in the U.S. will face in the future. Climate change is a good example of that.   Learning and working with scientists in these countries not only helps them cope with those problems but also helps us prepare for the future. AFOSR can help to bring scientists from different countries together to solve common problems, creating international networks that are necessary for solving global problems that do not have boundaries. This is where AFOSR can have a huge impact,” Richmond said.

That same year Bin-Salamon and Colglazier worked together to build strategic basic research and diplomatic collaborations between the U.S. and Australia by working with the Australian government and the Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF). This eventually led AFOSR to leverage the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) that resulted in many successful partnerships with the Australian research landscape involving the Australian Department of Education and Training; the Department of Industry and Science; Australian Academy of Science, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation; and Australian universities.

Over the past four years the extensive collaborative efforts between AFOSR and the Australian Government resulted in three successful major engagements, with the most recent one, the US-Australia Enabling Technologies Technical Exchange Meeting, taking place in May 2015 in Arlington, Va.

Two key players from the Education, Science and Technology Branch of the Embassy of Australia, Mr. Michael Schwager, former Minister-Counsellor for Education, Science and Technology and Ms. Laura Rahn, Deputy Director for Science and Technology, along with Mrs. Rosie Hicks, ANFF CEO, collaborated with AFOSR to be inclusive of Australian researchers from all Australian universities and publically funded research agencies as part of the program agenda. Australian researchers were chosen to participate depending on possible new areas of collaboration between Australian and U.S. participants and the potential to enhance international cooperation in the development, operation and use of research infrastructure.

The result was an amazing gathering of more than 80 participants from the U.S. and Australia. Thirty-five researchers from 17 Australian universities and four publically funded research agencies were in attendance and presented to a range of U.S. research funding agencies and universities. This year’s workshop was the largest one thus far, attracting more candidates and participants than in previous years, creating a collaborative innovative environment for researchers to discuss their cutting edge research.

“In addition to the Enabling Technologies Workshop, the Australian Government also supported a pilot research placement program in 2014 which placed Australian researchers in AFOSR funded labs across the U.S.. This was a successful way to continue the ongoing linkages between Australian and AFOSR funded researchers by enabling them to interact face to face in the lab with their US counterpart,” said Schwager, Head of the Science & Commercialisation Division in the Australian Federal Department of Industry & Science.

Schwager continued, “It is through these activities that the Australian Government hopes to strengthen our connections with AFOSR further and to foster future innovations.”

Following engagements in continental Africa and Australia, the pattern of creating relationships between AFOSR and global civilian research organizations repeated in Italy in the following years.

In 2013 Colglazier introduced Bin-Salamon to Mr. Giulio Busulini, Scientific Attaché at the Embassy of Italy in Washington D.C., to establish a science and technology dialogue with the Italian S&T community. Since then they have been coordinating together on several fronts, to include very successful collaborations with Italian science organizations.

In addition, Bin-Salamon and Busulini worked diligently with representatives from U.S. Department of State, Italian Ministry of Research, the Italian Ministry of Defense, and the Italian Industries Federation for Aerospace, Defense and Security; to organize the AFOSR/Italy Technical Exchange as part of the US-Italy Defense S&T Dialogue. The effort established interagency engagements with the National Research Council of Italy (CNR) through the AFOSR/NIH/CNR Technical Exchange and the AFOSR/DARPA/NCI Strategic Workshop, and CIRA Italian Aerospace Research Centre that manages one of the top hypersonics testing facility in the world. In unprecedented fashion, CIRA has participated in AFOSR Program Reviews to engage the USAF basic research enterprise, and the Embassy of Italy worked in concert with AFOSR to support projects and researcher exchanges between Italian universities and AFOSR-funded academic laboratories. By opening new doors with CNR and CIRA, there are now opportunities to enable scientist from the U.S. to use the CIRA testing facilities for basic research purposes. Collaborators hope this will also create opportunities for more technology transfers for the DoD and aerospace industry.

“CIRA gave their first presentation to AFOSR at the US-Italy Joint Defense S&T Dialogue, held in 2013 in Washington, D.C., and showed to the U.S. Program managers how they might use the testing facilities for specific scientific areas. In addition, during this meeting, CIRA also communicated their interest in some joint research efforts,” Busulini said.

Appreciative of the newly established relationship with AFOSR, Busulini said, “This collaboration enabled us to bring CIRA in the conversation. Our relationship with AFOSR helped to accelerate the progress to start a more open dialogue in basic research”, Busulini said.

Another positive outcome resulting from the science and technology dialogue between AFOSR and the Italian Government is that the Ministry of Defense of Italy is moving toward more collaborative opportunities in basic science.

“AFOSR has mechanisms in place that make it very simple to fund and co-fund opportunities while making more efficient and economically beneficial investments. Additionally, the AFOSR model encourages long-term science and technology strategies that enable international partners to better connect with new scientific frontiers,” Busulini said.

While the success of these collaborations with continental Africa, Australia and Italy are the result of a lot of hard work by very committed and dedicated governments, scientists, program officers, academic institutions and industry partners, some of these relationships never would have been established without Colglazier in the mix.

“Dr. Colglazier’s partnership was central in our initiative to create a new international basic research landscape for AFOSR,” said Dr. Bin-Salamon. “By working together in a way that complemented our resources, we achieved successes that would not have occurred otherwise.”

A photo of Dr. E. William Colglazier and Dr. Sofi Bin-Salamon.

Dr. E. William Colglazier and Dr. Sofi Bin-Salamon share a common view of partnering with scientists around the world to advance the U.S. scientific enterprise while enabling the international community to solve global problems. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Cherie Cullen)

Through science diplomacy we can increase our global reach and help to influence a better future. “For me, science diplomacy is not about using science as a tool to advance our diplomatic goals like influencing the behavior of other countries and their investments, but it is also about using diplomacy in international engagement to advance the U.S. scientific enterprise,” added Colglazier.

The efforts of the State Department and AFOSR working together have helped to strengthen that enterprise. Colglazier expressed his appreciation in working with AFOSR, “Dr. Sofi Bin-Salamon has been a very valued colleague of mine and I’ve learned a lot from him. He’s been my partner in terms of engagement together, in Africa and in other countries. He’s an example of one of these bright young scientists who has come into the public policy sphere through these fellowship programs, originally through the AAAS, and who have become civil servants and very important components of the strategy of agencies like AFOSR for international engagement around the world.”

Dr. Colglazier is currently a Visiting Scientist at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Find more information about Dr. Colglazier’s work in this area at: The United States Looks to the Global Science, Technology, and Innovation Horizon, and Platform of Enhancing Global Academic Strategic Collaboration in Science (PEGASCIS).


The Air Force Office of Scientific Research, located in Arlington, Virginia, continues to expand the horizon of scientific knowledge through its leadership and management of the Air Force’s basic research program. As a vital component of the Air Force Research Laboratory, AFOSR’s mission is to discover, shape and champion basic science that profoundly impacts the future Air Force. Through its international enterprise AFOSR supports the Air Force science and technology community by identifying foreign technological capabilities and accomplishments that can be applied to Air Force needs.

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Week in Review: 12/7/14 – 12/13/14

December 11, 2014

Penn Research Outlines Basic Rules for Construction With a Type of Origami
A team of University of Pennsylvania researchers is turning kirigami, a related art form that allows the paper to be cut, into a technique that can be applied equally to structures on those vastly divergent length scales. The research was supported by the National Science Foundation through its ODISSEI program, the American Philosophical Society and the Simons Foundation.

December 10, 2014

Defects are perfect in laser-induced graphene
Researchers at Rice University have created flexible, patterned sheets of multilayer graphene from a cheap polymer by burning it with a computer-controlled laser. The process works in air at room temperature and eliminates the need for hot furnaces and controlled environments, and it makes graphene that may be suitable for electronics or energy storage.

December 9, 2014

Local Scrabble player places second in world
A competitive Scrabble player who works at the Rome Air Force Research Laboratory, Lipe last month achieved what he called an “amazing experience,” finishing second at the world Scrabble Champions Tournament in London.!8bJmTlrrvCgSyy7qVVVG3Q/

Contact lens merges plastics and active electronics via 3-D printing
As part of a project demonstrating new 3-D printing techniques, Princeton researchers have embedded tiny light-emitting diodes into a standard contact lens, allowing the device to project beams of colored light.

A Week in Review: 11/23/14-11/29/14

November 26, 2014

University of Minnesota engineers make sound loud enough to bend light on a computer chip
University of Minnesota engineering researchers have developed a chip on which both sound wave and light wave are generated and confined together so that the sound can very efficiently control the light. The novel device platform could improve wireless communications systems using optical fibers and ultimately be used for computation using quantum physics.

November 24, 2014

New device could make large biological circuits practical
A team of researchers at MIT has now come up with a way of greatly reducing that unpredictability, introducing a device that could ultimately allow such circuits to behave nearly as predictably as their electronic counterparts. The findings are published this week in the journal Nature Biotechnology, in a paper by associate professor of mechanical engineering Domitilla Del Vecchio and professor of biological engineering Ron Weiss.


AFOSR, NIH and NASA collaborate on basic research with Australia

by Air Force Office of Scientific Research Staff Writers
Air Force Office of Scientific Research

10/21/2014 – ARLINGTON, Va. – In the continuing work to expand the horizon of scientific knowledge through international partnership and leadership, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Australian Department of Education, the Australian Academy of Science, and the Australian National Fabrication Facility have organized a researcher exchange effort to create new, as well as strengthen existing relationships between scientific communities in the United States and Australia. This activity is the result of AFOSR’s ongoing collaboration with U.S. interagency and Australian partners that includes participation in the Inaugural United States – Australia Joint Commission Meeting, and co-organization of the 2011 Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF)/AFOSR Meeting and the 2012 AFOSR/ANFF Program Review. According to Mr. Michael Schwager, Minister Counsellor (Education, Science and Technology) at the Australian Embassy in Washington, DC, “the most successful international collaborations form at the researcher-to-researcher level and are then spurred through mutual and strategic interest. These research exchanges are great examples of that and will enhance our strong science linkages and particularly longer-term research collaborations with AFOSR, NIH and NASA.”

Beginning in mid-2014 through 2015, Australian graduate students and post-doctoral researchers from the University of Melbourne, University of New South Wales, University of Queensland, University of South Australia, Australian National University, Griffith University, and Monash University will travel to U.S. laboratories to perform research in multiple technical areas up to several months. Hosting U.S. institutions are the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Oregon Health Science University, University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University, University of California – San Diego, University of California – Berkeley, and University of Puerto Rico. “This effort is a testament to the patience, perseverance and drive of everyone involved to build and nurture long-lasting relationships between the best and brightest within our communities,” said Dr. Sofi Bin-Salamon (AFOSR). He added that “our domestic and international partnerships are key to opening new vistas in scientific discovery.”

AFOSR continues to discover, shape, and champion basic science that profoundly impacts the future Air Force (USAF). Proactively engaging with the international community is critical to AFOSR’s mission.

Over the years, AFOSR has supported many international research efforts (primarily grants) performed at foreign universities and institutes. In addition to funding research projects, AFOSR builds relationships among foreign researchers, the Air Force Research Laboratory and U.S. scientists and engineers through a variety of programs. AFOSR annually supports hundreds of international activities including technical exchanges, visits of foreign researchers to present their research to USAF audiences, and AF scientists and engineers conducting research in foreign laboratories.