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.

A Week in Review: 4/1/12 to 4/7/12

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

April 2, 2012
Old Disco Trick Unlocks Graphene’s High Tech Potential
Dry ice once gained notoriety as a fog enabler at innumerable 1970’s discotheques, and now it is being revived to hustle a 21st century breakthrough material out of the lab and into commercial use. Researchers from South Korea and Case Western Reserve University are developing a way to manufacture large quantities of graphene based on little more than dry ice and a canister filled with stainless steel balls.

A Week in Review: 3/25/12 to 3/31/12

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

March 26, 2012

Liquid-Like Compound May Lead to Better Thermoelectrics
In the continual quest for better thermoelectric materials—which convert heat into electricity and vice versa—researchers have identified a liquid-like compound whose properties give it the potential to be even more efficient than traditional thermoelectrics.

March 27, 2012

Simple, cheap way to mass-produce graphene nanosheets
Mixing a little dry ice and a simple industrial process cheaply mass-produces high-quality graphene nanosheets, researchers in South Korea and Case Western Reserve University report.

Exceptional Jet Fuel Produced From High-Quality Cellulosic Sugars
Virent and Virdia, formerly HCL CleanTech, announce the successful conversion of cellulosic pine tree sugars to drop-in hydrocarbon fuels within the BIRD Energy project….Virent used Virdia’s biomass-derived sugars to produce gasoline and jet fuel, the latter being sent to the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) for analysis where it passed rigorous testing.

March 28, 2012

Nanolithography: Named one of “100 Scientific Discoveries that Changed the World” by National Geographic
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 the Air Force Office of Scientific Research 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.

A Week in Review: 1/22/12 to 1/28/12

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

January 24, 2012

Graphene: Impressive capabilities on the horizon
A Rice University research team makes graphene suitable for a variety of organic chemistry applications.

Dinosaur Had Black Feathers, Archaeopteryx Study Shows
The raven-size creature long thought of as the earliest bird, Archaeopteryx, may have been adorned with black feathers, researchers have found. The structures that held the black pigment may have strengthened wing feathers, perhaps helping Archaeopteryx fly, scientists added.

Computer Scientist To Bring Programming and Aviation Knowhow Together To Create Safer Flight Systems
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute computer scientist Carlos Varela has received seed funding from the U.S. Air Force to help make flight data as updated, active, and accurate as possible.

Knighthoods for Nobel-winning Stronger than Steel Graphene Pioneers

We have some exciting news to share!

Two Nobel laureates funded by AFOSR, involved in the creation and isolation of graphene, a sheet of carbon just one atom thick, have received British knighthoods from the Queen of England.

Professors Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, from the University of Manchester, Great Britain, won the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics for their pioneering research in graphene, which they first isolated in their seminal work of 2004 and 2005. 

AFOSR’s European Office of Aerospace Research (EOARD) has funded their work to further the promise of graphene since 2008.  And now they add knighthoods to the honors as bestowed by the Queen’s New Year Honours List 2012.

Geim and Novoselov demonstrated graphene’s remarkable qualities as the thinnest material in the universe and quite possibly the strongest ever measured.  In addition to those amazing characteristics, its charge carriers—that is, the electrons that transport the electric charge in an induced electric current—exhibited the highest intrinsic mobility with zero effective mass, and can travel micron distances without scattering at room temperature. 

Graphene boasts multiple record electric and mechanical properties including the highest sustainable electric current, one million times copper; the highest thermal conductivity and mechanical strength both exceeding diamond, while at the same time it’s the thinnest material possible at one atom thick, and still stretchable, flexible, and impermeable. 

Some scientists have predicted that graphene could one day replace silicon – which is the current material of choice for transistors.  It could also yield incredibly strong, flexible and stable materials and find applications in transparent touch screens or solar cells.  Our European office, EOARD, has aggressively followed up on this program, as have many others within the DoD research community.