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: 6/10/12 to 6/16/12

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

June 11, 2012

Crustacean’s claw may be suited for battle
Researchers have figured out how a tiny tropical crustacean packs an outsized punch. And they are using that knowledge to engineer super-durable materials that could protect troops in the line of fire, among other useful applications.

All the Colors of a High-Energy Rainbow, in a Tightly Focused Beam
For the first time, researchers have produced a coherent, laser-like, directed beam of light that simultaneously streams ultraviolet light, X-rays and all wavelengths in between. One of the few light sources to successfully produce a coherent beam that includes X-rays, this new technology is the first to do so using a setup that fits on a laboratory table.

‘Nanocable’ could be big boon for energy storage
Thanks to a little serendipity, researchers at Rice University have created a tiny coaxial cable that is about a thousand times smaller than a human hair and has higher capacitance than previously reported microcapacitors.

June 14, 2012
Local jobs could come from University of Dayton research contract
The University of Dayton School of Engineering has secured federal Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) funds, funding that may lead to new area jobs, the university said Wednesday. The project will have UD working with six Ivy League schools, MIT and New York University in the latest round of awards, the university said Wednesday.

How the White House is aiming the X Prize model at big problems
On October 4, 2004, the idea of incentive prizes hit the mainstream when Burt Rutan and his team at Scaled Composites launched SpaceShip One into orbit for the second time and won the $10 million Ansari X Prize. Since then, prizes like that have become more and more common, and though the X Prizes are still the gold standard, there are now similar competitions from medical research to science to business, and beyond.

June 15, 2012
JILA frequency comb helps evaluate novel biomedical decontamination method
Like many new measurement tools, the laser frequency comb seemed at first a curiosity but has found more practical uses than originally imagined.

Startup born in Princeton lab turns carbon dioxide into fuels
Ask Andrew Bocarsly about the innovation behind Liquid Light, a New Jersey startup company that turns carbon dioxide into fuels and industrial chemicals, and the Princeton University chemistry professor smiles ruefully. “The project goes back to the early ’90s,” he said. “But nobody cared about carbon dioxide at that time.”

Biofuels could bolster national security, leaders say
A top British envoy says the U.S. and the U.K. could collaborate more on the development and use of biofuels in the military to boost both nations’ security and energy interests and cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Stopping Light and Restarting it Again!

Dr. Lene Hau, Mallinckrodt professor of physics and applied physics at Harvard University, and her co-researchers, Dr. Naomi S. Ginsberg and Dr. Sean R. Garner, stopped and extinguished a light pulse in a tiny, supercooled sodium cloud called a Bose Einstein Condensate, and then brought the light pulse back into existence in another atom cloud in a separate location.

The information inside the light pulse was transferred from the first to the second cloud by converting the light pulse into a travelling matter wave, a small atom pulse that was a perfect matter copy of the extinguished light pulse. After the matter wave entered the second cloud, the atoms there worked together to restore the original light pulse.

Currently, scientists and engineers working in optical networks and quantum cryptography are only able to store an optical signal, but Hau’s work will enable them to have a greater degree of control over quantum processing than ever before.
Watch the video to see how it was done!

Stanford University Dr. Robert L. Byer Speaks about Laser Research

On Oct. 26, we hosted a presentation by noted physicist Dr. Robert L. Byer from Stanford University as part of our 60th Anniversary celebration.

During the talk, Dr. Byer emphasized the importance of basic research to the laser effort, noting that no one realized the numerous applications and everyday utility of the laser when it was first demonstrated in 1960.

In the early days of laser research, and its forerunner, the maser, it was common for critics to dismiss these research efforts as “Means of Acquiring Support for Expensive Research.” But as Dr. Byer pointed out, lasers are a stealth utility–not visible to the general public but critical to everyday life. Without them we would not have electricity generation, Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation would cease, and we could not even check out items at the store register.

Lasers are critical not only to the commercial world, but to defense as well, and while we do not as yet have Starship Enterprise photon torpedoes, we do have lasers that safely and efficiently strip the paint from planes, help to repair the coatings on stealth aircraft, clean jet engine turbine blades and employ lasers for scanning aircraft for body integrity, to name just a few applications.

Dr. Byer predicted that laser scientists of future generations will produce applications that will be as dramatic as current laser accomplishments would seem to everyone sixty years ago when the laser was in its infancy.

Dr. Byer has conducted research and taught classes at Stanford University since 1969. He has made numerous contributions to laser science and technology including the demonstration of the first tunable visible parametric oscillator, and the development of the Q-switched unstable resonator Nd YAG laser. At present, he is developing nonlinear optical materials and laser diode pumped solid state laser sources for applications to gravitational wave detection and to laser particle acceleration.