A Week in Review: 4/29/12 to 5/05/12

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

April 30, 2012

Single nanomaterial yields many laser colors
Red, green, and blue lasers have become small and cheap enough to find their way into products ranging from BluRay DVD players to fancy pens, but each color is made with different semiconductor materials and by elaborate crystal growth processes. A new prototype technology demonstrates all three of those colors coming from one material. That could open the door to making products, such as high-performance digital displays, that employ a variety of laser colors all at once.

For better test results, swap topics often
Students of all ages might improve their test scores if the category of information changed abruptly midway through the test, according to a new study.

Green drone: Hydrogen fuel cell powers ScanEagle
Insitu, a wholly owned subsidiary of Boeing, announced this month that its ScanEagle unmanned aircraft completed a hydrogen-powered test flight for the first time. A propulsion module made from a 1,500-watt fuel cell by United Technologies and a hydrogen fueling solution by the Naval Research Laboratory were integrated into the ScanEagle at Insitu’s facilities in Bingen, Wash. …..Insitu is teaming up with the Air Force Research Lab later this year to test a fuel cell in the Integrator, a newer, bigger version that can carry heavier payloads such as radio relay equipment to assist soldiers in the field.

Folding light: Wrinkles and twists boost power from solar panels
Taking their cue from the humble leaf, researchers have used microscopic folds on the surface of photovoltaic material to significantly increase the power output of flexible, low-cost solar cells.

May 1, 2012

Nanotech on Tap at Dallas-Area Research Conference
Neuroscience and novel cancer treatments might seem worlds away from high-efficiency batteries and advanced solar cells, but the U.S.-Korea Joint Symposium of Nanotechnology Workshops, hosted and co-organized by UT Dallas, will bring these diverse fields together under one roof…..The U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the South Korean government have sponsored the joint nanotechnology workshops for the past 10 years, with host institutions alternating between the two countries.

May 2, 2012

First-ever demonstration of autonomous bird-like robot perching on a human hand
By the virtue of their size and speed, birds are uniquely capable of efficient flight while flapping their wings and while gliding. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have duplicated the control functions that allow birds to successfully perform a soft landing—in this case, perching on a human hand.

ATK Announces Retirement of TacSat-3 Satellite
….The Air Force announced on April 30th, 2012, that the satellite deorbited into and burned up in the Earth’s atmosphere nearly three years after its May 2009 launch. TacSat-3 was designed for six months of operation, with a goal of one year. Not only did it outlive its design life, it also surpassed its original mission requirements and goals as an experimental spacecraft, and was successfully transitioned to operational status in 2010.

May 4, 2012

Novel Bone Scaffold Draws Strength from Tiny Silk Fibers
Every few months or so, researchers announce a new breakthrough with silk….now, David Kaplan, PhD, chair of biomedical engineering at Tufts University, whose interest in silk goes back for decades, has helped develop a silk-reinforced biodegradable material that can provide significant mechanical support during bone repair.

Burst-Mode Laser Captures Combustion Details
In the search for alternative fuels, scientists need tools to take snapshots of combustion reactions that happen at short time scales. American researchers have devised a new-type of burst-mode laser that provides bursts lasting 10 times longer than previous examples—enough to enable “movies” of these reactions.

A Week in Review: 3/11/12 to 3/17/12

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

March 13, 2012

Metamaterials may advance with new femtosecond laser technique
Researchers in applied physics have cleared an important hurdle in the development of advanced materials, called metamaterials, that bend light in unusual ways. Working at a scale applicable to infrared light, the Harvard team has used extremely short and powerful laser pulses to create three-dimensional patterns of tiny silver dots within a material. Those suspended metal dots are essential for building futuristic devices like invisibility cloaks.

Harvard Engineer Robert J. Wood to receive NSF’s Alan T. Waterman Award
The annual award, the NSF’s most prestigious honor, recognizes an outstanding researcher under the age of 35 in any field of science or engineering that the NSF supports. In addition to a medal, Wood and Aaronson will each receive a million-dollar grant over a 5-year period for further advanced study. [Editor’s Note: Dr. Wood has been supported by AFOSR since 2007 and is currently funded under Dr. Bonneau’s (AFOSR/RSL) Programmable Microrobot Swarms program].

March 14, 2012

Students Square off Using Brain Power to Compete at National Robotics
The annual National Robotics Challenge (NRC) helps students develop their skills in creativity, engineering, problem-solving and leadership….This year, the NRC partnered with the Air Force Research Laboratory to develop a new contest called Rescue Robot. One team from the Rescue Robot event will be selected to work with the Air Force Research Laboratory and a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) emergency response team to further develop their design into an autonomous/semi-autonomous rescue robot prototype.

March 16, 2012

AFOSR Adds Features, Influences Future in Annual Review
The Air Force Office of Scientific Research wrapped up its annual review earlier this month, during which the organization’s program managers had a chance to showcase their work to authorities from defense, government, academia and the general public.

Killer silk: Making silk fibers that kill anthrax and other microbes in minutes
A simple, inexpensive dip-and-dry treatment can convert ordinary silk into a fabric that kills disease-causing bacteria — even the armor-coated spores of microbes like anthrax — in minutes, scientists are reporting in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.