Madison-based Alfalight receives $1.7 million contract

Posted: March 20, 2007

A small, fast-growing Madison company said Tuesday that it won a $1.7 million contract from the Army to help build high-power lasers.

Alfalight Inc. is to use the money to develop very high-power pump blocks, which are power sources for lasers.

The one-year contract is from the Army Research Laboratory in Adelphi, Md., for its scalable, high-efficiency solid-state laser program.

"We expect to develop both usable pump prototypes and provide valuable research results to the Army Research Laboratory upon completion," said Manoj Kanskar, vice president of research and development for Alfalight.

In addition to helping the Army develop lasers, the pump blocks could have uses in commercial material-handling equipment, Alfalight said.

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Lockheed Martin to patent quantum radar

Quantum computers are still a long way away, even though the basics have been resolved and already work in the lab. But up to now, "entanglement" has only worked with a few qubits. No information is transmitted between entangled, but spatially separated photons in the classic sense of the term; rather, the photons form a pair, with the polarisation of one, for instance, directly determining that of the other regardless of the distance between them.

Now, the Guardian of Britain is reporting that a patent filed by US defense firm Lockheed Martin at the European Patent Office (no. EP1750145) uses Einstein's "spooky action at a distance" for a radar system that allegedly overcomes the limits of conventional radar systems.

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Record power for military laser

By Paul Rincon
Science reporter, BBC News

A laser developed for military use is a few steps away from hitting a power threshold thought necessary to turn it into a battlefield weapon.

The Solid State Heat Capacity Laser (SSHCL) has achieved 67 kilowatts (kW) of average power in the laboratory.

It could take only a further six to eight months to break the "magic" 100kW mark required for the battlefield, the project's chief scientist told the BBC.

Potentially, lasers could destroy rockets, mortars or roadside bombs.

For many years, solid state, electrically powered lasers like SSHCL were only able to operate at a fraction of the 100kW mark.

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Nanostructured Material Offers Environmentally Safe Armor-piercing Capability

AMES, Iowa – Armor-piercing projectiles made of depleted uranium have caused concern among soldiers storing and using them. Now, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory are close to developing a new composite with an internal structure resembling fudge-ripple ice cream that is actually comprised of environmentally safe materials to do the job even better.

Ames Laboratory senior scientist Dan Sordelet leads a research team that is synthesizing nanolayers of tungsten and metallic glass to build a projectile. “As the projectile goes further into protective armor, pieces of the projectile are sheared away, helping to form a sharpened chisel point at the head of the penetrator," said Sordelet. “The metallic glass and tungsten are environmentally benign and eliminate health worries related to toxicity and perceived radiation concerns regarding depleted uranium.”

Depleted-uranium-based alloys have traditionally been used in the production of solid metal, armor-piercing projectiles known as kinetic energy penetrators, or KEPs. The combination of high density (~18.6 grams per cubic centimeter) and strength make depleted uranium, DU, ideal for ballistics applications. Moreover, DU is particularly well-suited for KEPs because its complex crystal structure promotes what scientists call shear localization or shear banding when plastically deformed. In other words, when DU penetrators hit a target at very high speeds, they deform in a “self-sharpening” behavior.

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Free-Electron Laser Shines at Over 14 Kilowatts in the Infrared

Free-Electron Laser Shines at Over 14 Kilowatts in the Infrared
Released: 11/9/2006

Newport News, Va. – The most powerful tunable laser in the world just shattered another power record: the Free-Electron Laser (FEL), supported by the Office of Naval Research and located at the U.S. Department of Energy´s Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab), produced a 14.2 kilowatt (kW) beam of laser light at an infrared wavelength of 1.61 microns on October 30.

“This wavelength is of interest to the Navy for transmission of light through the maritime atmosphere and for material science applications,” said Fred Dylla, Jefferson Lab’s Chief Technology Officer and Associate Director of the Free-Electron Laser Division. The FEL is supported by the Office of Naval Research, the Naval Sea Systems Command, the Air Force Research Laboratory, and the Joint Technology Office, as well as by the Commonwealth of Virginia. The laser’s new capabilities will enhance a wide range of applications, such as shipboard antimissile defense and other defense applications as well as manufacturing technologies and the support of scientific studies in chemistry, physics, biology and medicine.

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First Demonstration of a Working Invisibility Cloak

The cloak, made with advanced 'metamaterials,' deflects microwave beams and may find a variety of wireless communications or radar applications

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Durham, NC -- A team led by scientists at Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering has demonstrated the first working "invisibility cloak." The cloak deflects microwave beams so they flow around a "hidden" object inside with little distortion, making it appear almost as if nothing were there at all.

Cloaks that render objects essentially invisible to microwaves could have a variety of wireless communications or radar applications, according to the researchers.

The team reported its findings on Thursday, Oct. 19, in Science Express, the advance online publication of the journal Science. The research was funded by the Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Fellowship
The researchers manufactured the cloak using "metamaterials" precisely arranged in a series of concentric circles that confer specific electromagnetic properties. Metamaterials are artificial composites that can be made to interact with electromagnetic waves in ways that natural materials cannot reproduce.

The cloak represents "one of the most elaborate metamaterial structures yet designed and produced," the scientists said. It also represents the most comprehensive approach to invisibility yet realized, with the potential to hide objects of any size or material property, they added.

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Stealth radar system sees through trees, walls -- undetected

Stealth radar system sees through trees, walls -- undetected

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State University engineers have invented a radar system that is virtually undetectable, because its signal resembles random noise.
The radar could have applications in law enforcement, the military, and disaster rescue.

Eric K. Walton, senior research scientist in Ohio State's ElectroScience Laboratory, said that with further development the technology could even be used for medical imaging.

He explained why using random noise makes the radar system invisible.

"Almost all radio receivers in the world are designed to eliminate random noise, so that they can clearly receive the signal they're looking for," Walton said. "Radio receivers could search for this radar signal and they wouldn't find it. It also won't interfere with TV, radio, or other communication signals."

The radar scatters a very low-intensity signal across a wide range of frequencies, so a TV or radio tuned to any one frequency would interpret the radar signal as a very weak form of static.

"It doesn't interfere because it has a bandwidth that is thousands of times broader than the signals it might otherwise interfere with," Walton said.

Like traditional radar, the "noise" radar detects objects by bouncing a radio signal off them and detecting the rebound. The hardware isn't expensive, either; altogether, the components cost less than $100.

The difference is that the noise radar generates a signal that resembles random noise, and a computer calculates very small differences in the return signal. The calculations happen billions of times every second, and the pattern of the signal changes constantly. A receiver couldn't detect the signal unless it knew exactly what random pattern to look for.

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Robots are saving American lives in Iraq and Afghanistan

Robots are saving American lives in Iraq and Afghanistan
By Robert S. BoydKnight Ridder

NewspapersWASHINGTON -The Defense Department is rapidly expanding its army of robot warriors on land, air and sea in an effort to reduce American deaths and injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We want unmanned systems to go where we don't want to risk our precious soldiers," said Thomas Killion, the Army's deputy assistant secretary for research and technology.

Robots should take over many of the "dull, dirty and dangerous" tasks from humans in the war on terrorism, Killion told a conference of unmanned-system contractors in Washington last week.

Despite doubts about the cost and effectiveness of military robots, the Defense Department's new Quadrennial Defense Review, a strategic plan that's updated every four years, declares that 45 percent of the Air Force's future long-range bombers will be able to operate without humans aboard. No specific date was given.

One-third of the Army's combat ground vehicles are supposed to be unmanned by 2015. The Navy is under orders to acquire a pilotless plane that can take off and land on an aircraft carrier and refuel in midair. Robotic submarines also are planned.

The Pentagon is doubling the number of Predators and Global Hawks, unmanned surveillance aircraft that have been prowling the skies since before the Iraq war began.

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Oshkosh Truck testing hybrid truck for military, urban use

Trucks made with power to spare
Oshkosh Truck testing hybrid truck for military, urban use
Posted: Feb. 12, 2006

When floodwaters rose around Charity Hospital in New Orleans, power lines were down and drainage pumps languished.

The hospital basement was flooded, water was 4 feet deep in the street, and doctors used canoes to bring in supplies.

Following Hurricane Katrina, conditions in the city's largest hospital deteriorated rapidly.

More than 1,100 miles away, Oshkosh Truck Corp. wanted to help with hurricane relief and further test a hybrid, diesel-electric truck it was developing for military and civilian applications. The ProPulse hybrid truck's generator can provide power for a small airport, a field hospital or a military command post.

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Robotic truck could haul supplies in combat zones

No driver required
Robotic truck could haul supplies in combat zones
Posted: Jan. 24, 2006

First there was Terramax, an unmanned robotic truck that completed a 150-mile race through the Mojave Desert.

Now, Oshkosh Truck Corp. has developed a second version of Terramax that could be used to haul supplies in dangerous war zones. The 10-wheel-drive truck was tested this week in the desert near Yuma, Ariz.

The tests were done on an off-road course, with U.S. military officials watching from a sport utility vehicle.

It was "quite a viable demonstration," said John Stoddart, president of Oshkosh Truck's defense division.

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