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Reconfigurable Materials for Cellular Electronic and Photonic Systems



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6. Reconfigurable Materials for Cellular Electronic and Photonic Systems

Background: Background: In microelectronics, reconfigurable cellular electronic and photonic arrays (RCEPAs) have great potential of directly implementing complex systems as software-defined emulations, configuring pre-built (but uncommitted) logic, interconnect, switching, memory and other resources to perform a desired set of functions. The success in design, utility, and implementation of RCEPA systems is tightly coupled to the materials and geometries used in these basic device cells, as well as the choice of layout and interconnect of such device elements to serve as a switch array. Since these systems initially will be generic and be subsequently personalized for specific scenarios, operational emulations and functional personalization can be rendered quickly into useful systems, much faster than creating an equivalent custom integrated circuit. Architectures in hardware can now be software-defined. RCEPAs are malleable and, conceptually, infinitely reformable. Besides providing flexibility, reconfigurability also can provide resilience despite thousands of latent material and device point defects or faults, because the emulations are, in general, non-unique, so that circumlocution is possible. The impressive scale of integration in modern functional switching array systems with over 106 gates can lead to their displacing custom integrated circuits in many applications, depending on the physical technology being used to implement such a system.

Although such system implementations, such as field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) which manipulate discrete, binary information are currently available, little work has been done to create architectures that exploit other forms of materials reconfiguration. A diversity of new concepts has emerged in reconfigurable materials, devices, circuits, and more elaborate forms of nano/micro-structural elements. These include phase-change, ferroic, magnetoresistive materials and devices, and micro- and nano-microelectro(opto)-mechanical (NEM/MEM/NOEM/MOEM) structures. These reconfigurable materials, devices, and structures generate a variety of interesting multi-state/continuum behaviors. Computational paradigms could be hybridized in principle and thereby be extended in performance. One can consider the in situ manipulation of electron, photon, phonon, magnon, magnetic domain, exciton, fluidic transport, modulation of aerodynamic surfaces, programmable attachment and assembly of components, and generation and reformation of wiring systems. New strategies can be studied and leveraged to exploit these alternate reconfigurability modalities in new types of architectures. In addition to investigating a “bottom-up” strategy based on material phenomenon physical change mechanisms, a simultaneous “top-down” research strategy is possible based on architectures and languages. These latter strategies can also provide logical starting points for new classes of reconfigurable systems that are inspired through cellular arrangements of primitive building blocks.


Objective: Identify and better understand new reconfigurable materials, switching device concepts, and the viability of developing RCEPA architectures, languages,

and synthesis tools based on cellular arrangements of primitive building blocks. These building blocks can be MEMS-like, MOSFET-like, phase change materials-like, magnetic-domain-like, photon transmissive-like, spintronic-like, or any mechanism that enables an externally digitally controlled, rapidly-reversible change between two or more (up to continuum) well-defined states in a way that allows for a redundant easily programmable system.


Research Concentration Areas: Research proposals are expected to address ideas from reconfigurable phenomenologies that motivate systems-level concepts, suggesting a multi-disciplinary teaming approach. This work focuses on integrating reconfigurable device concepts into flexible, multi-functional configurations designed to operate in simple to program architectures.

Research areas include but are not limited to:
• Identification, characterization, and optimization of new primitive reconfigurability mechanisms in materials and nano/micro-scale structures (e.g., NEMS/MEMS or photonic approaches) .
New concepts for devices, materials, and mechanisms that lend themselves to high performance and highly efficient RCEPA organization . Particular emphasis should be placed on prospective architectures that involve photonic write/electronic read, electronic write/photonic read, or photonic write/photonic read systems. Improvements of existing and about-to-be introduced commercial and conceptual electronic write/electronic read approaches are not being solicited.

• Extension of cellular networks with scale-free, random/amorphous (or other) network models to effectively harness the associated phenomenologies.


• Development of an understanding of the suitability of (homogeneous or heterogeneous) cellularity (two- and/or three-dimensional) as a theme for new configurations that aggregate these primitive cells;

• Development of suitable complementary concepts for expressive capacity, language constructs, metrics, and synthesis heuristics needed to mobilize large multi-dimensional ensembles of primitive cellular (or alternatively ordered) arrangements.


Interest domains include the emulation and interconnection of the following elements: (1) digital, (2) analog, (3) power, (4) microwave, (5) optical, (6) other sensing/actuation concepts, and mixtures of these domains.
Impact: New classes of reconfigurable electronics and photonics are expected to result in revolutionary expressions of pervasive morphability in warfighting systems. This morphability can lead to greater flexibility (and in some cases performance), resilience, and the ability to form systems more rapidly.


Program Scope: Typical awards will be in the range of $150K--$250K each year for three years. Collaborative projects which involve interaction between principal investigators at federally supported laboratories, such as AFRL, and/or FFRDCs coupled with an academic researcher will be considered. In this instance, a single joint proposal is appropriate, jointly vetted and supported by the management of

the participating institutions. Interested parties should contact the topic research chief before submitting a brief “white paper.” Formal proposals should be prepared only by invitation.

Dr Gernot Pomrenke/AFOSR/RSE (703) 696-8426

FAX (703) 696-8481

E-mail: gernot.pomrenke@afosr.af.mil

7. Thermal Transport Phenomena and Scaling Laws

Description & Background: Discover new techniques for modeling, analyzing, and understanding thermal phenomena at multiple time and length scales in emerging and novel material systems, and exploiting these phenomena to design future materials and components with improved thermal transport properties (conduction, convection, and radiation). Improved thermal transport is vital to enable in future structural and electrical components the ability to operate at elevated performance levels while maintaining adequate reliability and lifetime.

Of special interest is investigating the potential for tailoring thermal transport properties utilizing breakthroughs in nano materials, structures, and devices. The end goal is to greatly improve our understanding of the thermal transport phenomena in bulk materials and heterogeneous material interfaces that are essential to help enable the future high temperature needs of critically enabling military technologies, such as high-speed processing & high power electronics and hypersonic thermal protection and propulsion systems. In particular, proposals in the following subject areas are encouraged:



Basic Research Objectives:

New materials (multi-phase and/or heterogeneous structures) that provide a wider spectrum of thermal conductivity and insulation, thermal capability -- possible areas of emphasis:

• Tuneable (dynamic) thermal conductivities of materials

• Biomimetic approaches

Multi-scale characterization and modeling tools – possible areas of emphasis:

• Tools to address complex coupled multiple physics phenomena (e.g. thermal, mechanical, magnetic, electric, etc)

• Robust models with increased fidelity and speed

Program Scope: Typical awards will be $125-250K. It is expected that single investigator projects will be awarded. Collaboration with researchers at the Air Force Research Laboratory are encouraged but not required. White papers are required and should be no more than 2 pages in length. White papers should be sent by email and must include a short project description, discussion of how the proposed research will advance fundamental scientific understanding and a proposed budget for 3-5 years. Successful whitepapers will be invited to submit full proposals.

Dr Joan Fuller/AFOSR/RSA (703) 696-7236

FAX (703) 696-8451

E-mail: joan.fuller@afosr.af.mil




8. Radiant Energy Delivery and Materials Interaction

Goal: Understand and control the generation, propagation (particularly through complex media), scattering, and deposition of radiant energy at all wavelengths, intensities, and timescales. Explore the possibility that various natural media (dispersive, turbulent, random, etc) sustain certain EM waveforms more effectively than others as a result of their internal structure, geometric effects, and spatially heterogeneous dielectric and magnetic properties. Explore various manmade media (photonic bandgap materials, negative index materials, etc) for effects such as unidirectional propagation or total field trapping which might revolutionize the design/performance of a host of devices (antennas, baluns, delay lines, etc).
Science: Electromagnetic characterization (dispersion relation, index of refraction, etc) of complex media, both natural and manmade, needs to be pursued. For example, little is known concerning propagation events when the media has “fluctuations” resulting in fast temporal and/or spatial variation of the index of refraction. Examples include: turbulent media (atmospheres and boundary layers around fuselages), rustling foliage, clouds (due to Brownian motion of the water droplets), and urban environments (where multipath propagation limits communications and radar operation).

An example question is: “What is the detailed temporal and spatial statistical structure of the Doppler shift, if any, from fluctuating media?” It is anticipated that fluctuations, such as those occurring in clouds or the ionosphere, produce dephasing of transmitted signals/waveforms (resulting in such degradation as to prohibit imaging) as well as other unwanted artifacts and attempts at ameliorization are best served by fundamental understanding of the phenomena.

The above discussion leads in turn to the basic research challenge of identifying possible medium and target specific “optimal” waveforms (likely not CW if spatial resolution, provided by sufficient bandwidth, is the figure of merit) as well as spatial aperture distributions. The issue of optimal waveforms is a new time-domain direction for theorists studying Maxwell’s equations and is currently exemplified by waveforms called precursors which appear to be optimal for a large class of notional dispersive media (Debye, Lorenz, and Rocard-Powles).

Provide the underlying theory leading to the design of transceivers which can emit the above waveforms and identify the accompanying software paradigms which can intelligently deal with the non-CW nature of the returns. Also provide the underlying theory, which is anticipated to include a deeper understanding of various manmade media (such as photonic bandgap media and negative index media), leading to the design of electrically small antennas (on possibly exotic/complex substrates) having such attractive attributes as being highly directional, and having wide bandwidth. For example, there is no predictive method to anticipate a material’s relationship between energy stored coherently and energy lost as heat. Construction of a microscopic theory would permit accelerated material design. Questions regarding conformal phased arrays (also on possibly exotic/complex substrates) include whether there is a fundamental relation between the minimum profile of such an array and its bandwidth or scan range. In addition, impedance matching from the signal source to the antenna is especially difficult in the wideband case. Developments made in antenna theory must be complemented with developments addressing impedance matching and improved design of baluns.

Pursue a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of ultrashort, high peak intensity laser pulses. Issues such as nonlinear propagation through the atmosphere (as well as through such obscurants as clouds) together with the novel nature of the light/matter interaction of such pulses (also important in materials processing scenarios) should be considered. Specific issues that merit basic research attention include filamentation control, energy deposition range control, propagation distance enhancement, ancillary production of THz radiation, and generation of plasma discharges in the atmosphere.

Carefully interrogate the Maxwell Semiconductor Bloch description of solid state lasers in order to lay the groundwork for the design/operation of coupled SSLs which could, when their individual chaotic outputs are suitably orchestrated and the thermal loads are suitably ameliorated, provide effective HEL performance. Other results flowing from basic research in MSB include novel THz production from semiconductors.


Dr. Arje Nachman AFOSR/RSE (703) 696-8427

DSN 426-8427 FAX (703) 696-8450

E-mail: arje.nachman@afosr.af.mil

9. Socio-Cultural Modeling of Effective Influence

Background: The Air Force has recognized cyberspace as a war-fighting domain, but it is not independent of the physical domains of air and space. It can be observed that non-kinetic information operations can influence the actions of people and technology in air and space. Likewise, kinetic operations in air and space can have observable effects in cyberspace and in the ways in which individuals and groups react. In a flat interconnected world, it is important to understand the causal relationships between actions and observations that cross the boundaries of the air, space, and cyberspace domains. The Air Force is interested in modeling and analysis of the chains of causality, both immediate and long-term, that relate phenomena across these spaces. Because these phenomena include human behavior, areas of interest include the modeling of effects of cultural variables in groups and communities to situations that might occur in military and related situations. Such situations might include weapons effects, the behavior of individuals and groups to non-lethal weapons, culturally conditioned responses to natural cataclysmic events and other disasters, cyber-related effects, etc.

Basic Research Objectives: We are interested in developing a basic research foundation for incorporating an understanding of factors underlying socio-cultural/population variability into effects based operations suitable for application in a variety of domains. Areas of interest include the modeling of the effects of population variables in groups and communities to situations that might occur in military and related situations. Such situations might include weapons effects, the behavior of individuals and groups, including friendly forces and populations, to non-lethal weapons, culturally conditioned responses to natural cataclysmic events and other disasters, cyber-related effects, etc.

Such problems can be characterized by high dimensionality and parallel causation. Effects may also be characterized by varying time courses and latency over a long period of time. Actions in one domain may have 2nd order effects in the same or in another domain such as the population effects of cyber initiatives. The predominant importance of 2nd order effects in the cyber domain (such as in an info warfare campaign) is an interesting aspect. Can we parameterize socio-cultural models in virtual environments? What are the basic computational and/or modeling tools to study such effects in the domain of human group behavior?

We are interested in group and inter-group behavior modeling – that is the culturally determined behavior of large groups and communities over time. We are most interested in how to identify and quantify cultural variability in ways that allow their incorporation into such models. Applications include understanding community (both physical and virtual) decision making and control. If you are comparing a crowd's/group’s/community’s response to the expected response, how are you measuring their response? Secondary effects such as community reaction, etc. might result from a variety of weapons types, both lethal and non-lethal, physical and cyber.

We encourage proposals addressing new mathematical tools for socio-cultural modeling including approaches that integrate normative (rational), prescriptive, and descriptive approaches, counterfactual reasoning, reasoning about unknown tasks, bargaining, bluffing, framing, etc.

Conditioning and context/situation are also relevant - the behavior of a given population to a stimulus given in one situation might be different than the response to the same stimulus in other situations. Priming can cue a particular behavioral output. Non-traditional marketing approaches including internet and multi-cultural approaches are applicable to influencing individuals, groups and communities.
Often the only data available are observational making causal inference problematic. What are the things to be measured and how do we measure them? Does it have to be interviews on the ground? What are the observables today, what do they need to be in ten years? What implications does this type of data have for modeling efforts – data driven modeling? How should data be collected so that it is usable be modelers – model driven data collection? Innovative approaches to data collection and analysis in this domain are needed such as adaptation of anthropology, bioinformatics, computer science, dynamic systems, economics, epidemiology, international relations, marketing, mathematics, psychology, political science, sociology, operations research, etc.

Basic research methodologies and metrics are needed to study such multi-parameter group behavior problems characterized by sparse and uncertain data, multi-causality and second order effects. We are also interested in overall assessment of models including issues such as meta-modeling, validation, verification, generalizability/transportability, sensitivity analysis, currency, etc. Innovative computationally-based and multi-disciplinary approaches to ill-posed problems involving multiple parameters are encouraged.




Program Scope: Typical awards will be single investigator grants of three-year duration. But proposals involving an interdisciplinary team with the skills needed to address all the relevant research challenges necessary to meet the program goals will also be considered. Collaboration with scientists in the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is encouraged, but not required. White papers are encouraged as an initial and valuable step prior to proposal development. The white papers that are found of interest will be encouraged to develop into full proposals.

Dr. Terence Lyons AFOSR/RSL (703) 696-9542

DSN 426-9542 FAX (703) 696-7360

E-mail: terrence.lyons@afosr.af.mil



10. Super-Configurable Multifunctional Structures

Background: The demands of real-time performance optimization for reconfigured missions require a variety of aerospace platforms to obtain the capability of dramatically altering their shape, functionality or mechanical properties in response to the changes in surrounding environments or operating conditions. The most well-known example of this concept is “morphing” aircraft that can change their wing shape and thereby perform flight control without the use of conventional control surfaces or seams similar to what is found in nature. Morphing wing aircraft promises the distinct advantages of being able to fly multiple types of missions, to perform radically new maneuvers impossible with conventional control surfaces, and to provide a reduced radar signature. By extending the concept beyond the case of shape change in morphing wing aircraft, more complex forms of reconfigurable systems can be envisioned involving combined changes of shape, functionality and mechanical properties on demand such as utilized in bats, but on a more extreme scale. Examples of such reconfigurable multifunctional structures, referred hereafter as “super-configurable” structures, include: (a) morphing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) that are capable of efficiently loitering in a region for surveillance and then reconfiguring for a high-speed dash to engagement, and would require full integration of sensing, communication, actuation and propulsion capabilities into load-bearing structures for higher system efficiency, and (b) space-deployable systems enabling a notional asset delivered in compact form in the upper atmosphere and under extremely harsh loading conditions (such as Mach 6) and subsequently reconfigured to produce a multiple number of micro-UAV’s with sub-meter dimensions for surveillance operation in the lower atmosphere.

From current trends in the research area of morphing wing aircraft, it is evident that the practical realization of morphing structures is a particularly demanding goal with substantial research effort still required. This is primarily due to the need of any proposed structures to possess conflicting abilities to be both structurally compliant to allow configuration changes but also be sufficiently rigid to limit the aero-elastic divergence. On top of these requirements, the design of the morphing structures must take full account of the weight penalty and the power requirements for the control mechanisms to ensure an overall performance benefit. Complexity of the problems and conflicting requirements are expected to be even greater for the proposed super-configurable multifunctional structures involving combined changes of shape, functionality and mechanical properties. The design of these multifunctional structures depends on the mode of reconfiguration, the specific materials and geometries employed, the attachment mechanism between elements, and the location of the actuating elements. A diversity of new concepts has emerged not only in reconfiguration of structures, but also in adaptive materials or materials systems, sensors, actuators, signal transmitters, energy transduction mechanisms to power the reconfiguration process and etc. When these concepts are judiciously combined, they have the potential to impart new and unprecedented structural multi-functionality. The success of super-configurable multifunctional structures will also be dependent on: (a) the development of robust modeling and design tools, (b) a fundamental understanding of the complex and time-variant properties of the material and mechanization structure in diverse environments, (c) processing techniques to readily achieve a range of desired multifunctional structures with minimum alteration of weight, and (d) integrated control systems functioning in operating environments that can vary widely.




Objective: (a) To provide scientific basis for the development of new “morphing” aerospace platforms capable of altering their shape, functionality and mechanical properties in response to the changes in surrounding environments or operating conditions, and (b) to identify and better understand new basic research concepts for structural reconfiguration, adaptive materials, micro-devices for sensing, communication and actuation, energy transduction mechanisms and system integration that would establish aerospace platforms as reconfigurable multifunctional structures.

Research Concentration Areas: Proposals are expected to address research ideas for super-configurable multifunctional structures that are either motivated by the above-cited system level concept or similar operational environments. Due to the highly coupled nature of various research topics involved, multi-disciplinary teaming between co-recipients and interactions with other pertinent research and development efforts will be highly encouraged.

Research areas include but are not limited to:


New adaptive materials or novel chemistry (such as reconfigurable granular/colloidal assemblies, shape memory composites, phase-change materials, multi-ferroic interactions, novel particle coupling in microvascular networks, in-situ synthesis of materials, reversible chemistry, surfaces with reversible adhesion) which may allow reversible modulation of mechanical or electromagnetic properties in effective manner.

• Energy efficient and light-weight means for distributed actuation of reconfigurable structures via the intelligent amplifications of materials with multi-scale kinematic elements, or cells, to produce a “mechanized” material systems with tailored deformation modes.

• New and further miniaturized micro-devices allowing greater flexibility in electronic functionality and full integration of sensing, communication, actuation and propulsion capabilities into load-bearing structures of UAV for higher system efficiency.

• Networking capability to sense external stimuli (such as wind gusts or changes in temperature) and provide feedback to the flight control system (such as morphing of the vehicle shape) in much the same way that biological tissue is replete with nerves and muscles to sense and interact with the environment.

• New triggering mechanisms for reconfiguration that may be distributed throughout the structures (rather than a single large actuation source) and entail minimal requirements of connection through embedded wiring and additional power.
• Utilization of thermal and kinetic energy from external heat and structural vibration in powering the reconfiguration process.
• Autonomic protection or defense of reconfigurable structures to high-threshold mechanical, thermal, and electromagnetic events via the use of the event energy to (a) trigger repair, (b) initiate mass flow, enhanced emission, reduced absorbance, or enhanced reflection, and (c) synthesize robust and passivating materials.
• Morphing load-bearing joints which allow motion to occur but efficiently carry primary aerodynamic loads during reconfiguration.

• Assessment of the system stability starting from a compact structure delivered in space-deployable configuration under harsh loading conditions (such as Mach 6) to subsequent transition to a micro-UAV in flight in the lower atmosphere and a potential means of enabling survival of structures.

• Processing and manufacturing sciences for the control of morphology, topography and spatial configuration of reconfigurable multifunctional structures at various structural levels
• Multifunctional design rules for the integration of materials, devices, structures, actuation mechanisms and aerodynamic constraints into a concise system. This requires a broad understanding of the individual components, but more importantly an understanding of the interactions between them.
• Modeling and simulation of multi-state/continuum behavior within physics-based framework with a potential to yield adaptive functionality.

Impact: New classes of reconfigurable multifunctional structures, which allow combined changes of shape, functionality and mechanical properties on demand, are expected to result in revolutionary breakthrough of pervasive morphing ability for a variety of aerospace platforms and defense systems. This can lead to greater operational flexibility (and in some cases performance), resilience, and the ability to form systems more rapidly.

Program Scope: Typical awards could be $125-250K. It is expected that single investigator projects will be awarded; however, multidisciplinary team proposals will also be considered. Projects that include collaboration with researchers at the Air Force Research Laboratory are encouraged.

Dr. B. L. (“Les“) Lee AFOSR/RSL (703) 696-8483

DSN 426-8483 FAX (703) 696-8451

E-mail: arje.nachman@afosr.af.mil



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