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Silicon Microsphere Fabrication

The efficiency and methodology of coupling light into microcavities has improved exponentially in the last decade. One such advancement is coupling light onto silicon microspheres. The material, size, and shape of a silicon microsphere are ideal for optical devices. Silicon microspheres are not the primary material used to fabricate microspheres for optical coupling because current methods used for microsphere fabrication cannot produce single-crystal silicon in the 16-μm scale, which is best for current optical technology.

Posted in: Briefs, Aerospace, Defense, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Optics, Fabrication
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Designing and Fabricating a Multiple-Decade Battery

There is a great need for energy sources that can power unattended sensors for more than a decade. Unattended sensors can be located in harsh and remote locations that are often dangerous for personnel maintenance and power source replacement. The power source must last the lifetime of the sensor. Unlike chemical batteries, the higher energy densities of radioisotopes allow the sensors to operate for infrastructure lifetimes (~150 years). Isotope batteries (iBATs) have the potential to become reliable, robust, and maintenance-free power sources for remote, long-term, low-power sensors. iBATs are different from chemical batteries because they are self-contained energy sources using radioisotope decay.

Posted in: Briefs, Aerospace, Defense, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Design processes, Batteries, Fabrication
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Altair Optimizes 3D-Printed Structures for Complex, Lightweight Designs

Altair expects to better support the use of additive manufacturing (AM), or 3D printing, by releasing new OptiStruct solver capabilities for topology optimization. The company claims this new technology is the first tool developed specifically for designers of lattice structures.

Posted in: Technology Update, Defense, Design processes, Manufacturing processes
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MTU Develops New Turbine Blade Material in Record Time

MTU Aero Engines announced in March that its internal experts and industry partners have jointly developed a new class of intermetallic, high-temperature materials for highly stressed engine components. Named titanium aluminide (TiAl), this new lightweight material is designed for turbine blades and combines the advantages of metallic and ceramic materials.

Posted in: Technology Update, Defense, Lightweight materials, Engine components
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Researcher Develops Autonomous UAV Refueling System

A University of Sydney researcher has designed and successfully tested a method for autonomously docking drones for refueling or recharging, in mid- air. Daniel Wilson, whose PhD research addressed the limited endurance levels of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) says, "At the moment, a UAV's range and endurance is constrained by the amount of fuel that can be stored on board. As you add more fuel, the weight of the aircraft increases, which means more fuel must be consumed to stay aloft."

Posted in: News, Defense
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Army Looks Toward Fully Autonomous Tactical Vehicle

The U.S. Army is working toward developing a fully autonomous tactical vehicle, a robotics expert said. "When you start looking at the mid-term, five to 10 years, we start talking about tapping into external systems," said Mark Mazzara, robotics interoperability lead for the Army's Program Executive Office - Combat Support and Combat Service Support at Detroit Arsenal, Michigan.

Posted in: News, Defense
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Laser-Based Aircraft Countermeasures Protect Against MANPADS

The Army expects to reach a Milestone B decision with its laser-based common infrared countermeasures, or CIRCM, defense system program later this year. The CIRCM system, under development now by both BAE and Northrup Grumman, provides a lightweight, laser-based countermeasure against man-portable air defense systems, which are missile-launched from the ground at their targets, including Army and Navy aircraft.

Posted in: News, Defense
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Deploying Next-Generation UAS Platforms with 3U VPX

More powerful. Lighter. Cooler. These are the key criteria for the design of Line Replaceable Units (LRUs) in next-generation Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) platforms, which continue to grow in importance to military organizations worldwide. The ability of these platforms to provide persistent surveillance of targets while eliminating the need to put warfighters in harm’s way makes them indispensable assets to commanders. The effectiveness of these platforms in the field is governed by their sensor payload and their processing systems. Next-generation UAS designs, such as the Navy’s Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D), require high levels of processing power for multiple onboard sensors, and all that power must be delivered in a lighter, cooler configuration that minimizes the size, weight and power (SWaP) envelope of onboard electronics subsystems.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Defense, Military vehicles and equipment, Unmanned aerial vehicles
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UGVs — On the Cutting Edge of Thermal Management

Thermal management of unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) is more complex than other electronic equipment because they have to operate in harsh environments such as humid tropical rainforests or sandy deserts where moisture as well as dust and sand can compromise the reliability of the control electronics. Regular open enclosures are certainly not an option; instead they need sealed and ruggedized enclosures to also withstand hard shocks and vibrations.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Defense, Electronic control systems, Thermal management, Unmanned aerial vehicles
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Controlling the Seas: Introducing a New Concept in Autonomous Surface/Underwater Vehicles

The boundary between the sea and sky is an important place to be. It’s the critical connecting layer for commercial and military information exchange between the undersea world to aerial, space and shore. Being present at this boundary between sea and sky, with cost-effective endurance in challenging conditions, requires the use of autonomous surface vehicles.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Defense, Autonomous vehicles, Marine vehicles and equipment
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