"Spin-off technology" is the term used for those technologies already developed for defense purposes which also demonstrate non-defense, commercial applications. The USASSDC is very actively involved in the transfer of technologies to other federal agencies, industry, and academia. The following write-ups present a summary of several of these transfers and ongoing activities and agreements.
Neural Net for Cancer Screen. Representing a milestone in automated image processing, a neural network can now help discover cervical cancers once routinely missed. Related to technology developed for BMDO through USASSDC by HNC Software, Inc., the network is the basis of the PAPNET Testing System. The PAPNET System is a product of Neuromedical Systems, Inc., and represents the culmination of an eight-year effort to improve the existing Pap test. Powerful and fast neural network algorithms help to quickly identify the signs of malignancy in cell clusters. With the PAPNET test, cytology labs can increase the total detection of abnormalities by up to 30 percent. The system was cleared for use by the FDA in November 1995 and is being used in more than 40 U.S. clinics and 15 countries.
HNC developed neural network technology for BMDO through USASSDC. Neuromedical Systems, which acquired its neural network developer from HNC, holds a patent for the application of neural networks.
Acousto Optic Tunable Filters (AOTFs). The Acousto Optic Tunable Filter (AOTF) is a dual use technology evolving with BMDO SBIR programs with Ciencia, Inc., of Hartford, Connecticut. Military applications for the AOTF include target interrogation sensors for the detection and use of target discriminants defined by intensity, contrast, and polarization.
Ciencia's AOTF technologies include: an AOTF-controlled flow cytometer for the Biological Integrated Detection System (BIDS) to detect, analyze, and classify battlefield chemical and biological agents (The BIDS is a U.S. Army Chemical and Biological Defense Agency program prompted by Operation Desert Storm); an AOTF-based spectrofluorometer for NASA and NIH cell culture devices; an AOTF-based lightweight digital x-ray imager (an Army program); and an AOTF-based on-line process controller (a DOE program). Ciencia's AOTF is being used by FMC Corporation for on-line processing of chemicals and by Sunkist Growers, Inc., for detecting mold on citrus fruit. New Cienica business will supply Beckman Instruments with an AOTF for clinical analyzers and CREO Products, a Canadian-based business, with a specialized AO modulator. Ciencia is pursuing markets to provide environmental monitoring and waste management devices.
In addition to the technology developed at Ciencia, Brimrose Corp. of America, based in Baltimore, has created an AOTF-based, non-invasive sensor that can measure blood sugar levels. The work at Brimrose was based on research originally sponsored by BMDO. They have also developed an AOTF-based spectrometer that can read changes in the body's calcium levels to help predict heart attacks and strokes. The device also has potential for environmental monitoring.
Electronics Technology (A/D Converter). The Sensors Directorate at the MDSTC is developing high performance 10 and 12 bit analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) to meet strategic system requirements for analog signal processing. The commercial world is benefiting from this research by the devices being incorporated into applications ranging from high speed modems, film scanners, medical ultrasound, and x-ray, plus pro video cameras.
Analog Devices, the contractor for this technology, has released for commercial sales three ADC mega sample per second (MSPS) device designs: the AD773 (10 bit, 18/20MSPS); AD872 (12 bit, 10 MSPS); and AD973 (10 bit, 18 MSPS) ADCs. Customers include Alcatel Network Systems, Texas Instruments, Eastman Kodak, Hewlett Packard, Elscint Ltd., AeroJet Electrical Systems, Harris Corp., Loral Fairchild Corp., and Westinghouse.
Non-strategic military applications using these ADCs include F-16 radar upgrade, cameras, and communications. The ADCs are also used in the Comanche Helicopter FLIR systems. Potential is high for other defense systems to implement these devices. Analog Devices receives on a steady basis inquiries for technical data and engineering samples.
A new product released is a 16-bit digital-to-analog converter (DAC) that will support the proposed information Superhighway. This low power, log glitch device will provide the ability to transmit television video across the telephone lines.
Electronics Technology (Stacked Chip). Under a Phase I and Phase II SBIR, Irvine Sensors Corporation (ISC) developed an integrated chip-stacking technology for infrared on focal plane arrays (FPA). Further developments under the Weapons Directorate led to applications in interceptor technology. The technology, cubing, is a way of building three-dimensional, monolithic semiconductor devices called "cubes". The technology is also referred to as a full stack because it incorporates up to 100 chips bonded together like a slice of bread. Cubes offer a higher level of integration, faster processing speeds, and lower power requirements than current chip technology.
ISC's primary business is the development of infrared devices and high-density packages for computer electronics intended to have broad applications in military and electronics systems. The technology developed under the SBIR will be further developed through a joint manufacturing and license agreement between ISC and IBM. The initial agreement focused on the full stack technology. Since the initial agreement, Irvine has introduced the first commercial version of the 3D Memory Short Stack for use in applications with limited vertical space. Short stacks contain up to ten chips mounted like a stack of pancakes, and serves as a virtual memory chip because of its dramatic improvement in capacity over similar sized single-chip packages. The success of the short stacks, which offer the same performance benefits as the full stacks, prompted the expansion of the IBM agreement to include the short stacks. The joint development work will take place at both facilities and involve technical employees from the two companies. The unique strengths of the two companies will further enhance the technologies for more compact, powerful, and rugged computing systems. In a separate application of the chip-stacking technology, Irvine has signed a $5.2 million BMDO contract to develop a neural network sensor intended to mimic some of the recognition capabilities of the human eye and brain. This is the first phase of a planned development that will eventually lead to modules with the interconnect densities and speeds of the human brain.
After the technology was successfully demonstrated, the Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA) provided funding to ISC to apply the technology to memory chips. The technology was successfully demonstrated and IBM formed a partnership with ISC to develop, produce, and manufacture more compact, powerful, and rugged computing systems. Under the terms of the Full Stack agreement, both IBM and Irvine can develop products and sell them externally. Under the Short Stack agreement, IBM has agreed to use the Short Stack technology for internal purposes only, and will also serve as a manufacturer of the devices for Irvine Sensors.
The Extended Air Defense Simulation (EADSIM). The arena of theater and tactical C3I has become enormously complex in recent years. With that complexity has come increasing difficulty in analyzing C3I and air defense system effectiveness, determining system impact on combat operations, and assessing the priority of emerging operational concepts. EADSIM helps both developers and potential users of new C3I and extended air defense systems to quickly, accurately, and inexpensively determine how well the design or specific employment of a system will fulfill operational requirements. Basic applications include that of assessing TMD Architectures, aircraft/cruise missile defenses, force analyses, operational effectiveness analyses, and mission area analyses. EADSIM, a government-owned model, was developed in a joint effort between USASSDC and the U.S. Army Missile Command (MICOM) as a low-cost, interim analysis capability to evaluate Extended Air Defense concepts until the EADTB could be fielded.
The EADSIM Model has been demonstrated in the commercial sector for use in applications such as drug interdiction strategies, air traffic control planning, and highway patrol communications systems. EADSIM has played an important role in systems and operational analysis by many government agencies and support contractors and has over 100 registered users. These users include: U.S. Army Air Defense Artillery School; PEO, AMD; 32nd Army Air Defense Command; BMDO; JCS, J8; USAF Studies and Analysis Agency; USAF Joint Electronic Warfare Command; USAF Tactical Air Warfare Center; Naval Strike Warfare Command; and NavAir. In addition, international users include; the United Kingdom Director, Science (BMD); SHAPE Technical Center in the Hague, Netherlands; Federal Republic of Germany Ministry of Defense, Armaments Directorate; and Israeli Ministry of Defense.
HELSTF HELLO Program. In an innovative approach to technology transfer, USASSDC made the most powerful laser in the United States located at the High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility (HELSTF) available to industry, laboratories, and academic institutions in September 1994. The program, called the High Energy Laser Light Opportunity (HELLO), was conducted at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. Twenty-three experiments were conducted in an assembly-line manner and provided with standard diagnostics, making continuous megawatt-class laser light available and affordable for the first time ever to most researchers. The laser, known as the Mid-infrared Advanced Chemical Laser (MIRACL), was originally developed by the U.S. Navy to demonstrate that ships can use laser to defend themselves against cruise missiles.
The twenty-three experiments were conducted by Phillips Petroleum, California Institute of Technology, Sandia National Laboratory, and the Army Research Laboratory (ARL). The HELLO generated two CRDAs with Phillips Petroleum and California Institute of Technology and additional experiments by Sandia and ARL. Potential spinoffs from the experiments include future manufacturing processes for hardening surface properties by changing crystal structures with high power lasers. This technology may improve the manufacturing of hardened machine parts. Another spinoff potential is the use of lasers for oil exploration. This concept has tremendous potential for increasing future oil and gas reserves by allowing for significant improvements in oil exploration techniques and drilling processes.
In order to increase its flexibility and responsiveness to its customers, HELSTF expanded the HELLO program in August 1995 from one test to an ongoing series of tests. Instead of a specific date, HELLO will now be an open-ended invitation.
Rapid Manufacturing Of Carbon/Carbon Composites. Carbon-carbon composites are materials that maintain high strength at elevated temperatures and have high thermal conductivities. These properties make this material ideal for use in aircraft brakes. Based on the number of kilograms of carbon-carbon material sold, this application represents over 90% of the market. Previous processing methods were expensive and required long periods of time to achieve a desired structure.
Under a Phase II BMDO SBIR contract managed by the USASSDC, Sioux Manufacturing Corporation is developing a process for manufacturing carbon-carbon composites. The objective of this effort is to reduce both fabrication time and cost. A preform of carbon fibers is placed in contact with the ferrofluid catalyst and set in a furnace at elevated temperatures. The methane reacts to form additional carbon depositions on the surface of the carbon fibers. Phase I experiments demonstrated that the rate of mass gain was enhanced by at least an order of magnitude on small laboratory-scale samples. As a result of the increased rate of reaction, more parts can be produced in a given time using fewer production furnaces, which results in lower capital costs.
The Phase II effort scales the processing technique to a pilot plant level for the fabrication of aircraft brake components. This effort is accomplished with BFGoodrich Supertemp as the primary commercialization partner. If the scale-up of this process is successful, i.e., the desired strength and thermal properties are achieved in less time than current fabrication techniques, then a license agreement will be negotiated to transfer this technology to BFGoodrich.
This is an excellent example of a dual-use technology with synergistic applications. Defense applications include missile nose tips, exhaust exit nozzles, and improved brakes (good friction characteristics at reduced manufacturing cost) for military aircraft. Commercial applications are targeted toward airlines and replacement brakes for standard commercial aircraft. In addition, an emerging use is for thermal doublers on circuit boards to hold high density electronic equipment.