News 1998 Army Science and Technology Master Plan

3. Physics

a. Strategy

Physics provides the fundamental underpinnings for all other sciences and technologies. For this reason, emphasis is placed upon establishment of limits of technologies. A strategy for investment is developed by the Physics Coordinating Group with representatives from participating RDECs, ARO, ARL directorates, and the Topographic Engineering Center. This group has developed a 3–year plan for a broad–based research program that is organized into five subject areas:

Integrated sensory science
Nonlinear optics
Image analysis.

These programs support advanced technology development to provide increased signal processing and display, sensor protection and countermeasures, and target acquisition.

b. Major Research Areas


The objective of nanotechnology is to develop the capability to manipulate atoms and molecules individually, to assemble small numbers of them into nanometer size devices, and to exploit the unique physical mechanisms that operate in these devices. The program emphasizes self assembly for the rapid, low–cost construction of these nanosystems.

Electrochemical polishing is a recently discovered technique for the production of quasi–periodic quantum dot arrays. Figure V–9 shows an aluminum film that has been electropolished to produce a dot pattern with a period of 100 nm and a peak to valley height of 50 nm. Other areas of emphasis in this program are ultra fast phenomena, near–field microscopy, nanoscale manipulation, photonic band engineering, quantum processes for noise reduction, and new radiation sources.

Figure V-9. Magnified Atomic Force Micrograph
Figure V-9. Magnified Atomic Force Micrograph.
An egg-carton pattern on the surface of an electropolished aluminum surface. The pattern was produced after polishing for 30 seconds using techniques routinely used by the anodizing industry.


Photonics seeks to develop optical subsystems for military applications such as information storage, displays, optical switching, signal processing, and optical interconnections of microelectronic systems. Research opportunities exist in diffractive optics, hybrid signal processing, and unconventional imaging.

Integrated Sensory Science

Integrated sensory science seeks to provide the Army the ability to operate on the ground over relatively short ranges in conditions of poor visibility. Novel and improved radiation sources and detectors will continue to provide new capabilities for the Army, especially with the utilization of coherent optical and atomic systems and of multispectral imaging. Control of physical signatures is now within our capability with the discovery of new materials and of enhanced backscattering.

Nonlinear Optics

The use of optical sensors and sources is analogous to the use of radio frequency detectors and sources. In the future, optical warfare should become as important as electronic warfare. Nonlinear optical processes, tunable sources, materials with special reflective, absorptive, and polarization properties and the ability to perform remote sensing of CB agents are research themes of current and future interest.

Image Analysis

Target acquisition has been a key military capability but the speed and complexity of modern warfare has led to the need for automatic target recognition. The successes that have been obtained are limited to automatic target recognition (ATR), with a human making the final decision. These systems have been developed using heuristic and ad hoc techniques. The development of the theoretical underpinnings of automatic target recognition is needed. The objectives are to develop: (1) a set of scientific metrics that quantify image content, complexity, and structured clutter; (2) a set of metrics to describe the performance of image recognition and classification techniques; and (3) a set of performance models that can predict performance and allow optimization of system design.

Other Research Areas

Humans use a variety of sensor modalities to gather information about their world. The Army needs to develop a science for the integration of a variety of sensors such as conventional imaging systems, sound, chemical, etc., that will allow improved target recognition and discrimination.

c. Potential Military Benefits

These programs support advanced technology development to provide increased signal processing, signal display, sensor protection, and target acquisition. Novel and improved radiation sources and detectors will continue to provide new capabilities for the Army. In addition, atom optics are expected to provide new ultra sensitive detectors and clocks with applications that include global positioning systems and inertial navigation.

4. Chemistry

a. Strategy

Army basic research across all the chemical sciences is planned and coordinated annually by the Army Chemistry Coordinating Group. The Army Research Laboratory Weapons and Materials Research Directorate hosted the 1997 meeting in January at Aberdeen Proving Ground. Research briefings were presented by Army chemists from ARL Directorates for Weapons and Materials Research and for Sensors and Electron Devices, the Army research, development, and engineering (RD&E) centers at Picatinny Arsenal, Edgewood, and Natick, the Communications and Electronics Command, the U.S. Army Chemical Demilitarization and Remediation Activity, the Army Corps of Engineers WES, the U.S. Military Academy, and ARO. The ARO triennial in–depth long range strategy planning meeting for chemistry was last held in January 1995. The Army Chemistry Basic Research Program was briefed to Army leadership at the SARD/TRADOC Review and to DoD leadership at the Technology Area Review and Assessment (TARA) Review during March 1997. Army chemists performed joint planning with the Navy and Air Force at the annual Tri–Service Reliance Meeting in September 1996.

b. Major Research Areas

Following the Army chemistry long–range strategy, research in chemistry continues to focus on programs for which the Army has lead responsibility: CB defense, advanced materials, combustion, including explosives and propellants, power sources, obsolete weapon demilitarization, installation restoration, and pollution prevention.

Under Tri–Service Reliance, chemistry is divided into the subareas chemical synthesis and properties, and chemical processes.

Under chemical synthesis and properties, the Army has the lead for catalysts, reactive polymers, and dendrimers; the Army shares with the Navy and Air Force responsibility for functional polymers, energetic materials, power sources, nanostructures, sensors, lubricants, and elastomers.

Under processes, the Army has the lead for energetic materials ignition and combustion, CB decontamination and demilitarization, and diffusion in polymers. The Army shares responsibility for dynamics, corrosion, power sources, and sensors.

Army basic research on CB defense is carried out by ERDEC, NRDEC, and ARO and supports the Army CBDCOM development programs on sensors, protection, and decontamination. Recent ERDEC accomplishments include synthesis of polymers with highly active surfaces for molecular recognition of threat agents and decontaminants for the nerve agent VX. NRDEC has synthesized new polymer barriers against chemical agents. ARO investigators have developed powerful new catalysts for destruction of nerve and mustard agents.

Research on advanced materials is carried out by NRDEC, ARL, and ARO. Recent NRDEC accomplishments include flame and chemical resistant textiles with integration of advanced manufacturing techniques, and new biodegradable and nonpolluting polymers for functional composite materials. NRDEC materials are being evaluated by ARO investigators for laser eye protection. ARL scientists are studying use of dendritic molecules to improve fiber properties and adhesives. ARO and ARL are cooperating on a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) project for coatings to protect vehicles on the battlefield and on molecular–level design of new materials with chemical agent resistance and improved strength. ARO investigators are studying chemical diffusion in polymers for chemical defense, designing solvent resistant elastomers with flexibility at low temperatures, and developing nanomaterials from molecules that self–organize into structured coatings. ARO and ARL held a joint workshop on dentritic molecules in October 1996 at Michigan Molecular Institute.

Research on power sources is performed by ARL and ARO and supports development at Communications–Electronics Command (CECOM). ARL has made major improvements in lithium battery electrolytes, higher power density capacitors, and portable fuel cells. CECOM has established a Power Sources COE. ARO investigators have developed new fuel cell catalysts and membranes, designed and built microturbines for compact power (see Figure V–10), and developed new thermophotovoltaic materials. ARO manages the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Army–relevant programs in alkali metal thermal–electric converters (AMTECs). ARO has briefed the Compact Power program to SARD, AMC Headquarters, Dismounted Battlespace battle laboratory, Army After Next, and TRADOC Triennial Review and has held workshops seeking improved sources of hydrogen for hydrogen/air fuel cells. An ARO/CECOM/DARPA workshop on human generation of power will be held in the near future.

Figure V-10. Model Microturbine
Figure V-10. Model Microturbine.
Fabricated at MIT by ion-etching silicon. Diameter is approximately 2 mm. Research is part of the ARO program to power the Army After Next soldier.

Research on explosives and propellants is performed by ARL, ARO, and the Armaments Research, Development, and Engineering Center (ARDEC) and supports development at Picatinny Arsenal and MICOM. Propellant burning rate models based on combustion data from ARO and ARL research are being transitioned into interior ballistic models for munitions design. Recent ARL accomplishments include new laser probes for propellant flames and theoretical calculations for propellant molecular dynamics. Related ARL research provides new options for fire suppression in military vehicles. ARO investigators are clarifying the pathways for decomposition of energetic materials. An ARL report (ARL–TR–1411) has been published on an ARO/ARL/ARDEC workshop to guide research for input into the Army Next Generation Interior Ballistics Model being developed at ARL.

Research on demilitarization, environmental remediation, pollution prevention, and chemical detection is performed by WES, ARL, ARO, and ERDEC and supports development by the Corps of Engineers, AMC, and the Army Demilitarization Activity. Recent accomplishments at WES include advanced prototype explosive sensors employing laser–induced breakdown and infrared spectroscopy for the Army site characterization and analysis penetrometer system (SCAPS). ARL accomplishments include plasma reactor design for nonpolluting paint removal and laser–based methods for detecting trace explosives and combustion products. ARL is also exploring supercritical fluid solvation to recycle propellants and nonpolluting coatings to retard corrosion. ARO investigators are developing improvements for ion mobility spectrometry—the current Army method for chemical weapon detection.

c. Potential Military Benefits

New materials will enhance soldier protection against ballistic and CB threats and provide stronger, lighter structures for vehicles. Compact electric power will support the soldier for longer missions with less to carry. New explosives and propellants will enhance effectiveness and reliability and reduce vulnerability. Work at ARL supports exploratory development at ARL and ARDEC and the ARL STO for Laser Igniter for Artillery Munitions and ARDEC STO for Energetic Materials/Warheads. New sensors will protect the soldier from explosive and CB threats. Weapons demilitarization and base clean–up research will reduce costs to manage Army inventory and remediate the environment. Research at WES supports the current STO on Explosives/Organics Treatment Technologies and planned STOs on Site Monitoring Systems and Advanced Explosives/Organics Treatment. CB defense research at Edgewood RD&E center is supported directly by DoD. That work supports Defense Technology Objectives (DTOs) in Advanced Lightweight Chemical Protection, Advanced Adsorption for Protection Applications, and Enhanced Respirator Filtration Technology.

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