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Recent Warfare Technologies

Going along with the balloon idea is improved receivers to allow wireless broadband. This is a commercial system, and could be adapted for military use:


DISH and nTelos Launch Fixed Wireless Broadband Pilot

Providers utilize LTE, outdoor wireless antennas to deliver cable-like speeds in rural Virginia trial

Category: Corporate
Thursday, June 13, 2013 1:03 pm MDT
Public Company Information:

"DISH has a nationwide workforce of professional technicians that can be dispatched to install both a satellite dish for our video service and an antenna for broadband on the same roof at the same time."

WAYNESBORO, Va. & ENGLEWOOD, Colo.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Following last month’s announcement of their intent to co-develop a fixed wireless broadband service, DISH (NASDAQ: DISH) and NTELOS Holding Corp. (NASDAQ: NTLS) have now deployed broadband service in rural Virginia using wireless spectrum in the 2.5 GHz range. Broadband service speeds at the initial test sites are ranging from 20 Mbps to more than 50 Mbps.

“This trial delivers speeds several times faster to our home than the wireline service that we have been using,” said Anthony Gingerich, Waynesboro resident and nTelos employee. “Streaming video is a very good experience through the fixed broadband connection and the overall Internet experience has improved for our family.”

As part of the demonstration, nTelos and DISH have activated two wireless tower test sites in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Waynesboro and Afton, Va. Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent have provided equipment and assisted in the installation.

The trial differentiates itself from prior fixed broadband services by relying on professionally installed rooftop devices at customers’ homes that are intended to deliver significant gain and throughput advantages over inside-the-home antenna solutions. DISH has deployed BandRich ruggedized outdoor routers with built-in high-gain antennas to receive the 2.5 GHz LTE signal.

“With nearly a fifth of American households underserved by broadband, a fixed wireless solution delivering true broadband speeds will bring improved broadband options to potentially millions of consumers,” said Tom Cullen, DISH executive vice president of Corporate Development. “DISH has a nationwide workforce of professional technicians that can be dispatched to install both a satellite dish for our video service and an antenna for broadband on the same roof at the same time.”

“nTelos is extremely encouraged by the level of progress we’ve achieved since announcing our co-development project with DISH less than three weeks ago. This has been a true team effort, bringing together the talents and expertise of various vendor partners to accelerate the completion of our LTE core and to design and install fixed broadband wireless technology within the nTelos footprint,” noted James A. Hyde, CEO of NTELOS Holdings Corp. “We are excited to test this first of its kind offering, with an emphasis on further shrinking the service gap of underserved, rural communities. As we prove out the concept and refine the offering, we are confident this partnership will build value for all our stake holders.”

DISH and nTelos have not disclosed details on the duration of the trial service or plans for expansion beyond the test sites.

A video of the DISH-nTelos fixed wireless broadband pilot is available here: http://about.dish.com/video/fixed-wireless-broadband-pilot


NTELOS Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: NTLS), operating through its subsidiaries as “nTelos Wireless,” is headquartered in Waynesboro, VA, and provides high-speed, dependable nationwide voice and data coverage for approximately 451,000 retail subscribers based in Virginia, West Virginia and portions of Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Kentucky. nTelos’s licensed territories have a total population of approximately 7.9 million residents, of which its wireless network covers approximately 6.0 million residents. nTelos is also the exclusive wholesale provider of wireless digital PCS services to Sprint Nextel in nTelos’s western Virginia and West Virginia service area for all Sprint CDMA wireless customers. Additional information about nTelos is available at www.ntelos.com or www.facebook.com/nteloswireless and www.twitter.com/ntelos_wireless.

About DISH

DISH Network Corporation (NASDAQ: DISH), through its subsidiary DISH Network L.L.C., provides approximately 14.092 million satellite TV customers, as of March 31, 2013, with the highest quality programming and technology with the most choices at the best value, including HD Free for Life®. Subscribers enjoy the largest high definition line-up with more than 200 national HD channels, the most international channels, and award-winning HD and DVR technology. DISH Network Corporation's subsidiary, Blockbuster L.L.C., delivers family entertainment to millions of customers around the world. DISH Network Corporation is a Fortune 200 company. Visit www.dish.com.

Photos/Multimedia Gallery Available: http://www.businesswire.com/multimedia/home/20130613006254/en/


Bob Toevs, 303-723-2010
For DISH Investor Relations:

Jason Kiser, 303-723-2210
For NTELOS Holdings Corp.
KCSA Strategic Communication
Jeffrey Goldberger, 212-896-1249
Rob Fink, 212-896-1206
DISH and nTelos Launch Fixed Wireless Broadband Pilot

Doesn't seem like nothing radio recievers and satelitte modems wouldn't be able to do currently.  Personal agenda as to why you're posting a seemingly random article with stock tickers attached to em?  Just curious cause maybe we should all jump on the invest train
safetysOff said:
Doesn't seem like nothing radio recievers and satelitte modems wouldn't be able to do currently.  Personal agenda as to why you're posting a seemingly random article with stock tickers attached to em?  Just curious cause maybe we should all jump on the invest train

Given your track record of posting in your short time here, I'd be careful about calling out, or making inappropriate insinuations of senior members who are much better versed in their subject(s) than you are.

My apologies,

Was just sayin what everybody reading that was probably thinking there guy.

My biggest fault is speaking my mind  ;D
Posting articles on particular aspects of communications technology can hardly be considered random, if you are aware of the importance of communications in modern warfare. Having worked through some of these aspects very recently (EX MR 13), I have an apprieciation of the limitations of  current radios and satellite systems.

Since the information was embedded in a press release, it is of interest to the members to know that fact as well when they read and judge the veracity of the information. Certainly if a person followed the link and discovered at that time it was a corporate press release then they might have much more reason to think there was some sort of hidden agenda.

Remember there is a reason the saftey remains engaged...
Interesting idea with long term potential. I am rather curious about the idea of using a plasma as a capacitor; the ability to store and dump large quantities of energy from a very small package has pots of potential uses. Sadly, one of these uses does not seem to be creating a "plasma cannon" like in Science Ficton movies; the plasma disperses far too quickly to have any real range....

Warning: special pleading for government funding in the last paragraph. If this idea is as wonderful as they make out, private investors will be coming to see them.


Plasma Ring Experiment Offers New Path for Fusion Power

By Jeremy Hsu
Posted 19 Apr 2013 | 4:02 GMT

Physicists usually rely on electromagnetic magnetic fields to harness the power of plasma, the fourth state of matter, in fusion power experiments. But University of Missouri researchers have managed to create rings of plasma that can hold their shape without the use of outside electromagnetic fields—possibly paving the way for a new age of practical fusion power and leading to the creation of new energy storage devices.

Traditional efforts to achieve nuclear fusion have relied upon multi-billion-dollar fusion reactors, called tokamaks, which harness powerful electromagnetic fields to contain the super-heated plasmas resulting from the fusion reactions. The ability to create plasma with self-confining electromagnetic fields in the open air could eliminate the need for external electromagnetic fields in future fusion experiments, and with it, much of the expense.

The researchers created plasma rings about 15 centimeters in diameter that flew through the air across distances up to 60 centimeters. The rings lasted just 10 milliseconds, but reached temperatures greater than the sun's fiery fusion core surface at around 6600 to 7700 degrees K (6327 to 7427 degrees C). Plasma physicists suspect that magnetic fields are still involved—but that the plasma rings create their own.

"This plasma has a self-confining magnetic field," said Randy Curry, an engineer and physicist at the University of Missouri in Columbia. "If one can generate and contain it without large magnets involved, of course fusion energy would be an application." But the researchers' success in creating self-contained plasma rings came as a surprise. "We did not expect that," Curry says.

The researchers had been working with exploding wires that vaporize when pulsed power is applied and release a cloud of plasma energy. They had previously only succeeded in making clouds of plasma that lasted less than a millisecond, Curry said.

The breakthrough came from adding more pulsed power to the plasma. Curry and a graduate student injected the added energy into a "second acceleration region" of their lab device, and set up the conditions that allowed the plasma ring to be launched from the device.

Such basic physics research could also lead to better energy storage for both civilian and military applications. Curry's lab plans to examine the possibility of a "plasma capacitor" that stores tens of joules of energy per cubic centimeter, as opposed to traditional capacitors that hold less than one joule per cubic centimeter.

The self-contained plasma rings created in air could also benefit the manufacturing of metals, plastics and semiconductors. Plasma is currently used to help with semiconductor etching and the modification of other surfaces, but requires vacuum containment vessels and expensive electromagnets to remain contained.

The research was originally funded by the U.S. Department of Defense through the Office of Naval Research. Curry's lab aims to secure new funding to build a smaller version of the plasma device about the size of a bread box within the next three to five years.

But Curry also pointed out that such military funding for basic research has collapsed since sequestration took effect and slashed funding across the board for the U.S. government. In that sense, the plasma ring experiment's success also serves as a warning of what the U.S. could miss out on. According to an article in Science magazine published today, the administration's proposed 2014 budget would restore many of those cuts to scientific research.
More on high bandwidth communications. I am not quite as saguine about this as I had been in the past; network topography plays a very big role in how fast data transfer takes place (anyone who was on MR 13 in a headquarters and waited for long periods while the printer right beside their computer mulled over a print job will know exactly what I am talking about), and using huge pipes lile this may paper over problems but not solve them. The "last mile" is going to be the sticking point even if trunk lines take advantage of these technologies:


New method enables 1.6 terabit per second to be transmitted over 1.1 kilometer fiber could boost internet speed

  The data capacity of single-mode optical fibers, while having increased by four orders of magnitude over the last 30 years, is rapidly reaching the limits imposed by the fiber’s nonlinear effects. But a bicoastal team has devised a new fiber optic technology that promises to increase bandwidth dramatically, meeting today’s ever-increasing demand for data-intensive activities like video streaming.

New research by optical fiber experts at Boston University and optical communications systems experts at the University of Southern California created a new kind of optical fiber stable enough to transmit donut-shaped laser beams called optical vortices, also known as orbital angular momentum (OAM) beams. OAM beams are generating interest not only in communications, but also atom manipulation and optical tweezers.

They packed several colors into each mode and used multiple modes. Unlike in conventional fibers, OAM modes in these specially designed fibers can carry data streams across an optical fiber while remaining separate at the receiving end.

Ramachandran’s OAM fiber had four modes (an optical fiber typically has two), and he and Willner showed that for each OAM mode, they could transmit 400 Gb/s in just a single wavelength of light — or 1.6 Tb/s across 10 wavelengths — over the course of 0.68 miles (1.1 km).

“This is very impressive,” University of Rochester physicist Robert Boyd told Science. “I can imagine a huge commercial market.”

Journal Science - Terabit-Scale Orbital Angular Momentum Mode Division Multiplexing in Fibers

In 2012, the same research team led by USC developed a system of transmitting data using twisted beams of light at ultra-high speeds – up to 2.56 terabits per second through free space. That method didn’t work, however, when it was tried in a standard optical fiber.

ABSTRACT - Internet data traffic capacity is rapidly reaching limits imposed by optical fiber nonlinear effects. Having almost exhausted available degrees of freedom to orthogonally multiplex data, the possibility is now being explored of using spatial modes of fibers to enhance data capacity. We demonstrate the viability of using the orbital angular momentum (OAM) of light to create orthogonal, spatially distinct streams of data-transmitting channels that are multiplexed in a single fiber. Over 1.1 kilometers of a specially designed optical fiber that minimizes mode coupling, we achieved 400-gigabits-per-second data transmission using four angular momentum modes at a single wavelength, and 1.6 terabits per second using two OAM modes over 10 wavelengths. These demonstrations suggest that OAM could provide an additional degree of freedom for data multiplexing in future fiber networks.
Hypersonic weapons are still not quite ready for prime time, the aerodynamic and thermal challenges seem to be just beyond the state of the art, even today. This is kind of interesting from a historical viewpoint, back in the 1960's Covair made a serious proposal for a manned hypersonic strike/recce "Super Hustler", which was to be carried and air launched from the B-58 Hustler (the Super Hustler would be cradled where the pod carrying fuel and the nuclear weapon was normally carried on a B-58).

Shorter range "tactical" weapons will still be quite useful, for example if a weapon based on the X-51 could be carried by an F-18 or F-15 sized airplane, then ships and hardened ground targets could be placed at risk (the kinetic energy of a strike at Mach 6 would be considerable) without having to use strategic assets ike heavy bombers. Perhaps one avenue to explore would be a hypersonic boost-glide weapon that pulled up to the edge of outer space to avoid many of the issues of heat loading before gliding or diving onto the target:


Darpa Refocuses Hypersonics Research On Tactical Missions
By Graham Warwick
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology

July 08, 2013
Credit: DARPA
For the Pentagon's advanced research agency, blazing a trail in hypersonics has proved problematic. Now a decade-long program to demonstrate technology for prompt global strike is being wound down, with some hard lessons learned but no flight-test successes.

In its place, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) plans to switch its focus to shorter, tactical ranges and launch a hypersonics “initiative” to include flight demonstrations of an air-breathing cruise missile and unpowered boost-glide weapon. If approved, the demos could be conducted jointly with the U.S. Air Force, which is eager to follow the success of its X-51A scramjet demonstrator with a high-speed strike weapon program.

Darpa's original plan for its Integrated Hypersonics (IH) project was to begin with a third attempt to fly the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works-designed HTV-2 unmanned hypersonic glider, after the first two launches in 2010 and 2011 failed just minutes into their Mach 20 flights across the Pacific. This was to be followed by a more capable Hypersonic X-plane that would have pushed performance even further.

The original plan drew sharp criticism from Boeing executives, who viewed the proposed program as a thinly veiled excuse to fund a third flight of Lockheed's dart-like HTV-2, which they consider unflyable. In laying out its revised program plan, Darpa makes no mention of any political lobbying against the HTV-2, but acknowledges a third flight would not make best use of its resources for hypersonic research.

Instead, as the Pentagon refocuses on China as a threat, Darpa is looking to work with the Air Force to demonstrate hypersonic weapons able to penetrate integrated air defenses and survive to strike targets swiftly, from a safe distance. Air-breathing and boost-glide weapons present challenges different to each other and to HTV-2, but the agency believes the lessons learned so far will prove valuable.

Key take-aways from HTV-2, says Darpa program manager Peter Erbland, include that the U.S. “has got kind of lean” in hypersonics competency as investment has declined from the heady days of the X-30 National Aero-Space Plane, and that “we have to be careful assuming our existing design paradigms are adequate” when developing a new class of hypersonic vehicles.

The HTV-2 sprung some surprises on its two failed flights, first with aerodynamics then with hot structures. Working out what happened “required us to mine all the competency in hypersonics that we have,” he says, and took a team assembled from government, the services, NASA, the Missile Defense Agency, industry and academia.

Erbland says the decision not to fly a third HTV-2 was influenced by “the substantial knowledge gained from the first two flights in the areas of greatest technical risk: the first flight in aerodynamics and flight performance; the second in the high-temperature load-bearing aeroshell.” Another factor was the technical value of a third flight relative to its cost. A third was the value of investing resources in HTV-2 versus other hypersonic demonstrations. “We've learned a lot; what is the value of other flights?” he asks.

While the Air Force Research Laboratory had two successes in four flights of the Mach 5, scramjet-powered Boeing X-51A, Darpa's two HTV-2 flops followed three failures of the Mach 6, ramjet-powered Boeing HyFly missile demonstrator. But as is often the case in engineering, more is learned from failure than from success, and investigation of the HTV-2 incidents will result in more robust hypersonic design tools that increase the likelihood of future success, Erbland argues.

To ensure all lessons are absorbed, work on the HTV-2 will continue to early next summer “to capture technology lessons from the second flight, and improve design tools and methods for high-temperature composite aeroshells,” he says. Information from the post-flight investigation will be combined with additional ground testing to improve the models used to design load-bearing thermal structures—“how they heat up, the material properties, their uncertainties and variables, and how we use modeling and simulation to predict thermal stresses and responses.”

HTV-2 was intended to glide an extended distance at hypersonic speed—roughly 3,000 nm. in 20 min.—and required a slender vehicle with high lift-to-drag (L/D) ratio and a carbon-carbon structure to fly for a prolonged time at high temperatures. While Flight 1 in April 2010 failed when adverse yaw exceeded the vehicle's control power, Flight 2 in August 2011 failed when the aeroshell began to degrade, causing aerodynamic upsets that ultimately triggered the flight-termination system.

“From the first flight it was clear our extrapolation of aero design methods was not adequate to predict behavior in flight,” says Erbland. “From the first to the second flights we redid the ground testing, and rebaselined the aero using new tools. On the second flight, the changes were completely effective, even in very adverse flight conditions.” But the modifications set up the HTV-2 for failure on the second flight.

“Changes to the trajectory made it a more severe aero-thermal environment than the first flight,” he says. “We have been able to reconstruct how it failed from the limited instrumentation, and the most probable cause is degradation of the structure. Thermal stresses led to failure.” While the vehicle retained its structural integrity, temperature gradients over small areas led to local material failures that caused the upsets.

“From the second flight, we learned a lesson on how to design refractory composites, to improve our understanding of how to model hot structures under thermal load,” says Erbland. “We learned a critical lesson about variability and uncertainty in material properties. That is why we are taking time to fund the remediation of our models to account for material and aero-thermal variability.”

HTV-2 is all that remains of the once-ambitious Falcon program (for Force Application and Launch from the Continental U.S.), started in 2003 with the goal of demonstrating technology for prompt global strike. Falcon had two elements, a hypersonic cruise vehicle (HCV) and a small launch vehicle (SLV) needed to boost the cruiser into a hypersonic glide. The SLV effort helped fund Space Exploration Technologies' Falcon 1 booster, but the HCV went through several changes.

The original HTV-1 hypersonic test vehicle was abandoned in 2006 when the sharp-edged carbon-carbon aeroshell proved impossible to manufacture. Darpa and Lockheed proceeded with the easier-to-produce HTV-2, but then departed from the original unpowered HCV concept to propose an HTV-3X testbed, with turbojet/scramjet combined-cycle propulsion. Congress refused to fund the vehicle, dubbed Blackswift, and it was cancelled in 2008, leaving two HTV-2s as the remnants of Falcon.

Now Darpa is seeking to reinvent its hypersonics focus by moving away from the global- to the tactical-range mission. But while an air-breathing weapon can draw directly on the X-51, boost-glide over a 600-nm range is a different vehicle to the HTV-2. “To get the performance we need to look at high L/D with robust controllability. Thermal management is a different problem to HTV-2. We need robust energy management. And affordability.”

Boost-glide challenges include packaging a weapon for air and surface launch. “The mass and volume constraints are different. We had a very high fineness ratio for global strike; we will have to be very innovative to get high L/D without a high fineness ratio,” says Erbland. On the other hand, “trajectory insertion velocities are lower, and the booster problem could be more tractable. The problem with global range is that orbital launch systems with the energy needed are not designed to put a vehicle on an ideal start of glide, so we have to make them fly in ways they don't want to,” he says.

But Darpa believes its HTV-2 experience will prove useful. “It provided critical technical knowledge to enable us to design a future boost-glide vehicle capable of prompt global strike. We made huge progress in understanding what we need to do in ground-test and flight-test to design the aerodynamics and hot structure,” Erbland says. “These are lessons we would not have learned without flight test, because of the limitations with ground test. We know going forward how to use modeling and simulation and ground test to give us more confidence that we can design a successful system.”
X-47B makes first two arrested landings onboard USS George H.W. Bush

"The X-47B, built by Northrop Grumman Corp., was launched from the deck Wednesday morning. The drone safely flew above the Atlantic Ocean came in for a landing on aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush off the coast of Virginia.  Relying on pinpoint GPS coordinates and advanced avionics, the sleek drone digitally communicated with the carrier's computers to determine speed, crosswinds and other data as it approaches from miles away.  Then shortly before 1:45 p.m. Eastern time it hit the flight deck and hooked the arresting wire for a safe landing."


Data storage solutions for long lasting, high density storage. Now your PowerPoints will be safe for thousands of years....


Nanostructured quartz glass could lead to unlimited lifetime data storage

Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook Using nanostructured glass, scientists at the University of Southampton have, for the first time, experimentally demonstrated the recording and retrieval processes of five dimensional digital data by femtosecond laser writing. The storage allows unprecedented parameters including 360 TB/disc data capacity, thermal stability up to 1000°C and practically unlimited lifetime.

Coined as the ‘Superman’ memory crystal’, as the glass memory has been compared to the “memory crystals” used in the Superman films, the data is recorded via self-assembled nanostructures created in fused quartz, which is able to store vast quantities of data for over a million years. The information encoding is realised in five dimensions: the size and orientation in addition to the three dimensional position of these nanostructures.

5D Data Storage by Ultrafast Laser Nanostructuring in Glass

They have experimentally demonstrated the recording and read-out processes of 5D optical data by femtosecond laser writing. The data recording was significantly simplified by replacing the conventional control of the writing beam energy and polarization with a spatial light modulator and a specially designed laser imprinted half-wave plate matrix. This demonstration is a crucial step towards commercialization of ultrafast laser based optical data storage

A 300 kb digital copy of a text file was successfully recorded in 5D using ultrafast laser, producing extremely short and intense pulses of light. The file is written in three layers of nanostructured dots separated by five micrometres (one millionth of a metre).

The self-assembled nanostructures change the way light travels through glass, modifying polarisation of light that can then be read by combination of optical microscope and a polariser, similar to that found in Polaroid sunglasses.

The research is led by Jingyu Zhang from the University’s Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) and conducted under a joint project with Eindhoven University of Technology.

“We are developing a very stable and safe form of portable memory using glass, which could be highly useful for organisations with big archives. At the moment companies have to back up their archives every five to ten years because hard-drive memory has a relatively short lifespan,” says Jingyu.

“Museums who want to preserve information or places like the national archives where they have huge numbers of documents, would really benefit.”
the crystal matrix of science fiction.

Only one difficulty. X number of years down the road who is going to be able to read it. Try finding a computer now a days that takes 3 1/2" floppies, let alone 5 1/4" ones.
GAP said:
the crystal matrix of science fiction.

Only one difficulty. X number of years down the road who is going to be able to read it. Try finding a computer now a days that takes 3 1/2" floppies, let alone 5 1/4" ones.

What am I going to do with all my punch cards?
GAP said:
the crystal matrix of science fiction.

Only one difficulty. X number of years down the road who is going to be able to read it. Try finding a computer now a days that takes 3 1/2" floppies, let alone 5 1/4" ones.

Looks like a job for  Jean-François Champollion!
Making regular materials super strong by tweaking the process:


The new superstrong

Mechanical and industrial engineering assistant professor Marilyn Minus has developed a superstrong fiber that rivals the best in the industry. In today’s market for high per­for­mance fibers, used for appli­ca­tions such as bul­let­proof vests, man­u­fac­turers have only four options: Kevlar, Spectra, Dyneema, and Zylon. Made from poly­mers such as poly­eth­ylene, these were the strongest syn­thetic fibers in the world—until recently.

Mar­ilyn Minus, an assis­tant pro­fessor of engi­neering at North­eastern, has devel­oped a type of fiber that is stronger than the first three com­mer­cial prod­ucts men­tioned above, and—even in its first generation—closely approaches the strength of the fourth (Zylon).

Adding small amounts of carbon nanotubes—straight, cylin­drical par­ti­cles made entirely of carbon—to polymer fibers increases their strength mar­gin­ally. But as a grad­uate stu­dent at the Georgia Insti­tute of Tech­nology five years ago, Minus fig­ured that with a little more con­trol, she might be able to turn those modest improve­ments into dra­matic ones. She has spent the last four years at North­eastern proving her hunch.

In a paper recently released in the journal Macro­mol­e­c­ular Mate­rials and Engi­neering, Minus pre­sented a tun­able process for cre­ating super-​​strong fibers that rival the industry’s very best. As with pre­vious work, Minus’ method inte­grates carbon nan­otubes into the polymer fiber, but rather than serving as simply an added ingre­dient, the nan­otubes now also per­form an orga­ni­za­tional role.

From carbon black powder to metallic par­ti­cles, a variety of mate­rials can guide the for­ma­tion of spe­cific crystal types in a process called nucle­ation. But before carbon nan­otubes, Minus said, “we’ve never had a nucle­ating mate­rial so sim­ilar to poly­mers.”

This sim­i­larity allows the nan­otubes to act likes skates along which the long polymer chains can slide, per­fectly aligning them­selves with one another.

After using tuning the crys­tal­liza­tion process, elec­tron micro­scope imaging shows that the nan­otubes inside the fiber are coated in polymer. Image cour­tesy of Mar­ilyn Minus.

But it’s the crys­tal­liza­tion process that drives the remark­able prop­er­ties recently reported. In their research, Minus and her col­leagues showed that they could easily turn these prop­er­ties on or off. By changing nothing but the pat­tern of heating and cooling the mate­rial, they were able to increase the strength and tough­ness of fibers made with the very same ingre­di­ents.

In the cur­rent research, Minus and her col­leagues worked out the recipe and process for one par­tic­ular polymer: polyvinyl alcohol. “But we can do this with other poly­mers and we are doing it,” she said.

Simply com­bining the nan­otubes and polymer does not induce the polymer to uni­formly coat the nan­otube. Image cour­tesy of Mar­ilyn Minus.

With funding from a new grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Minus will now work out the method for a polymer called poly­acry­loni­trle, or PAN. This is the dom­i­nant mate­rial used to form carbon fibers, which are of par­tic­ular interest in light­weight com­posite mate­rials such as those used in the Boeing 787 air­liner. With the more orga­nized struc­ture afforded by Minus’ method, this mate­rial could see a vast increase in its already great performance.
Using metamaterialos to make lightweight and sensitive antenna. The idea of using electronic steering and "beam forming" also partially adresses the issue of spectrum management, if the antenna can form narrow beams to each receiver then other antenna can also operate on the same frequencies (within reason):


Metamaterials are set to migrate out of the laboratory and into the marketplace

Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook Metamaterial applications such as cheaper satellite communications, thinner smartphones and ultrafast optical data processing are where metamaterials are poised to make a huge impact within a year or so.

Kymeta of Redmond, Washington, a spin-off from Intellectual Ventures, hopes to market a compact antenna that would be one of the first consumer-oriented products based on metamaterials. The relatively inexpensive device would carry broadband satellite communications to and from planes, trains, ships, cars and any other platform required to function in remote locations far from mobile networks.

At the heart of the antenna — the details of which are confidential — is a flat circuit board containing thousands of electronic metamaterial elements, each of which can have its properties changed in an instant by the device's internal software. This allows the antenna to track a satellite across the sky without having to maintain a specific orientation towards it, the way a standard dish antenna does. Instead, the antenna remains still while the software constantly adjusts the electrical properties of each individual metamaterial element. When this is done correctly, waves emitted from the elements will reinforce one another and propagate skywards only in the direction of the satellite; waves emitted in any other direction will cancel one another out and go nowhere. At the same time — and for much the same reason — the array will most readily pick up signals if they are coming from the satellite.

This technology is more compact than alternatives such as dish antennas. It offers “significant savings in terms of cost, weight and power draw”. Kymeta has already performed demonstrations of this technology for investors and potential development partners. But Smith cautions that the company has yet to set a price for the antenna and that it must still work to bring production costs down while maintaining the strict performance standards that regulatory agencies demand for any device communicating with satellites. Kymeta's antenna will first by used on private jets and passenger planes. If buyers respond well, the company hopes to incorporate the technology into other product lines, such as portable, energy-efficient satellite-communication units for rescue workers or researchers in the field.
An interesting development. Combining the idea of 3D printing to make small modules and assembling the modules to make larger structures isn't really new (kids do this with LEGO), but the thing that makes this apotential "killer app" is the shape of the units allos the building of very strong and very lightweight "truss" structures. This looks like one to follow:


How to make big things out of small pieces
Researchers invent a new approach to assembling big structures — even airplanes and bridges — out of small interlocking composite components.
David L. Chandler, MIT News Office

MIT researchers have developed a lightweight structure whose tiny blocks can be snapped together much like the bricks of a child’s construction toy. The new material, the researchers say, could revolutionize the assembly of airplanes, spacecraft, and even larger structures, such as dikes and levees.

The new approach to construction is described in a paper appearing this week in the journal Science, co-authored by postdoc Kenneth Cheung and Neil Gershenfeld, director of MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms.

Gershenfeld likens the structure — which is made from tiny, identical, interlocking parts — to chainmail. The parts, based on a novel geometry that Cheung developed with Gershenfeld, form a structure that is 10 times stiffer for a given weight than existing ultralight materials. But this new structure can also be disassembled and reassembled easily — such as to repair damage, or to recycle the parts into a different configuration.

The individual parts can be mass-produced; Gershenfeld and Cheung are developing a robotic system to assemble them into wings, airplane fuselages, bridges or rockets — among many other possibilities.

The new design combines three fields of research, Gershenfeld says: fiber composites, cellular materials (those made with porous cells) and additive manufacturing (such as 3-D printing, where structures are built by depositing rather than removing material).

With conventional composites — now used in everything from golf clubs and tennis rackets to the components of Boeing’s new 787 airplane — each piece is manufactured as a continuous unit. Therefore, manufacturing large structures, such as airplane wings, requires large factories where fibers and resins can be wound and parts heat-cured as a whole, minimizing the number of separate pieces that must be joined in final assembly. That requirement meant, for example, Boeing’s suppliers have had to build enormous facilities to make parts for the 787.

Pound for pound, the new technique allows much less material to carry a given load. This could not only reduce the weight of vehicles, for example — which could significantly lower fuel use and operating costs — but also reduce the costs of construction and assembly, while allowing greater design flexibility. The system is useful for “anything you need to move, or put in the air or in space,” says Cheung, who will begin work this fall as an engineer at NASA’s Ames Research Center.

The concept, Gershenfeld says, arose in response to the question, “Can you 3-D print an airplane?” While he and Cheung realized that 3-D printing was an impractical approach at such a large scale, they wondered if it might be possible instead to use the discrete “digital” materials that they were studying.

“This satisfies the spirit of the question,” Gershenfeld says, “but it’s assembled rather than printed.” The team is now developing an assembler robot that can crawl, insectlike, over the surface of a growing structure, adding pieces one by one to the existing structure.

In traditional composite manufacturing, the joints between large components tend to be where cracks and structural failures start. While these new structures are made by linking many small composite fiber loops, Cheung and Gershenfeld show that they behave like an elastic solid, with a stiffness, or modulus, equal to that of much heavier traditional structures — because forces are conveyed through the structures inside the pieces and distributed across the lattice structure.

What’s more, when conventional composite materials are stressed to the breaking point, they tend to fail abruptly and at large scale. But the new modular system tends to fail only incrementally, meaning it is more reliable and can more easily be repaired, the researchers say. “It’s a massively redundant system,” Gershenfeld says.

Cheung produced flat, cross-shaped composite pieces that were clipped into a cubic lattice of octahedral cells, a structure called a “cuboct” — which is similar to the crystal structure of the mineral perovskite, a major component of Earth’s crust. While the individual components can be disassembled for repairs or recycling, there’s no risk of them falling apart on their own, the researchers explain. Like the buckle on a seat belt, they are designed to be strong in the directions of forces that might be applied in normal use, and require pressure in an entirely different direction in order to be released.

The possibility of linking multiple types of parts introduces a new degree of design freedom into composite manufacturing. The researchers show that by combining different part types, they can make morphing structures with identical geometry but that bend in different ways in response to loads: Instead of moving only at fixed joints, the entire arm of a robot or wing of an airplane could change shape.

Alain Fontaine, who directs the innovation program for aircraft manufacturer Airbus, says this new approach to building structures “is really disruptive. It opens interesting opportunities in the way to design and manufacture aerostructures.” These technologies, he says, “can open the door to other opportunities” and have significant potential to lower manufacturing costs.

In addition to Gershenfeld and Cheung, the project included MIT undergraduate Joseph Kim and alumna Sarah Hovsepian (now at NASA’s Ames Research Center). The work was supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the sponsors of the Center for Bits and Atoms, with Spirit Aerosystems collaborating on the composite development.
DARPA has decided the idea of a flying car is a bit silly, but is using the basic technology to make large carrier drones. The idea is to deliver supplies or weapons using what is essentially a giant quad copter. Having something like this overhead to supply fire support would be rather interesting as well:


DARPA flying car transforming into Large Carrier Drone

  Lockheed is changing their DARPA robotic flying hummer into a large robotic drone that can carry car sized objects

Besides carrying cars the carrier drone can also deliver 4000 or maybe even 6000 pound bombs.
Two or three carrier drones appear able to work together to lift longer and heavier payloads like 12000 or 18000 pound bombs or a truck or a shipping container.

The US daisy cutter bomb weighs about 15,000 pounds. It is an anti-personnel weapon and an intimidation weapon because of its very large lethal radius (variously reported as 300 to 900 feet/100 to 300 meters) combined with a visible flash and audible sound at long distances. It is one of the largest conventional weapons ever to be used, outweighed only by a few earth quake bombs, thermobaric bombs, and demolition (bunker buster) bombs.

Lockheed should have a full sized system ready for flight tests in 2015.

The production version of Transformer have a 250 mile range and a top speed of 200 knots. The ducted fans, will make safer and more efficient than a helicopter, and will be able to land in an area half the size that a helicopter with a similar payload would require. It's small enough that you can stick it on a trailer a drive it down a single lane road, making transportation relatively easy.
Using salt water as fuel? I would love to see the actual figures on this technique (if the amount of RF energy being beamed in is more than the amount out heat energy coming out of the "burning" water, then this is really a non starter for most applications). Interesting side note; the flame coming from the test tube is based on the type of salt in the water: the flame from burning hydrogen is a pale blue colour:

Sounds amazing but like you already noted, no one has mentioned the amount of energy required to produce the RF waves that are being used to heat the water and cause ignition. In a perfect machine one would fuel it with water and after combustion the exhaust would be water. Zero carbon foot print, zero harmful emissions and pennies a week to operate. I once told my kids that if they ever developed a car that ran on water, within weeks water would be worth $1 a litre....
Actually, bottled water is more expensive per litre than gasoline in many places.....