• Identifying toxic threats, preparing for surprise

    Predicting chemical attacks is no small task, especially when there are so many toxic substances. There is no crystal ball to aid us in sorting through them all to identify and characterize the potential threats. Instead, intelligence and defense communities use a broad network of tools to forecast hazards to safeguard our warfighters and nation. A new project from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) seeks to improve the U.S. defensive capability by creating a crystal ball to more rapidly determine the toxicity of such chemical hazards and increase our ability to prepare for surprise.

  • Outdoor drone testing facility for safe, innovative flight testing

    An outdoor fly lab for testing autonomous aerial vehicles is coming to the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering this fall, adding to the university’s spate of advanced robotics facilities. M-Air will be a netted, four-story complex situated next to the site where the Ford Motor Company Robotics Building will open in late 2019. Construction of the $800,000 M-Air is expected to begin in August and be complete by the end of the year.

  • Spotting data theft – quickly!

    Computer experts have always struggled to find solutions for protecting businesses and authorities from network breaches. This is because there are too many vague indicators of potential attacks. With PA-SIEM, IT managers have a solution that effectively protects their systems while exposing data thieves and criminal hackers more quickly than conventional software.

  • New app detects cyberattacks quickly

    If you are awaiting exciting news from your friend, what is the better way to read your email? Has it comes in, or after a batch collects? Well, if you read it as it comes in, you will surely get the news faster. Researchers have developed a software app that can do the same for computer networks. Monitoring the activity within a network in real-time can allow cybersecurity analysts to detect cyberattacks quickly, before thieves steal data or crash your system.

  • Invisibility cloak a step closer

    Researchers have made structures that could help conceal objects from daylight – taking the next step towards making the visible, invisible. Recent progress draws on advances in so-called metamaterials, which are microscopic structures that bend light in unnatural directions. Metamaterials have already managed to reroute microwaves, infrared radiation. and, given the right circumstances, visible colors, so that they go around metal obstacles and living creatures.

  • Hacking functional fabrics to aid emergency response

    Hazardous environments such as disaster sites and conflict zones present many challenges for emergency response. But the new field of functional fabrics — materials modified to incorporate various sensors, connect to the internet, or serve multiple purposes, among other things — holds promise for novel solutions. Over the weekend, MIT became a hotbed for developing those solutions.

  • Farming practices require dramatic changes to keep pace with climate change

    Major changes in agricultural practices will be required to offset increases in nutrient losses due to climate change. To combat repeated, damaging storm events, which strip agricultural land of soil and nutrients, farmers are already adopting measures to conserve these assets where they are needed. Researchers investigating nutrients in runoff from agricultural land warn that phosphorus losses will increase, due to climate change, unless this is mitigated by making major changes to agricultural practices.

  • George Mason’s new Center of Excellence for Criminal Investigations and Network Analysis

    DHS S&T has selected George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia to lead a consortium of U.S. academic institutions and other partners for a new Center of Excellence (COE) in Criminal Investigations and Network Analysis (CINA). The Center’s research will focus on criminal network analysis, dynamic patterns of criminal activity, forensics, and criminal investigative processes.

  • Breakthrough in countering deadly VX

    First developed in the United Kingdom in the early 1950s, VX is one of the most toxic chemical weapon threats facing soldiers on the battlefield – and civilians as well, as the use by VX by Saddam Hussein and Bashar al-Assad shows. DoD currently uses the Reactive Skin Decontamination Lotion (RSDL) for broad-spectrum agent elimination on unbroken skin, but a capability gap exists for treating chemical agent exposure to large affected areas or open wounds.

  • ISIS and climate change leading security threats: Global survey

    People around the globe identify ISIS and climate change as the leading threats to national security, according to a new Pew Research Center report based on a survey of thirty-eight countries. The survey asked about eight possible threats: ISIS, global climate change, cyberattacks, the condition of the global economy, the large number of refugees leaving Iraq and Syria, and the power and influence of the United States, Russia, and China. While the level and focus of concern varies by region and country, ISIS and climate change clearly emerge as the most frequently cited security risks across the thirty-eight countries polled.

  • New optical device detects drugs, bomb-making chemicals

    Scientists searching for traces of drugs, bomb-making components, and other chemicals often shine light on the materials they’re analyzing. This approach is known as spectroscopy, and it involves studying how light interacts with trace amounts of matter. One of the more effective types of spectroscopy is infrared absorption spectroscopy, which scientists use to sleuth out performance-enhancing drugs in blood samples and tiny particles of explosives in the air.

  • Identifying, analyzing drone-collected evidentiary data

    DHS awards nearly $1 million to a Colorado company to develop ways to increase law enforcement capabilities to identify, collect, and analyze evidentiary data from consumer and professional drones. The award is part of S&T’s Cyber Forensics, a project which focuses on development of new capabilities to help law enforcement with the forensic investigations of digital evidence from various devices such as mobile phones and automobile infotainment systems.

  • Magnets manufactured entirely from U.S.-sourced rare earths

    Rare-earth magnets are used in a wide and ever-increasing number of modern technologies, and the ability to produce them domestically could have broad positive impact on national economy and security. The Critical Materials Institute, a U.S. Department of Energy Innovation Hub, has fabricated magnets made entirely of domestically sourced and refined rare-earth metals.

  • New class of chemical vapor sensors

    An interdisciplinary team of scientists demonstrated that monolayer 2D Transition Metal Dichalcogenides (TMDs) — atomically thin semiconductors — undergo a change from semiconductor-to-metallic phase when exposed to airborne chemical vapors. The team validated optical and electronic evidence of the phase transition and how the behavior can be used to create an entirely new class of chemical vapor sensors. This new class of instruments are potentially more sensitive than current state-of-the-art models, and selective to specific nerve agents and explosive compounds which are of great concern on today’s battlefields.

  • Climate change-driven increase in precipitation bad news for water quality

    If climate change is not curbed, increased precipitation could substantially overload U.S. waterways with excess nitrogen. Rainfall and other precipitation washes nutrients from human activities like agriculture and fossil fuel combustion into rivers and lakes. Excess nutrient pollution increases the likelihood of events that severely impair water quality. The impacts will be especially strong in the Midwest and Northeast.