Technological innovation

  • New spectrometry standard for handheld chemical detectors

    When it comes to detectors for dangerous chemicals, toxins, or nefarious germs, smaller and faster is better. Size and speed, however, must still allow for accuracy, especially when measurements by different instruments must give the same result. The recent publication of a new standard provides confidence that results from handheld chemical detectors can be compared, apples-to-apples.

  • Squeezing light improves performance of MEMS sensors

    Microelectromechanical systems, known as MEMS, are ubiquitous in modern military systems such as gyroscopes for navigation, tiny microphones for lightweight radios, and medical biosensors for assessing the wounded. Such applications benefit from the portability, low power, and low cost of MEMS devices. The use of MEMS sensors is now commonplace, but they still operate many orders of magnitude below their theoretical performance limits, due to two obstacles: thermal fluctuations and random quantum fluctuations, a barrier known as the standard quantum limit.

  • Acoustic detection identifies IEDs – and their explosive yield

    A number of different tools are currently used for explosives detection. These range from dogs and honeybees to mass spectrometry, gas chromatography, and specially designed X-ray machines.A new acoustic detection system, consisting of a phased acoustic array that focuses an intense sonic beam at a suspected improvised explosive device, can determine the difference between those that contain low-yield and high-yield explosives.

  • Innovative technique to detect fingerprints

    Researchers have developed an innovative product that uses fluorescence to detect fingerprints. This new product, Lumicyano, will make it possible to highlight fingerprints directly, more rapidly, and at a lower cost, avoiding the cumbersome processes required until now.

  • Police departments adopt sophisticated, cheap-to-operate surveillance technology

    Advancements in surveillance technology have been adopted not only by the National Security Agency (N.S.A) or other federal intelligence agencies. Local police departments have also incorporated the latest surveillance technologies into their work, allowing them to track individuals for different purposes.

  • Innovative salmonella sensing system

    Foodborne illnesses making one in six Americans — or forty-eight million people — sick each year. Of these people sickened, 128,000 end up in the hospital, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while 3,000 die. A new approach to detecting food contamination enables real-time testing of food and processing plant equipment.

  • Sea power: extracting energy from ocean waves

    As sources of renewable energy, sun and wind have one major disadvantage: it is not always sunny or windy. Waves in the ocean, on the other hand, are never still. Researchers are now aiming to use waves to produce energy by making use of contact electrification between a patterned plastic nanoarray and water.

  • Compact, high-power terahertz source at room temperature developed

    Terahertz (THz) radiation — radiation in the wavelength range of 30 to 300 microns — is gaining attention due to its applications in security screening, medical and industrial imaging, agricultural inspection, astronomical research, and other areas. Traditional methods of generating terahertz radiation usually involve large and expensive instruments, some of which also require cryogenic cooling. Researchers have developed a compact, room-temperature terahertz source with an output power of 215 microwatts.

  • Reducing urban water leakage

    No resource is more fundamental to life and human society than water. Yet, globally, 25 to 30 percent of drinking water is lost every year due to leakages in urban water distribution systems. An EU-funded project is proposing an innovative solution for the automatic detection, sealing, and curing of typical network pipes, without digging up pavements and roads.

  • Reducing security threats from explosives

    Researchers, as part of the Awareness and Localization of Explosives-Related Threats center (ALERT), a DHS Center of Excellence, are working on ways to detect explosives and neutralize their impact. The researchers are developing portable detectors as well as larger systems to scan for explosives. Some technologies will analyze the spectrum of light shining through vaporized samples; others will analyze solid residues.

  • Tiny smartphone sensors create an urban seismic network

    A tiny chip used in smart phones to adjust the orientation of the screen could serve to create a real-time urban seismic network, easily increasing the amount of strong motion data collected during a large earthquake. This urban seismic network could transmit in real-time ground motion data to a central location for assessment. The rich volume of data could help first responders identify areas of greatest potential damage, allowing them to allocate resources more effectively.

  • Harnessing lightning power to charge a mobile phone

    Scientists from the University of Southampton have collaborated with Nokia on ground-breaking, proof-of-concept research into harnessing the power of lightning for personal use, an industry first that could potentially see consumers tap one of nature’s significant energy sources to charge their devices in a sustainable manner.

  • New technology spots killer waves

    Sailors throughout the ages have wished they could predict the strength and size of the next wave. The Environmental and Ship Motion Forecasting (ESMF) system, a Future Naval Capability effort supported by the Office of Naval Research’s (ONR) Sea Warfare and Weapons Department, seeks to provide sea-based forces with new capabilities for difficult operations like ship-to-ship transfer of personnel, vehicles, or materiel — giving operators sea condition information at levels of accuracy never possible before.

  • Innovations help lighten the load for marines

    The Office of Naval Research (ONR) was at the Modern Day Marine exposition last week, showcasing some of the newest technologies it has helped develop to give sailors and marines the edge. The Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare and Combating Terrorism Department at ONR highlighted its focused initiatives to lighten the load for marines, including integrated day/night vision sights, scalable body armor, and other research which will help marines out-think, out-maneuver, and out-perform the enemy.

  • Teams show robust radio techniques at Spectrum Challenge event

    Radios are used for a wide range of tasks, from the most mundane to the most critical of communications, from garage door openers to first responders to military operations. Wireless devices often inadvertently interfere with and disrupt radio communications, and in battlefield environments adversaries may intentionally jam friendly communications. To stimulate the development of radio techniques that can overcome these impediments, the agency launched its Spectrum Challenge — a competitive demonstration of robust radio technologies that seek to communicate reliably in congested and contested electromagnetic environments without direct coordination or spectrum preplanning.