DoD 2017.C STTR Solicitation
NOTE: The Solicitations and topics listed on this site are copies from the various SBIR agency solicitations and are not necessarily the latest and most up-to-date. For this reason, you should use the agency link listed below which will take you directly to the appropriate agency server where you can read the official version of this solicitation and download the appropriate forms and rules.
The official link for this solicitation is: http://www.acq.osd.mil/osbp/sbir/solicitations/sttr2017C/index.shtml
Application Due Date:
Available Funding Topics
- AF17-CT01: Sun-Tracking Millimeter Wave Radiometer
- AF17-CT02: Rapid Discovery of Evasive Satellite Behaviors
- AF17-CT03: Operational Outer Zone Energetic Charged Particle Model
- AF17-CT04: Design of III-V Antimonide InAs/InAsSb Strained-Layer Superlattice Materials for Improved LWIR Performance
- AF17-CT05: Verification and Validation of Algorithms for Resilient Complex Software Controlled Systems
- DHA17C-001: Human Experimentation Toolkit for Variable Physiological/Environmental Conditions in an Aerospace Environment
- DHA17C-002: Underwater Explosion Sensor Data Collection
- MDA17-T001: Innovative Methodologies for Manufacturing of Lethality Test Articles
- MDA17-T002: Advanced Rocket Trajectory Propagation Techniques
- MDA17-T003: High-Efficiency, Low-Volume, Space-Qualified Cryogenic-Coolers
- MDA17-T004: Lightweight Structural Components of a Missile Body
- SOCOM17C-001: Human Performance Optimization
- ST17C-001: Computational Biology Platform Technology for Cell Conversion and Differentiation
- ST17C-002: Processes for Fabrication of Atomically Precise Strongly Correlated Materials
- ST17C-003: Assess Stability and Anti-Fragility of Dense Urban Terrains
Sun-Tracking Millimeter Wave Radiometer
TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Info Systems
OBJECTIVE: Design and implement a sun-tracking radiometer system to measure millimeter wave attenuation with high dynamic range and temporal resolution. Threshold values are 30 dB dynamic range and 5 second resolution.
DESCRIPTION: Development of new satellite communications capabilities in the allocated V and W frequency bands of 71-76 GHz and 81-86 GHz require the measurement of the atmospheric attenuation characteristics at these frequencies. This includes measurement of the fade dynamics and attenuation statistics. There is a dearth of relevant data at millimeter wave frequencies available to test or develop predictive models and fade mitigation techniques. The usual approach to collecting attenuation data utilizes beacons from satellites in geo-stationary orbits, which is expensive and can take many years to implement. On the other hand, the quiet sun is a source of millimeter waves that can be exploited to provide much needed data at a low cost and flexibility in site location. Sun-tracking techniques employing radiometers to measure atmospheric attenuation were developed and utilized by a few researchers in the 1960s and 1970s. However, there has been little if any use of the sun-tracking approach since and there is currently little familiarity with this technique. Radiometer systems have improved significantly in recent years, but there are no commercially available systems designed to provide sun-tracking measurements. Recently the radiometric sun-tracking technique has been re-introduced (see refs 3-5). But those measurements were made with a modification of a commercial radiometer and not optimized for sun-tracking measurements. The topic seeks the design and implementation of a stand-alone sun-tracking based system that can measure millimeter wave attenuation over a dynamic range greater than 30 dB with a 3 second minimum temporal resolution. The system should be capable of measuring at least two frequencies simultaneously (nominally 73 and 83 GHz) under most atmospheric and weather conditions including rain and snow. The system should include all sensors (such as meteorological instruments) and algorithms needed for stand-alone operation. It should be designed to operate over a broad range of elevation angles; from at least 10° to 90°. The sensor should be designed to operate with minimal direct operator control. These radiometer systems will provide key data needed to define V and W band satellite communication system architectures. Multiple units will be required to collect the attenuation characteristics at a variety of geographic locations. While this topic addresses specific frequencies, the sun-tracking radiometer system may be easily adapted for use with other frequencies of interest. It would for example be useful in the commercial development of Q and V band (40 and 50 GHz) satellite communication systems for which there is growing interest but little data. This type of measurement system can be utilized as a research tool for radio astronomy to provide valuable sun brightness temperature estimates which is almost unexplored beyond Ku band.
PHASE I: The Phase I effort will conduct analysis to determine the an optimal design sensing strategy and expected performance. Critical engineering challenges will be identified.
PHASE II: The Phase II effort should demonstrate the expected system performance. It should build and deliver a complete prototype system.
PHASE III: Commercialize production based on Phase II prototype to provide additional features and capabilities of general interest. Produce a multitude of units in order to perform measurements at a variety of geographic locations.
1: Croom D. (1973), "Sun as a broadband source for tropospheric attenuation measurements at millimetre wavelengths", Proc. IEE, vol 120, 1200-1206.
2: Hogg, D.C. and T. Chu (1975): "The role of rain in satellite communications", Proc. IEEE, 63, 1308-1331.
3: Mattioli V., F.S. Marzano, A.V. Bosisio, G.A. Brost, K.M. Magde, "High-frequency prediction of rain attenuation from ground-based microwave radiometric measurements through a sun-tracking technique", 14th Specialist Meeting on Microwave Radiometry and Remote Sensing of the Environment (MicroRad), Espoo (Finland), April 11-14, 2016.
4: Marzano F.S., L. Milani, V. Mattioli, K. Magde, G. Brost, "Retrieval of precipitation extinction using ground-based Sun-tracking millimeter-wave radiometry", IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS), Beijing (China), July 10-15, 2016.
5: Brost, G and K.M. Magde, "On the Use of the Radiometer Formula for Atmospheric Attenuation Measurements At GHz Frequencies", European Conference on Antennas and Propagation (EuCAP), Davos, April 11-14, 2016.
KEYWORDS: Sun-tracking, Radiometer, Propagation
Rapid Discovery of Evasive Satellite Behaviors
TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Info Systems
OBJECTIVE: Develop robust, near real-time algorithms that rapidly discover the behavioral patterns and operational intent of potentially evasive and/or ambiguous active resident space objects (RSOs) for the purposes of space situational awareness (SSA) across the entire SSA space catalog.
DESCRIPTION: Space protection and SSA require rapid and accurate space object behavioral and operational intent discovery. Ground- and space-based Air Force surveillance assets are a critical foundation of U.S. space control operations. Optimally and autonomously controlling their actions effectively and in real-time is fundamental to space object evasive and ambiguous behavioral pattern identification. The problem of behaviorally evasive intent identification is challenging for several reasons. For example, surveillance assets do not completely observe all RSO variables, and system and subsystem parameters required to infer intent. RSOs can potentially be reactive, continuously responding to their perceived environment and choosing their actions correspondingly in order to evade discovery of their capabilities. The problem is further complicated by the fact that the process of intent and capability discovery is fraught with uncertainty in the underlying behavioral pattern models and RSO states, in the observation process, and in the behavioral policy pursued by the RSO. Finally, it is also desired to select a set of surveillance actions that maximize the likelihood of behavioral and capability identification. Due to the large number of hypothetical actions, counter-actions and counter-counter-actions made by the surveillance asset and the RSO over a future look-ahead window of time, along with the large number of RSOs in the space catalog, the problem of optimizing the surveillance asset’s actions over the look-ahead period is computationally intractable. Given a surveillance asset’s capabilities, the ability to identify the existence of undiscoverable RSO “blind-spot” behaviors is critical. Advanced algorithms to process a diverse set of raw sensor data and optimal action selection under uncertainty for enhanced behavioral intent and capabilities discovery are needed. Such algorithms must be highly responsive and adaptive despite the curse of dimensionality that underlies the optimal operational intent identification problem. Existing and new reliable RSO probabilistic patterns of behavioral models need to be utilized. Such models describe the set of possible states an RSO may assume and how these states can transition from one to the other given a surveillance asset’s chosen action. An appropriate utility function for the optimal surveillance policy needs to be developed. Such a function should be designed in order to discover an RSO’s intent, if possible, in the shortest amount of time with the highest level of confidence level given the uncertainty underlying the problem. This topic solicitation addresses the problem of behavioral intent and operational capability discovery within an uncertain game theoretic context, with an interest in improved optimal surveillance asset action selection for rapid identification. Innovative solutions are sought for efficient and rapid discovery despite behavior model uncertainty and RSO action strategy under potentially large number of evasive strategies. Algorithms that are capable of processing raw observation data along with intelligence data and environmental data will be of particular interest.
PHASE I: Develop the mathematical basis for dynamic behavior models to enable near real-time behavioral patterns and operational intent identification. Develop algorithms that compute surveillance asset optimal policies under modeling uncertainty. Identify techniques to detect technological gaps in identifying intent under evasive and/or ambiguous active RSO behavior. Provide a prototype demonstration as applied to a few RSOs in the catalog.
PHASE II: Provide a scalable prototype demonstration of the technology in a realistic environment using realistic data with errors and biases as well as realistic processing speeds in complex scenarios. Extend algorithms to accommodate different sensor designs and sensing environments. Demonstrate scalability with respect to behavioral patterns model parameter space, as well as with respect to the number of RSOs. The solution must be demonstrably scalable over the number of RSOs in a representative SSA space catalog.
PHASE III: Rapid evasive intent and behavioral identification under uncertainty is highly applicable to many military (Joint Space Operations Center), civilian and public safety and security uses.
1: Kaelbling, L.P., Littman, M.L., Cassandra, A.R. "Planning and acting in partially observable stochastic domains". Artificial Intelligence Journal, Vol. 101: pp. 99–134, 1998.
2: Mertens, J. F. & Neyman, A. "Stochastic Games". International Journal of Game Theory Vol. 10, No. 2, pp. 53–66, 1981.
3: Neyman, A. & Sorin, S. "Stochastic Games and Applications". Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Press, 2003.
KEYWORDS: Satellite Characterization, Behavior Modeling, Dynamic Behavior Models, Sensor Optimization
Operational Outer Zone Energetic Charged Particle Model
TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Space Platforms
OBJECTIVE: Develop a model of the outer zone of Earth’s radiation belt that is suitable for operational specification of electron flux levels.
DESCRIPTION: The outer zone of Earth’s radiation belt can be defined as locations in the magnetosphere where the geomagnetic L parameter is greater than 3, corresponding to altitudes of hundreds of kilometers (inclined Low Earth Orbits) to over 35,000 kilometers (Geostationary Orbit and beyond). This zone contains a highly variable population of electrons at relativistic energies (corresponding to greater than 500 kiloelectron-volts) that can be hazardous to spacecraft. The Secretary of the Air Force has mandated pre-Milestone B satellite programs as of March 2015 incorporate an Energetic Charged Particle (ECP) sensor to support space hazard assessment and space situational awareness. In order to accelerate the deployment of this capability, models allowing accurate estimates of energetic charged particle flux will aid in providing complete coverage, and couple with efforts to deploy hosted ECP sensors on commercial platforms. The outer zone population is dynamic and driven, influenced by changes in the electromagnetic field at many length- and time-scales . Recent simulation efforts largely focus on capturing one or more aspects of this system with a combination of physical modeling and data assimilation. This has largely been limited by a lack of suitable data sources that cover the spatial region of interest. The recent release of electron flux data from the GPS fleet could be transformative to data assimilative modeling efforts . The extensive spatiotemporal coverage of these data (over a decade of data from 6 MEO orbit planes with 6 satellites each) can greatly enhance the training and execution of models that can ingest it. This is true for a variety of modeling approaches: machine learning, empirical or applying a Kalman filter to a physical model [3, 4]. Regardless of technical approach employed, the resulting model should capture the dynamic and driven nature of the outer zone electrons as reflected in flux levels at specified energy ranges, informed by ECP sensor requirements.
PHASE I: Prototype model and source code, scientific validation, and roadmap to development required for operational deployment.
PHASE II: Prototype model and source code demonstrating needed operational capabilities suitable for V&V, documentation, and test suite.
PHASE III: Model suitable for use by military, civil, and commercial space organizations.
1: Shprits, Y. Y. et al. Wave-induced loss of ultra-relativistic electrons in the Van Allen radiation belts. Nat. Commun. 7:12883 doi: 10.1038/ncomms12883 (2016).
2: Morley S.K., J.P. Sullivan, M.R. Carver, R.M. Kippen, R.H.W. Friedel, G.D. Reeves, and M.G. Henderson (2017), Energetic Particle Data from the Global Positioning System Constellation, Space Weather, 15, doi:10.1002/2017SW001604.
3: Reeves, G. D., Y. Chen, G. S. Cunningham, R. W. H. Friedel, M. G. Henderson, V. K. Jordanova, J. Koller, S. K. Morley, M. F. Thomsen, and S. Zaharia (2012), Dynamic Radiation Environment Assimilation Model: DREAM, Space Weather, 10, S03006, doi:10.1029/2011SW000729.
4: Drozdov, A. Y., Y. Y. Shprits, K. G. Orlova, A. C. Kellerman, D. A. Subbotin, D. N. Baker, H. E. Spence, and G. D. Reeves (2015), Energetic, relativistic, and ultrarelativistic electrons: Comparison of long-term VERB code simulations with Van Allen Probes measurements. J. Geophys. Res. Space Physics, 120, 3574–3587. doi:10.1002/2014JA020637.
5: McCollough, James, White Paper on ECP Energy Range and Flux Requirements, 8 pages (uploaded in SITIS on 8/29/17).
KEYWORDS: Van Allen, Radiation Belt, Space Environment, Modeling, Physics, Data Assimilation
Design of III-V Antimonide InAs/InAsSb Strained-Layer Superlattice Materials for Improved LWIR Performance
TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Sensors
OBJECTIVE: Develop minority carrier transport model software based on innovative electronic structure and transport models leading to superior nBn InAs/InAsSb antimonide-based strained-layer superlattice materials.
DESCRIPTION: For III-V infrared focal plane arrays for mid-wavelength infrared (MWIR) and long wavelength infrared (LWIR) imaging, InAs/InAsSb strained-layer superlattice materials using unipolar barrier device structures are a promising technology. The use of such superlattices increases the minority carrier lifetime dramatically over Ga-containing antimonide materials to be comparable with HgCdTe but also introduces numerous barriers to minority carrier transport. These barriers disrupt carrier transport, either intrinsically or through the introduction of additional roughness to the barriers. To this point, modern high-accuracy transport calculations do not utilize the electronic structure of the full superlattice material.
PHASE I: Develop a model that can integrate the superlattice electronic structure calculations used for optical absorption, Auger recombination, defect scattering, and other design criteria, with an accurate transport calculation suitable for operating temperatures and doping ranges of interest for such detectors. Deliver initial prototype model and software code for scientific validation.
PHASE II: Develop the model into a prototype software product that can be reliably used with limited expertise. Demonstrate use of the software to predict vertical transport carrier mobilities and, when combined with carrier lifetime calculations, to predict quantum efficiencies and detectivities. Deliver prototype model software for verification with experimental results.
PHASE III: Further develop the software product to be generic for any III-V material superlattice design, making it widely applicable for commercial and defense emitter and detector applications in any wavelength range.
1: E. H. Steenbergen, B. C. Connelly, G. D. Metcalfe, H. Shen, M. Wraback, D. Lubyshev, J. M. Fastenau, A. W. K. Liu, S. Elhamri, O. O. Cellek, and Y.-H. Zhang, Appl. Phys. Lett. 99, 251110 (2011).
2: B. V. Olson, L. M. Murray, J. P. Prineas, M. E. Flatte , J. T. Olesberg, and T. F. Boggess, Appl. Phys. Lett. 102, 202101 (2013).
3: Y. Aytac, B. V. Olson, J. K. Kim, E. A. Shaner, S. D. Hawkins, J. F. Klem, M. E. Flatte , and T. F. Boggess, J. Appl. Phys. 118, 125701 (2015).
KEYWORDS: Infrared, Superlattice, Detector, Transport, Model, Software
Verification and Validation of Algorithms for Resilient Complex Software Controlled Systems
TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Space Platforms
OBJECTIVE: This STTR topic will investigate approaches to verification and validation (V&V) of algorithms for GN&C of spacecraft without on-orbit testing.
DESCRIPTION: As potentially one of the most sensitive subsystems within the flight software to subtle disruptions that are difficult to detect and prevent, the need for resilient, cyber-hardened software architectures for GN&C (guidance, navigation, and control) of spacecraft is significant and the capability to V&V the systems before deployment is necessary. Currently, V&V of spacecraft GN&C systems must be accomplished through on-orbit testing. Selected proposers will be provided a problem of interest both to the Air Force as well as to all national security space systems on which to apply their V&V algorithms. Potential approaches are provided in the references, but the proposer is encouraged to consider alternative approaches as well.
PHASE I: Final Report with simulated approaches to algorithms on spacecraft GN&C problems plus algorithms & simulations in MATLAB code.
PHASE II: Matlab Simulink code suitable for auto-generation of Real-Time ANSI C/C++ flight code of algorithms (using Simulink Coder), additional Matlab code used in high-fidelity simulations and regression testing of algorithms, and a Final Report.
PHASE III: Demonstration of developed flight code in a hardware testbed environment plus a Final Report.
1: Johnson, T. T., Green, J., Mitra, S., Dudley, R., and Erwin, R. S.," Satellite Rendezvous and Conjunction Avoidance: Case Studies in Verification of Nonlinear Hybrid Systems," Proc. 18th International Symposium on Formal Methods, pp. 252-266, Paris, France, August 2012.
2: Frey, G. and Litz, L., "Verification and Validation of Control Algorithms by Coupling of Interpreted Petri Nets," Proc. IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics (ICSMC), 1998 ; doi: 10.1109/ICSMC.1998.725375.
3: Liu, Shaoying, "Testing-Based Formal Verification for Algorithmic Function Theorems and Its Application to Software Verification and Validation," Proc. 2016 International Symposium on System and Software Reliability (ISSSR), 2016 ;doi: 10.1109/ISSSR.2016.010.
KEYWORDS: Verification, Validation, Algorithms, Controls
Human Experimentation Toolkit for Variable Physiological/Environmental Conditions in an Aerospace Environment
TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Bio Medical
OBJECTIVE: Research-based approach to bridge cognitive, physiological, and behavioral metrics for use in a human experimentation toolkit for collecting associated data while participants are exposed to a wide array of physiological and environmental conditions – with focus on hypoxia in the aerospace environment.
DESCRIPTION: In recent years, physiological events (e.g., hypoxia) have become more prevalent in several aviation platforms including the F/A-18, F-35, T-45, and EA-18G. Although solutions in the oxygen system have been identified and resolved, hypoxia events continue to occur and hypoxia remains the top safety concern across the Naval Aviation Enterprise. Hypoxia research is ongoing in many laboratories within the Department of Defense and other medical research facilities, but these research efforts are lacking a standardized experimentation system that can facilitate replication across laboratories. Replication is fundamental to experimental design , and it is imperative to provide the most reliable and valid cognitive, physiological, and behavioral metrics to scientists for investigations into this highly visible research area within the aerospace scientist community. The majority of hypoxia research includes animal modeling  or high altitude on land  (i.e., mountaineering) observational metrics. This restrictive corpus of published studies is likely due to the high-risk nature of inducing hypoxia in human participants. With the increasing demand for more thorough understanding of human models in hypoxic-hypoxia conditions, it is crucial to provide researchers the necessary tools to comprehensively understand this phenomenon and to have the appropriate metrics for use when sharing their findings . Although the focus of the development this cognitive-behavioral test battery is on hypoxia, the test-battery should be easily adapted to other environmental conditions that may affect the cognitive, physiological, and/or behavioral state of participants (e.g., heat, cold, stress). The reason for expanding this test-battery from solely hypoxia to other environmental conditions is that it is necessary for experimental scientists to parse the similarities and differences of symptomology observed during hypoxia and other physiological symptoms that may be experienced in the aerospace environment. Considerations for the development of the test-battery should include cognitive psychology , experimental design , behavioral psychology , human neurophysiology , and human-system integration in the aerospace environment. Additionally, the development of this testing toolkit should consider integration with the reduced-oxygen breathing device (ROBD) currently used in training and experimental environments for aviation training and hypoxia training.
PHASE I: Refine potential tests and associated metrics based on proof-of-concept evaluation to develop into a testing environment based on supporting literature from respective research communities for each metric type. Develop prototype test-bed or conceptual design demonstrating understanding of experimental design and subsequent statistical analyses. Compose Internal Review Board (IRB) protocol for human-subjects testing. Provide documentation demonstrating utility and, if possible, proof-of-concept demo of one or more of the testing components along with a Technology Readiness Level (TRL)/Manufacturing Readiness Level (MRL) assessment.
PHASE II: If selected for Phase II, this protocol will be submitted to U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command's Office of Research Protections, Human Research Protections Office (HRPO) for approval. Develop, test, and refine test-battery to maximize reliability and validity of tests. Human-subjects testing will be required to reveal suitability of test-battery for the aerospace environment. Efforts will be made to provide reduced-oxygen breathing device (ROBD) and participants via military testing facilities. Phase II should conclude with a software solution composed of multiple testing options for each metric (i.e., behavioral, physiological, and cognitive) and a process to meaningfully assimilate data from the disparate testing and data types. TRL/MRL assessment should be updated.
PHASE III: Refine to final production configuration. Software specifications and guidebook shall be provided in conjunction with software delivery. Develop manufacturing and logistics process in conjunction with Department of Defense and other government manufacturing engineers and logisticians. Possible testing of system parameters at one or more of the locations listed in the next paragraph. This human experimentation toolkit, although focused on the #1 Naval Aviation safety concern of hypoxia, will be extensible to most human performance research laboratories across the DoD. Potential Government customers including National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), Special Operations Forces Acquisition Technology and Logistics (SOF AT&L), Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Army Research Laboratory (ARL), Office of Naval Research (ONR), Naval Health Research Center (NHRC), and most other human performance laboratories. Initial focus will be placed on NAVAIR as customer for development into DoD experimentation and testing system. This project will result in a human performance research toolkit that will be of great marketing potential in academia and commercial product-based development firms that entail human factors components (e.g., car manufacturers, software development firms, commercial aviation).
1: Keppel, G. (1991). Design and analysis: A researcher's handbook. Prentice-Hall, Inc.
2: Gozal, D., Daniel, J. M., & Dohanich, G. P. (2001). Behavioral and anatomical correlates of chronic episodic hypoxia during sleep in the rat. Journal of Neuroscience, 21(7), 2442-2450.
3: Singh, I., Khanna, P. K., Srivastava, M. C., Lal, M., Roy, S. B., & Subramanyam, C. S. V. (1969). Acute mountain sickness. New England Journal of Medicine, 280(4), 175-184.
4: Sternberg, R. J., & Sternberg, K. (2016). Cognitive psychology. Nelson Education.
5: Mesulam, M. M. (2000). Principles of behavioral and cognitive neurology. Oxford University Press.
KEYWORDS: Stress Physiology, Cognitive Psychology, Psychophysiology, Experimental Design, Medical Research, Hypoxia, Experimental Methodology
Underwater Explosion Sensor Data Collection
TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Bio Medical
OBJECTIVE: The objective of this STTR is to develop a method to make environmental data from underwater explosions (UNDEX) available to medical professionals to help with injury treatment. To meet this objective, a conductive fiber (e-textile) suitable for detecting shock waves, including on-board data recording capabilities, will be developed. Recorded e-textile data will be formatted to allow integration with other sensor technologies. Development of the e-textile will make UNDEX exposure data available to medical professionals, which is expected to improve injury outcomes.
DESCRIPTION: Recent investigations into piezoelectric fibers have resulted in the development of fibers capable of converting mechanical vibrations into electrical signals, allowing these fibers to ‘hear’ . The Department of Defense is already actively involved in this area of research, and has a participating membership in the Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA) research initiative [2, 3]. The focus of this STTR is to identify fibers that can operate in both fresh and salt water and detect vibrations associated with the shock wave of an UNDEX. The fibers must be able to be woven into an e-textile uniform or strap (the actual weaving is outside the scope of this STTR). These fibers will provide medically relevant data to improve diagnosis and treatment determinations from injuries resulting from UNDEX. The fibers may also be used to detect physiological measures of warfighter stress, such as respiration rate, heart rate, and other indicators. The e-textiles developed by this STTR will find use by operators in aquatic environments. Early adopters of the products from this STTR may include surface and undersea warfare operators, first responders, and undersea construction and salvage crews. Utilization of the e-textiles will allow monitoring for potential injuries and logging of relevant exposure characteristics, which will improve operational safety.
PHASE I: In Phase I, the vibration detection characteristics of different fibers will be evaluated. Researchers will identify piezoelectric fibers that can operate in water. Selected fibers will be required to reliably detect the frequency and amplitude of UNDEX shock waves, while meeting or exceeding the strength of traditional textiles. These requirements will apply for both dry and wet environments. The fibers will be required to possess similar durability to normal textiles for UNDEX exposures. Researchers may identify multiple fiber technologies capable of detecting shock waves.
PHASE II: In Phase II, a prototype electronics package will be constructed and tested both in air and while submerged. This prototype will include vibration detecting fibers, a processor, and digital data storage capability. Prototypes will utilize the candidate fibers identified during Phase I to determine which fibers are best suited for detecting medically relevant UNDEX shock wave characteristics. A test fixture will be constructed to record electrical signals generated by the submerged conductive fiber in response to shock waves. The test fixture will be subjected to the sounds expected from a warfighter and to shock waves representative of UNDEX. The test fixture will be used to measure any possible degradation of signal detection following exposure to an emulated UNDEX. Prototypes will be evaluated based on detection of UNDEX characteristics and physiological measures of warfighter stress. Additionally, prototypes may possess the ability to detect other sounds relevant to warfighter safety, such as splashing, coughing, or calling for help. Researchers will use shock waves that emulate UNDEX, and the sponsor may opt to conduct additional tests using more realistic sources. To enable realistic exposures, the prototype should be ruggedized sufficiently to withstand operationally representative shock wave amplitudes. The data collected in Phase II will be provided to the sponsor in a computable format.
PHASE III: In Phase III, a fully submersible stand-alone conductive fiber strap (e-textile) with onboard data-recording will be constructed using the fibers selected in Phase II. Data collected from the e-textile will be extracted for post testing analysis. The e-textile will be tested in water to demonstrate an operational capability, as done with the fibers in Phase II. Completed e-textile prototypes and data will be delivered to the sponsor for further evaluation and analysis. The testing will include salt water and fresh water environments operating in cold and warm temperatures.
1: Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office, Fibers that can hear and sing, July 12, 2010, http://news.mit.edu/2010/acoustic-fibers-0712
4: UbiComp '13 Adjunct Proceedings of the 2013 ACM conference on Pervasive and ubiquitous computing adjunct publication Pages 207 – 210.
KEYWORDS: UNDEX (Underwater Explosion), E-textile, Piezoelectric Fiber, EHR (Electronic Health Record)
Innovative Methodologies for Manufacturing of Lethality Test Articles
TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Chem Bio_defense, Materials, Weapons
OBJECTIVE: Leverage advancements in rapid prototyping technologies such as 3-D printing to develop innovative, cost effective, short lead time manufacturing method(s) for small production run, complex test articles of aerospace quality structural metal alloys without affecting the material properties of the subject materials.
DESCRIPTION: Seek low cost, short lead time manufacturing method(s) which can ultimately produce full and scaled threat surrogate targets of structural metal alloys with the same material properties as the identical target produced by traditional precision machining methods. One of the key system performance assessments required for all Department of Defense weapon systems is a determination that the system can negate the threat it is designed to negate. For hit-to-kill ballistic missile defense systems, missile defense systems, this lethality testing is generally performed by launching high speed interceptor surrogates into threat surrogates which can be tested at various facilities. Traditionally these “one-off” (small production run) targets have been custom-built from level 3 engineering drawings or computer assisted design (CAD) files in precision machine shops. This traditional process often results in lead times of several years and significant per unit target costs. Of key concern, is whether the rapid prototyping process can produce the metal alloys with the same material properties as the machined metals. For missile defense scenarios where the targets will be subject to high strains and high strain rates, it is imperative that the targets exhibit the same structural response as the structures they are representing. Without this assurance of equivalent material properties, the target could not provide confidence in weapon system performance against an actual threat. Material properties of interest include density, elastic modulus, critical fracture tension, and flow stress as a function of strain rate. Offerers should detail how they will use the Phase I period to determine the manufacturing method they will use and what process control is required in order to produce the correct material properties.
PHASE I: Develop an innovative manufacturing method of producing threat surrogate targets for missile defense lethality testing and demonstrate, using at least one structural metal alloy that the method can produce a testable object with the same material properties of a machined object. Produce test specimens and perform both quasi-static and split Hopkinson Bar tests for structural metal alloy.
PHASE II: Demonstrate the ability to produce the other metal alloys with the appropriate material properties via the same standard tension test used in Phase I. Develop appropriate test matrix for testing at a high strain rate. The high strain rate material properties of the novel manufacturing articles should match the existing data for those alloys within 15 percent. Demonstrate the ability to produce larger, more complex targets by manufacturing multiple quarter and full-scale targets. The results of these tests will be compared to existing test data sets for identical machined test articles. Provide technical analyses of the expected capabilities, costs, and time lines for using the rapid prototyping process. Provide technical analysis of actual manufactured items demonstrating the capability of the process to produce structural metal alloy test articles with the appropriate material properties.
PHASE III: Lower the cost of the government live fire test and evaluation test series by manufacturing various structural metal alloys and portions of the required full and quarter scale targets. Investigate the use of the rapid prototyping process for use in producing flight quality articles. This technology would benefit any industry which requires low cost, short lead time, and low rate production of structural metal alloy articles with the same materials properties as articles produced by traditional machining methods. This could include high pressure vessel production, aerospace vehicle parts, automotive parts, industrial equipment, etc.
1: Wang, Williams, Colegrove, and Antonysamy. 2013. "Microstructure and Mechanical Properties of Wire and Arc Additive Manufactured Ti-6Al-4V." Metallurgical and Materials Transactions A; 44A: p 968-977.
2: Hu and Kovacevic. January 2003. "Sensing, modeling and control for laser-based additive manufacturing." International Journal of Machine Tools and Manufacture; Vol. 43: Issue 1.
3: Pal, Patil, Zeng, and Stucker. 2014. "An Integrated Approach to Additive Manufacturing Simulations Using Physics Based, Coupled Multiscale Process Modeling. "Journal of Manufacturing Science and Engineering; 136(6): p 061022.
4. 2008. "Integrated Computational Materials Engineering, National Materials Advisory Board Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences National Research Council." ; http://www.nae.edu/19582/Reports/25043.aspx.
5: Sommers et al. 1995. "Spin Velocimeters for Impact Debris Fragments." International Journal of Impact Engineering; Vol. 17: p 773-784.
6: Meyers. 1994. "Dynamic Behavior of Materials." John Wiley and Sons, New York.
7: Defense Acquisition University Web Portal for Additive Manufacturing: https://acc.dau.mil/AM.
8: Frazier. 2014. "Metal Additive Manufacturing: A Review." Journal of Materials Engineering and Performance; 23 (6): p 1917-1928.
9: Vilaro, Colin, and Bartout. 2011. "As-fabricated and Heat-Treated Microstructures of the Ti-6Al-4V Alloy Processed by Selective Laser Melting." Metall; Trans. A., 42A: p 3190-3199.
10: Mullins and Christodoulou. 2013. "ICME - Application of the revolution to titanium structures." Collection of Technical Papers - AIAA/ASME/ASCE/AHS/ASC Structures, Structural Dynamics and Materials Conference; http://arc.aiaa.org.
KEYWORDS: Rapid Prototyping, Additive Manufacturing, Structural Metal Alloys, Low Rate Production, High Strain-rate Material Properties
Advanced Rocket Trajectory Propagation Techniques
TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Info Systems, Space Platforms, Weapons
OBJECTIVE: Develop new techniques for trajectory propagation that are more suited for use in federated simulations than traditional methods
DESCRIPTION: Runge-Kutta methods have been the standard for numerically solving a system of differential equations to propagate rocket vehicle trajectories. While robust with well characterized errors, Runge-Kutta methods have limitations for high-resolution federated simulations. These include extensive computational throughput requirements and large output data sets. Other limitations include the need to perform time-step matching between component simulations and determining the states for federated simulation events between the calculated time-steps. It may be possible to apply new/alternative numerical solution techniques (e.g. Parker-Sochacki method) and/or alternative problem formulations (e.g. Hamiltonian mechanics) to improve computational loading, data storage, and data integrity for rocket vehicle modeling in federated simulations. Desired attributes of alternative propagation methods include: 1. Trajectory generation independent of the time-step requirements of the other component simulations in the federation which consume the trajectory data. 2. Decreased trajectory computational time/hardware loading relative to required resolution, accuracy, and trajectory complexity. 3. Decreased output data storage size relative to resolution and trajectory complexity. 4. Easily tunable resolution accuracy to trade for computational speed and/or decreased output storage size. 5. Implementable common, reproducible, and accurate between-state trajectory estimation methods for trajectory data consuming component simulations within the federation. 6. Decreased between-state trajectory estimation computational time or hardware loading in consuming simulations. 7. Implementable lower accuracy trajectory driven event predictor algorithms for consuming simulations. Viability would not require all improvements in all desired attributes, and would likely be subject to trades of resolution, accuracy, and distributed computer resources. Developed techniques could be applied to other engineering simulations, real-time predictors, and control systems.
PHASE I: Develop the proposed novel propagation technique to a sufficient level to provide a proof-of-concept (e.g. a 3-DoF space launch with spherical rotating Earth with simple atmosphere model). Evaluate its potential value against each of the desired attributes either theoretically, by demonstration, or preferably both. Assess and document potential trades between implementation choices, resolution/accuracy, and numerical/computational efficiencies. Define a software and hardware architecture for using the proposed propagation technique in the government’s Modeling and Simulation Enterprise to be developed as an operational prototype in a Phase II effort.
PHASE II: Develop the proposed technique into an operational prototype rocket vehicle trajectory generation engine, with the basic supporting tools for employing the output data in consuming simulations and simulation frameworks. While medium level of modeling fidelity (e.g. 3+3 DoF, non-spherical Earth, etc.) is expected in the prototype, the prototype’s architecture should be extendable to high-resolution 6-DoF modeling of rocket vehicles. The trajectory generation engine and any post-processing tools must be verified against a design conceptual model with algorithm descriptions, and its output validated against reference systems/trajectories. Source code and executable software should meet government Information Assurance standards to include basic documentation of the conceptual model and algorithms, code structure, verification (vs. conceptual model) and validation results (vs. reference systems/trajectories), Information Assurance checks, and user guidance.
PHASE III: Extend development of the prototype into a fully operational trajectory generation engine for high-resolution 6-DoF modeling of rocket vehicles, with standard supporting tools for employing the output data in consuming simulations and simulation frameworks. Delivery to the government of the trajectory generation engine is expected to be in the form of source code and executable software. The trajectory generation engine and any post-processing tools must be verified against a design conceptual model and algorithm descriptions, and its output validated against reference systems/trajectories. Software should meet government Information Assurance standards. Robust documentation of the conceptual model/algorithms, code structure, verification (vs. conceptual model) and validation results (vs. reference systems/trajectories), Information Assurance checks, and user guidance is required.
1: Rudmin. March 1998. "Application of the Parker-Sochacki Method to Celestial Mechanics." Physics Dept., James Madison University. https://arxiv.org/abs/1007.1677.
2: Warne, Polignone Arne, Sochacki, Parker, and Carothers. 2006. "Explicit A-Priori Error Bounds and Adaptive Error Control for Approximation of Nonlinear Initial Value Differential Systems." Computers & Mathematics with Application; Vol. 52: p 1695-1710. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S089812210600352X.
3: Reilly. May 1979. "Equations of Powered Rocket Ascent and Orbit Trajectory." NRL Report 8237; Communications Sciences Division, Naval Research Laboratory. www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a069296.pdf.
4: Butcher. 2005. "Numerical Methods for Ordinary Differential Equations." John Wiley & Sons, New York. ISBN 9780470868270.
KEYWORDS: Numerical Methods, Differential Equations, Numerical Integration, Trajectory, Ballistic Missile, Space Launch Vehicle, Simulation
High-Efficiency, Low-Volume, Space-Qualified Cryogenic-Coolers
TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Space Platforms
OBJECTIVE: Seeking innovative high-efficiency, low-volume, space-qualified cryo-coolers.
DESCRIPTION: This topic focuses on enabling next generation sensor systems by improving cooler performance beyond the current state-of-the-art to support future space missions. Cooling is required to decrease detector noise and increase detector sensitivity by maintaining the detector at a reduced operating temperature. However, current coolers have larger volume and power requirements than desired for next generation space-based sensor payload concepts. This topic seeks innovative coolers with increased efficiency and reduced size for space-based payloads operating in low earth orbit. Goals for the topic are as follows (in order of priority): 1. Heat lift of more than 2W for 20W spacecraft power 2. Cooling to 110K with 300K reject temperature 3. Sizes less than 500 cc including space-qualified electronics, component shielding, and vibration control (if applicable) 4. High reliability and long lifetime with specified performance in low earth orbit 5. Low vibration and/or vibration control (included in volume budget) This topic does not seek a particular cooling approach but solicits technical solutions for meeting the topic goals.
PHASE I: Present a preliminary design of the prototype cooler to include a development plan and schedule, performance models, and identified risks with mitigation plan. The preliminary design should describe options for interfacing the cooler with a notional sensor payload and spacecraft bus. Risk-reduction experiments and proof-of-concept demonstrations are highly encouraged.
PHASE II: Present a detailed design of the prototype cooler. Fabricate a prototype unit and test performance in representative environments. Test results should anchor models for predicting lifetime performance in the operating environment. Provide comparisons between expected and measured performance and adjustments made to the design based on lessons learned.
PHASE III: Verify the Phase II demonstration technology is economically viable. Develop and execute a plan to market and manufacture the technology. Assist the government in transitioning the cooler for system integration and testing.
1: Pettyjohn. 2012. "Future Trends of AFRL Cooler Research." AIP Conference Proceedings 1434, p 121.
2: Pettyjohn. 2010. "Coolers for Microsatellite Military Applications." Coolers 16, edited by Miller and Ross, Jr. Boulder, Colorado, p 709-713.
3: Roush. 2010. "USAF Space Sensing Cryogenic Considerations." AIP Conference Proceedings 1218, p 355.
KEYWORDS: Cooler, Space, Cyrocooler, Cryogenic
Lightweight Structural Components of a Missile Body
TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Weapons
OBJECTIVE: Develop materials solutions to lighten the weight of various structural components of a missile body.
DESCRIPTION: This topic seeks innovative, weight-optimized solutions for large missile structures. Solutions are sought for decreasing the weight of various structural components throughout the missile body. Material options must take into account the physical and environmental requirements, and cost of the interceptor in manufacturing, in launch storage, and during operation. Applications include large missiles where weight optimization is critical, while providing robust adherence to standard military requirements pertaining to various structures such as the booster avionics module, booster inter-staging, nozzles, mounting brackets, or other major components/materials where weight savings could be realized. Proposals should demonstrate an innovative concept that has realistic potential to reduce the overall weight of the missile system through robust design, advanced materials, and manufacturing techniques. Concepts must include ease of fabrication and reliable installation within the missile body. Combinations of advanced materials and robust manufacturing techniques should enable a functional, producible, and lightweight structural system that will allow the missile system to accomplish its task.
PHASE I: Perform analysis of structures/materials that would provide the greatest weight and cost savings ratio of a missile. Develop the proposed hardware concepts through experimentation to demonstrate the feasibility of performance and weight optimized solutions. Successful bidders will be provided with generic interface requirements of interceptor structures as well as general storage and functional environments. During this phase the innovative concepts should be tailored to those generic interface and performance requirements.
PHASE II: Demonstrate the feasibility of the innovative hardware solutions by building and testing prototype structural units. This phase will focus on verifying that the proposed concepts will actually provide weight savings to the overall missile body. Therefore, the scope of this phase will be tailored to highlight the specific design benefits.
PHASE III: Integrate the proposed system into a critical interceptor application and generalize the application for broader use across government programs and commercial applications. Demonstrate applicability in one or more element systems, subsystems, or components. The projected benefits to improve safety, reliability, producibility, weight, and reduce cost should be made clear. The demand for reliable, robust, and lightweight materials for booster and payload structures has wide market appeal for commercial space launch vehicles, defense weaponry, and commercial and defense aircraft.
1: April 2017. "Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD)." Missile Defense Agency. https://www.mda.mil/system/gmd.html.
2: May 2016. "Ground-Based Missile Defense Program Review." https://www.mda.mil/global/documents/pdf/osbp_16conf_GMD_Next_Follow_On_Barrow.pdf.
3: 2017. Ground-Based Midcourse Defense Fact Sheet. https://www.mda.mil/system/gmd.html.
KEYWORDS: Lightweight Materials, New Materials, Missile Body, Composite Structures, Weight Optimized, Lightweight Structures
Human Performance Optimization
TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Bio Medical, Sensors, Human Systems
OBJECTIVE: The objective of this topic is to develop innovative technologies that enhance physiological, physical, psychological, and intellectual performance, and improve resistance to disease, stress, or injury caused by the demands of sustained operations in extreme environments.
DESCRIPTION: The optimization of Special Operations Forces (SOF) operator’s ability to perform at very high levels for long durations, process information and make the right decisions in a timely manner, while operating in extreme environments, including temperature ranges, high altitude, maritime/subsurface environments under high levels of stress will significantly improve their operational effectiveness. As a part of this feasibility study, the proposers shall address all viable system design options with respective specifications, capabilities, or technologies on the key system attributes: • Increase peak performance sustainability, including increased endurance, strength, energy, agility, and enhanced senses • Reduce recovery time • Enhance tolerance to environmental extremes or the ability to rapidly acclimatize to environmental extremes • Enhancing metabolic efficiency • Improve oxygen delivery to muscles • Provide restorative effects of sleep • Reduce the potential for musculoskeletal injury USSOCOM would like organizations to consider pursuing novel ideas that provide leap ahead capabilities for human performance optimization that are safe for human use and effective. By leap ahead we are referring to capabilities that provide a sudden significant advantage or breakthrough in increasing human performance. Some examples of novel research areas are: • Genomics • Epigenetics • Proteomics • Synthetic biology • Neurological analysis and stimulation • Nutraceuticals • Pharmaceuticals
PHASE I: Conduct a feasibility study to assess what is in the art of the possible that satisfies the requirements specified in the above paragraph entitled “Description.” The objective of this USSOCOM Phase I SBIR effort is to conduct and document the results of a thorough feasibility study to investigate what is in the art of the possible within the given trade space that will satisfy a needed technology. The feasibility study should investigate all known options that meet or exceed the minimum performance parameters specified in this write up. It should also address the risks and potential payoffs of the innovative technology options that are investigated and recommend the option that best achieves the objective of this technology pursuit. The funds obligated on the resulting Phase I SBIR contracts are to be used for the sole purpose of conducting a thorough feasibility study using scientific experiments and laboratory studies as necessary. Operational prototypes will not be developed with USSOCOM SBIR funds during Phase I feasibility studies. Operational prototypes developed with other than SBIR funds that are provided at the end of Phase I feasibility studies will not be considered in deciding what firm(s) will be selected for Phase II. PHASE II: Develop, install, and demonstrate a prototype system determined to be the most feasible solution during the Phase I feasibility study on a human performance optimization.
PHASE II: Develop, install, and demonstrate a prototype system determined to be the most feasible solution during the Phase I feasibility study on a human performance optimization.
PHASE III: This system could be used in a broad range of military applications where peak performance in environmental extremes is required. Other applications include professional firefighters, law enforcement, and sports.
1: "Effects of exogenous ketone supplementation on blood ketone, glucose, triglyceride, and lipoprotein levels in Sprague–Dawley rats", 04 Feb 2016; https://nutritionandmetabolism.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12986-016-0069-y
2: "Nutritional Ketosis Affects Metabolism and Behavior in Sprague-Dawley Rats in Both Control and Chronic Stress Environments", 15 May 2017; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28555095
3: "Metformin improves performance in high-intensity exercise, but not anaerobic capacity in healthy male subjects", Oct 2015; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26250859
4: "Exercise-induced modification of the skeletal muscle transcriptome in Arabian horses", 01 Jun 2017; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28455310
5: "The ACE gene and human performance: 12 years on", 01 Jun 2011, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21615186
6: "Role of NADH/NAD+ transport activity and glycogen store on skeletal muscle energy metabolism during exercise: In silico studies", Jan 2009;https://cwru.pure.elsevier.com/en/publications/role-of-nadhnad-transport-activity-and-glycogen-store-on-skeletal-2
7: "Loss of NAD Homeostasis Leads to Progressive and Reversible Degeneration of Skeletal Muscle"; 09 Aug 2016, http://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/fulltext/S1550-4131%2816%2930350-3
8: "Enhancing cognitive performance with repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation at human individual alpha frequency", 17 Mar 2003; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12653991
KEYWORDS: Human Performance Optimization And Sustainment, Peak Performance, And Environmental Extremes
Computational Biology Platform Technology for Cell Conversion and Differentiation
TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Info Systems, Bio Medical
OBJECTIVE: Design, develop, and demonstrate a computational biology platform that exploits modern high-resolution assays, high-throughput sequencing data, and -omics databases to analyze, model, control, and optimize cell conversion from one type to another.
DESCRIPTION: There is a compelling DoD need to promote the design and development of a bio-computational tool that can analyze, predict, and optimize cell conversion and differentiation. Induced cell conversion from one type of cell to another (also known as cellular trans-differentiation) is central to many biological applications. For example, in cell-based regenerative medicine for wound or organ healing, fully differentiated cells can be reprogrammed to acquire a radically different identity (e.g., fibroblasts can be converted to myoblasts or neurons) by forced expression of key transcription factors and adequate conditioning. Another potential application of cell reprogramming is in plant biology for breeder selection and genotype-specific agronomic decisions to maintain and improve crop productivity in scarce resources. Meristem pluripotent cells differentiate into diverse cell types by integrating environmental signals, which direct the growth and patterning of roots, stems, and leaves, and controlling key developmental decisions like flowering, growth, or dormancy. Key factors expressed during these early developmental processes may pinpoint later phenotypic characteristics such as crop productivity. Current methods for inducing cell conversion and cellular differentiation rely on trial and error approaches, which are time-consuming and lack scalability. Modern high resolution assays and high throughput molecular data (including densely sampled molecular processes at multiple scales during cell conversion) are foundational to the development of a computational biology platform that can enable faster and more efficient design and analysis methods for cell conversion [1,2]. The platform must have the ability to integrate temporal and spatial measurement series of diverse types of molecular and environmental data derived from multiple sources, such as RNA sequencing, long-range chromatin conformation capture (Hi-C), chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-seq), high-resolution imaging, and analysis of microRNA, proteome, microbiome, and epigenome. Data processing pipelines should enable full exploitation of all data to infer key factors underlying cell conversion. The technology should have or develop algorithms to identify relevant transcription factors, their relative optimal concentrations, and environmental factors necessary for the conversion of any given cell type to a target cell type. The platform may exploit existing molecular and pathway databases to identify enablers of cell conversion. The platform capabilities should enable causal analysis and genotype-to-phenotype mapping. Proposers are encouraged to leverage advances in big data methods and machine learning in their platform design. The software platform must be implemented, demonstrated, and validated using data from at least one domain, such as cellular reprogramming or induction of cell differentiation, in a mammalian cell line or plants.
PHASE I: Develop key requirements, including multi-modal data collection, processing, cleaning, and noise reduction needs, data availability (public or through agreements), and any computational and/or cloud storage needs to increase inference or prediction accuracy. Establish performance metrics to evaluate the computational biology platform for cell conversion, including conversion efficiency and source, target, and environmental effects. Define the components and methods, including data processing pipelines, temporal and multi-modal data algorithms, and inference methods and associated accuracy. Define risks and provide risk-mitigation strategies. Implement a basic prototype that demonstrates operating principles and fundamental performance capabilities using collected data. Establish use cases. Required Phase I deliverables include a final report detailing the computational biology platform’s design, requirements, algorithms, software implementation process, and any preliminary performance results. For this topic, DARPA will accept proposals for work and cost up to $225,000 for Phase I. The preferred structure is a $175,000, 9-month base period, and a $50,000, 4-month option period. Alternative structures may be accepted if sufficient rationale is provided.
PHASE II: Finalize the design of the Phase I prototype and complete implementation, including all spatial/temporal molecular data collection needed. Evaluate system performance for its ability to process high-resolution multi-modal data and overall prediction and inference accuracy. Demonstrate and validate the technology in at least one domain (e.g., regenerative therapy or increased crop output/quality), demonstrating multiple cell type conversions using cloud computing as needed.
PHASE III: The end goal of this effort is to provide the community with a new computational biology tool that will add significant value to cell conversion design and analysis. For the application of cellular reprogramming in cell-based regenerative therapies (e.g., wound and organ healing), which is a rapidly growing area of medicine and of interest to DOD, this platform can enable the conversion of source cells to multiple target cells with greater efficiency and speed than is possible today. Another potential high-value application of the platform is food crop optimization, of interest to the defense department for food security, controlled crop production, and fundamental understanding of tissue plasticity and organ patterning.
1: N Fahlgren, MA Gehan, and I Baxter. Lights, camera, action: high-throughput plant phenotyping is ready for a close-up. Curr Opin Plant Biol 24, 93-99, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pbi.2015.02.006 (2015).
2: S Ronquist, G Patterson, M Brown, H Chen, A Bloch, L Muir, R Brockett, and I Rajapakse. An algorithm for cellular reprogramming. Eprint arXiv:1703.03441, https://arxiv.org/abs/1703.03441 (2017).
3: J Chen, A Hero, and I Rajapakse. Spectral identification of topological domains. Bioinformatics 32 (14): 2151-2158, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/bioinformatics/btw221 (2016).
KEYWORDS: Computational Biology, Platform, Cell Conversion, High-resolution Assays, Big Data, Cell Reprogramming, Plant Development
Processes for Fabrication of Atomically Precise Strongly Correlated Materials
TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Materials, Electronics
OBJECTIVE: Establish approaches to fabricate with atomic-level precision strongly correlated electronic materials such as artificially created two-dimensional materials with Hubbard interactions and high temperature superconducting oxides.
DESCRIPTION: There is a compelling DoD need for new techniques for the fabrication of strongly correlated materials with atomic precision in order to enable better and faster comparison with theory as well as implement better platforms for the exploitation of their properties in devices. Strongly correlated materials, such as high temperature superconductors, have the potential to revolutionize technology if their properties (e.g., operating temperatures) can be improved. A poor understanding of the mechanisms by which these materials get their properties has hampered efforts in this direction. The inevitable presence of imperfections (defects, impurities) in conventionally fabricated materials exacerbates the problem. The manufacturing of materials with atomic precision has advanced considerably over the past few years. Bottom up fabrication processes like Scanning Tunneling Microscope Lithography  have enabled the fabrication of high quality graphene nanoribbons  and even the implementation of quantum bits using donor defects . While such developments demonstrate the potential for this technology, such processes have not yet been extended to the fabrication of strongly correlated materials. This topic seeks innovative solutions to the implementation of processes for the fabrication of strongly correlated materials with atomic precision. Such processes and techniques will enable the development of novel materials as well as enhance our understanding of their physics.
PHASE I: Develop approaches that will extend state of the art atomically precise fabrication techniques for two-dimensional materials. Design key metrics for the proposed materials (e.g. atomic placement accuracy, system size). Perform a study assessing the scalability of the process and the ability to implement in various platforms and for the fabrication of different kinds of materials. Perform a proof of principle demonstration that validates the proposed concept. Required Phase I deliverables will include a final report detailing the results of the study and proof of principle demonstration. The report should also list the potential materials that may be compatible with the proposed process. For this topic, DARPA will accept proposals for work and cost up to $225,000 for Phase I. The preferred structure is a $175,000, 12-month base period, and a $50,000, 4-month option period. Alternative structures may be accepted if sufficient rationale is provided.
PHASE II: Implement the approach developed during Phase I and demonstrate the ability to fabricate strongly correlated materials with atomic precision. Evaluate and characterize the fabricated materials against the proposed design metrics and validate the presence of strongly correlated electronic effects in the materials. Required Phase II deliverables will include a final report and samples of the fabricated materials that may be tested at a government specified laboratory for validation.
PHASE III: The fabrication of strongly correlated materials with the process developed under this topic (with the required precision and production scale) will enable their implementation in various applications. For instance, high temperature superconductors may be useful in military and commercial systems, such as low-loss power generation and transmission, medical imaging and high efficiency computing.
1: J. N. Randall et al., "Atomic precision lithography on Si", J. Vac. Sci.Technol. B, 27, 2764 (2009)
2: A. Radocea et al., "Solution-Synthesized Chevron Graphene Nanoribbons Exfoliated onto H:Si(100)", Nano Lett. 17, 170 (2017)
3: Y. Wang et al., "Characterizing Si:P quantum dot qubits with spin resonance techniques", Scientific Reports 6, 31830 (2016)
KEYWORDS: Atomic Precision Fabrication, STM Lithography, Strongly Correlated Materials, Superconductors
Assess Stability and Anti-Fragility of Dense Urban Terrains
TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Info Systems, Human Systems
OBJECTIVE: Develop a computational framework for assessing the robustness and resilience of Dense Urban Terrains (DUTs) to volatility and stress.
DESCRIPTION: There is a critical DoD need to detect the stressors in urban environments, and to develop pre-conflict and conflict-preventative scenarios for military missions. Dense Urban Terrains (DUTs) present new challenges for military forces which may be called into operations. Traditional doctrine focuses on tactical operations, such as seizing territory, controlling key centers of gravity, or capture of HVTs, but has few tools for operations that focus on maintaining the stability of the environment, and ensuring that DUTs do not fall into a failed state status, also known as a ‘feral city’. Most of the academic work in this area consists of analytical techniques that depend heavily on human expertise, and are qualitative in nature. There is a gap in developing objectively measurable metrics of the factors that define the urban ecology as it pertains to its stability and ability to recover from stressors. A decade ago, in an influential article in the Naval War College Review, Norton defined a feral city as “a metropolis with a population of more than a million people, in a state the government of which has lost the ability to maintain the rule of law within the city’s boundaries yet remains a functioning actor in the greater international system” . Understanding the state of a DUT and identifying the tipping points to a feral state is critical for a variety of today’s missions, such as Counter-Insurgency, Security Enforcement, Humanitarian Assistance, Peace Keeping, etc. Today’s DUTs consist of disparate populations, many of which have their own culture, history, laws, and governing bodies. Compounding this complexity is the sheer size of the megacity area, which in some cases can spread over hundreds, or even thousands of square miles (such as Tokyo: 3,300 mi2, Jakarta: 1,245 mi2, New York: 4,495 mi2, just to name a few), and can involve millions of people, interacting with organizations spread out all over the world. Developing a good understanding of the stability capacity of such environment is very challenging, not only because of its computational complexity, but also because the properties and characteristics that can emerge from these complex interactions can lead to ‘punctuated equilibria’ where the system can change rapidly from one steady regime into another . The article ‘Megacities and the United States Army’  provides an initial taxonomy of the key dynamics of instability and capacity for DUTs. The authors identify five key indicators that characterize the ‘Dynamics of Friction’, and two indicators for the ‘Dynamics of Capacity’. The five friction dynamics include: (1) Population Growth and Migration; (2) Separation, Gentrification and Income Inequality; (3) Environmental Vulnerability; (4) Hostile Actors; and (5) Resource Scarcity. The two Capacity Indicators are: (a) Resilience – the capacity to prepare for, respond to, and recover from significant multi-hazard threats with minimum damage to public safety and health, the economy, and security”; and (b) Anti-Fragility – learn and grow from adversity, and improve its infrastructure and services to better respond to future stressors. Although this paper provides a good framework to understand megacities, it does not offer any automated way to assess the state of environment. The purpose of this effort is two-fold: The first task is to develop a refined conceptual ontology of indicators that go beyond aggregate level statistics and capture elements of key urban functions, such as transportation systems, critical infrastructure, sanitization, population, information, communication, governance, etc., as well as social networks and illicit networks. Existing work in this field is currently done under the ‘Smart Cities’ initiative, but the various activities are stove-piped to single urban services. This STTR effort will unify the indicators into a formal ontology for the whole urban terrain. The second task is to develop a computational framework that could characterize the state of the DUT based on those indicators, and is able to identify key transitioning points that can lead to instability. This task should identify the disruptors that cause cities to fall into decline, and offer a formulation of the resilience and anti-fragility characteristics as a function of indicators in the megacity ontology. Successful approaches will consider temporal characteristics of indicators, causal linkages between key entities, trends of indicators, and complex interdependencies between participating actors. The ability to discriminate indicators between internally generated factors, versus externally stimulated interventions is of particular interest to DARPA. In addition, proposals should examine the impact that certain stress situations (such as increase in unemployment, or influx of refugees, etc.) have on the ability of the megacity to maintain its stability.
PHASE I: Conduct a comprehensive review of previous efforts in DUT modeling, assemble key findings from those efforts, and develop a structured ontology of indicators that characterize the ability of a megacity to maintain stability and provide civil services and governance to its population. Certain key dimensions for this ontology should include, but are not limited to: (a) Socio-Cultural characteristics; (b) Community Grievances and Radicalization; (c) Governance and Public services; (d) Extremist Violence; (e) Security and Counter-Terrorism Capacity; (f) Physical, and Critical Infrastructure; (g) Population Migration; (h) Connectivity and Flow of Information; (i) Merchant Supply and Demand; (j) Neighborhoods and ethnic populations. The ontology should be expressed in a representation that is conducive to downstream processing by analytical models. In addition, performers will develop prototypes of analytic models that compute these indicators from observed evidence – such as traffic reports, riots and protests, disruptions to key infrastructures, etc. – and propose quantitative metrics that assess the importance of each indicator to the stability situation. Phase I deliverables should include a final report documenting the prior efforts considered, the key findings, the megacity ontology, the algorithmic models, and the quantitative metrics. For this topic, DARPA will accept proposals for work and cost up to $225,000 for Phase I. The preferred structure is a $175,000, 12-month base period, and a $50,000, 4-month option period. Alternative structures may be accepted if sufficient rationale is provided.
PHASE II: Implement a computational framework that forecasts the capacity of the megacity to cope with stress and volatility based on the indicator values and relationships in the ontology. Approaches that capture interdependent and adaptive systems are of particular interest to DARPA. For example, in short time scales, transportation services determine the vibrancy of neighborhoods, but in a longer time frame, jobs and housing reshape transportation networks. Deviations from those patterns, either in magnitude or frequency, could cause instability. As part of the effort, performers should identify at least two megacity use-cases to demonstrate the accuracy and performance characteristics of the stability framework. These megacity use cases should include enough historical data to support interesting and complex interactions in a megacity environment, and the performers should identify data sources that will be considered for testing and evaluating the stability framework. Phase II deliverables should include a prototype software implementation of the algorithm as well as a final report that documents the software, system design, and evaluation results.
PHASE III: Commercial--Megacity Analysis, particularly as it pertains to the ability of the government to offer key civil services is at the heart of the ‘Smart Cities’ initiative: “This initiative ... [will] help local communities tackle key challenges such as reducing traffic congestion, fighting crime, fostering economic growth, managing the effects of a changing climate, and improving the delivery of city services”. Technology development from this effort can benefit the ‘Smart City’ initiatives, and provide key differentiators for a functioning social environment that improves the lives of its citizens. Military--Understanding urban environments in critical to any pre-conflict/conflict-preventative scenario and the concept of understanding the nature of stability and emerging instabilities drives many military efforts, such as Counter-Insurgency, Security Enforcement, Humanitarian Assistance, Peace Keeping, etc.
1: Richard J. Norton, "Feral Cities," Naval War College Review 66, no 4 (Autumn 2003): 98
2: Megacities and the United States Army, Preparing for a Complex and Uncertain Future, Chief of Staff of the Army, Strategic Studies Group, June 2011
3: Scheffer, et. al. "Anticipating Critical Transitions," Science, October, 2012
KEYWORDS: Urban Environment, Stability, Infrastructure, Megacity