Cellular elements for ensemble based programmable matter

Award Information
Agency: Department of Defense
Branch: Air Force
Contract: FA9550-12-C-0064
Agency Tracking Number: F11B-T26-0235
Amount: $99,972.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: STTR
Awards Year: 2012
Solicitation Year: 2011
Solicitation Topic Code: AF11-BT26
Solicitation Number: 2011.B
Small Business Information
2155 Louisiana Blvd., NE, Suite 3200, Albuquerque, NM, -
DUNS: 965444040
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Wheaton Byers, Jr.
 Sr. Physicist
 (505) 903-6842
Business Contact
 Susan Haverland
Title: Sr. Bus. Mgr./Director of Contracts
Phone: (505) 903-6843
Email: shaverland@techflow.com
Research Institution
 The University of New Mexico
 Marios Pattichis
 1700 Lomas NE Suite 2200 MSC01
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM, 87131-7131
 (505) 277-0486
 Nonprofit college or university
ABSTRACT: TechFlow Scientific, a division of TechFlow Inc., along with its teaming partner, the University of New Mexico, is pleased to propose a three-phased research and development effort for the design, development, fabrication, and testing of miniaturized functional cellular elements that can be incorporated into an ensemble based mesoscopic framework. The TechFlow team comprises leading scientists with over 100 years of combined experience in operationally responsive space applications, reconfigurable antenna systems and rectennas, adaptive wiring technologies, nano-fabrication processes for space based hardware and power scavenging, space based plug and play, FPGA development and embedded systems for aerospace applications. In Phase-I, TechFlow will leverage off of its previous programmable ensemble-based systems, such as the Adaptive Wiring Panel (AWP), and design the Autonomous Reconfigurable Interconnect Cell (ARIC) functional architecture of an eventual ensemble based programmable matter. The ARIC cellular element will control the flow of information within the programmable matter and will scavenge power from its environment using a combination of low-temperature thermo-photovoltaics and reconfigurable rectennas utilizing integrated optoelectronic switches. TechFlow will identify nano-scale fabrication processes and techniques to miniaturize the ARIC cellular element utilizing low-risk, high-yield and low-cost approaches and engineering principles, which will be implemented in Phase-II. BENEFIT: Benefits: 1. The development of an ensemble based programmable matter using miniaturized distributed processing cells with intelligent reconfigurable functional capabilities. 2. The development and implementation of a coherent engineering approach that focuses on low-cost, low-risk, high-yield fabrication and prototyping techniques. 3. An ensemble based programmable material scheme using distributed computing centers and power harvesting technologies for extended functionality and durability. 4. The development of innovative technologies, such as low-temperature thermal photovoltaics, RF rectennas, 45nm Silicon-On-Insulator RISC-based distributed computer architectures, adaptive wiring planels and integrated optical pumped reconfigurable antenna structure elements, with numerous applications in autonomous reconnaissance and surveillance sensors and monitoring systems. 5. The development of a rigorous path towards autonomous based systems addressing a number of varied mission roles for space-based assets. Commercialization Plan: TechFlow"s proposed reconfigurable programmable matter comprising an ensemble of ARIC elements will play a key role in a wide array of defense, law-enforcement and commercial applications. TechFlow anticipates that the primary user of the ARIC-based programmable matter will be the Air Force Research Laboratories through its Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) program. Swarms of small, miniaturized space-based platforms and satellites constellations equipped with reconfigurable, self-powered optical and RF sensors that are interconnected through scalable network grids can significantly fill in capability gaps in existing space-based reconnaissance and surveillance mission objectives. Existing space-based assets equipped with the ARIC-based programmable network will be capable of altering its mission role to service a current need without the need for the launch of a new dedicated space asset. This end-result is at the very heart of the ORS long-term agency mission. In addition, the ARIC-based network can be easily integrated with a vast multitude of sensors and platforms to increase its versatility. For instance, the ARIC-based network can be integrated with miniaturized, non-instrusive B-dot and D-dot probes, which are currently under development by the Directed Energy Threat and Evaluation Committee (DETEC). A network of such"smart"probes can then be disseminated over a test-ground or surreptitiously placed over a battlefield in order to gauge the lethality of a High Power Microwave weapon (such as CHAMP). The network can collect the information from the probes, relay the information over multiple nodes in the network, and report the end result to the base-station controller indicating the effectiveness of the HPM strike. TechFlow"s ARIC-based programmable network can also be integrated with other types of sensors and data processing units such as autonomous robotic vehicles and unmanned aerial vehicles. For instance, the Army is interested in intelligent autonomous vehicles for convoy transports and"robotic mules"to carry supplies to the WarFighter in combat. Building on this idea, a fleet of intelligent autonomous unmanned marine robots can be integrated with optical, night-vision and RF sensors to detect the presence of illicit and potentially dangerous activity around key naval ships and vessels harbored in foreign ports. This same concept of intelligent ARIC-based robots can also be used by law enforcement agencies such as Drug Enforcement Agency and Border Security to control the flow of controlled substances and narcotics across the border into the Homeland. The ARIC-based network will find applications in commercial industry as well. Each ARIC-cell can form the basis unit of a reconfigurable cognitive radio system for communication and data-transfer. Such a cognitive radio network will significantly increase the user-capacity of commercial cellular network companies. This commercialization idea can be further expanded upon by considering the use of ARIC-based hardware for next-generation personal electronic devices, thereby allowing enhanced functionality such as cloud-computing on low end processors (ARM processors) and cellphones. As part of the development of the ARIC-based programmable material, TechFlow will also develop a multitude of innovative sub-technologies such as LT-TPVs, rectennas and adaptive wiring panels. The power harvesting technologies such as LT-TPVs and rectennas will find a plethora of applications in commercial and military sectors. For instance, in a military setting, the LT-TPVs cells can be used to create rechargeable batteries that use heat generated by internal combustion engines, jet engine manifolds and turbines to power up electronic devices onboard unmanned aerial vehicles, jet aircraft and submarines. In a commercial application, next-generation hybrid electric vehicles such as the Toyota Prius, use solar cells to run the internal airconditioning unit. Such the power-scavenging capabilities of such regenerative systems can be further enhanced through the use of LT-TPVs. RF rectennas can be integrated onto cellphones and laptops, and used to power/recharge the internal batteries using ambient RF flux. We will continue to explore such innovative and novel applications for our ARIC-based programmable matter and its constituent components as part of the effort. TechFlow anticipates that the near-term application of the proposed ARIC-based programmable matter will address ORS"requirements for reconfigurable satellite sensor payloads. Maturing such a technical capability is likely be a multi-year, multi-million dollar effort following Phase-III. The revenue generated from such programs can be used to support a multitude of internal research and development (IRAD) programs to identify several other commercialization opportunities (some of which were discussed above) of this ARIC-based technology as well as to research and develop next generation performance enhancements. We anticipate that the level of funding for these TechFlow-IRAD programs will be on the order of a few hundreds of thousands of dollars, but can yield commercial products with revenues amounting to a few million dollars within a span of five to ten years. Mr. Wheaton Byers, TechFlow"s Director of Operations and PI/PM for this effort, will oversee the marketing of the new technology and developing commercialization strategies to suit customer requirements. Prior to joining TechFlow, Mr. Byers served as the Vice President and Division Manager of Science Application International Corporation"s (SAIC) Space & Directed Energy Technology Division in Albuquerque, NM.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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