The Promise of Nano and Micro Systems for Meeting the Emerging Demands of the US Army


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The rapidly changing defense landscape and the exponential increase in complex challenges and threats faced by our warfighters demand revolutionary advances across the spectrum and even a rethinking of current combat doctrine. Sensors and Electron devices are critical elements in a number of application form providing situational awareness to battlefield operations. Enabling nano and micro system approaches offer the potential to fulfill Army needs in applications such as chemical and biological sensors, high-frequency and low-power electronics, micro autonomous systems, micro power generation, specialized optical sources and detectors and much more. A large part of the advances thus far originate in insights and understanding of the underlying materials. I will review some emerging needs with recent illustrative examples from the field and will follow up with potential solutions that are being developed within ARL and our Army partners. These include RF MEMS for electronically scanned antennas, carbon nanotube and other nanostructure based chemical/biological sensors, biomimetic approaches to materials development for power storage applications and nanostructured semiconductors for integrated electronics and energetics. A major advance in information gathering in the recent past is the use of persistent sensing, namely the ability to monitor relevant battle space without interruption. To quote from the Quadrennial Defense Review Report: [1] “The ability of the future force to establish an “unblinking eye” over the battle-space through persistent surveillance will be key to conducting effective joint operations”. The goals of this new approach are to increase awareness of the battle space and to integrate real-time information with intelligence to provide an operational advantage. Even if the information is not timely enough to prevent an adversarial action, it can be critical in forensics. In the longer term, the intelligence contribution can be substantial. Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) networks can deliver high-quality information to the Soldier by exploiting all available sensor sources and adaptable networks. This concept is being developed to optimize utility across multiple dynamic missions, to process data and deliver information driven by mission need within network constraints (e.g. power and bandwidth), and to support the human user by minimizing data deluge. To support this concept, research at the Army Research Laboratory’s Sensor and Electron Devices Directorate (ARL – SEDD) is being conducted in various areas to develop the fundamental underpinnings of multimodal and multi-sensor fusion, scalable decentralized/distributed processing, autonomous sensor-network management and metadata representation. This includes the understanding of



Edited by:

Pietro VINCENZINI and Giuseppe D'ARRIGO






J. M. Pellegrino "The Promise of Nano and Micro Systems for Meeting the Emerging Demands of the US Army", Advances in Science and Technology, Vol. 54, pp. 396-400, 2008

Online since:

September 2008




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