AFOSR - Physical Sciences

AFOSR RTB1

PHYSICAL SCIENCES (RTB1)
The Physical Sciences Team leads the discovery and transition of foundational physical science to enable air, space, and cyber power. Research in physics generates the fundamental knowledge needed to advance U.S. Air Force operations, from the perspective of sensing, characterizing, and managing the operational environment as well as developing advanced devices that exploit novel physical principles to bring new capabilities to the warfighter. Research directions are categorized in the following four broad areas, with the focus on advancing our basic understanding of the physical world: (1) quantum matter and devices; (2) plasma and high-energy density physics; (3) optics, photonics and electromagnetics; and (4) aerospace materials.

The Physical Science (AFOSR/RTB1) topics are:


Aerospace Materials for Extreme Environments

Program Description: The objective of Aerospace Materials for Extreme Environments program is to provide the fundamental knowledge required to enable revolutionary advances in future U.S. Air Force technologies through the discovery and characterization.  Extreme environments are combination of heat-, stress-, magnetic-, electric-, microwave-, and acoustic fields.  Materials of interest are ceramics, metals, hybrid systems including inorganic composites that exhibit superior structural, functional and/or multifunctional performance.

Basic Research Objectives: The following research concentrations areas are selected to highlight the philosophy about function, environment and state of the materials that could create disruptive source of transformations.

Computational Materials Science: The aim of this research concentration area is to explore the possibility for the quantification of microstructure through reliable and accurate descriptions of grain and particle shapes, and identifying sample distributions of shape descriptors to generate and predict structures which might revolutionize the design and performance. The quality of computerized representation of microstructures and models will be measured by its (a) geometric accuracy, or faithfulness to the physical landscape, (b) complexity, (c) structure accuracy and controllability (function), and (d) amenability to processing and high level understanding. In order to satisfy these metrics, the approaches may require development of an accurate methodology for the quantification of 3-Dimensional shapes in both experimental and theoretical microstructures in heterogeneous systems, and to establish a pathway for an accurate comparison tools (and metric).

Materials and Response Far from Equilibrium:  The transformative breakthrough has not originated from the investigations of materials in equilibrium state but in contrary at the margins of the disciplines. In this context, this program embraces materials and processing science approaches that are far from the thermodynamic equilibrium domain; i.e., highly doped polycrystalline laser materials, bulk metallic glasses, adaptive oxides, multiferroics, frustrated structures (layered structured materials), and  other non-equilibrium materials.  This area also requires understanding of supersaturation of lattice-structure by understanding elastic softening of a lattice containing a critical amount of dopants, which could lead to an order disorder transition with further supersaturation. The intent is to elucidate complex interplay between phase transitions for electronic/magnetic phase separation and untangle the interdependence between structural, electronic, photonic and magnetic effects. 

Combined External Fields and Hypersonics: This topic area includes a wide range of activities of hypersonic that require understanding and managing the non-linear response of materials to combined loads (i.e., thermal, acoustic, chemistry, shear or pressure fields) under high energy density non-equilibrium extremities.  The ultimate goal of exploiting these phenomena is to design future materials and components that break the paradigm of today’s materials. This topic also stresses a fundamental understanding of external fields and energy through the materials microstructure at a variety of time scales and in a variety of conditions of dielectric breakdown at extreme fields. The aim is to link an effective property to relevant local fields weighted with certain correlation functions that statistically exemplify the structure and demonstrate scientific pathway to design new materials with tailorable properties.

Researchers are highly encouraged to contact the Program Manager prior to developing full proposals to briefly discuss the current state-of-the-art, how the proposed effort would advance it, and the approximate yearly cost for a three (3) to five (5) year effort

DR. ALI SAYIR, AFOSR/RTB1
E-Mail: extreme.environment@us.af.mil


back to top


Atomic and Molecular Physics

Program Description: This program encompasses fundamental experimental and theoretical Atomic and Molecular Physics research that is primarily focused on studies of cold and ultra-cold quantum gases, precision measurement, matter-wave optics, and non-equilibrium quantum dynamics. These research areas support technological advances in application areas of interest to the U.S. Air Force, including precision navigation, timekeeping, remote sensing, metrology, and novel materials for the U.S. Air Force needs in the future.

Basic Research Objectives: AMO (Atomic, Molecular and Optical) physics today offers an unprecedented level of coherent control and manipulation of atoms and molecules and their interactions, allowing for significant scientific advances in the areas of cold and ultracold matter and precision measurement. Specific research topics of interest in this program include, but are not limited to, the following: physics of quantum degenerate atomic and molecular gases; strongly-interacting quantum gases; new quantum phases of matter; non-equilibrium dynamics of cold quantum gases; cold/ultracold plasmas; ultracold chemistry; precision spectroscopy; novel clocks; and high-precision techniques for navigation, guidance, and remote sensing.

You are highly encouraged to contact our Program Officer prior to developing a full proposal to briefly discuss the current state-of-the-art, how your research would advance it, and the approximate cost for a three (3) to five (5) year effort.

DR. GRACE METCALFE, AFOSR/RTB1
E-mail: amphysics@us.af.mil  

back to top


Electromagnetics

Program Description: This portfolio supports research in Electromagnetics (EM) whose objective is the interrogation (modeling/simulation) of linear/nonlinear Maxwell’s equations together with research in the general area of signal processing.

Basic Research Objectives: Basic research to produce conceptual descriptions of electromagnetic properties of novel materials/composites (such as photonic band gap media, negative index media, Parity-Time symmetry media, etc.) and the simulation of their uses in various operational settings is encouraged. Also of interest is temporal modulation of physical parameters of various components. Such a dynamically induced nonreciprocity can lead to a new generation of compact and energy efficient isolators, circulators, phase shifters, and other non-reciprocal optical and microwave devices. Basic research in inverse scattering theory in order to promulgate new methods which recognize and track targets or upgrade efforts to pursue Nondestructive Evaluation is encouraged. Efforts to identify suitable wideband radar waveforms to penetrate foliage, clouds, buildings, the ionosphere, or other dispersive/random/turbulent media as well as to notionally design transmitters to produce such waveforms are also supported. Research which develops the mathematical underpinning for computational electromagnetic simulation codes (both frequency domain and time domain) that are rapid and whose claims of accuracy are accompanied by rigorous error estimates/controls is encouraged. In the area of nonlinear Maxwell’s equations, commonly called nonlinear optics, research pursues descriptions of nonlinear EM phenomena such as the propagation of Ultrashort laser pulses through air, clouds, etc and any possible exploitation of these pulses is supported. Such mathematical descriptions are anticipated to be a coupled system of nonlinear partial differential equations. Basic research in other nonlinear EM phenomena include the dynamics of the EM field within solid state laser cavities (particularly the modeling/simulation of nonequilibrium carrier dynamics within semiconductor lasers) and fiber lasers, the propagation of light through various nonlinear crystals (including Graphene), as well as other nonlinear optical media. All such modeling/simulation research is complementary to the experimental portfolios within AFOSR. As regards the signal processing component, an outstanding need in the treatment of signals is to develop resilient algorithms for data representation in fewer bits (compression), image reconstruction/enhancement, and spectral/frequency estimation in the presence of external corrupting factors. These factors can involve deliberate interference, noise, ground clutter, and multi-path effects. This component searches for application of sophisticated mathematical methods, including time-frequency analysis and generalizations of the Fourier and wavelet transforms, that deal effectively with the degradation of signaling transmission across a channel. These methods hold promise in the detection and recognition of characteristic transient features, the synthesis of hard-to-intercept communications links, and the achievement of faithful compression and fast reconstruction for video and multi-spectral data. New combinations of asset location and navigation are being sought, based on analysis and high-performance computation that bring a force-multiplier effect to command/control capabilities. Continued upgrade and reliance on Global Positioning System makes it critical to achieve GPS-quality positioning in situations where GPS by itself is not sufficient. Ongoing research in non-Inertial navigation methods (including optical flow and use of signals of opportunity) will bring location precision and reliability to a superlative level.

You are highly encouraged to contact our Program Officer prior to developing a full proposal to briefly discuss the current state-of-the-art, how your research would advance it, and the approximate cost for a three (3) to five (5) year effort.

DR. ARJE NACHMAN, AFOSR/RTB1
E-mail: electromagnetics@us.af.mil  

back to top


Laser Sources and Materials

Program Description: The program goal is to advance the science of laser devices, laser materials, laser matter interaction, nonlinear optical phenomena and devices, and unique applications of these to solving scientific and technological problems of interest to the Air Force. Novel light sources are also an objective of this program, particularly in regions of the spectrum otherwise not easily accessible. Theoretical, computational, and experimental research is encouraged.

Basic Research Objectives: This U.S. Air Force program seeks innovative approaches and novel concepts that could lead to transformational advances in high peak and average power lasers for future applications related to directed-energy and standoff sensing, while supporting fundamental science in novel lasing processes in solids, liquids, gases, and plasma. Research that enhances the power, energy, and waveform stability of lasers across the wavelength spectrum is especially encouraged.  Examples include novel processing techniques for high quality solid-state laser materials with control over spatial distributions of dopants and index of refraction, and processing methods for achieving low loss lasers. New ideas for high average power fiber lasers are of interest, including new materials, and large mode area structures, novel ways of mitigating nonlinear instabilities, and studies of coupling multiple fiber lasers which can withstand very high average power. Of particular interest are new light generating materials systems that are from the thermodynamics equilibrium, such as highly doped polycrystalline materials, and layered semiconducting laser structures.  Novel, compact, particularly tunable or wavelength flexible, infrared lasers are of interest for countermeasures and sensing applications, as are compact novel sources of monochromatic x-rays and gamma rays.  More broadly, the Laser Sources and Materials program will consider any novel and potentially transformational ideas, and is especially interested in inter-disciplinary research, within the broad confines of its portfolio title. With this in mind, researchers should also consult the programs in Ultrashort Pulse Laser-Matter Interactions, Plasma and Electro-Energetic Physics, and Remote Sensing and Imaging Physics described in this Broad Area Announcement.  New concepts for the computational modeling of light and laser devices, including thermal effects, are also of interest.  Combined theory, simulation, and experimental efforts designed to verify and validate innovative models are welcome.

Researchers are highly encouraged to contact the Program Officer prior to developing full proposals to briefly discuss the current state-of-the-art, how the proposed effort would advance it, and the approximate yearly cost.  Collaborative efforts with the researchers at the Air Force Research Laboratory are encouraged, but not required.

VACANT, AFOSR/RTB1
E-mail: laser.optics@us.af.mil


back to top


Optoelectronics and Photonics

Program Description: This program supports Air Force requirements for information dominance by increasing capabilities in image and data capture, processing, storage, and transmission for applications in surveillance, communications, computation, target discrimination, and autonomous navigation. Important considerations for this program are the airborne and space environment in which there is a need to record, read, and change digital data at extremely high speeds with low power, low weight, and small sized components. Five major areas of interest include Integrated Photonics (including Silicon Photonics); Nanophotonics (including Plasmonics, Photonic Crystals, Metamaterials, Metaphotonics and Novel Sensing); Reconfigurable Photonics (including all-optical switching and logic, and optoelectronic computing); Nanofabrication, 3-D Assembly, Modeling and Simulation Tools for Photonics; and Quantum Computing using Optical Approaches.

Basic Research Objective: The major objective is to push the frontiers of optics and explore new fundamental concepts in photonics; understand light-matter interactions at the sub-wavelength and nano-scale; investigate novel optoelectronic materials; improve the fundamental understanding of photonic devices, components, and architectures; and enable discovery and innovation in advancing the frontier of nanophotonics with the associated nanoscience and nanotechnology.

The thrusts in Integrated Photonics include investigations in two affiliated areas: (1) the development of optoelectronic devices and supportive materials and processing technology, and (2) the insertion of these components into optoelectronic computational, information processing and imaging systems. Device exploration and architectural development for processors are coordinated; synergistic interaction of these areas is expected, both in structuring architectural designs to reflect advancing device capabilities and in focusing device enhancements according to system needs. Research in optoelectronic or photonic devices and associated optical material emphasizes the insertion of optical technologies into computing, image-processing, and signal-processing systems. To this end, this program continues to foster interconnection capabilities, combining arrays of sources or modulators with arrays of detectors, with both being coupled to local electronic or potentially optical processors. Understanding the fundamental limits of the interaction of light with matter is important for achieving these device characteristics. Semiconductor materials, insulators, metals and associated electromagnetic materials and structures are the basis for the photonic device technologies. Numerous device technology approaches (such as silicon photonics, tin based Group IV photonics, Graphene and related 2D materials and novel III-V optoelectronics) are part of the program as are techniques for optoelectronic integration.

The program is interested in the design, growth and fabrication of nanostructures that can serve as building blocks for nano-optical systems. The research goals include integration of nanocavity lasers, filters, waveguides, detectors and diffractive optics, which can form nanofabricated photonic integrated circuits. Specific areas of current interest include nanophotonics, use of nanotechnology in photonics, exploring light at the nanoscale, nonlinear nanophotonics, plasmonics and excitonics, sub-wavelength components, photonic crystal and negative index materials, optical logic, optical signal processing, reconfigurable nanophotonics, nanophotonics enhanced detectors, chip scale optical networks, integrated nanophotonics and silicon-based photonics. Coupled somewhat to these areas are optoelectronic solutions to enable practical quantum computing schemes, quantum plasmonics and quantum Metamaterials, plus novel approaches to ultra-low power optoelectronic devices.

To support next generation processor architectures, image processing and capture and new multi-media application software, computer data buffering and storage research is needed. As devices are being developed that emit, modulate, transmit, filter, switch, and detect multi-spectral signals, for both parallel interconnects and quasi-serial transmission, it is important to develop the capability to buffer, store, and retrieve data at the rates and in the quantity anticipated by these devices. Architectural problems are also of interest that include, but are not limited to, optical access and storage in memory devices to obviate capacity, access latency, and input/output bandwidth concerns. Of interest has been the ability to slow, store, and process light pulses. Materials with such capabilities could be used for tunable optical delay lines, optical buffers, high extinction optical switches, novel image processing hardware, and highly efficient wavelength converters.

You are highly encouraged to contact our Program Officer prior to developing a full proposal to briefly discuss the current state-of-the-art, how your research would advance it, and the approximate cost for a three (3) to five (5) year effort.

DR. GERNOT S. POMRENKE, AFOSR/RTB1
E-mail: opto.elec@us.af.mil  

back to top


Plasma and Electro-Energetic Physics

Program Description: The objective of this program is to understand and control the interaction of electromagnetic energy and charged particles to produce useful work in a variety of arenas, including directed energy weapons, sensors and radar, electronic warfare, communications, and novel compact accelerators. While the focus of this effort is the generation and collective interaction of electromagnetic fields and plasmas, advances in the enabling technology of compact pulsed power, including innovative dielectric and magnetic materials for high-density energy storage, switching devices, and non-linear transmission lines are also of fundamental interest. This portfolio will also consider research increasing the scientific understanding required to predict heat transfer across a broad range of temporal and spatial scales, both in plasmas, in the connection of plasma to energy supplying electrodes, and in advanced materials facing the extreme environments associated with energy dense materials.

Basic Research Objectives: Ideas for advancing the state-of-the-art in the following areas are strongly encouraged: ultra-cold and other strongly coupled plasmas, including novel approaches to study the physics of complex and/or dusty ionospheric plasmas, and those that address open questions of how plasmas involving potential states such as plasma “liquids,” “glasses,” and “crystals,” come to equilibrium and partition their energy between various thermodynamic states, laser plasma/matter interaction, and particle-field interaction physics. Also of primary interest are highly efficient electron-beam-driven sources of high-frequency microwave, millimeter-wave, and sub-millimeter coherent radiation (high power microwaves [HPM] and/or vacuum electronics), high-power amplifiers, novel dispersion engineering via metamaterials and photonic band gap structures, novel sources of relativistic particle beams, compact pulsed power, and power efficient methods to generate and maintain significant free-electron densities in ambient air. New concepts for the theory, modeling, and simulation of these physical phenomena are of interest, and combined experimental/theoretical/simulation efforts that verify and validate innovative models are highly encouraged. Researchers should also consult the program in Aerospace Materials for Extreme Environments as described in this announcement to find the best match for research concerning thermal physics and other areas of potential overlap. Ideas relating to plasmas and electro-energetic physics in space are of interest to this program, but researchers should also consult the programs in Space Power and Propulsion and in Space Sciences as described in this announcement to find the best match for the research in question. Additionally, laser plasma/matter interaction, while of interest to this portfolio, is generally limited to the non-equilibrium physics of plasmas; other concepts related to laser-matter interactions should consult the Ultrashort Pulse Laser-Matter Interactions or Laser Sources and Materials programs as described in this announcement. Innovative science that combines plasma and electro-energetic physics with the high-energy density associated with nuclear forces (e.g. nuclear batteries where radiation produces currents in semiconductors and propulsion plasmas sustained via fusion), while not a primary focus of the portfolio, may be considered. Nuclear fission or fusion for large-scale energy production is not of prime interest to this portfolio.

You are highly encouraged to contact our Program Officer prior to developing a full proposal to briefly discuss the current state-of-the-art, how your research would advance it, and the approximate cost for a three (3) to five (5) year effort.

Collaborative efforts with researchers at the Air Force Research Laboratory are encouraged when appropriate, but are not required.

DR. JASON A. MARSHALL, AFOSR/RTB1
E-mail: plasma@us.af.mil

back to top


Quantum Electronic Solids

Program Description: This program focuses on materials that exhibit cooperative quantum electronic behavior. The primary emphasis is on superconductors, metamaterials, and on nanoscopic electronic components and devices based upon 2D materials such as graphene, transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) and other forms of these materials with low power dissipation and the ability to provide denser non-volatile memory, logic and/or sensing elements that have the potential to impact future U.S. Air Force electronic systems.

Basic Research Objectives: The superconductivity portion of this program is mainly devoted to a search for new classes of superconducting materials that either have higher transition temperatures, higher critical magnetic fields or have isotropic superconducting properties at temperatures in the range of the transition temperatures of the cuprates, e.g., YBCO. While the 2008 discovery of iron-pnictide superconductors has provided new insights, these materials are not sufficiently promising. This emphasis is part of a coordinated activity that is multidisciplinary in nature, and proposals that address both the physics and chemistry of potential new types of superconductors are welcome. This program is primarily an experimental one, but theorists who interact with experimental groups constructively are welcome. The primary goal of this part of the program is to uncover superconducting materials that can be made into forms that are amenable to U.S. Air Force applications.

The metamaterials portion of this program is devoted to the production of metamaterials that operate over a wide swath of the electromagnetic spectrum, from microwaves, to IR and the visible. The long-term goal is to produce materials that improve the efficiency and selectivity of, and reduce the size of communications system components such as antennas, filters and lenses. Another important aspect is to study the ability to create sub-wavelength, near-field (and possibly far-field) imaging. These desired properties could lead to denser information storage and retrieval.

A relatively new area of interest involves thin-film, oxide-based materials that are critical for the development of devices with new functionalities that will lead to useful, reprogrammable, controllable and active systems at the nanoscale with properties difficult to attain by other means. The utilization of oxides for revolutionary technologies critically relies on acquiring fundamental understanding of the physical processes that underlie spin, charge and energy flow in these nanostructured materials. The oxides to be considered are generally complex, multi-element materials that can be synthesized in unusual nanostructured geometries that exhibit strong electronic correlations. A relatively minor part of this program is the inclusion of nanoscopic techniques to fabricate, characterize and manipulate atomic, molecular and nanometer-scale structures (including graphene and TMDs), with the aim of producing a new generation of improved communications components, sensors and non-volatile, ultra-dense memory, resulting in the ultimate miniaturization of analog and digital circuitry. This aspect of the program includes the use of polarized electrons to produce nuclear magnetic polarization as a basis for dense, non-volatile memory, with possible application to quantum computing at room temperature.

You are highly encouraged to contact our Program Officer prior to developing a full proposal to briefly discuss the current state-of-the-art, how your research would advance it, and the approximate cost for a three (3) to five (5) year effort.

DR. HAROLD WEINSTOCK, AFOSR/RTB1
E-mail: quantum.solids@us.af.mil  

back to top


Quantum Information Sciences

Program Description: This program encompasses fundamental experimental and theoretical research in the field of Quantum Information Science (QIS). The primary focus is on understanding, controlling, and exploiting non-classical phenomena for developing novel capabilities for the Air Force beyond those possible with classical systems in the areas including, but not limited to, precision navigation and timekeeping, sensing, quantum networks, and complex materials.

Basic Research Objectives: Quantum mechanics provides the opportunity to utilize non-classical physical resources to develop beyond-classical capabilities in imaging, sensing and precision measurements, ultra-secure transmittal of information, or simulation and discovery of complex materials. Specific research topics of interest in this program include, but are not limited to, the following: quantum sensing, imaging, and metrology; quantum communication; quantum simulation; and fundamental studies in support of this research area, such as fundamental investigations of creation and manipulation of entanglement and squeezing, quantum control techniques, and coherent state transfer between different types of qubits.
You are highly encouraged to contact our Program Officer prior to developing a full proposal to briefly discuss the current state-of-the-art, how your research would advance it, and the approximate cost for a three (3) to five (5) year effort.

DR. GRACE METCALFE, AFOSR/RTB1
E-mail: QIS@us.af.mil  

back to top


Remote Sensing

Program Description: This program addresses fundamental research in remote sensing with applications to space situational awareness and combat identification. This includes, but is not limited to, theoretical and experimental approaches to expand the basic physical understanding in propagation of electromagnetic radiation, the interaction of radiation with matter, image formation, remote target detection and identification, and the effect of the atmosphere or space environment on sensing systems. Proposals are sought in all areas of ground, air, and space-based remote sensing with applications to tracking, detecting, and characterizing. Technological advances are driving the requirement for innovative methods to detect, identify, and predict trajectories of smaller and/or more distant objects in space at further standoff distances and under both day and night conditions. New optical capabilities to include active approaches that complement the current state of the art, as well as increased resolution and sensitivity, are of particular interest. 

Basic Research Objectives: Research goals include, but are not limited to:

  • Theoretical foundations of remote sensing, both active and passive

  • Enhancement of remote sensing capabilities, including novel solutions to system limitations such as limited aperture size, time of day, imperfections in the optics, and irregularities in the optical path

  • Novel tracking and image processing algorithms

  • Propagation of coherent and incoherent electromagnetic radiation through a turbulent atmosphere

  • Innovative methods of remote target location, characterization, and tracking, as well as non-imaging methods of target identification

  • Understanding and predicting dynamics of space objects as it relates to space object identification and space situational awareness

  • Rigorous theory and models to describe the spectral, thermal and polarimetric signature from targets of interest using basic material physical properties with the goal of providing better understanding of the physics of the reflection and/or emission from objects in space and the instrumentation requirements for next generation space surveillance systems

  • Remote sensing signatures and backgrounds of both ground-based and space- based observations

  • The interaction of U.S. Air Force imaging systems and sensors with the space atmosphere environment. This includes the understanding of conditions that affect target identification, such as environmental changes and surface aging or weathering

  • Theoretical and mathematical aspects of remote sensing may also align with the Electromagnetics portfolio.  Please address questions on the Electromagnetics portfolio to Dr. Arje Nachman.

You are highly encouraged to contact our Program Officer prior to developing a full proposal to briefly discuss the current state-of-the-art, how your research would advance it, and the approximate cost for a three (3) effort.  Collaborative efforts with the researchers at the Air Force Research Laboratory are encouraged, but not required

 

DR. STACIE E. WILLIAMS, AFOSR/RTB1
E-mail: remote.sensing@us.af.mil

back to top


Space Science

Program Description: The AFOSR Space Science program supports basic research on the solar-terrestrial environment extending from the Sun through Earth’s magnetosphere and radiation belts to the mesosphere and lower thermosphere region. This geospace system is subject to solar radiation, particles, and eruptive events, variable interplanetary magnetic fields, and cosmic rays. Perturbations to the system can disrupt the detection and tracking of aircraft, missiles, satellites, and other targets; distort communications and navigation signals; interfere with global command, control, and surveillance operations; and negatively impact the performance and longevity of U.S. Air Force space assets. 

Fundamental research focused on improving understanding of the physical processes in the geospace environment is encouraged.  Particular goals are to improve operational forecasting and specification of solar activity, thermospheric neutral densities, and ionospheric irregularities and scintillations. Activities that support these goals may include validating, enhancing, or extending solar, ionospheric, or thermospheric models; investigating or applying data assimilation techniques; and developing or extending statistical or empirical models. An important aspect of the physics is understanding and represents the coupling between regions, such as between the solar corona and solar wind, between the magnetosphere and ionosphere, between the lower atmosphere and the thermosphere/ionosphere, and between the equatorial, middle latitude, and Polar Regions. 

Basic Research Objectives: Research goals include, but are not limited to:

  • The structure and dynamics of the solar interior and its role in driving solar eruptive activity;
  • The mechanism(s) heating the solar corona and accelerating it outward as the solar wind;
  • The triggers of coronal mass ejections (CMEs), solar energetic particles (SEPs), and solar flares;
  • The coupling between the solar wind, the magnetosphere, and the ionosphere;
  • The origin and energization of magnetospheric plasma;
  • The triggering and temporal evolution of geomagnetic storms;
  • The variations in solar radiation received at Earth and its effects on satellite drag;
  • The impacts of geomagnetic disturbances on the thermosphere and ionosphere;
  • Electron density structures and ionospheric scintillations;
  • Ionospheric plasma turbulence and dynamics;
  • The effects of neutral winds, atmospheric tides, and planetary and gravity waves on the neutral atmosphere densities and on the ionosphere;
  • Develop new concepts to measure particles and fields in space plasma with instrument sizes convenient to cubesats.

You are highly encouraged to contact our Program Officer prior to developing a full proposal to briefly discuss the current state-of-the-art, how your research would advance it, and the approximate cost for a three (3) to five (5) year effort.

DR. JULIE J. MOSES, AFOSR/RTB1
E-mail: space@us.af.mil

back to top


Ultrashort Pulse Laser-Matter Interactions

Program Description: The Ultrashort Pulse Laser-Matter Interactions program is focused on the most fundamental process in nature, the interaction of light with the basic constituents of matter. The objective of the program is to explore and understand the broad range of physical phenomena accessible via the interaction of ultrashort pulse (USP) laser sources with matter in order to further capabilities of interest to the U.S. Air Force, including directed energy, remote sensing, communications, diagnostics, and materials processing. The portfolio explores research opportunities accessible by means of the three key distinctive features of USP laser pulses: high peak power, large spectral bandwidth and ultrashort temporal duration.

Basic Research Objectives: The Ultrashort Pulse Laser-Matter Interactions program seeks innovative science concepts in the research focus areas of high-field laser physics, frequency combs and attosecond science described below:

High-field laser physics: Over the last two decades, progress in laser pulse amplification techniques has resulted in a six order of magnitude increase in achieved focused intensities. The interaction of such intense radiation with matter results in rapid electron ionization and a rich assortment of subsequent interaction physics. Topics of interest in this area include, but are not limited to, techniques for ultrafast- laser processing (e.g. machining, patterning), mechanisms to control dynamics of femtosecond laser propagation in transparent media (e.g. filamentation), concepts for monochromatic, tunable laser-based sources of secondary photons (e.g. extreme ultraviolet, terahertz, x-rays) and particle beams (e.g. electrons, protons, neutrons), laser-based compact particle accelerators and concepts for high peak power laser architectures and technology that efficiently scale up to high repetition rates and/or new wavelengths of operation.

Optical frequency combs: The large coherent spectral bandwidths intrinsic to USP lasers make them especially suitable for applications requiring high temporal and spectral precision such as telecommunications, optical clocks, time and frequency transfer, precision spectroscopy and arbitrary waveform generation. Research topics in this thrust area include, but are not limited to, dispersion management techniques to increase the spectral coverage to exceed an octave while maintaining high powers per comb, new concepts to extend frequency combs from the extreme ultraviolet into the mid-wave and long-wave infrared spectral regimes, development of novel resonator designs (e.g. micro-resonator based) and ultra-broadband pulse shaping.

Attosecond science: The development of intense light pulses with attosecond durations has resulted in stroboscopic probes with the unprecedented ability to observe atomic-scale electron dynamics with attosecond temporal resolution. This highly exploratory thrust of the program is interested in developing research aimed at resolving attosecond electron dynamics in complex systems of interest to DOD (i.e. such as solid-state semiconductor, magnetic, and plasmonic systems). If successful, such understanding would have a broad and direct impact on future materials research, moving us closer to designing materials with carefully engineered electronic properties. Topics of interest in this area include, but are not limited to, new concepts for improved attosecond sources (e.g. increased efficiency, higher flux, shorter pulses, and higher photon energy), development of pump-probe methods that investigate interactions with systems ranging from isolated atoms / molecules to condensed matter, attosecond pulse propagation, novel concepts for attosecond experiments and fundamental interpretations of attosecond measurements.

You are highly encouraged to contact our Program Officer prior to developing a full proposal to briefly discuss the current state-of-the-art, how your research would advance it, and the approximate cost for a three (3) to five (5) year effort.

DR. ENRIQUE PARRA, AFOSR/RTB1
E-mail: short.laser@us.af.mil  

back to top