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AFOSR: PHYSICAL SCIENCES

Posted 10/2/2015 Printable Fact Sheet

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Physical Sciences

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 and electromagnetics; and (4) aerospace materials and flow physics.

The Physical Sciences Team research portfolios and their program officers are listed here:


Aerospace Materials for Extreme Environments

Program Description: The objective of basic research in Aerospace Materials for Extreme Environments is to provide the fundamental knowledge required to enable revolutionary advances in future U.S. Air Force technologies through the discovery and characterization of materials for extreme temperatures (exceeding 1000°C), other extreme environments of stress-, magnetic-, electric-, microwave-, and ultrasound fields. Interest domain includes the fundamental science of single crystals, heterogeneous structures, interface of phases and grain boundaries. Materials of interest are ceramics, metals, hybrid systems including inorganic composites that exhibit superior structural, functional and/or multifunctional performance.

Basic Research Objectives: The function within a specific time domain of interest profoundly important and response characteristics defines the material more importantly than generalized properties. The following research concentrations are selected to highlight the aforementioned philosophy about function, environment and state of the materials that could create disruptive source of transformations.

  • Predictive Materials Science: Simulation-based materials design has the potential to dramatically reduce the need for expensive down-stream characterization and testing. Currently, we don't even have a good grasp of how combining materials into particular compounds gives them certain properties, or how these properties give materials functional qualities. Often the modeling approaches make casual inference about the microstructural features. The aim 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 this objective, 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 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 that are far from the thermodynamic equilibrium domain; bulk metallic glasses, highly doped polycrystalline laser materials, adaptive oxides, multiferroics, supersaturated-, frustrated structures (quasi-two-dimensional electron gas of layered structures). The aim is to link an effective property to relevant local fields weighted with certain correlation functions that statistically exemplify the structure and demonstrate clear scientific pathway to create new materials with specific tailorable properties. This subtopic area require elucidation of complex interplay between (first order) phase transitions for electronic/magnetic phase separation and untangle the interdependence between structural, electronic, photonic and magnetic effects. Realization of the multi-component systems that are far from equilibrium may also require new approaches to how computation itself is modeled or even an entirely new understanding of computation.
  • Combined External Fields: This portfolio 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. This area includes a wide range of activities 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. One example of this this objective is the interest to expand the scientific understanding of high electrical field applications through the incorporation of the new mathematical enterprises that captures the dynamic relationship between structure and properties across the space and time scales that exist at the hetero-interface. Another example is the discovery of new techniques for modeling, measuring, and analyzing thermal phenomena at multiple time and length scales in emerging novel material systems with the ultimate goal of exploiting these phenomena to design future materials and components that break the paradigm of today's materials where the boundaries of performance/failure are defined by thermal conduction, convection, and radiation physics. As a whole, this subtopic also aims to expand the scientific base for understanding the formation, control, and mitigation of structures in external fields and use this scientific base to design and build materials far from equilibrium as well as thermodynamically stable structures.
It is important to consider cross-disciplinary teams with material scientist and engineers in collaboration with mathematicians, statisticians, and physicist, and chemist, etc., are encouraged. While single investigator and multidisciplinary team proposals also are encouraged and will be considered on a case by case basis.

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 for a three to five year effort.

Dr. Ali Sayir (703) 696-7236
DSN 426-7236; FAX (703) 696-7320
EMail: Extreme.Environment@afosr.af.mil

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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, and quantum information science (QIS) with atoms, molecules, and light. These research areas support technological advances in application areas of interest to the U.S. Air Force, including precision navigation, timekeeping, remote sensing, secure communication, 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.

QIS is a field that encompasses many disciplines of physics. AMO physics plays an important role in the development of QIS. This program is primarily focused on the following research areas in QIS: quantum simulation of strongly-correlated condensed-matter systems with cold atoms and molecules; enabling science for secure long-distance quantum communication; utilization of non-classical states of matter and light for high-precision metrology and sensing; quantum optomechanics; application of controlled coherent interactions to direct the dynamics of quantum systems; and novel approaches to quantum information processing.

Dr. Tatjana Curcic (703) 696-6204
DSN: 426-6204; FAX: (703) 696-8481
Email: AMPhysics@afosr.af.mil

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Electromagnetics

Program Description: This portfolio supports research in Electromagnetics (EM) whose objective is the interrogation (modeling/simulation) of linear/nonlinear Maxwell's equations.

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. 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 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. Another area of interest is the description and understanding of any chaos in circuitry which can possibly be created by exposure to suitable EM fields.

Dr. Arje Nachman (703) 696-8427
DSN 426-8427; FAX (703) 696-8450
Email: Electromagnetics@afosr.af.mil

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Laser and Optical Physics

Program Description: The program goal is to advance the science of laser devices, beam control and propagation systems, 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 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. Novel, compact, particularly tunable or wavelength flexible, infrared lasers are of interest for countermeasures and sensing applications. Compact novel sources of monochromatic x-rays and gamma rays are also of interest as are innovative imaging with such sources. Fundamental advances in optics that promotes long range propagation through complex media, including aero-optics and innovative control research, are of interest to the portfolio. More broadly, the Laser and Optical Physics 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.

Dr. John W. Luginsland (703) 588-1775
DSN 425-1775; FAX (703) 696-8481
Email: Laser.Optics@afosr.af.mil

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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.

Dr. Gernot S. Pomrenke (703) 696-8426
DSN 426-8426; FAX (703) 696-8481
Email: Opto.Elec@afosr.af.mil

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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, novel compact accelerators, and innovative applications of plasma chemistry, such as plasma-enhanced combustion. 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: 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, laser plasma/matter interaction, compact pulsed power, particle-field interaction physics, power efficient methods to generate and maintain significant free-electron densities in ambient air, plasma chemistry at high pressure, and the physics of strongly coupled plasmas. New concepts for the theory, modeling, and simulation of these physical phenomena are also of interest, including combined experimental/theoretical/simulation efforts that verify and validate innovative models. Proposals addressing fundamental science are sought in the areas of phonon transport, contribution of phonon dispersion modes to thermal transport, understanding of extreme thermal conductivity, and thermal conductivity in hybrid materials, including the role of radiative processes. Proposals addressing new ideas and directions related to understanding of thermal transport and phonon-assisted devices are highly encouraged, especially as they relate to operation in hostile environments consistent with high energy density physics. Researchers should also consult the program in Aerospace Materials for Extreme Environments as described in this Broad Agency Announcement to find the best match for research concerning thermal physics. 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 Broad Agency 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 and Optical Physics programs as described in this Broad Agency 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) will be considered. Nuclear fission or fusion for large-scale energy production is not of prime interest to this portfolio.

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 for a three to five year effort. Collaborative efforts with the researchers at the Air Force Research Laboratory are encouraged, but not required.

Dr. Jason A. Marshall (703) 696-7721
DSN 426-7721; FAX (703) 696-8481
E-mail: EEPhysics@afosr.af.mil

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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 devices based mainly upon graphene, nanotubes and other forms of carbon 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 almost entirely 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 international activity that is multidisciplinary in nature, and proposals that address both the physics and chemistry of potential new types of superconductors are welcome, as are multinational research efforts. However, major awards under this program were made in FY09, so while any promising new ideas will be considered, funding for new projects in this area will be somewhat limited in the near future. The 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 nanotubes of carbon and other elements), 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.

Dr. Harold Weinstock (703) 696-8572
DSN 426-8572; FAX (703) 588-1025
E-mail: Quantum.Solids@afosr.af.mil

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Remote Sensing and Imaging Physics

Program Description: This program investigates fundamental issues concerning remote sensing and the physics of imaging, including image formation processes, non-imaging sensing, propagation of electromagnetic radiation, the interaction of radiation with matter, remote target detection and identification, the effect of the atmosphere or space environment on imaging systems and sensors, and the detection and tracking of resident space objects. Proposals are sought in all areas of ground, air, and space-based remote sensing and imaging, but particularly in the detection, characterization, and identification of space objects. This program includes the investigation of fundamental processes that affect space situational awareness. Technological advances are driving the requirement for innovative methods to detect, identify, and predict trajectories of smaller and/or more distant objects in space. New optical capabilities that complement traditional radar tracking of satellites, as well as increased resolution and sensitivity, are leading to the need for faster and more accurate methods of characterization.

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

  • Theoretical foundations of remote sensing and imaging.
  • Enhancement of remote sensing capabilities, including novel solutions to system limitations such as limited aperture size, imperfections in the optics, and irregularities in the optical path.
  • Propagation of coherent and incoherent electromagnetic radiation through a turbulent atmosphere. (Theoretical and mathematical aspects of this area should also see the BAA input for Electromagnetics - AFOSR Program Officer is Dr. Arje Nachman.)
  • 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 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 environment. This includes the understanding of conditions that affect target identification, such as environmental changes and surface aging or weathering.

Dr. Julie Moses (703) 696-9586
DSN 426-9586; FAX (703) 696-8481
E-mail: remote.sensing@afosr.af.mil

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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.

A long-term goal for the program is development of a physics-based predictive coupled solar-terrestrial model that connects solar activity and emissions with resultant effects on Earth's radiation belts, magnetosphere, ionosphere, and neutral atmosphere. To achieve this, 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.

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 for a three to five year effort.

Dr. Julie Moses (703) 696-9586
DSN 426-9586; FAX (703) 696-8481
E-mail: Space@afosr.af.mil

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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.

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 for a three to five year effort.

Dr. Enrique Parra (703) 696-8571
DSN 426-8571; FAX: (703) 696-8481
E-mail: Short.Laser@afosr.af.mil

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