Dynamical Systems and Control
Quantum and Non-Equilibrium Processes
Information, Decision and Complex Networks
Complex Material and Devices
Energy, Power and Propulsion
Basic Research Initiatives
Quantum and Non-Equilibrium Processes (RTB)
The Quantum and Non-Equilibrium Processes Department lead 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, both 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 U.S. Air Force. Research directions are categorized in three broad areas, and focus on advancing our basic understanding of the physical world:
Fundamental Quantum Processes: This includes exploration and understanding of a wide range of atomic, molecular, and optical phenomena, including strongly coupled electronic phenomena that occurs in complex materials in all physical phases, including but not limited to non-linear optical materials, Metamaterials, cathodes, dielectric and magnetic materials, high energy lasers, semiconductor lasers, and ultra-fast lasers. Additionally, RTB looks to fund research into new classes of quantum phenomena that both creates new knowledge of the physical world and improve the state-of-the-art for devices that perform sensing, information processing, and novel concepts for quantum computing. This area also includes generating and controlling quantum states, such as superposition and entanglement, in photons, ultracold atoms and molecules (e.g. Bose Einstein Condensates), and ultracold plasmas. In addition to research into underlying materials and fundamental physical processes, this area considers how they might be integrated into new classes of devices, seeking breakthroughs in quantum information processing and memory, secure and high speed communication, and fundamental understanding and simulation of materials that are not amenable to conventional computational means (e.g. , using cold atoms and optical lattices to model high-temperature superconductors).
Plasma Physics and High Energy Density Nonequilibrium Processes: This area includes a wide range of activities characterized by processes that are sufficiently energetic to require the understanding and managing of plasma phenomenology including the non-linear response of materials to large electric and magnetic fields. This includes such endeavors as space weather, plasma control of boundary layers in turbulent flow, plasma discharges, RF propagation and RF-plasma interaction, and high power beam-driven microwave devices. It also includes topics where plasma phenomenology is not necessarily central to the activity but is nonetheless an important aspect, such as laser-matter interaction (including high energy as well as ultrashort pulse lasers) and pulsed power. This area pursues advances in the understanding of fundamental plasma and non-linear electromagnetic phenomenology, including modeling and simulation, as well a wide range of novel potential applications involving matter at high energy density.
Optics and Electromagnetics: This area considers all aspects of producing, modifying, and receiving complex electromagnetic and electro optical signals, as well as their propagation through complex media, including adaptive optics and optical imaging. It also covers aspects of the phenomenology of lasers and non-linear optics and the interaction of electromagnetic signals with circuitry. This area not only considers the advancement of physical devices to enable such activities and provide robust operation in the face of interference, but also includes sophisticated mathematics and algorithm development for extracting information from complex and/or sparse signals. This cross-cutting activity impacts such diverse efforts as space object imaging, secure reliable communication, novel electronic warfare schemes, non-destructive test and evaluation, and propagation of directed energy.
The quantum and non-equilibrium physics program includes theoretical and experimental physics from all disciplines, as well as engineering issues such as those found in microwave or photonic systems as well as materials-processing techniques. A main objective of the program is to balance innovative science and U.S. Air Force relevance, being forward looking to anticipate future U.S. Air Force needs while understanding on the current state-of-the-art in the physical sciences. The RTB research portfolios and their program officers are listed here:
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 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 ultra-cold 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 phases of matter; non-equilibrium dynamics of cold quantum gases; cold/ultra-cold plasmas; ultra-cold 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, AFOSR/RTB (703) 696-6204
DSN: 426-6204; FAX: (703) 696-8481
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Program Description: This portfolio supports research in Electromagnetics (EM) 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.
Basic Research Objectives: 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 pursue 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 AFOSR/RTB (703) 696-8427
DSN 426-8427; FAX (703) 696-8450
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Laser and Optical Physics
Program Description: The program goal is to advance the science of laser devices and systems, nonlinear optical phenomena and devices, and unique applications of these to solving scientific and technological problems. Novel light sources are also an objective of this program, particularly in regions of the spectrum not otherwise easily available or with characteristics able to again address important scientific and technological issues.
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. Examples of such areas include novel processing techniques for high quality ceramic laser materials with control over spatial distributions of dopants and index of refraction, and processing methods for achieving low loss laser ceramics with non-isotropic, and therefore necessarily aligned, grains. Aligned grain ceramic materials are also of interest as large size, high average power nonlinear optical materials using quasi-phasematching techniques. Recrystallization of large, low loss ceramic laser materials is of high interest. New ideas for high average power fiber lasers are of interest, including new materials, and large mode area structures, novel ways of mitigating nonlinear issues, and studies of coupling multiple fiber lasers which can withstand very high average power. Novel, compact, particularly tunable or wavelength flexible, potentially inexpensive, infrared lasers are of interest for infrared countermeasures or for gas sensing applications. Relatively small novel sources of monochromatic x-rays are also of interest as are innovative imaging with such sources. The Laser and Optical Physics program is interested and will consider any novel and potentially transformational ideas within the broad confines of its title.
Dr. Howard R. Schlossberg AFOSR/RTB (703) 696-7549
DSN 426-7549; FAX (703) 696-8481
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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 and plasma aerodynamics. 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. Ideas for advancing the state-of-the-art in the following areas are strongly encouraged: highly efficient electron-beam-driven sources of 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, 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.
Basic Research Objectives: A new thrust in this portfolio will be consideration of 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. 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. 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.
Interested parties are encouraged to contact the Program Officer before submission of White papers on their ideas. Collaborative effort with the researchers at the Air Force Research Laboratory is encouraged, but not required.
Dr. John W. Luginsland AFOSR/RTB (703) 588-1775
DSN 425-1775; FAX (703) 696-8481
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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 PM 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. Kent Miller AFOSR/RTB (703) 696-8573
DSN 426-8573; FAX (703) 696-8481
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Program Description: The AFOSR Space Sciences 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 strongly encouraged to submit short White papers (three pages max) prior to developing full proposals. White papers should briefly describe the proposed effort and how it will advance the current state-of-the-art. It should include a list of any collaborators and an approximate yearly cost for the effort.
Dr. Kent Miller AFOSR/RTB (703) 696-8573
DSN 426-8573; FAX (703) 696-8481
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Ultrashort Pulse Laser-Matter Interactions
Program Description: The objective of this program is to explore and understand the broad range of physical phenomena accessible via the interaction of Ultrashort pulse 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 program aims to understand and control light sources exhibiting extreme temporal, bandwidth and peak power characteristics.
Basic Research Objectives: The Ultrashort Pulse Laser-Matter Interactions program seeks innovative science concepts in the research focus areas of Attosecond science, optical frequency combs and high-field laser physics described below:
- 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. 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.
- Optical frequency combs: Frequency combs, which can be made to be ultra broad (i.e. octave spanning) and exceedingly phase-stabilized (e.g. via carrier-envelope offset control), are revolutionizing precision spectroscopy, time transfer 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.
- 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.
High quality efforts from single individual investigators or collaborative, multi-investigator teams will be considered. Prior to submitting a basic research proposal, interested parties are highly encouraged to contact the AFOSR Program Officer to discuss the proposed research project. If interested, the Program Officer will request a White paper on the proposed effort. Researchers with White papers of significant interest will subsequently be invited to submit full proposals. Research efforts requesting consideration for FY14 funds should plan to have White papers submitted by April 1, 2013 and full proposals by June 1, 2013.
Dr. Enrique Parra AFOSR/RTB (703) 696-8571
DSN 426-8571; FAX: (703) 696-8481
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