LOWELL - American soldiers on the battlefield soon could carry all the electronics equipment needed for covert operations because of advanced research by the University of Massachusetts Lowell and Hanscom Air Force Research Laboratory.
U.S. Rep. Marty Meehan joined today with UMass Lowell and Hanscom officials in announcing the nearly $2 million research project designed to enhance the military's high-speed electronics capabilities.
The project, a collaboration between researchers at UMass Lowell's centers for Photonics and Advanced Materials and the Air Force Research Laboratory, Sensors Directorate, at Hanscom Air Force Base, is funded through a three-year, $1.5 million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). In addition to its share of the DARPA grant, Hanscom also contributed another $400,000 to the effort.
"Technological innovation is the hallmark of the Fifth District, and no where is it more obvious than in this partnership between UMass Lowell, DARPA and Air Force Research Laboratory scientists at Hanscom," Congressman Meehan said, in announcing the federal grant. "As a member of the Congressional Armed Services Committee, it is an honor to be able to assist this partnership in their pursuit of better equipment for our troops."
In welcoming remarks, Dr. William T. Hogan, UMass Lowell chancellor, praised the continuing development of collaborations with Hansom.
"Progress in one area of research often leads to much broader applications - advances that can benefit industry and the public throughout the region," he said.
The research could result in the creation of lightweight, high-tech electronics for communications, mapping, video and munitions guidance systems. As well as enabling soldiers to carry all electronics equipment needed for field operations, the portable devices would be more efficient for guidance systems on smart munitions and surveillance sensors in remote areas.
The heart of the project is production of a new kind of thin substrate (Gasb) for electronic devices that would replace the silicon semiconductors in super high-speed electronics. The new material would be able to operate at low voltages and significantly extend battery life.
"Because it's low voltage, it's ideal for portable systems," explained Dr. William Goodhue, director of UMass Lowell Photonics Center and project leader. "The military wants to minimize battery size, which represents most of the weight of the electronic systems."
Dr. Joseph Lorenzo, chief of the Optoelectronics Technology Research lab at Hanscom, said, "Besides advancing semiconductor-based technology for DARPA and the Air Force, an important outcome of this program will be the spin-off of numerous commercial possibilities and products directly enhancing the local Massachusetts economy."
Other researchers on the project team include: Dr. Changmo Sung, associate director of the UMass Lowell Center for Advanced Materials; Dr. David Bliss, team leader from the Air Force Research Laboratory, Sensors Directorate; and Dr. Gerry Iseler, president of Iseler Associates in Chelmsford.
UMass Lowell, a comprehensive university with special expertise in applied science and technology, is committed to educating students for lifelong success and conducting research and outreach activities that sustain the economic, environmental and social health of the region. Second largest of the UMass campuses, Lowell offers its 12,000 undergraduate and graduate students more than 80 degree programs.