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Home > Nanotechnology Columns > Brian Wang > DARPA Project Highlights for 2010-2011

Brian Wang
Z1 Consulting

DARPA has several projects that will accelerate the development of more advanced nanotechnology. There is Tip-Based Nanofabrication, Nanoscale/Bio-inspired and MetaMaterials, Fundamentals of Nanoscale and Emergent Effects and Engineered Devices and more.

February 5th, 2010

DARPA Project Highlights for 2010-2011

Cross Posted from Nextbigfuture

522 page pdf with DARPAs 2010-2011 budget and project plans

Part 2 of DARPA project highlights for 2010-2011 is here

Tip-Based Nanofabrication (TBN)

($10 million) The Tip-Based Nanofabrication (TBN) program will develop the capability to use Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) cantilevers and tips to controllably manufacture nano-scale structures such as nanowires, nanotubes, and quantum dots for selected defense applications such as optical and biological sensors, diode lasers, light emitting diodes, infrared sensors, high-density interconnects, and quantum computing.

FY 2010 Plans:
- Fabricate a multi-tip array (5 tips) for parallel manufacturing.
- Demonstrate a repeatable tip-based process and manufacturing capability.
FY 2011 Base Plans:
- Fabricate a 30-tip array and associated tool and manufacturing process.
- Demonstrate operation of multi-tip arrays over extended periods of time for use in manufacturing complex components.
- Demonstrate precision and control of the process and functionality of the resulting structures.

Breakthrough Biological and Medical Technologies AKA DNA Editing to Make Supersoldiers

($7.5 Million) This program seeks to yield revolutionary advances across several key areas of biology and biomedical technologies of critical importance to the DoD. The overarching principle is to apply microsystem technology (electronics, microfluidics, photonics, micromechanics, etc.) to create leapfrog advances ranging from manipulation of single cells through soldier-worn protective and diagnostic instruments.

On the cell-level of the scale, the aim is to be able to increase by several decades the speed with which we sequence, analyze and functionally edit cellular genomes. With microsystem approaches, a prime goal is to be able to address large populations of cells, select as few as one, capture it, make specific edits to its DNA, and examine or replicate the cell as needed. Such capability will be applicable to a wide variety of problems including biological weapons countermeasures and understanding the underpinnings of human cancers. At an intermediate scale, new insights into the interactions of photons with the nervous system tissues of mammals will allow the development of mm-scale microphotonic implants that have the potential to restore sensory and motor function to individuals with traumatic spinal injury, for example. On the other end of the size scale, a primary goal is to apply microsystem techniques to soldier-protective biomedical systems.

The goal is to bring exceptionally potent technical approaches to bear on biological and biomedical applications where their capabilities will be significant force multipliers for the DoD. [The goal is super-soldiers]

FY 2011 Base Plans:
- Demonstrate isolation and manipulation of primitive pluripotent stem cells.
- Investigate problem statements that can be addressed using quantum information science and technology.
- Develop roadmap to algorithm to compute protein folding using quantum computing, as example of speed-up enabled by quantum simulations.
- Demonstrate microsystems elements such as inductors and microactuators using high permeability as proof of feasibility to integrate magnetic micro/nanomaterials in wafer-scale processes.
- Investigate physical mechanism of cross grain boundary transport in nanocrystalline materials.
- Simulate RF performance limits of nanocrystalline channel transistors including current density limits.

Nanoscale/Bio-inspired and MetaMaterials
$10 million
FY 2011 Base Plans:
- Demonstrate control of fabrication of biophotonic structures.
- Demonstrate physical and/or chemical activation of biophotonic structures.
- Demonstrate dynamic control of activation.

Atomic Scale Materials and Devices AKA Spintronics
($22 million) This thrust examines the fundamental physics of materials at the atomic scale in order to develop new devices and capabilities. A major emphasis of this thrust is to provide the theoretical and experimental underpinnings of a new class of semiconductor electronics based on spin degree of freedom of the electron, in addition to (or in place of) the charge.

Fundamentals of Nanoscale and Emergent Effects and Engineered Devices

($21.6 million) This includes developing devices and structures to enable controllable photonic devices at multiple wavelengths, enabling real-time detection as well as analysis of signals and molecules and origin of emergent behavior in correlated electron devices. Arrays of engineered nanoscale devices will result in an order of magnitude (10 to 100 times) reduction in the time required for analysis and identification of known and unknown (engineered) molecules.
*Developing 1 picotesla sensitivity sensors (already demonstrated 20 picotesla)

Synthetic Biology
($20 million) The Synthetic Biology program will develop and implement a revolutionary approach to the manufacture of bio-based materials that directly support a broad range of military capabilities, such as sensing of chemical/biological agents, production of bio-based fuels and chemicals, remediation of pollutants, and protection of the food supply chain.

Machine Reading and Reasoning Technology
($24 million) The Machine Reading and Reasoning Technology program (previously funded in PE 0602304E, Project COG-02) will develop enabling technologies to acquire, integrate, and use high performance reasoning strategies in knowledge-rich domains.

There are also several projects for computer assisted language translation and for enhancing training and education.

Web-Scale Information Integration
($13.8 million) The Web-Scale Information Integration program (formerly funded as Cloud Computing in PE 0602304E, Project COG-03) will create technologies to automatically integrate distributed information bases for broad strategic and tactical battlespace awareness, including technologies to automate the integration of multiple media (text, video, and digital photographs) as well as analyze, index, and store that media, so that it can be easily queried and retrieved by users across the DoD enterprise.

Biological Adaptation, Assembly and Manufacturing AKA Bone Putty

(About $9 million in FY2011)
FY 2009 Accomplishments:
- Developed complete mathematical model for fracture putty/bone biomechanics.
- Developed fracture putty material which approximates the mechanical properties and internal structure of natural bone.
- Demonstrated mechanical properties of fracture putty for in vitro model of bone fracture.
- Identified newly discovered bacteria with unique enzymatic activity on crystalline cellulose.

FY 2010 Plans:
- Develop novel resorbable wet adhesives with the mechanical properties of natural bone, for inclusion into fracture putty formulation.
- Demonstrate fracture putty in small animal model of bone fracture.
- Initiate large animal studies of fracture putty for bone fracture repair.
- Identify candidate fundamental mechanisms for controlling antibody stability and affinity.
- Demonstrate the ability to produce an antibody with thermal stability from room temperature up to 60 degrees Celsius.
- Demonstrate the ability to produce an antibody with selectable affinity as measured by a binding constant (KD=dissociation constant) of 10 to the negative eighth power.

Nanostructure in Biology

ABout $2.4 million in FY2011
The Nanostructure in Biology program will investigate the nanostructure properties of biological materials to better understand their behavior and accelerate their exploitation for Defense applications. Enable the rapid design of new biosensors against previously unknown threats and the design of advanced catalysts based on biological activity to produce new materials of interest to DoD (e.g., tailored explosives). The program will also create technology to reliably integrate nanoscale and microsystems payloads on insects that will extract power, control locomotion, and also carry DoD relevant sensors.

FY 2009 Accomplishments:
- Created a functional model of the mammalian object recognition pathway that is biologically valid and suitable for translation to algorithm development.
- Optimized Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) components for locomotion control, communications and power generation to consume less power and to reduce size, weight and cost.
- Designed two protein-protein binding pairs with binding constants below one hundred nanomolar.
- Extended catalytic activity of de novo designed enzymes to ten million for known chemistries.

FY 2010 Plans:
- Discover methods for precise flight control use in combinations of MEMS techniques originating in the previous fiscal year.
- Develop neural interfaces to insect sensors to compliment electronic sensors.
- Develop a protein that inhibits the activity of influenza by preferential binding.
- Design de novo inhibitory protein of smallpox.

Human Assisted Neural Devices
($18.9 million in FY 2011)
Enable memory restoration through the use of devices programmed to bridge gaps in the injured brain.

FY 2010 Plans:
- Identify neural processes for encoding short- and long-term memory in primates during a complex motor task.
- Build hardware and software to implement pattern extraction and inter-individual verification of homogeneity of patterns between primates.
- Create an interface that enables performance of a complex motor/sensory task through an assistive device without using either motor or sensory function.
- Determine task performance changes resulting from learning and plasticity through observation of the development of functional networks in the primate and rodent brain over time.
- Construct algorithms and methods capable of more accurately describing and estimating neural signals from limited data.

Scaffold-Free Tissue Engineering (STF)
($6.5 million) The objective of the Scaffold-Free Tissue Engineering program is the development of tissue and organ construction platforms that utilize non-contact forces such as magnetic fields to achieve desired
tissue architectures.

Physics in Biology

($6 million) FY 2011 Base Plans:
- Develop a quantum theoretical model of postulated non-trivial quantum mechanical effects in specific biological systems.
- Experimentally verify that the biological system exploits the effect at room temperature.
- Formulate testable predictions for impact of perturbations to the biological system.

Mathematics of the Brain (MoB)
($6 million) The Mathematics of the Brain program will develop a powerful new mathematical paradigm for understanding how to model reasoning processes for application to a variety of emerging DoD challenges.

Programmable Matter
($14.5 million from Young Faculty Award) The Programmable Matter program will develop a new functional form of matter, constructed from mesoscale particles that assemble into complex 3-Dimensional (3-D) objects upon external command.

Quantum Entanglement Science and Technology (QuEST)
($16 million) The Quantum Entanglement Science and Technology (QuEST) program will explore the research necessary to create new technologies based on quantum information science. Technical challenges include loss of information due to quantum decoherence, limited communication distance due to signal attenuation, protocols, and larger numbers of quantum bits (Qubits) and their entanglement.

- Develop novel approach to improving decoherence times.
- Demonstrate novel quantum algorithms.

N/MEMS Science and Focus Centers
($4.9 million) The goal of the N/MEMS Science and Focus Centers program is to support the development of an enhanced fundamental understanding of a number of important technical issues critical to the continuing advance of nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS) and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technologies and their transition into military systems.

- Incorporate new N/MEMS fabrication methods (i.e., self-assembly).
- Commence integration of MEMS power supplies.

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