News 1998 Army Science and Technology Master Plan

4. Physics

Basic research in physics broadly supports advanced technology developments by providing insight into the nature and interaction of energy and matter and contributing to technologies with a wide range of civil and military applications. Areas of interest to the Army include nanotechnology, photonics, and processes and technology related to obscured visibility, novel sensing, optical warfare and image analysis enhancement. For example, this research enables ongoing advancement in microminiaturization and optical subsystems. This also improves sensor capability and continues development of image analysis and target recognition systems. Table E–26 shows a wide range of countries possess capabilities in the subareas of physics.

Table E–26.  International Research Capabilities—Physics


United Kingdom




Asia/Pacific Rim


Other Countries

Nanotechnology 5s.gif (958 bytes) Microscopy 5s.gif (958 bytes) Molecular chemistry 1s.gif (931 bytes) Submicron research 1s.gif (931 bytes)      
Photonics 1s.gif (931 bytes) Optoelectronics; signal processing

2s.gif (968 bytes) Optical switching

1s.gif (931 bytes) Optoelectronics; signal processing; optical computing

2s.gif (968 bytes) Optical switching

1s.gif (931 bytes) Optical switching; optoelectronics; signal processing 1s.gif (931 bytes) Optical switching, optoelectronics; signal processing; optical computing   Russia

2s.gif (968 bytes) Optical sensors ; optical computing

Belgium, Canada, Sweden

5s.gif (958 bytes) Optical switching

Obscured Visibility/
Novel Sensing
1s.gif (931 bytes) Sensors; signature reduction; lasers

5s.gif (958 bytes) IR FPAs

1s.gif (931 bytes) Signature reduction; lasers; IR FPAs

2s.gif (968 bytes) Sensors

4s.gif (949 bytes) Sensors; lasers 1s.gif (931 bytes) Fiber–optic gyroscopes; sensors; lasers

5s.gif (958 bytes) IR FPAs


5s.gif (958 bytes) IR FPAs


2s.gif (968 bytes) Glonass; signature reduction; lasers; IR FPAs


5s.gif (958 bytes) Signature reduction; IR FPAs

Optical Warfare 4s.gif (949 bytes) HELs; sensing of CB agents 4s.gif (949 bytes) HELs; sensing of CB agents 1s.gif (931 bytes) Sensing of CB agents

4s.gif (949 bytes) HELs

4s.gif (949 bytes) NLOs   Russia

5s.gif (958 bytes) NLOs; HELs; sensing of CB agents

Israel, Canada

4s.gif (949 bytes) Sensing of CB agents

Image Analysis Enhancement Technology 4s.gif (949 bytes) Signal processing; software & modeling 4s.gif (949 bytes) Signal processing; software & modeling 4s.gif (949 bytes) Signal processing; software & modeling 4s.gif (949 bytes) Signal processing; software & modeling     Canada

4s.gif (949 bytes) Signal processing; software & modeling


4s.gif (949 bytes) Tomographic imaging


5s.gif (958 bytes) Software & modeling

Note: See Annex E, Section A.6 for explanation of key numerals.

a. Nanotechnology

The objective of nanotechnology programs is to develop the capability to manipulate atoms and molecules individually, to assemble small numbers of them into nanometer size devices, and to exploit the unique physical mechanisms that operate in these devices. Japanese and German research in submicron imaging and overall capabilities in nanotechnology offer great potential in producing smaller, faster, devices designed to consume less power.

b. Photonics

Photonics research seeks to develop optical subsystems for military applications such as information storage, displays, optical switching, signal processing, and optical interconnections of microelectronic systems. The U.K., France, Germany, and Japan have ongoing research in the various areas of photonics. Russia has a strong but declining capability in photonics research. Research in obscured visibility and novel sensing seeks to provide the Army the ability to operate on the ground in conditions of poor visibility, as well as providing significant control of physical signatures. The U.K., France, and Japan have significant capabilities in the related technology areas. Germany, Israel, Sweden, Canada, and Belgium have capabilities that also merit consideration.

c. Obscured Visibility/Novel Sensing and Optical Warfare

The Army’s ability to operate under conditions of poor visibility is enhanced by improved sensing capabilities. Optical warfare research studies and develops optical sensors and sources, NLO processes, tunable sources, and materials with special reflective, absorptive, and polarization properties to perform specialized remote sensing missions. Japan has world–class capabilities in novel sensing. The U.K. and France also have capabilities and obscured visibility and novel sensing techniques. Both of these countries have advanced programs in the development of novel semiconductor materials and devices for use in IR FPAs, as do Japan and Israel. Russia has considerable capabilities in obscured visibility and novel sensing; however, funding difficulties point to a decreasing capability.

d. Image Analysis Enhancement Technology

The objectives of image analysis research are to develop the fundamental limits and theoretical underpinnings of object recognition and image analysis. These areas are of increasing importance, because of the increasing speed of modern weapons and the need for faster and more accurate IFF. It also applies to the development of novel technologies for mine detection, medical imaging, and geophysics. This is an area where a number of countries are developing broad capabilities, including the U.K., France, Germany, and Japan. Israel, Canada, Turkey, and Sweden have important niche capabilities.

The following highlight a few selected examples of specific facilities engaged in physics research:

United Kingdom—Next–Generation Laser Diodes Programme British Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). EPSRC has established the program to study six main areas of diode research. The areas are laser sources with enhanced functionality, new high–power technologies, beam quality and control, new wavelength ranges, high–speed and high–frequency laser diodes, and reduced threshold currents. This program is intended to bring industry and academia together in cooperative research. Participants represent the largest research organizations in the U.K., including the Optical Research Centre at Southampton University and the Scottish Collaborative Initiative in Optoelectronics Sciences.

Germany—Photonic Optical Interconnection Technology Project, Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid–State Physics. This project is focused on research related to the connection of optics to electronics. The project consists of five universities, four research institutions, and three cooperate partners. The project has been split into four groups: systems theory, passive optical components, detectors, and laser diodes. The goal is to incorporate optics into the interconnection of circuitry, rather than the more difficult "optical computer," which uses light solely.

Sweden—Department of Electronics, Royal Institute of Technology (KTH)Research in the Laboratory of Photonics and Microwave Engineering at KTH is aimed at fabricating a monolithic optical receiver and transmitter, including a PIN–diode and a front–end amplifier, and a laser diode or an external modulator with a driver, respectively. The electronics are based on heterojunction bipolar transistors (HBT). PIN–diodes with good sensitivity have been fabricated, using some layers of an HBT–structure. Other research efforts are attempting to improve these materials and structures to improve device performance and reliability.

Japan—Department of Physics, Kyoto University. The Quantum Optics Group engages in research that is leading to the development of working atom lasers. This work focuses on Bose–Einstein condensates of alkaline atoms and the study of its many body and optical properties. Additional work is being done into laser–matter interactions, including laser cooling and trapping of atoms and the nonlinear interaction between trapped cold atoms and short intense light pulses.

Europe—The European Industrial GaN ProgramThe European Commission has established an R&D program on Ga–Al–In–N for multicolor sources under the acronym RAINBOW. Two key products are being developed: (1) a high–brightness outdoor lighting as used in large outdoor displays, traffic signals, automobile lighting, etc., and (2) a high–density optical disk storage as used in multimedia environments. A consortium of European firms and universities (including Thomson CSF, Philips, University of Erlagen, and AIXTRON) is working to develop a complete Al–Ga–In–N materials base, leading to production technology of ultra–high–brightness light emitting diodes in various colors, and in the fabrication of nitride–based blue laser devices.

Turkey—Radio Physics and Antenna Laboratory, Space Technologies Department, Marmara Research CenterThe laboratory conducts radio physics research in the microwave, millimeter, and quasi–optical regimes. Projects include studies of microwave imaging and devices, microwave applications of superconductivity, and SAR image compression. Advanced research is being done to develop a tomographic imaging system at the 8–millimeter waveband. This work will lead to the development of algorithms and devices used for the detection of buried objects, biomedical imaging, and the NDE of materials and structures.

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