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SPIE Defense, Security, and Sensing sees record attendance

15 April 2010

BELLINGHAM, Washington, USA -- Sensing, imaging, and other technologies for new energy efficiencies and for meeting security threats of the future were hot topics at last week's SPIE Defense, Security, and Sensing symposium in Orlando, Florida. Attendance was up 4% over last year, as more than 6,360 attendees from industry, government, and academia convened for the largest unclassified international symposium on sensors, systems, and platforms. The event included a three-day exhibition with more than 500 companies. More than 2,300 technical presentations were given during the week.

Among featured speakers was John Zolper, Vice President of Corporate Research and Development for Raytheon, whose industry keynote talk on Thursday morning addressed the expanding role of opto-electronics in military applications. With a quickly changing battlespace, he asserted, one of asymmetric threats, highly effective low-tech threats such as IEDs, unprecedented unpredictability, and increased difficulty in sorting friends and foes, simply building better sensors is inadequate. Zolper said that today's military response needs cross-domain dominance that requires obtaining maximum knowledge of objects of interest, rapidly linking linking these discoveries, and ensuring that all information is both tamper-free and rigorous.

Speaking before a plenary audience early in the week, the Honorable Zachary Lemnios, Director of Defense Research and Engineering and CTO of the DOD noted that funding of past projects has been characterized by long-term developments such as the Stealth Fighter aircraft and satellite communications. However, he said, in the future, response to current known threats is not going to be sufficient, and projects will need to progress on commercial timescales of weeks or months instead of years.

In a special session on business opportunities, three top U.S. government officials gave advice on how to prepare proposals and listed areas that they are most interested in funding. Panelists were Lisa Porter, founding Director of Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency (IARPA),  David Honey, Director of the Research Directorate of the Director of Defense Research and Engineering, and Don Seeley, Deputy Director of the High-Energy Laser Joint Technology Office (HEL-JTO).

A sampling of papers presented in conference sessions includes:

Manijeh Razeghi, Northwestern Univ., (paper 7660-43) reported on recent progress in research on Type II superlattice (SL) materials, in a focal plane array. A better understanding of dark current mechanisms was found through iterations of modeling, processing and characterization. A new design structure was developed to eliminate carrier tunneling to create a very low noise device. Low noise and improved quantum efficiency make type II SL devices a viable alternative for third-generation focal plane arrays.

Matthew Weidman, CREOL, College of Optics and Photonics, Univ. of Central Florida, (paper 7665-24), reported on Nd:YAG and CO2 laser technology combined to perform double-pulse laser-induced breakdown experiments. An initial CO2 laser pulse prior to the Nd:YAG pulse promotes plasma heating and enhanced output spectral results by nearly an order of magnitude, while post-processing the Nd:YAG -produced plasma with the CO2 laser pulse quenched the signal.

Brian McMaster, Corning Tropel Corp., (paper 7668-36), described a high-performance zoom camera in which he optics are divided into a static group (nonmoving) and a dynamic group (moving elements), with both groups aligned to a common surface or assembly datum. Flexure connections were used on the lead screw to eliminate torquing of the drive mechanism for the dynamic elements. Ball and v-groove structures were used on the static elements to accommodate motion due to thermal expansion mismatches between the stainless steel alignment structures and the aluminum housing. Bore sight performance over temperature showed all movement well within the alignment specifications.

Peter Delfyett of CREOL College of Optics and Photonics, Univ. of Central Florida, gave a keynote talk (paper 7700-17) on a highly stable source for optical frequency combs and illustrated how it would enable the applications of optical sampling (an optical analog-to-digital converter), matched filtering (optical computing or image processing), arbitrary waveform generation, and optical communications. The stable optical frequency comb source is realized by introducing a high finesse etalon into the cavity of a long ring fiber laser and then using feedback from monitoring the pulses to adjust the fiber ring to be on resonance with the highly stable etalon. The source produces 100 picoseconds pulses at 12 Ghz with linewidths of 500 hz.

Of particular interest in an Air Force Research Labs talk on "Antenna analysis using properties of metamaterials" (paper 7669-23) was the participation of high school students in the research. The talk discussed a project to design traditional patch antennas using optical metamaterials; authors are Atindra Mitra, of AFRL, Kassandra Maxwell of Univ. of Dayton (Ohio), and Colin Hu of Beavercreek High School in Dayton.

In the real world, deployment of non-lethal technologies has been sparsely funded and little used. This is gradually changing, due in part to the work of the US DoD Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate, which held a session on non-lethal weapons (NLW) technologies and systems Monday afternoon -- Conf. 7666 Sensors, and Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence (C3I) Technologies for Homeland Security and Homeland Defense IX. While its budget is small, interest and budgets for NLW is increasing, while other defense budgets continue to see cuts.

As keynote speaker David Law said, the purpose of NLW is to bridge the capability gap between "shouting and shooting," allowing law enforcement and the military a range of options to control a situation. These weapons are explicitly designed and primarily employed to incapacitate targeted personnel or materiel immediately, with the added constraint that they must only impart effects that are reversible. Current non-lethal options, such as tasing a human or disabling a car with spikes, have very limited range, and getting beyond the 0-50 yards range is a real challenge of the Directorate. Larger ranges will allow for safer standoff distances for both authorities and civilians, minimizing the impact of such threats as IED-equipped vehicles.

Since its inception in 1996, the Directorate's primary deployments were in blunt-impact weapons until around 2006, when the laser dazzler was deployed. A laser dazzler is a high-brightness green laser that is extremely effective in obscuring the entire field of view of a driver, forcing him to stop or lose control of the vehicle. Systems in development include the use of malodorants, acoustics, and the disabling of vehicles by undercarriage currents or RF beams. This use of directed energy is seen as the area with the most growth potential.

Bruce Wright explained the approach of the Directorate to testing the human effects of NLW. While non-lethal weapons must follow the same regulations as lethal weaponry, they are also required to not permanently harm the target, making their approval all the more difficult. Existing data is also scant on NLW as opposed to lethal weapons, making the proof-of-concept ever more rigorous.

This was apparent in the many technology development presentations that followed. The vehicle- and vessel-stopping technologies demonstrated by Scott Griffiths were said to be the major thrust of their current research and showed just how difficult insuring non-lethal consequences could be. Similarly, the optical and acoustic incapacitation, muscular incapacitation, and counter-swimmer technologies proved to have their own technical and policy complexities, proving that although Hannibal Smith and his team are still something of a fantasy in the world of modern warfare, they may not be for long.

Cyber sensing is a topic new to DSS, but important as computers are everywhere in our systems. Jonathan McCune, Carnegie Mellon Univ. (paper 7666-01), pointed out that a central issue is how to determine whether a system has been compromised. In the current process, called "attestation," a separate trusted device or system queries the system under question about the state of its controlling software. It does the validation through a "hash" code. If the code does not match what is supposed to be there then the system is considered to be compromised. The trusted platform takes many forms, some in software some in hardware. For example a trusted platform module (TPM) might be a USB device that is hard-wired to evaluate the hash code.

Space system detectors need to locate and identify objects at great distances over wide temperature range and background noise situations, noted David Cardimona, AFRL (paper 7679-02). In addition, these objects may be only single-pixel events. This requires low noise detectors with some form of optical amplification of signal. The concept for detector development is to build focal plane arrays of single-pixel elements that each contain their own capability for protection, detection, cooling, and processing. Several technologies are being explored to see if they can provide these devices; one approach uses plasmonics detection in the near field with enhanced output signal through interactions with surface plasmon polaritons (SPP) produced through structured metallic layers on the surface of the detector. Another approach couples a quantum-dot-enhanced detector device and photonic-crystal cavities to create population inversions that can be used to enhance the output signal. A third tunable detection approach uses both lateral bias voltage to assist photon tunneling to achieve signal enhancement and vertical biasing for tuning the resonance frequency of the collection device.

Sebastian Bauerschmidt, Max-Planck-Institut für die Physik des Lichts (paper 7671-12) described the outputs of two fiber lasers mixed in fiber couplers and divided to produce multiple Thz interference beats that are collected by a group of detector whose output goes to Thz antennas. The detector-antenna combinations convert the optical Thz beat signal into a multiple (in this case 4) free-space propagating Thz wave. These beams are coherent in phase and simple optics are used to recombine the beams in the far field (focal distance of 4 meters). The combined beams add coherently to produce an N (4) squared peak power and reduced spot size. This greatly improves the capability of the system to achieve both Thz spectroscopy and imaging experiments.

DARPA is working to create strategic advantage for troops and also to avoid strategic surprise, and to achieve this through science by the development of real producible technology. Brian Holloway, DARPA Defense Sciences Office program manager (paper 7683-05), gave an overview of DARPA programs, goals, and guidelines on how to interact with DARPA on topics in this area. Among the programs discussed were:  

· Very-high-efficiency solar cells (VHESC) which use multilambda solar cells to collect and convert light to electricity across the entire spectral band from IR to UV
· Portable photonics (PoP): very lightweight, foldable portable solar cells for field deployment to achieve the greatest power per pound of energy conversion, for foot soldier recharging of batteries and equipment operation
· The program LOTS, for developing better energy extraction from batteries to accommodate the high load requirements of current DOD electrical equipment; the program has a goal of 3X lifetime at higher loads, and researchers are looking at basic science to develop battery technology to meet these needs
· Program FrontEdge, which combines solar cells directly with batteries for recharging
· Integrated high-density capacitors (IHEDC) which will provide the high charge needed to deploy active armor on vehicles that produce reverse momentum upon projectile impact to counter the effects of an incoming rocket.

Highlights among the numerous networking opportunities were the perennially popular "Student Lunch with the Experts," where students were welcomed by SPIE Past President Kevin Harding of GE Global Research, and a symposium welcome reception featuring a laser light show in honor of the 50th anniversary of the invention of the laser, along with imaging and defense technology. Angelique X. Irvin, President and CEO, Clear Align, gave a presentation to the assemblage at the SPIE Women in Optics reception. Her talk was on "Fueling Technical Innovation, Culture and Tactics Learned from Bell Laboratories."

Company representatives reported good traffic in the more than 500-company DSS exhibition.

"We spoke with almost as many people in the first day of the exhibition as the entire show last year," said Michael Flores, regional sales manager for Newport. "There just seems to be more interest and more energy this year."

"SPIE Defense, Security + Sensing is a unique opportunity for a small company like Accucoat to network with the major defense contractors like Lockheed and Raytheon," said Alan Parsons with Accucoat.

A. Fenner Milton, Director of Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate Communications-Electronics Research, Development & Engineering Center at the U.S. Army Research, Development & Engineering Command, received the SPIE Defense, Security and Sensing Lifetime Achievement Award at an annual awards banquet. Emil Wolf of the University of Rochester received the Society's 2010 G.G. Stokes Award in recognition of his contributions in formulating the modern theories of coherence and polarization of optical fields.

Six new Fellows of the Society were recognized by SPIE President Ralph James:

· Pieter Bijl of TNO Human Factors, The Netherlands, for specific achievements in EO-IR sensor performance
· Michael Eismann of the United States Air Force Research Lab, for specific achievements in hyperspectral and infrared imaging
· Prem Kumar of Northwestern University, for specific achievements in quantum fiber optics, optical communications, and nonlinear and quantum optics
· Manuel Martinez-Corral of Univ. de Valencia, Spain, for specific achievements in three-dimensional imaging
· Miguel Velez-Reyes of Universidad se Puerto Rico Mayaguez, Spain, for specific achievements in hyperspectral image processing
· Anbo Wang of Virginia Polytechnic Institute, for specific achievements in optical fiber sensors
Michael Eismann, Air Force Research Lab, is Symposium Chair, and William Jeffrey

Conference proceedings are published in the SPIE Digital Library in per-paper mode as soon as approved after the meeting, and also in collected print and digital volumes and collections.

SPIE , the international society for optics and photonics, was founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. Serving more than 188,000 constituents from 138 countries, the Society advances emerging technologies through interdisciplinary information exchange, continuing education, publications, patent precedent, and career and professional growth. SPIE annually organizes and sponsors approximately 25 major technical forums, exhibitions, and education programs in North America, Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific, and supports scholarships, grants, and other education programs around the world. In Europe, SPIE supports the optics and photonics community by acting as an advocate and liaison to political and industry associations.

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