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2009-2010 Assessment of the Army Research Laboratory
the number of postdoctoral fellows, from 12 to 24 since the previous review, and the staff turnover rate of around 10 percent per year.
There has been a similar improvement in the output of technical publications and patent disclosures. The average number of refereed technical publications in the 2 years since ARLTAB’s previous report1 has increased more than 29 percent. After a small drop in FY 2009, the number of new patent applications increased by 30 percent in FY 2010. In addition to publications, SEDD staff members have won a significant number of research and service awards both within the governmental service community and outside the laboratory.
Given that sensors and electronic device technology are constantly evolving, one of the expectations of SEDD is that it continuously update its research portfolio to keep pace with these changes. SEDD has addressed this expectation in the current, 2009-2010 reporting period by increasing its in-house research efforts in several areas, such as wide bandgap materials, image processing, flexible displays, and battery chemistries, while moving on from unattended ground sensors and sensor integration and transitioning silicon carbide (SiC) device research from in-house to external projects. More significant is that these changes are guided by a clearly stated long-term vision for each of the major SEDD mission areas. For example, the extreme energy and power vision describes an objective of providing the individual soldier with access to two to three augmented energy sources on the mesoscale and microscale. The heterogeneous electronics vision foresees intelligent systems built from multiple technologies integrated into clothing, vehicle surfaces, and other structures in the warfighter’s environment.
As research evolves, so must the facilities and equipment used to conduct that research. In the current reporting period, SEDD has invested $12.5 million in new equipment and laboratories. Most of these funds were spent on new and upgraded instrumentation, and investments were spread among all SEDD divisions.
Among the “crown jewels” of SEDD facilities are its extensive semiconductor fabrication lines. This facility has developed into an extraordinary research support tool capable of producing a diverse set of advanced semiconductor devices, all of which are critical to the ARL SEDD mission. However, the facility is in need of a major review even though it has been continuously upgraded since 2002. Much of the processing and support equipment is nearing the end of its useful life span. The maintenance status and the impact of the introduction of new process procedures need to be reviewed, and the SEDD management needs an independent, objective look at all of these issues and must be prepared to make significant investment in the near future to keep this capability at the cutting edge.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND ADVANCEMENTS
Energy and Power Generation Division
There has been a significant and encouraging change in vision in the Energy and Power Generation Division during this reporting period, reflecting the evolution of the energy and power field in general. There has also been a good deal of progress in addressing several challenging problems in the field. The division is organized into three branches: Electro Chemistry, Power Components, and Power Conditioning. Following are highlights of current research efforts in the branches.
The effort in reforming Jet Propellant 8 fuel (JP-8) to power (hydrogen or solid oxide) fuel cells is expected to net a total fuel-to-electrical efficiency of approximately 30 percent (about twice that of
National Research Council. 2009. 2007-2008 Assessment of the Army Research Laboratory. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.