7

Basic Research (6.1)

OVERVIEW

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) Code 353 has developed a new 6.1 research program intended to focus primarily on Marine Corps needs. This new effort is funded totally with ONR Navy “blue” dollars (as distinguished from Marine “green” dollars) and, although the initial funding is small, the committee commends ONR for initiating this program and for involving the Marine Corps Combat Development Command (MCCDC) in the program planning and selection process. ONR plans to invest $1 million in the current year, to double funding in FY01, and to consider further increases in the out years.

Code 353 created a list of possible topics and sent this list to MCCDC, which added topics, prioritized the list to favor “general areas in which operational concepts in the 2020 time frame are likely to be most dependent on new technologies,” circulated the new list to ONR scientific officers, and solicited leads to performers and proposals. Table 7.1 records the list along with the number of awards in each area. Unfortunately, there seems to be very little correlation between MCCDC priorities and the number of awards made. 1

PROGRAMS REVIEWED

Ultra-wideband Radio Ranging Studies

These studies aim to design a ranging algorithm for ultra-wideband (UWB) radio systems. In particular, the algorithm will attempt to minimize false locks on noise and on multipath signals that have

1  

All of the awards are close to $95,000 per year except the three in the middle category involving lightweight power sources. Those three are funded at roughly $150,000 per year (the extra $50,000 will cover some experimental devices that have to be built).



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2000 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Marine Corps Science and Technology Program 7 Basic Research (6.1) OVERVIEW The Office of Naval Research (ONR) Code 353 has developed a new 6.1 research program intended to focus primarily on Marine Corps needs. This new effort is funded totally with ONR Navy “blue” dollars (as distinguished from Marine “green” dollars) and, although the initial funding is small, the committee commends ONR for initiating this program and for involving the Marine Corps Combat Development Command (MCCDC) in the program planning and selection process. ONR plans to invest $1 million in the current year, to double funding in FY01, and to consider further increases in the out years. Code 353 created a list of possible topics and sent this list to MCCDC, which added topics, prioritized the list to favor “general areas in which operational concepts in the 2020 time frame are likely to be most dependent on new technologies,” circulated the new list to ONR scientific officers, and solicited leads to performers and proposals. Table 7.1 records the list along with the number of awards in each area. Unfortunately, there seems to be very little correlation between MCCDC priorities and the number of awards made. 1 PROGRAMS REVIEWED Ultra-wideband Radio Ranging Studies These studies aim to design a ranging algorithm for ultra-wideband (UWB) radio systems. In particular, the algorithm will attempt to minimize false locks on noise and on multipath signals that have 1   All of the awards are close to $95,000 per year except the three in the middle category involving lightweight power sources. Those three are funded at roughly $150,000 per year (the extra $50,000 will cover some experimental devices that have to be built).

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2000 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Marine Corps Science and Technology Program TABLE 7.1 MCCDC Priority Areas and Number of Awards MCCDC Priority Topic Number of Awards Most Marine Corps-unique, and most clearly linked to future operations Communications in MOUT environment 0 Multisensor information integration 1 Artificial intelligence pattern recognition compression 1 Interesting but lower operational payoff Lightweight power sources 3 Artificial intelligence modeling (autonomous, cooperative) 0 Disease prevention 0 Materials for coatings 0 Important but not very Marine-specific Ultra-wideband/low-probability-of-intercept communication 3 Broadband laser eye protection 0 Uncooled lightweight thermal sensors 0 not propagated directly from transmitter to receiver and then to determine the time of arrival of the direct path signal as accurately as possible. A propagation measurement effort in support of this objective will develop a database of measured signals that have propagated outdoors over ranges that can be supported by the allowed UWB transmitter power, as regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). This database will also include propagation conditions, information on direct path obstructions, and so forth, and will have general applicability to communications designs as well as ranging algorithm development. Findings The committee believes that the work on UWB ranging represents achievable technology and hardly qualifies as basic research. It entails buying some wideband radios and creating pulses short enough that multipath problems can be resolved. This is very similar to the analysis and experimentation done by telephone companies before they install a new tower, especially in an urban environment. If the intent of this work is to specifically address urban environments, it should be recognized that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and other agencies have already addressed data collection, modeling, and simulation of ultra-wideband communications in such environments. Moreover, many high-fidelity models exist for wideband communications and signal propagation. And finally, based on the small amount of information provided, the committee cannot help but wonder what this project will contribute and how it relates to the existing legacy. Recommendations The committee recommends that this project should be considered for the core 6.2 discovery technology program and the funds freed up for more fundamental research. If the project is funded as a 6.2 effort, then care should be taken to identify what measurements will be made, whether these measurements have already been made by other agencies, and what models will be developed.

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2000 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Marine Corps Science and Technology Program Channel Coding and Estimation for Ultra-Wideband Impulse Radios Assessing the viability of ultra-wideband communications for military applications requires a framework for accurately analyzing system performance. This proposed research addresses the need for a tractable, outdoor UWB channel model that will serve as the foundation for performance evaluation and examination of the various design trade-offs that exist at the physical layer. The other major thrusts of the proposed research include channel estimation and error control coding, which are essential to the successful realization and implementation of UWB communication systems. Because of the multipath resolution capabilities of such systems, numerous resolved signal components will have to be selectively combined at the Rake receiver in order to acquire enough signal energy for reliable communications. Such processing and channel estimation will be very complex. Powerful channel coding such as turbo codes can be applied to UWB communication systems to alleviate the burden on diversity-combining schemes by reducing the required received signal-to-noise ratio. Findings The findings and observations presented for the ranging studies in the preceding “ Findings ” section (page 56) apply equally to this project. Recommendation This project should be considered for the core 6.2 technology program. Low-Power Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor Implementation of Ultra-wideband Radios This research project intends to investigate the implementation of UWB radios for short-range data transmission using conventional complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology. The FCC’s decision to allow UWB transmissions opens the door for investigations into the design of such radios, with the ultimate goal of a single chip realization. Such implementation will allow comparison of UWB transmission with more conventional forms of radio transmission, so that the trade-offs can be more clearly understood. The research areas that will be investigated on this grant include the efficient generation of ultra-wideband signals and their subsequent amplification for transmission, as well as the complementary issues of amplification of the received wideband signal and circuitry required for synchronization. In particular, an approach for generation of these signals that exploits the ultrafast transitions of deep submicron CMOS logic will be explored. A related research focus will be a UWB antenna design methodology that includes simultaneous optimization of the design of the antenna and CMOS circuitry (either low-noise amplifier or power amplifier). Findings The committee and the project director agree that this is an engineering task. Given the existence of extensive work on implementation of UWB radios, the committee wonders what specific contribution will be made by this investigation and what the associated design or implementation issues are. Even as a 6.3 task, this undertaking would be much more compelling if it had an industrial component.

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2000 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Marine Corps Science and Technology Program Recommendation This task should be considered for 6.3 funding. The Information Theory for Optimal Aim Point Selection via Multiple Sensors In the 21st century, systems for aim point selection and automatic target recognition will involve multiple sensors. This research will investigate the derivation of algorithm-independent performance metrics for aim point selection using information from multiple sources in clutter. The ultimate goal is to achieve the best aim point selection for the least resource allocation. Performance bounds for sensors give guidelines for such sensors. These bounds will be based on the Shannon theory of imaging science, calculating algorithm-independent metrics that quantify information gain about the underlying targets (sources) through the multiple sensors (channels). Information loss will be calculated incorporating ground-based clutter models, quantifying performance degradation resulting from natural environments. Findings Although this appears to be a competent multisensor information integration project, the committee notes that many similar research projects exist throughout the Department of Defense and wonders whether this project addresses any Marine-specific issues not addressed elsewhere. This new research could perhaps make a useful contribution, but its value would depend on its focus: What candidate sensor types or characteristics are assumed? What assumptions will be made concerning sensor performance and utilization? What are the assumptions about the observing environment? Although a theoretical study could be useful, it should be based on fairly realistic possible observing situations and environments. If it is not, it might have little value. Such a project should also consider using advanced simulation tools to generate numerical results. Recommendation The committee recommends that this project continue as a 6.1 effort but that it be structured to address Marine Corps-specific needs. Multisource Information Processing in Mobile Environments This project includes three main tasks: Exploration of a new class of nonlinear wavelets, called minimum/maximum preserving wavelets, for compressing digital terrain elevation data (DTED). This work aims to extend the feature-based compression concept to develop more efficient and effective representations for DTED so that a user without large bandwidth or computing power can quickly access and query large, high-resolution databases remotely. Exploration of data-feature clustering approaches to enable timely information delivery, including access, update, and retrieval from large multimedia data repositories in mobile environments where bandwidth and computing power are constrained. Clustering approaches could allow developing new paradigms for data analysis that help bridge the gap between storage, access, and manipulation of digital data.

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2000 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Marine Corps Science and Technology Program Exploration of level set methods for automatic image registration of multichannel synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images. Level set methods could become a comparatively contrast-insensitive means of aligning multiple images containing common features. Findings The committee does not understand how these three interesting and related tasks will be integrated into a coherent research project and has questions about the individual tasks that would have required interaction with the investigators. The compression of DTED data using nonlinear wavelets has potential value. However, the committee would have liked to examine how its utility (data compression factors, accuracy, computational requirements, and so on) will be evaluated for DTED, against which current methods for data compression the new method will be compared, and what data sets will constitute the baseline for comparison. Data-feature clustering is a very broad (and relatively old) topic in data mining. What research is planned in this area? There are literally dozens of feature-clustering algorithms (decision trees, neural networks, cluster algorithms, and so on). The committee would have liked to examine the choice of methods to be explored, plans for the creation of new methods, and the selection of features to be investigated or used. Automatic image registration for multichannel SAR is also a well-researched area. Much work remains, but the committee would have liked to verify the investigators’ awareness of existing work in this area. Recommendations This project is potentially useful and appropriate. But more information would be needed on project plans to determine if the research will be productive or will only rehash existing research. The topics as described are not integrated into a coherent whole. Moreover, the title of the research is a bit misleading, since it has only limited connection to a mobile environment or to multisource information processing. The committee recommends that the project be reviewed by appropriate ONR Code 31 personnel who have knowledge of other work in this field. High-Energy-Density, Rechargeable, Thin-Film Batteries for Marine Field Operations This project includes two tasks: Polymer-clay nanocomposite materials will be prepared and evaluated for use as electrolytes in lithium polymer batteries. This work will entail the use of amorphous derivatives of polyethylene oxide intercalated into various clays to create the polymer-clay nanocomposite electrolyte. It is anticipated that this approach may produce a polymer electrolyte with significantly increased ionic conductivity while maintaining acceptable mechanical properties. Lithium polymer battery prototypes will be prepared and tested. The batteries will consist of interdigitated submicrometer layers of polymer electrolyte sandwiched between a micrometer-thick lithium metal anode and a three-layer oxide metal-oxide bidirectional cathode. This approach represents a strategy for increasing the surface-to-volume ratio of the active cathode material while maintaining ease of assembly. It is anticipated that this approach will enable larger lithium polymer battery electrodes to more closely match the high-capacity efficiency of microbattery electrodes.

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2000 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Marine Corps Science and Technology Program Findings New polymers for lithium solid electrolyte batteries have long been sought after by many research groups. The motivation is to develop new polymers that are conductive enough to be practical without sacrificing the mechanical rigidity that makes solid electrolytes attractive in the first place for their ease of manufacture in odd geometries and configurations that would make them man-wearable. Further, polyethylene oxide is among the most widely studied of the polymers applied to lithium batteries. In fact many academic, government, and industry groups are active in this field and receive funding from the Department of Energy, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The scope of work just described includes new materials, electrochemistry, and battery construction and design. Although this research fits into the 6.1 category, it would be useful to focus on new materials that might perform much better than polyethylene oxide. The second task appears to involve the development of a new cell design that would have a central cathode and electrolyte and anode on either side to improve energy density. Presumably the cathode would have to be thicker in this design, but there would be only half as many of them relative to conventional cell designs, which have one cathode for every anode. The committee trusts that a tradeoff has been made showing that fewer but thicker cathodes provide an overall energy density increase for a given cell. State-of-the-art lithium polymer cells are already thin (100 µm) with high electrode surface-to-volume ratios; therefore, the committee questions how much improvement in energy density can be expected via a new cell design as opposed to new energetic electrode materials. Testing battery prototypes is not a 6.1-level task. Assembling new cell designs and packing cells together as a battery is appropriate at the 6.2 or possibly the 6.3 level of development. Recommendations The committee recommends that the materials task be continued as a basic research project, taking into account the findings noted above, and that battery prototyping be transitioned into a different budget category. Development of Fuel Cells for Direct Electrochemical Oxidation of Strategic Fuels This research focuses on recent success in achieving stable power generation from hydrocarbon fuels via direct electrochemical oxidation in a solid oxide fuel cell employing a copper-ceria-yttria stabilized zirconia anode. Research will address the following key issues associated with expanding the applicability of such devices to common logistic fuels such as JP-8: (1) increased power densities, (2) long-time stability against coking, (3) tolerance to sulfur contamination from the fuels, (4) increased electrode mechanical strength, and (5) the need for interconnect materials that will not promote coking. Findings A number of past research studies on solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) have already demonstrated the ability to directly oxidize fuels such as methanol or light hydrocarbons, e.g., methane, without the need

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2000 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Marine Corps Science and Technology Program for a separate “reformer” to produce hydrogen and carbon dioxide from fuel and steam. This direct oxidation operation is usually referred to as internal reforming. The ability to perform this operation with fuels such as JP-8 would be of considerable benefit in terms of logistics and cost. It is ambiguous, however, whether the five issues to be addressed with the proposed research have been identified specifically because of the selection of JP-8 as a fuel or if they represent areas of SOFC research generally. To the extent that the five issues are directly associated with the use of JP-8, then a number of comments apply, including the fact that JP-8 will be little different from any other liquid hydrocarbon in terms of power or energy density. Of course, it will be superior to compressed gases because of the higher storage densities. With respect to stability against coking, the committee observes that a proper electrocatalyst should facilitate the complete oxidation of any hydrocarbon (methane, JP-8, diesel, and so forth) to carbon dioxide without deposition of soot. The committee agrees that logistics fuels are indeed liable to contain various concentrations of sulfur and that a compatible fuel cell anode electrocatalyst will be necessary. SOFCs are already significantly more tolerant of sulfur than are other fuel cell types, e.g., those with a proton exchange membrane. In still another area, it is not clear why JP-8 would require greater electrode mechanical strength than any other hydrocarbon or even hydrogen. Finally, it is not the lack of a better electrocatalyst (faster, sulfur tolerant, and so on) that inhibits the maturing of SOFC technology compared with polyethylene matrix cell technology. The greater challenge has often been in the mechanical integrity of cell stack materials over long operating times with several turn-down cycles (repetitive thermal shock) and in the response to external shock and vibration (ceramics can be very brittle). Recommendation This research work should be continued, but the investigators should look for transitions into the 6.2 core program. If sulfur tolerance is only partial, then the sensors described in Chapter 4 in the “ Bulk Liquids ” section (pages 29-30) for assessing host nation and captured fuels should be designed to detect sulfur contamination. Modeling of Power Systems for Marines This research focuses on the optimization of electrical power systems and loads for future Marine Corps application. It includes development of modeling concepts suitable for the increasingly complex electrical systems of future dismounted soldiers and land vehicles. Modeling concepts will be explored that will be capable of ascertaining the total system consequences of technical advancement of the various system components, including both power generation and utilization. As such, the model will constitute a tool for optimizing current science and technology (S&T) investment toward meeting the future electrical needs of the Marine Corps during expeditionary operations. Findings This modeling and simulation task appears to lack basic research content. The presentation lacked clarity as to how the results from the Army’s “Land Warrior” tests will be incorporated into the study.

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2000 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Marine Corps Science and Technology Program TABLE 7.2 Summary of Recommendations for 6.1 Project Recommendation UWB Ranging Consider for 6.2 funding. UWB Channel Coding Consider for 6.2 funding. Low-power CMOS Consider for 6.3 funding. Multiple Sensors Continue, but structure to account for Marine Corps needs. Multisource Mobile Program review by Code 31. Thin-film Batteries Continue materials task, but transition prototyping to 6.2. Fuel Cells Look for a transition to 6.2. Modeling Power Systems Look for an early transition to 6.2. Recommendation The committee recommends an early transition of this work into a 6.2 program. Summary of Recommendations for 6.1 A summary of recommendations for 6.1 is given in Table 7.2. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR NEW PROGRAMS The committee suggests that the following basic research areas should command high priority in the FY01 and later 6.1 portfolios: Investigation of phenomena that could be incorporated into weapons of controllable lethality (see “ Small Arms ” under “Recommendations for New Programs ” in Chapter 3, page 25), Other fundamental research that could lead to better devices and techniques for urban operations, Phenomena and devices for mine detection and countermeasures, Techniques for gaining and disseminating situational awareness in a Marine Corps context to enable informed maneuver, and Materials that could reduce the logistics burden of Operational Maneuver From the Sea (OMFTS). With respect to the top two items on this list, it appears to the committee that MOUT should be a key basic research (6.1) goal, but unfortunately it seems to be poorly supported in the current program. With respect to mine detection, the committee perceives a need to conduct some solid basic research (or at least some early technology studies) to establish the phenomenology that will help determine what systems will or will not work. Right now, in the Joint Mine Detection Technology program (see “ Joint Mine Detection Technology ” in Chapter 2, page 15), ONR seems to be adopting an “Edisonian” approach of trying this and trying that until something eventually seems to work. ONR needs to examine the real physics of the problem and the different environmental conditions and then try to find some good discriminating factors that will allow the researcher to do pattern recognition studies, false alarm investigations, and so on. Without this fundamental approach, there is very little prospect for a

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2000 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Marine Corps Science and Technology Program Box 7.1 Summary of Recommendations for New Investments in 6.1 Investigation of other phenomena that could be incorporated into weapons of controllable lethality Other fundamental research that could lead to better devices and techniques for urban warfare Phenomena and devices for detecting mines, particularly remotely, and for mine countermeasures Techniques for gaining and disseminating situational awareness in a Marine Corps context to enable informed maneuver Materials that could reduce the logistics burden of OMFTS significant advance in this important warfare area. Accordingly, the committee recommends that ONR Code 353 set up a sustained, coordinated 6.1 program to establish the scientific basis for the detection of mines in the littorals, particularly remote detection, and for mine countermeasures. Situational awareness is obviously an important warfare capability for the Marines, but it appears to the committee that most of the problems and issues can be addressed with more investment dollars for equipment and software rather than basic research. Some of the more important issues include the exchange of tactical targeting data between forces ashore and those afloat; common data formats, update rates, and interface protocols for interoperability with other Services; and common displays. Even so, the committee recommends that the proposed research planning team examine the prerequisites for informed maneuver, including data fusion and dealing with information overload, to see if a good basic research program can be developed. The need to transform information into knowledge and the need for precise information in urban terrain, both called for in Chapter 2’s overview (pages 14-15), provide a formidable 6.1 challenge. Finally, the committee notes that the logistics burden will likely limit the feasible scale of OMFTS and suggests that a Marine Corps-oriented 6.1 program should include a search for higher-strength, lower-weight materials, and, perhaps, for fuels, propellants, and explosives of higher specific energy. Summary of Recommendations for New Investments in 6.1 A summary of recommendations for new investments in 6.1 is given in Box 7.1 . CONCLUDING REMARKS Although it commends ONR and its Code 353 for initiating a 6.1 program directed toward research with possible Marine Corps applicability and for involving MCCDC in project selection, the committee found that the content of the initial program was not compelling with respect to scientific merit or Marine Corps specificity. It notes the poor correlation between MCCDC’s leading priorities (see Table 7.1 ) and the projects selected. The committee recognizes the difficulty of identifying tasks that are 6.1 in nature and also have clear Marine Corps relevance; it also recognizes that the calendar limited the time available for making the first year’s selections and that MCCDC, although an ultimate authority on what future capabilities the Marine Corps needs, is not particularly experienced in basic research program development. The

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2000 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Marine Corps Science and Technology Program committee realizes that its lack of direct interaction with the projects’ principal investigators may have caused it to overlook some of the scientific content of the proposed work. The committee urges the continuation and expansion of a Marine Corps-oriented 6.1 research program, but urges the following actions to help ensure a better outcome: Start the selection process sufficiently early that deadlines do not cause hasty actions. Institute a standing team that includes the ONR, MCCDC, Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, operators, and trainers to engage the Marines in program formulation more frequently than annually and to begin to demonstrate to the Marines that basic research can benefit the Corps. Engage the skills of ONR program officers and managers in departments other than Code 35 in assisting in the two-way translation between basic research goals and operational needs. The third action applies to domains beyond 6.1 research; Chapter 9 (in “ Activities of Code 353 Personnel ,” page 73, and “ Other Desirable Activities ,” page 74) expands on this matter.