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14 Apr 14. DOD to Award $167m in Research Funding. The Department of Defense (DOD) announced plans to issue 24 awards totalling $167m over the next five years to academic institutions to perform multidisciplinary basic research. The Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) program supports research conducted by teams of investigators that intersect more than one traditional science and engineering discipline in order to accelerate research progress. The Army Research Office, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the Office of Naval Research solicited proposals in 24 topics important to DOD and the military services. Initially, 361 white papers were received, 88 of which were selected for more detailed proposals. The awards were selected based on a merit review by a panel of experts and are subject to successful negotiation between the institution and DOD. The awards announced today are for a five year period subject to availability of appropriations and satisfactory research progress. The highly competitive MURI program complements other DOD basic research efforts which fund traditional, single-investigator university, industry and department laboratory grants, by supporting multidisciplinary teams with larger and longer-term awards, in carefully chosen research topics identified for their potential for significant and sustained progress. Like single-investigator awards, MURI awards provide strong support for the education and training of graduate students in cutting edge research. Based on the proposals selected in the fiscal 2014 competition, a total of 64 academic institutions are expected to participate in these 24 research efforts. For more than 25 years, DOD’s MURI program has resulted in significant capabilities for our military forces and opened up entirely new lines of research. Examples include advances in laser frequency combs that have become the gold standard in frequency control for precision in navigation and targeting; atomic and molecular self-assembly projects that have opened new possibilities for nano-manufacturing; and the field of spintronics emerged from a MURI award on magnetic materials and devices research. The list of projects selected for fiscal 2014 funding may be found at http://www.defense.gov/pubs/FY14-MURITeamsRecommended.pdf.
16 Apr 14. Scientists from BAE Systems and Queen Mary University of London have seemingly defied the laws of physics by creating a novel composite material which has been used to manufacture a new type of antenna lens. This breakthrough could revolutionise the design of aircraft, ships, radios and satellite dishes – potentially any product which uses an antenna. Using a concept known as transformation optics combined with this new artificially engineered composite material known as a metamaterial, the electromagnetic properties of a curved lens have been emulated in a flat panel whilst retaining the same broadband performance. The new composite metamaterials flat antenna lens could be embedded into the skin of an aircraft without compromising aerodynamic performance, representing a major leap forward from current airborne antennas. BAE Systems is the first company to successfully create a functional composite metamaterial designed using transformational optics which allows a flat lens to perform like a traditional curved lens without any reduction in bandwidth performance. Transformation optics is a concept which allows for control of light or electromagnetic radiation in novel ways. Metamaterials can do things beyond the reach of natural materials and are of significant interest to the scientific community. Whilst traditional metamaterials only operate over narrow frequencies when used in antennas, the new composite material has a greatly extended bandwidth performance. When both transformational optics and th