David Kirkpatrick

October 18, 2010

DARPA’s shooting for the stars


From the link:

NASA Ames Director Simon “Pete” Worden revealed Saturday that NASA Ames has “just started a project with DARPA called the Hundred Year Starship,” with $1 million funding from DARPA and $100K from NASA.

“You heard it here,” said Worden at “Long Conversation,” a Long Now Foundation event in San Francisco. “We also hope to inveigle some billionaires to form a Hundred Year Starship fund,” he added.

“The human space program is now really aimed at settling other worlds,” he explained. “Twenty years ago you had to whisper that in dark bars and get fired.” (Worden was in fact fired by President George W. Bush, he also revealed.)

But these ambitious projects will need whole new concepts for propulsion, Worden advised. “NASA needs to build a true starship, probably using electric propulsion, probably also using solar energy and nuclear energy.

Microwave thermal propulsion (Kevin Parker)


August 17, 2010

Trawling for space junk

Filed under: Science — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:21 pm

You have to admit, it’s a pretty cool idea for cleaning up low Earth orbit.

From the link:

A dozen space vehicles, equipped with 200 nets each, could scoop up the space debris floating in low Earth orbit, clearing the way for a future space elevator. That’s the idea described last Friday at the annual Space Elevator conference by Star Inc., a company that is receiving funding for the project from DARPA.

The white dots represent space debris that is currently being tracked by NASA. The dots are not scaled to Earth. Credit: NASA

April 20, 2010

Now here’s a plan we can all get behind …

Filed under: et.al., Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:30 pm

… a self-piloting flying car.

Via KurzweilAI.net:

DARPA announces plans for self-piloted flying car
Physorg.com, Apr. 19, 2010

DARPA announced that it is inviting proposals to tackle its latest project: Transformer X, a “vertical takeoff and landing roadable air vehicle” ready for testing by 2015.

It would have a maximum payload capacity of 1,000 pounds so that it can carry four passengers and their gear, be capable of flying itself automatically, achieving an altitude of 1,000 feet, and traveling 250 miles on a single tank of fuel.

The Terrafugia Transition roadable aircraft, tested last year, lacks autopilot and off-road features.

Read Original Article>>

August 5, 2009

DARPA gets into stem cells

Filed under: Politics, Science — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:00 pm

Via Kurzweil.AI.net— One more benefit of ending the outrageously ridiculous ban on using federal money to research stem cells, DARPA is putting its weight and influence on the subject. This can only be a very good thing for stem cell research.

Military Aims for Instant Repair of Wartime Wounds
Wired Danger Room, Aug. 3, 2009

DARPA is asking for a device that can use adult stem cells to regenerate and repair injured body parts, including nerves, bone and skin, using the same (or better) structural and mechanical properties of human tissue.

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December 19, 2008

Nanotech transistor from IBM to improve cell phone

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:11 am

I’ve done some recent blogging on nanotech transistors (this post is on the very subject of the post you’re reading) and it looks like IBM has something gearing up for market-ready to improve cell phone range and battery life.

From the second link:

Researchers at the company are using nanotechnology to build a future generation of wireless transceivers that are much more sensitive than the ones found in phones today. They’ll also be made with a less expensive material, according to IBM. The catch is that the new chips probably won’t make it into consumers’ hands for another five or ten years.

The scientists, sponsored by DARPA (the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), have built prototype transistors with the new material, called graphene. It is a form of graphite that consists of a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb pattern. Graphene’s structure allows electrons to travel through it very quickly and gives it greater efficiency than existing transceiver chip materials, said Yu-Ming Lin, a research staff member at IBM in Yorktown Heights, New York. The project is part of DARPA’s CERA (Carbon Electronics for radio-frequency applications) program.

December 17, 2008

Graphene improving transistors

Haven’t blogged about the nanotech material graphene in a while. Here’s some exciting news from Technology Review.

From the link:

A pair of research groups, working independently, report making graphene-based transistors that work at the highest frequencies reported to date. The new transistors are a promising first step toward ultrahigh radio-frequency (RF) transistors, which could be useful for wireless communications, remote sensing, radar systems, and weapons imaging systems.

The reports come from researchers at the IBM T. J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, NY, and at the HRL Laboratories in Malibu, CA. The IBM transistors work at frequencies up to 26 gigahertz. Both the IBM and HRL work was funded by the U.S. military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Kostya Novoselov, a physicist and graphene researcher at the University of Manchester, in the U.K., says that the results are “a really big step forward to demonstrating that high-frequency graphene transistors should work.”

Graphene, a flat sheet of carbon atoms, is a promising material for RF transistors. Typical RF transistors are made from silicon or more expensive semiconductors like indium phosphide. In graphene, for the same voltage, electrons zip around 10 times faster than in indium phosphide, or 100 times faster than in silicon.

Graphene transistors will also consume less power and could turn out to be cheaper than those made from silicon or indium phosphide. Yu-Ming Lin, who led the work at IBM, says that silicon technology is extremely mature, but graphene could “achieve device performance that may never be obtained with conventional semiconductors.”

Jeong-Sun Moon, HRL Laboratories

Speedy carbon devices: Researchers at HRL Laboratories create high-frequency transistors on top of two-inch-wide graphene pieces by patterning metal electrodes and depositing insulating aluminum oxide on top of the graphene. Credit: Jeong-Sun Moon, HRL Laboratories

October 2, 2008

Zyvex Labs wins almost $10M DARPA award

The press release from Zyvex Labs:

Zyvex-led Atomically Precise Manufacturing Consortium Receives Award From DARPA and the State of Texas Emerging Technology Fund

Combined Award totals $9.7M

RICHARDSON, Texas, Oct. 2 /PRNewswire/ — Zyvex Labs today announced the award of a $9.7M program funded by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) and Texas’ ETF (Emerging Technology Fund). The goal of this effort is to develop a new manufacturing technique that enables “Tip-Based Nanofabrication” to accelerate the transition of nanotechnology from the laboratory to commercial products. Starting with the construction of ‘one-at-a-time’ atomically precise silicon structures, the Consortium initially plans to develop atomically precise, ‘quantum dot’ nanotech-based products in volume at practical production rates and costs. Harnessing this capability will position the United States and Texas with the fundamental technology to develop next-generation quantum dot applications for military and commercial applications such as advanced communications, metrology, and quantum computers. The spin-off nanomanufacturing capabilities from that early application will result in revolutionary nanotech products in follow-on development.

The charter industry APMC members are Zyvex Labs, General Dynamics, Integrated Circuit Scanning Probe Instruments, and Vought Aircraft; while Texas Higher Education members include the University of Texas at Dallas, the University of Texas at Austin and the University of North Texas. Other Higher Education members are the University of Central Florida and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Government and non-profit consortium members are the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the North Texas Regional Center for Innovation & Commercialization (NTXRCIC).  Other consortium members of all three types are expected to be added as the program progresses into later stages.

“We are extremely proud to receive this award,” said John Randall, Ph.D., Vice President of Zyvex Labs and Principal Investigator for the APMC research program. “The technologies developed by this program will be the first to allow robust three-dimensional solid structures to be created with atomic precision under computer control.  While, historically, this falls in line with ongoing efforts throughout human history to improve manufacturing precision, it is revolutionary because it will achieve unprecedented precision by taking advantage of the quantized nature of matter.”

“DARPA is investing in breakthrough approaches to nanomanufacturing.  Our goal is to develop the capability to fabricate nanostructures in such a way that we can control position, size, shape and orientation at the nanometer scale, which is not possible today,” said Tom Kenny, DARPA Program Manager. “If we can demonstrate this, we will be able to truly unlock the potential capabilities of nanotechnology.”

To almost double the resources supporting the APMC, the $5M in DARPA research funding is ‘matched’ by the Texas ETF of $4.7M to achieve a total program size of $9.7M. The North Texas Regional Center for NTXRCIC will serve as the ‘fiscal agent’ to administer the APMC funding from the ETF; and will also sponsor the “APMC Advisory Board” of senior industry and scientific experts that will direct the overall strategy and early commercialization activities of the APMC.

“As the regional representative for the ETF, we are excited about our role in the APMC consortium,” said R. Mike Lockerd, Executive Director of the NTXRCIC.  “Under the leadership of Zyvex Labs, APMC combines business, scientific and academic excellence; and we are confident that this consortium will develop ground-breaking technologies which may redefine how we create, manufacture and commercialize future products in Texas.”

“This is a most exciting program and is very well aligned with my group’s goals,” said Richard M. Silver, a Program Manager in the Nanomanufacturing Program at the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST). “It is one of those unique programs where the basic work in advanced scientific institutions is aligned with industry toward a revolutionary and technologically important goal.”

“We are both thrilled and proud to be an integral part of the innovative APMC consortium project,” said Robert M. Wallace, PhD, the principal investigator and Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Physics at the University of Texas at Dallas. “The program taps our extensive expertise and capability to manipulate silicon surfaces at the atomic scale and provides a conduit for our research to be translated into a viable nanotechnology product.  This industry-university-government partnership supporting the consortium presents us with a unique opportunity to impact Texas and the world of nanotechnology.”


The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is the central research and development organization for the Department of Defense (DoD). It manages and directs selected basic and applied research and development projects for DoD, and pursues research and technology where risk and payoff are both very high and where success may provide dramatic advances for traditional military roles and missions.

About the Texas ETF

The $200M ETF was initially enacted by the Texas Legislature in June 2005 to expedite the commercialization of technologies and creation of high-tech jobs in Texas; and one component of the fund is used to match federal research funds.

About the North Texas RCIC

The NTXRCIC serves the North Texas Region to identify, evaluate and provide matching funding for new technology projects with the aim of increasing cooperation between industrial, financial, and academic entities, and of creating new commercial entities based on those technologies to establish new technical industry sectors in the region.

About the APMC

Zyvex Labs leads the APMC consortium, which is comprised of government, university, and industry partners. The consortium was formed to maximize the commercialization opportunities for the technology developed in this program. Consortium members include: General Dynamics, ICSPI, NIST, Vought Aircraft, Zyvex Labs, the University of Central Florida, the University of Illinois, the University of North Texas, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Texas at Dallas, and the North Texas RCIC.

Source: Zyvex
Web site:  http://www.zyvex.com/

May 16, 2008

50 years of DARPA

Filed under: Science, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:37 pm

Here’s a cool NewScientist article on 50 years of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Just in case you didn’t know, you owe DARPA for the ability to read this blog. The earliest version of what has become the World Wide Web was a DARPA project, ARPANET.

(Hat tip: KurzweilAI.net)

April 7, 2008

Supercomputing news

Two bits from KurzweilAI.net. First is a qutrit breakthrough making strides toward quantum computing.

The second is on a DARPA challenge for research projects offering “dramatic improvements” in areas including quantum computing.

Qutrit breakthrough brings quantum computers closer
Physics arXiv blog, April 4, 2008University of Queensland scientists have built and tested quantum logic gates that are vastly more powerful than those that have gone before by exploiting the higher dimensions available in quantum mechanics.For example, a qubit can be encoded in a photon‘s polarization. But a photon has other dimensions which can also be used to carry information, such as its arrival time, photon number or frequency. By exploiting these, a photon can easily be used as a much more powerful three level system called a qutrit.That allows a dramatic reduction in the number of gates necessary to perform a specific task. Using only three of the higher-dimension logic gates, the team has built and tested a Toffoli logic gate that could only have been constructed using 6 conventional logic gates. And they say that a computer made up of 50 conventional quantum logic gates could be built using only 9 of theirs.

Read Original Article>>

Uncle Sam searches for a quantum leap
NewScientist news service, April 1, 2008Under its new QuEST (Quantum Entanglement Science and Technology) program, DARPA has issued a request for proposal for research projects that address “”dramatic improvements” in “the nature, establishment, control, or transport of multi-qubit entanglement.”Applications might include parallel computing power in a quantum computer and secure communications using quantum cryptography
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