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Here’s how ‘invisible armor’ could defeat bullets and blades


The NRL-developed transparent polymer armor consists of alternating layers of elastomeric polymer and a harder material substrate. Very small crystalline domains, which also provide rigidity, give the polymer its transparency. (U.S. Naval Research Laboratory)

The NRL-developed transparent polymer armor consists of alternating layers of elastomeric polymer and a harder material substrate. Very small crystalline domains, which also provide rigidity, give the polymer its transparency. (U.S. Naval Research Laboratory)

Ever wonder if there was such a thing as transparent armor? It sounds like something straight out of a comic book, but it’s something the Navy has actually created.

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) scientists have created a remarkable transparent armor that is lightweight and still provides excellent protection.

Nearly as transparent as glass, the armor is essentially invisible protection from bullets. And if the armor surface is damaged, warfighters could fix it on the fly with something as simple as a hot plate and the armor will meld itself back together.

Think about how “bulletproof glass” (a misnomer since it is often only bullet resistant) works – you can see through it and it stops bullets.

Now what if you could do that for body armor and helmets? That’s the idea here.

This next-generation armor advance could also amp up transparent bulletproof walls to protect tourist attractions from the attacks we’ve seen in Paris and most recently, in London.

What’s the armor made of?

The transparent polymer armor gets its transparency from something known as tiny crystalline domains. The armor itself is made up of alternating layers of elastomeric polymer combined with a harder material substrate.

NRL scientists conducted tests using polymeric materials as a coating to try to enhance impact resistance.

By applying layers of the special materials to body armor and helmets, the result was better protection for warriors against bullets.

The armor also helped reduce the impact of blast waves caused by something like an IED explosion, which could potentially help prevent brain trauma.

When a bullet hits the armor

If you picture a windshield that has been struck by a rock kicked up while driving, the rock’s impact may cause damage that makes it difficult to see through the windshield.

One of the amazing things about this see-through armor is that when it’s struck by a projectile, such as a bullet, it still retains its lucid nature. There’s virtually no impact on visibility and the damage is limited only to the spot where the bullet connected with the armor.

Repair vs. replace 

The possibility exists that this futuristic body armor could be ironed back into shape after it sustained some hits, because of the material used to create it.

The material needs to be heated to around 100 degrees Celsius, which then causes it to become hot enough to melt the tiny crystallites. By heating the material, any impact from the bullet can be melded back together and returned to its normal state. Scientists believe that this sort of repair will not impact how the armor performs.

Easy, fast repairs can be a great advantage for warfighters operating in remote locations and it can save money by repairing rather than replacing.

Implications for protecting against global terror attacks

In a scenario like the recent London attack, lightweight body armor approaches like the aforementioned can be very useful to protect armed officers from bladed weapons, bullets and other threats while the reduced weight can improve their speed, agility and flexibility of response.

Like the Capitol building in the US, armed officers protect the building and those working in and visiting the building. Based on the information provided publicly thus far, the terrorist wielded a bladed weapon and attacked British officers. One officer was tragically killed.

Guns and explosive devices are not the only methods of attack used by Islamic extremist terrorists. In Europe, terrorist plots and attacks have increasingly involved bladed weapons on foot as well the weaponization of vehicles.

Islamic extremist groups such as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Islamic State group have been actively promoting these sorts of attack methods.

Just last month in Paris, a terrorist tried to launch an attack with machetes at the popular tourist site of the Louvre museum. A French soldier stopped him before there were any casualties.

In 2013, two terrorists drove at British Army soldier Fusilier Lee Rigby, who was walking a street in England. The terrorists then exited the vehicle, attacked him with blades and murdered him by hacking him to death.

Invisible Walls?

Ultimately, advances like NRLs in transparent armor could play a vital role in amping up “invisible” walls could be used to stop both people and vehicles from storming sites and areas. By enhancing protection, it could help prevent attacks and casualties.

Paris recently announced they are building an eight-foot bulletproof glass wall around the Eiffel Tower. Why? Tourist sites are attractive targets for terrorists. The goal is to stop not just bullets but prevent vehicles loaded with bombs from gaining access.

Transparent armor-ed up walls mean tourists can still enjoy an uninterrupted view while benefiting from enhanced protection.

Advanced armor like this can also become a deterrent to future attacks.


Allison Barrie consults at the highest levels of defense, has travelled to more than 70 countries, is a lawyer with four postgraduate degrees and now the author of the new book “Future Weapons: Access Granted”  covering invisible tanks through to thought-controlled fighter jets. You can click here for more information on FOX Firepower columnist and host Allison Barrie and you can follow her on Twitter @allison_barrie.

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F-35A Lightning II fighter gets new gun

Ultra advanced stealth, fighter jet speed … and now the military’s F-35 has a new weapon.

The F-35 Lightning II is a truly fifth-generation fighter jet. This advanced powerful single-seat and single-engine fighter is designed to be capable of a range of missions with just one aircraft.

Test pilot Maj. Charles “Flak” Trickey recently fired the F35A’s internal Gun Airborne Unit -22/A 25mm Gatling gun system in three airborne gunfire bursts. A success, this first aerial gun test was conducted out at the China Lake, Calif., test range on Oct. 30 2015.

Raw video of first aerial gun test above the China Lake, California, test range

Related: 11 stunning F-22 fighter jet images

This is a key step in certifying the gun for use in the F-35A and the aircraft is on track to enter initial operational capability with the U.S. Air Force next year.

The F-35 is the result of collaboration between prime contractor Lockheed Martin and principal partners Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems.

Next-Gen Air Dominance

Stealth was built into this aircraft from the very start. The F-35 also possesses other fifth-generation features like integrated avionics, sensor fusion and incredibly powerful sensor packages.

The Pratt & Whitney F135 propulsion system gives the aircraft phenomenal power – it is able to reach speeds of over 1199 mph.

With this new gun, pilots will have the ability to engage air-to-ground and air-to-air targets. The 25mm gun is embedded into the F-35A’s left wing in a way that keeps the aircraft stealthy.

Over the next year, testing will continue with the gun integrated into the fighter’s sensor fusion software. The software will provide targeting data to the pilot through the pilot’s state of the art helmet-mounted display.

Related: 11 amazing A-10 Warthog images

Even the helmets on this aircraft are next generation. Pilots wearing them can see through the aircraft and the heads up display provides unprecedented data. Each pilot gets a personalized version.

Rather than deploy different aircraft specializing in different things, the F-35 can tackle a range of tasks by itself. Highly versatile, the F-35 can handle missions like air-to-air combat, electronic attack, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and air-to-ground strikes.


The F-35 gives pilots the ability to penetrate deep into enemy areas without being detected. The advanced materials and airframe design mean that F-35s can evade radars that other fighters cannot. The plane can get through highly defended air spaces without ever being detected and then clear the way for U.S. forces.

Using weapons like precision-guided munitions and air-to-air radar-guided missiles, the pilots can engage long-range ground targets without being detected and tracked by the enemy.


When faced with enemy fighter aircraft, the F-35s have a number of advantages. For starters, the F-35 pilots will be able to detect the enemy aircraft long before they are detected themselves. In aerial combat, this means the F-35 can take lethal action first. The fighter’s weapons systems will also give it a big advantage over enemy aircraft.

Related: What you need to know about the new U.S. Air Force stealth bomber

Pilots can leverage the aircraft’s advanced electronic warfare abilities to

locate and track enemy forces. To reach highly protected targets, pilots can jam enemy radars and disrupt attacks on their aircraft using the advanced avionics system.

In an F-35, pilots have 360-degree real time battlespace data. The sensor package is state-of-the-art and any data the sensors collect can be securely shared with commanders all over the world, giving them a more complete picture of operations as they unfold.

The aircraft has a core processor that can perform a mind-blowing 400 billion operations per second.

This helps enable next-gen electronic warfare and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, but also helps to recommend the next target to attack and the best weapon to use.

Replacing Classic Fighters

Over the years, U.S. fighter fleets have been aging and becoming smaller.

There are three variants of the F-35, all of which will be replacing military aircraft. F-35A takes off and lands conventionally. The F-35B is capable of short-take off and vertical-landing and the F-35C is carrier-based.

For the U.S. Air Force, the F-35 variants will replace the A-10 Thunderbolt II and F-16 Fighting Falcon. For the U.S. Navy, they will replace the F/A-18 Hornet. The U.S. Marine Corps will be replacing the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier with F-35s.

Ballet dancer turned defense specialist Allison Barrie has traveled around the world covering the military, terrorism, weapons advancements and life on the front line. You can reach her at wargames@foxnews.com or follow her on Twitter@Allison_Barrie.

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Falcon Shield launches electronic attacks to take control of drones

Artist's impression. (Credit: Credit Finmeccanica-Selex)

Artist’s impression. (Credit: Credit Finmeccanica-Selex)

A new technology unleashes electronic attacks on enemy drones, enslaving them to its will.

Made by Finmeccanica-Selex ES, the Falcon Shield technology lets the good guys gain control of drones and land them safely.

Related: Anti-drone shoulder rifle lets police take control of UAVs with targeted radio pulses

Recently unveiled, Falcon Shield finds, fixes, tracks, identifies and defeats drones. Mini-drones are becoming a growing security concern, as evidenced by the quadcopter drone that crashed onto the White House grounds earlier this year.

The threat

Small-sized drones are cheap, widely commercially available, simple to assemble and easy to fly. These micro drones can be hard to detect and stop and could be used to attack targets by carrying threats like explosives or chemical and biological weapons.

The Falcon Shield is an adaptable system that can be deployed to protect VIPs. It could also be used to protect military convoys and patrols. Falcon Shield doesn’t need to be at a fixed location, and different versions of the technology can be carried by an individual or a vehicle.

On a much larger scale, Falcon Shield can be used to protect a military base or a skyscraper that acts as headquarters for a big corporation.

Related: The laser cannon that kills drones

Falcon Shield monitors an assigned area to detect potential threats and protect a specified location by going through five stages of engagement.

In the first stage, Falcon Shield locates both the drone threat and the ground station controlling it. The tech then uses this data to guide the next stage. To “fix” the target, radar and electronic monitoring work together with an electro-optical infrared camera.

The camera and radar then track and identify the threat. In the final phase, Falcon Shield focuses on defeating the drone. When Falcon defeats a drone it doesn’t just jam it. It seizes control of the drone.

How the technology takes control of the drones is shrouded in secrecy … but take control it does.  Say a micro drone is targeting a VIP, for example, the good guys can fly it away from the target. They can force it to land at a safe location where a team can investigate and fully neutralize the threat.

Ballet dancer turned defense specialist Allison Barrie has traveled around the world covering the military, terrorism, weapons advancements and life on the front line. You can reach her at wargames@foxnews.com or follow her on Twitter@Allison_Barrie.

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Futuristic warship design takes shape

What will warships look like in three decades? Meet the next-generation HMS Dreadnought.

The British Ministry of Defence and Royal Navy challenged young scientists and engineers to design a future warship and the results may surprise you. Defense procurement specialist Startpoint has released stunning images of what the futuristic ship could look like.

This cutting-edge ship concept has been dubbed Dreadnought 2050 in honor of the 1906 HMS Dreadnought, a Royal Naval battleship that eclipsed all other warships at the time.

Dreadnought 2050, made of futuristic material, features state of the art weapons, command center and more. The ship’s structure is made of ultra-strong acrylic composites that can be turned translucent so that crew can see through it.

This means that from the Ops Room, commanders could see through the hull and watch close-in battles play out.


The new Dreadnought would be equipped with a range of state-of-the art weapons like high-velocity torpedoes, speed-of-light weapons and drones constructed on the ship using 3D printers.

The graphene coated acrylic hull would be super strong.

At the bow, Dreadnought 2050 has an electromagnetic railgun that can fire projectiles as far as long-range cruise missiles can go today.

Along the sides of the ship there are missile tubes. These tubes can launch missiles faster than Mach 5 – a hypersonic speed. The futuristic vessel is also equipped with directed energy weapons to thwart incoming threats.

Related: CTruk taps THOR for new military workboats

In the outrigger hulls, there are torpedo tubes that fire supercavitating torpedoes that travel at more than 300 knots.  Supercavitating torpedoes can travel at such whopping speeds because they move through water in a sort of air bubble that reduces drag and friction.

Instead of a standard mast, Dreadnought 2050 has a tethered quadcopter that flies above the ship.

The quadcopter is equipped with multi-spectral sensors that provide critical data. But it is also armed with a laser to take out threats like enemy aircraft, missiles and more.

To provide the significant power these capabilities require, the quadcopter’s tether is made of carbon nanotubes that are cryogenically cooled.


A floodable dock, or “moon pool,” is incorporated into the design so that amphibious teams like SEALs or Royal Marines can rapidly deploy. The moon pool could also be used to deploy unmanned underwater vehicles on missions such as searching for explosive devices.

Above the dock there is an extendable flight deck and hangar that can be used for a fleet of weaponized drones.

A similarly-sized warship operating today would require about 200 crew, but the innovative warship would require less than half as many personnel. A current Ops Room, for example, could require 25 sailors to run it. Dreadnought 2050’s Ops Room could be run by as few as five Sailors.

Command Table

Dreadnought 2050 features an Ops Room with a 3-D holographic command table. The holographic image can be rotated and commanders can zoom in on specific parts of the battlefield.

From the Ops Room, five or six people can control all operations from the deepest parts of the ocean through to outer space. From underwater and sea surface through to land and air, all areas of operation can be displayed and reviewed. Crew can use smaller holographic pods to manage specific areas of operation.

Real time data can be transmitted including secure voice, video or data to wherever it is needed.


The Dreadnought 2050 warship is powered by a fusion reactor or highly efficient turbines. The turbines drive silent electric motors to water jets.

The graphene coating on the hull helps reduce drag and enhance speed. And the Dreadnought will have a low profile to ensure it is stealthy and hard to detect.

Ballet dancer turned defense specialist Allison Barrie has traveled around the world covering the military, terrorism, weapons advancements and life on the front line. You can reach her at wargames@foxnews.com or follow her on Twitter@Allison_Barrie.

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Thought-controlled planes are in our future

Thought-controlled planes are in our future

Why pilot a plane with your hands and feet when you can do it with your brain? Thought-controlled flight could be arriving soon, according to the EU-funded “BrainFlight” project.

A team of scientists from the Institute for Flight System Dynamics and the Berlin Institute of Technology says it has translated brain impulses into control commands, enabling pilots in a plane simulator to achieve a range of remarkably precise maneuvers without touching the controls or pedals.

Wearing a cap with lots of cables attached, pilots in the simulator were able to land a plane simply by looking at the screen and moving the control stick with their thoughts, correcting the plane’s position repeatedly until it landed.

To achieve the breakthrough, the researchers connected electroencephalography (EEG) electrodes to a cap to measure the pilot’s brain waves. An algorithm created by Berlin Institute of Technology scientists enabled a program to decipher the brain waves and convert them into commands fed into the plane’s control system.

Once it’s perfected, brain-controlled flight could reduce pilot workload and increase safety. Freeing up pilots’ hands would give them freedom of movement to manage other manual tasks in the cockpit.

The German team conducted its experiment using seven test subjects with a range of flight experience, including one who had no experience whatsoever.

The team reported that all seven, flying the plane only with their thoughts, managed to achieve accuracy that would meet some flying license requirements. Astonishingly, even the participants with little or no prior training succeeded in landing the planes.

One participant was able to follow eight out of 10 target headings with only an incredibly small 10-degree deviation. Another was able to land within only a few meters of the runway’s center line.

Some even managed their approach in poor visibility conditions.

Imagine what trained military pilots might be able to do with this technology.

In 2010, British researchers revealed that fighter pilots, despite being more sensitive to irrelevant and distracting information, have significantly greater accuracy on cognitive tasks. When scientists looked at MRI scans, they found that pilots have a white matter microstructure in the right hemisphere of their brains that is different from non-pilots’.

The German team’s achievement isn’t the first of its kind.

Last year, a team from the University of Minnesota announced that it had flown a model helicopter through an obstacle course using thought alone. As in the German system, electrodes were attached to the pilot’s scalp, and his brain waves were used to guide the aircraft.

Creating a mental image altered brain activity in the motor cortex, which was recorded by the electrodes. A computer program deciphered the signals and translated the pilot’s intent.

To move the helicopter in a particular direction, a user imagined clenching his or her hands. To go left, for example, the pilot pictured clenching the left hand. To go up, he clenched both hands.

Ultimately, the developers of the mind-controlled helicopter hope to adapt their technology to direct artificial limbs and other medical devices.

In another example, in 2010, a team at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign announced it had flown an unmanned aircraft at a fixed altitude with the ability to adjust headings in response to the pilot’s thoughts.

What’s next?
The TU München scientists are now researching how control systems and flight dynamics must be altered to accommodate brain control.

For example, pilots flying with their hands feel resistance in steering. But this sort of feedback doesn’t happen in brain-controlled flying.

The next step is to find ways to provide this sort of critical feedback without physical contact.

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Robotic cops to monitor traffic in space

Robotic cops to monitor traffic in space


War Games

Published February 06, 2014


In the absence of red and green lights to control traffic in space, a team of scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is developing mini-satellites that will work as “traffic cops” to help prevent collisions.

The threat of collisions in space is serious: If a military satellite is hit and damaged, it could mean loss of communications, visual information on the ground and GPS for deployed troops. There is also a serious threat to spacecraft with humans aboard, like shuttles and the International Space Station.

It’s the stuff of movies. Anyone see “Gravity”?

But it’s a real threat too, one that escalates as the quantity of space debris grows. According to NASA, more than 500,000 pieces of space junk are orbiting the Earth, and some of them are traveling at crazy speeds – as in 17,500 mph, more than fast enough for a tiny fragment of orbital debris to cause damage to a satellite or a spacecraft.

But what if we had a force that could act as a sort of satellite traffic control, one that could stop collisions, help control space traffic and, very importantly, prevent satellites from colliding?

The answer is the STARE (Space-Based Telescopes for Actionable Refinement of Ephemeris) mission, which was launched to help avoid space collisions. Ultimately, the plan is to create a constellation of “space cop” nano-satellites that will operate in low earth orbit.

It is incredibly hard to accurately predict a satellite’s location in low earth orbit at any moment, largely because of uncertainties like atmospheric drag, which creates errors in tracking satellite position and velocity.

To cope with these errors, the Space Surveillance Network has to repeatedly observe the nearly 20,000 objects it tracks.

But even with all this effort, the accuracy of a satellite’s position in low earth orbit is only within about one kilometer – about 3/5ths of a mile.

Not knowing exactly where the space objects are located means that for every anticipated collision, there are about 10,000 false alarms. And the false alarms create a “Chicken Little” effect: when there is a collision warning, satellite operators think it is just another false alarm, and they seldom move their assets.

The STARE mission aims to reduce this kilometer of uncertainty down to 100 meters or less, which would dramatically reduce the number of false alarms.

Now the Lawrence Livermore team, led by Wim de Vries and lead engineer Vincent Riot, has proven it can be done.

To demonstrate the new technology, the team chose as its target the NORAD 27006 satellite.

The scientists used six images taken by a ground-based satellite over a 60-hour period to prepare. Then they took four observations during the first 24 hours of the test mission for calculations, and they were able to predict NORAD’s trajectory to within less than 164 feet over the next 36 hours, a very promising number since the team had hoped to reduce uncertainty only to about 328 feet.

Then, from the ground, the Livermore team changed the orbit of the satellite. Their findings were published in the recent Journal of Small Satellites.

Ultimately, when their “traffic cop” is deployed to space, it will perform the same sorts of observations and analysis in orbit that the scientists made on the ground. When development is completed, it will prevent all sorts of collisions: satellite with satellite, satellite with debris and more.

And all of that without a whistle.

Ballet dancer turned defense specialist Allison Barrie has traveled around the world covering the military, terrorism, weapons advancements and life on the front line. You can reach her at wargames@foxnews.com or follow her on Twitter @Allison_Barrie.

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Star Trek Replicators for the US Army

In my ongoing efforts to explain that 3d printing is THEE revolutionary invention of today…  The US Army is now using 3d printing for onsite manufacturing of equipment in war zones.  Star Trek style replicators are here.  Now.


Star Trek replicators for the Army


Published January 10, 2013


  • 3D Replicator Knife.jpg

    A design for a knife made from a 3D printer to help dismounted soldiers probe for IEDs. The tool had to be plastic so as to not conduct with any IED surfaces it might uncover. (Army Rapid Equipping Force)

  • 3D Replicator Flashlight guard design.jpg

    A commonly used Army-issue flashlight has raised, exposed button that allow the light to be accidently turned on in pocket or pouch. This guard was developed and printed to prevent accidental power up and to save batteries. (Army Rapid Equipping Force)

  • 3D Replicator Flashlight guard.jpg

    A commonly used Army-issue flashlight has raised, exposed button that allow the light to be accidently turned on in pocket or pouch. This guard was developed and printed to prevent accidental power up and to save batteries. (Army Rapid Equipping Force)

  • 3D Replicator thermal cameras.jpg

    Soldiers needed a way to see immediately right or left of a vehicle. This camera system was developed and printed in a lab, including CNC-made mounting brackets and a 3D-printed monitor mount. (Army Rapid Equipping Force)

There’s a new force on the front lines, and it’s anything but out of this world.

Remote operating bases in Afghanistan are using Star Trek-style replicators, 3D printers capable of fabricating on the spot whatever the Army may need — from replacement vehicle parts to an entirely new piece of technology.

The Army’s Rapid Equipping Force (REF) worked with Applied Minds, Inc. and Exponent to make the science fiction dream a reality.  Thanks to their efforts, a lab equipped with the 3D printers is only a helicopter ride away.

‘[It’s] basically like a huge glue gun.’

– Westley Brin, product manager with the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force

While the locations cannot be released, the first two labs were posted to forward operating bases in Afghanistan. The third is currently under construction and due to deploy around June this year.

There are four types of computer-driven replicator: 3D printers, CNC mills, laser cutters and water cutters.

The state of the art lab is contained in a 20,000 pound, 20-foot long container that can be carried by a Chinook helicopter. It’s equipped with a 3D printer and a CNC mill, machines that resemble very large microwaves.

With them an engineer can build essentially anything.

How does it work?
“Soldiers walk into the lab and say, ‘this is my problem.’ The PhDs then do the work and show it to the soldiers. The soldiers give them feedback,” and they work together tinkering with the tech until it is exactly fit for purpose, explained Westley Brin, product manager with the REF.

The team uses software similar to that an architect would use, like CAD or computer-assisted design programs, to design their solution in the battlefield. After a design is drawn, they send the file to the 3D printer or the CNC.

3D printers, sometimes called rapid prototypers, take glue or resin and layer it to build the design from scratch.

Brin describes their 3D printer as “basically like a huge glue gun. When you pick up the object created, you can feel the ridges because it builds the object layer by layer. That’s why it’s so fragile.”

The 3D printers can make only softer plastics that last for a month or two — it’s a short-term solution in the field. They can also build several soft models and send them back to the U.S. or anywhere else for volume manufacturing.

CNC mills work differently: Using a drill bit, they take a hunk of aluminum or metal and carves it out as a human would carve a sculpture.


REF and the labs use the Broad Agency Announcements (BAA) site to solicit solutions. Anyone can submit a solution and if they think it shows promise they will send someone out to take a look. Know a MacGyver up for creating something for the troops? Check out the site.

A CNC can cut parts from more durable material; Brin describes its output as the “end-all, be-all piece” — meaning it isn’t a stop-gap but a screw, knife, distributor cap or whatever that can be used for the duration.

The lab also lets technicians dial out of Afghanistan to anywhere in the world for advice, whether it’s the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, a college professor or a 13-year-old girl. Anyone with a bright idea to solve the problem or improve the current solution is accessible.

From several thousand miles away, the pinch-hitting engineer can design and feed a solution to the lab in Afghanistan, where the 3D printer and CNC will work overnight. When the team arrives in the morning, presto, a new part is waiting.

What does it make?
Project Powerhand is one of the labs many success stories. Soldiers in Afghanistan use hand-held, ground penetrating radar to detect mines — devices with a very limited battery life.

By creating tech that took the lifespan from 60 minutes to a whopping 36 hours, they immediately made soldiers safer and gave them a tool they could use on a three-day patrol.

Next in the replicator pipeline for the Army is a bigger printer that will combine the CNC and the 3D capabilities and most likely reside at a major base. The labs posted to forward operating bases will be able to communicate with this monster to produce parts as well.

As operations in Afghanistan draw down, the Star Trek-style lab will still have enormous utility, going out with the Army to accompany first-responders at natural disasters within 24 to 48 hours for example.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2013/01/10/star-trek-replicators-for-army/#ixzz2HjnNRuJd

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Invisibility Cloak Invented


Invisibility cloak now a reality, scientists say


Published November 13, 2012


  • duke university invisibility cloak.jpg

    Nov. 12, 2012: A member of the lab at Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering has made a giant leap toward creating an invisibility cloak. (Duke University)

Let’s hope Star Fleet perfects the technology before the Romulans get their hands on it.

Scientists have made the impossible possible, disappearing a cylinder by guiding light around it before putting those photons back on their original path — essentially bending light around the object. This new approach achieves invisibility where others have failed. With a catch, however: It only works from one direction.

The math is incredibly complex and the materials necessary difficult to produce. And while the underpinning concepts allow invisibility in microwaves and hold promise for radar, it won’t be easy to make it work at optical wavelengths, cautioned Duke University’s Nathan Landry and John Pendry of London’s Imperial College, who published their results in the journal Nature Materials.

‘We built the cloak, and it worked.’

– Nathan Landy, a graduate student at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering

Still, it’s a breakthrough six years in the making. The team made their initial discovery in 2006, a new approach to “transportation optics”: artificially structured stuff called meta-materials designed with specific properties. In this case, they move light around in particular ways to shape an electromagnetic signature, hiding an object from radar and some types of cameras.

Their “cloaking” concept ignited a meta-materials research boom and the field of invisibility exploded. But most of the most promising approaches to rely on meta-materials that reflect some of the incident light, making invisibility impartial.

This involved seeing a reflection of what lies behind an object. Now this team has introduced a diamond-shaped cloak allowing the edges to match up.

By doing so, they bent light around their 1 centimeter high, 7.5 centimeter wide cylinder without reflections.

“We built the cloak, and it worked,” said Landy, a graduate student working in the laboratory at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering. “It split light into two waves which traveled around an object in the center and re-emerged as the single wave minimal loss due to reflections.”

There are drawbacks to even this research effort, of course. It can only hide objects so small they are not visible to the naked eye, and that success has predominantly been in wavelengths longer than what the eye can, see such as infrared, microwaves and radio.

Although media reports have hyped the breakthrough as producing an invisibility cloak for Harry Potter, this is not the case. The ultimate result would not be flexible material.

It may prove a whole lot easier to hide objects from other waves such as from heat, magnetic fields or acoustics — think a “Get Smart” cone of silence.

For defense applications, much of the research focuses on meta-materials to make platforms from tanks, planes and helicopters to light tactical vehicles invisible – at least to certain light and sound wavelengths. BAE’s Adaptiv technology has shown huge promise in this area.

Next stop, invisible jet? Has anyone told Wonder Woman?

Ballet dancer turned defense specialist Allison Barrie has traveled around the world covering the military, terrorism, weapons advancements and life on the front line. You can reach her at wargames@foxnews.com or follow her on Twitter @Allison_Barrie.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2012/11/13/invisibility-cloak-now-reality-scientists-say/#ixzz2C8l854KB

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