DSO's programs in the physical sciences focus on three areas: fundamental physics, novel physics-based devices and applications, and power. These focus areas provide a sound fundamental foundation by investigating concepts in their formative stages and steering their evolution to solve vital DoD problems.
Objectives: DSO is examining fundamental physics with an eye toward new methods of addressing long-standing DoD issues. Examples include research into the nature of light-matter interactions, the peculiarities of quantum mechanics, and the fundamental makeup of matter. Historically, research in these areas has led to tremendous advances in technology—the development of the laser, atomic clocks, and spectroscopic techniques such as those used in molecular screening apparatus and magnetic resonance imaging. Current DSO efforts in this area include programs investigating the slowing of light pulses through their interaction with materials, the generation and measurement of single photons, techniques for coherent atom interferometry, and other studies of fundamental physics. Another program is investigating techniques for utilizing laser-matter interactions to produce high-quality particle beams and tunable, monochromatic x-rays. The Optical Lattice Emulator program seeks to develop a new approach to the design of important materials and to serve as an early platform for novel exotic states of matter. These fundamental studies develop the in-depth understanding that lays the foundation for an entirely new generation of DoD applications.
Objectives: This focus area includes devices and applications based on cutting-edge physical science research; these programs pull the science directly out of the laboratory while pushing it toward answering questions relevant to a specific application. In effect, the goal of these programs is to take an evolving understanding of physical processes and develop the techniques to harness and control them. An example of this concept is the Precision Inertial Navigation Systems program, which aims to construct a navigation system composed entirely of atom-interferometer-based sensors. The common thread among all the programs in this area is the strong link among scientific discovery, an evolving understanding of physical interactions, and an unyielding focus on a particular application.
Objectives: One of the most critical needs on the battlefield is to minimize the logistics burden of the Warfighter in the field. This focus area is aimed at developing novel power generation technologies that reduce the logistics burden. It includes new materials and concepts for increasing the availability of portable power to the Warfighter and efficiently extracting, converting, and utilizing power onboard military platforms.