Interactions between a material’s surface and the environment directly affect the material’s performance and impact the cost, capabilities and readiness of Department of Defense systems. Thin film candidates exist that would mitigate these performance limitations, but the high temperatures employed during thin-film synthesis and deposition exceed the maximum limits of many DoD-relevant substrates. The materials science field has struggled to address this incompatibility for decades, with little result.
DARPA created the Local Control of Materials Synthesis (LoCo) program to develop new methods of meeting the energetic requirements of thin-film deposition without using bulk heating. LoCo seeks to address the challenge in new ways by bringing together the expertise of diverse fields such as plasma physics, solid-state acoustic physics, surface science and photonics.
Breakthroughs in the area of thin-film synthesis could enable new capabilities across a range of defense technologies, in applications as diverse as erosion-resistant rotor blades, long-wavelength infrared missile domes, photovoltaics and artificial arteries.
Performer teams will address individual aspects of thin-film growth such as reaction activation energy and surface mobility. Successful team components will be integrated to deposit a DARPA-chosen challenge material on a substrate of interest to DoD. LoCo will use ongoing technical assessments to identify promising areas for initial transfer of program-developed technologies into DoD systems and to help guide selection of the challenge material.
Dr. Tyler McQuadedavid.firstname.lastname@example.org