Defense Advanced Research Projects AgencyTagged Content List

Fundamental Physical Science

Pushing the boundaries of knowledge of the physical sciences

Showing 110 results for Fundamentals RSS
Defense applications, such as geo-location, navigation, communication, coherent imaging and radar, depend on the generation and transmission of stable, agile electromagnetic radiation. Improved radiation sources—for example, lower noise microwaves or higher flux x-rays—could enhance existing capabilities and enable entirely new technologies.
Typically, the performance of measurement devices is limited by deleterious effects such as thermal noise and vibration. Notable exceptions are atomic clocks, which operate very near their fundamental limits. Driving devices to their physical limits will open new application spaces critical to future DoD systems. Indeed, many defense-critical applications already require exceptionally precise time and frequency standards enabled only by atomic clocks. The Global Positioning System (GPS) and the internet are two key examples.
Biological sensors often display high sensitivity, selectivity, and low false alarm rates while being fabricated and operated in dirty, noisy natural environments. Attempts to emulate these sensors synthetically have not fully met expectations. Recent evidence suggests that some biological sensors exploit nontrivial quantum mechanical effects to produce macroscopic output signals. Examples of such sensors include the highly efficient energy transfer properties of photosynthesis in plants, bacteria, and algae; magnetic field sensing used by some birds for navigation; and the ability of some animals to detect odors at the single molecule level.
The Quantum Orbital Resonance Spectroscopy (QORS) program will lay the scientific foundation for novel neurodiagnostic capabilities by combining recent advances in quantum photonics with Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Spectroscopy (MRI/MRS). QORS seeks to measure changes in neurochemical concentrations—seen in a range of neurological conditions injuries—without the large, super-conducting magnet used in traditional MRI and MRS, thus leading to the development of a noninvasive, compact neurodiagnostic for assessing traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The Department of Defense requires secure communications, but the broad availability of advanced communications technology possessed by adversaries makes it increasingly difficult to ensure the integrity and confidentiality of DoD information. The science of quantum communications—in which single photons from entangled photon pairs are transmitted over a distance—offers the possibility of unconditionally secure communication because the act of measuring a quantum object changes it. For quantum communications to be practical, however, several technological barriers must be overcome.