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Five programs receive research instrumentation awards from defense agencies

BLACKSBURG, Va., April 30, 2010 – Five Virginia Tech research programs have been awarded Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP) funding.

The program, which is administered through the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Army Research Office, and the Office of Naval Research, is for the acquisition of major equipment to augment current or develop new research capabilities to support research in the technical areas of interest to the U.S. Department of Defense.

Tamal Bose, professor of electrical and computer engineering and associate director of Wireless@VT, received $213,566 from the Army Research Office (ARO) to build a mobile cognitive radio testbed and to obtain a high performance spectrum analyzer. Cognitive radio provides radio flexibility, spectral awareness, and situation awareness; however, to provide robust and reliable algorithms, protocols, and applications for the highly mobile military environment, researchers need a realistic mobile wireless environment.

Scott Huxtable, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, received $175,000 from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) for an Ultrafast Optical Apparatus for Thermal Characterization of Nanostructured Materials. With this grant, Huxtable's Nanoscale Energy Transport Lab will develop a femtosecond laser system for examining nanoscale thermal transport within nanostructured composite materials. This system will aid in the development of new materials that will improve performance of a variety of devices including power electronics and thermoelectric coolers and power generators.

Dan Inman, the Goodson Professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of the Center for Intelligent Material Systems and Structures, received $313,950 from AFOSR for measurement equipment to improve the ability to research energy harvesting and multifunctional systems at the micro scale and enhance modeling and diagnostics research and research-related education. Programs such as energy harvesting, structural health monitoring, self-powered sensor nodes, and the characterization of functionally graded multifunctional composites share the need to make precise, non-contacting measurements in dynamic environments.

Timothy Long, professor of chemistry, received $103,000 in ARO funding for "Instrumentation for Research on the Design of Charged Macromolecules for Emerging Technologies." Charged macromolecules can be used to address energy generation, energy storage, sensors and security, water purification, personal protection, antimicrobials, and biotechnologies. Absolute molecular weight and ionic conductivity are important polymer parameters in the design of electro-active devices, and a fundamental understanding of the relationship of macromolecular structure and conductivity promises next generations of high performance coatings, membranes, and structural materials. The instruments will allow characterization of charged macromolecules and a more efficient mechanism for discovery of new ionic liquids and charged polymers. Location in a shared facilities laboratory will enable collaborations student training.

Andrew Kurdila, the W. Martin Johnson Professor of Mechanical Engineering, along with co-investigators Alex Leonessa, Dan Stilwell, and Craig Woolsey, received $440,000 for the creation of an autonomous vehicle network that will serve as an experimental testbed for decentralized estimation, approximation, and learning theory. The hardware will be used to provide experimental validation for theoretical developments under a $6.5 million Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative funded by the Army Research Office for which Kurdila is the principal investigator.