DARPA RFP for DSO Defense Sciences Research and Technology

TITLE:  DSO Defense Sciences Research and Technology

DARPA-BAA-11-65, amended

URL:  http://www07.grants.gov/search/search.do?&mode=VIEW&oppId=112994

DUE: Abstracts anytime before 07 February 2013

Full Proposals 07 February 2013


SCOPE:  Proposal abstracts and full proposals may be either basic or applied research. However, in all cases, proposers should demonstrate that their proposed effort is aimed at high-risk/high-payoff technologies that have the potential for making, in the 5-10 year timeframe, revolutionary rather than incremental improvements to national security, including emerging threats and operational challenges. While there is no specific requirement for cost and duration of the proposed effort, it is recommended that proposers include a timeline that plots the most critical issues on the path to success.  The following areas of research will be considered (please find extensive details in the full RFP/URL):

Physical Sciences:

Quantum Science and Technology:

Physics of Nano-Materials and Devices: DSO is interested in fundamental and applied research in nano-materials, design methodologies, and potential device application (e.g., navigation, communication, and sensing of chemical, biological, optical, infrared, acoustic, magnetic, and other signals of interest). Specific areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

• Nanostructured optical components enabling novel wavefront control

• Interaction of materials with their environment

• Unique material properties and capabilities available at the micro- and nanoscale

• Technologies for fabrication of particles and functional structures in the nano- and micro-to-millimeters size range, with arbitrary geometry

• Methods for precise measurement of forces and fields that lend themselves to deployment on mobile platforms (e.g., atom interferometry)

• New methods to achieve precise molecular recognition

• Integrated methods for continuous sampling of biofluids to monitor human physiological processes

Lasers and Photonics: DSO is interested in basic research in lasers and amplifiers, including laser materials, architectures, wavebands and applications (e.g., communications, imaging, spectroscopy), and fundamental photon/material interactions as enablers of novel photonic components including nano-photonic, micro-fluidic, and holographic. Specific areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

• Sources, detectors, and components enabling novel imaging modalities

• Novel laser implementations including operation in Medium Wave Infrared (MWIR), Low Wave Infrared (LWIR), visible, Ultraviolet (UV), and X-ray spectral ranges

• Modeling for next-generation laser design

• Photonic-based bio/chemical sensing and processing

• Integrated optical Nanoelectromechanical Systems (NEMS) /Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS) concepts

• Methods of high fidelity measurements of optical signals (e.g., single photon detection, optical waveform characterization, coherent image processing)

• Photonics-based approaches for multiplexed and direct analysis of human biofluids for nucleic acid and protein biomarkers

Material Science:

Basic Material Science Research: DSO is interested in exploring fundamental materials science for creating new defense capabilities. The importance of materials technology to defense systems is critical and longstanding – many fundamental changes in capabilities have sprung from new or improved materials. The breadth of this impact is large, ranging from stealth to advanced aircraft/spacecraft and engines. Specific areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

• The physical bases for the evolution of properties (e.g., structural, electro-magnetic, thermal, etc.) in materials

• The understanding, predicting, and capability to select and optimize for desired properties at the salient spatial and temporal scale (ato-, nano-, micro-, and macro- level)

• The development of ‘fast’ techniques for optimization, qualification, and implementation, with specific emphasis on reducing complexity and managing uncertainty

• Elucidating the hierarchical organization and topology that gives rise to macroscopically apparent functions in (strongly) correlated systems

• Topologically ordered material systems (e.g., biotic and abiotic ensembles and templated, directed assemblies)

• Strongly correlated assemblies and their emergent behavior

• Malleable/flexible material systems (e.g., materials that allow for dynamic control of properties at the local and global scale)

• Environmental degradation of materials

• Adaptive materials and structures

• Tools for rapid development, qualification, and implementation of material systems

• New materials capable of integration within the human system for sustained use in diagnostic or therapeutic applications

Structural Materials: DSO is interested in research aimed at creating new materials opportunities and discoveries that might change how the military operates. Specific areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

• High-performance polymers, metals, ceramics, and their composites

• Ultra-lightweight materials

• High strength fibers (e.g., carbon, polymer, ceramic)

• Damage accumulation and fracture

• Energy absorbing materials and structures

Functional Materials: DSO is interested in research aimed at adaptive electromagnetic and optical materials, novel metamaterials, and surfaces and interfaces with unique functionality. Specific areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

• Advanced electronic, photonic, and magnetic materials

• Phase change materials

• New polymeric materials with unique/extreme functional properties

• Materials based on unusual elements including the semimetals and metalloids

• Novel multi-sensor materials

• Biologically inspired materials

• Revolutionary armor systems

• Predictive approaches for new material discovery

• Materials for thermal management

• Novel materials for direct detection of human biomarkers in an unbiased manner (without antibodies or other affinity reagents) to provide information about an individual’s immunological status

• Biocompatible materials compatible for sustained use that do not interfere or induce physiological processes and whose properties (parent or degraded) are non-toxic

Power and Energy: DSO is interested in research that can lead to portable, efficient, high energy density and compact power technologies that increase our military’s reach, decrease the logistics burden, and improve the overall effectiveness, especially for distributed and net-centric operations. Specific areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

• Advanced energy storage

• Energy conversion

• Energy harvesting

• Micro-scale power sources

• Novel electric and magnetic materials

Manufacturing Science and Technology: DSO is interested in innovative research addressing reliable, robust, and cost-effective manufacturing technologies that meet DoD needs for critical defense-specific materials and components. Specific areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

• Nanofabrication and self-assembly

• Disruptive 3-D manufacturing techniques

• Polymer, composite, and ceramic synthesis

• Processing techniques that can be developed for rapidly synthesizing materials and structures at low environmental and fiscal costs


Basic Biology Research: DARPA is interested in fundamental and applied research in the biological sciences across all scales (e.g., quantum to ecological) to contribute to defense capabilities including development of synergies with other disciplines (e.g., information technology, micro/nanotechnology, manufacturing). While broad in scope, novel approaches to biomedical applications, biological warfare defense, and human performance optimization are of particular interest. Specific areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

• Technologies to engineer field medical therapies at the point of care, such as production of multiple drugs from a single pro-drug, or to adapt therapies for wide variations in body mass, metabolism, or physiologic stress

• Technologies for non-invasive and/or remote assessment of physiological status (e.g., vital signs, blood chemistry)

• Unique approaches for pre-symptomatic diagnosis of disease and health

• Bioelectronic and biophotonic interfaces (e.g., non-fouling implantable chemical and neural sensors)

• Devices for rapid synthesis and molecular analysis and real-time measurement and characterization of biomolecules and other biological structures

• Novel approaches for discovering unidentified microbes

• Bioprospecting, as defined as using microbial biodiversity for production of biotechnologically important products and industrial endeavors (e.g., medicine, discovery of new materials)

• Remote detection/characterization of naturally occurring or engineered biological substances

• Technologies that radically accelerate pre-clinical evaluation of the safety or efficacy of therapeutics and vaccines

• Approaches for, and technology devoted to, maintaining the general health of deployed troops

• New approaches for creating greater environmental adaptability

• Biological approaches to the growth of materials and devices

• New methods for direct manipulation and control of biomaterials (e.g., proteins) on length and temporal scales commensurate with biological processes

• Manipulation of protein conformation to maximize stability and control affinity of proteins

• New technologies to reduce the medical logistics burden in the field

• Biomolecular strategies for information processing or biological-based emitter/receiver communications including chemical signaling (e.g., olfaction) and other information transduction pathways

• Theoretical and experimental efforts supporting the understanding of intelligence and self organization in the natural world

• Theoretical and experimental efforts to understand the nature of consciousness

• Systems and components supporting the development of engineered intelligence

• Novel biomarkers whose continuous monitoring over a period of time provides real-time assessment of physiological processes (such as deviation from healthy status, healing rates, etc.)


Basic Neuroscience Research: DSO is interested in neuroscience research ideas enabling innovation in the science and technology for improved human performance, specifically to overcome the challenges encountered in the operational environment. The areas for research may span fundamental, applied, and computational neuroscience. Specific areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

• Approaches that minimize the after-effects of neurotrauma and promote faster, more complete recuperation, including penetrating and non-penetrating injuries

• Neuromorphic information processing systems and architectures, electronic devices, and robotic systems

• Environments, systems, and concepts for the evaluation of machine intelligence


• Understanding the human effects of non-lethal weapons

• Advanced signal processing techniques for the decoding of neural signals in real time, specifically those associated with operationally relevant cognitive events, including target detection, errors, and other decision-making processes

• Novel techniques and experimental methods for understanding the impact of stress on the brain (e.g., information processing, decision making, attention, and memory) with a specific interest in translating work on animal models to human populations

• Theoretical and experimental efforts to quantitatively describe and understand complex human neuroscience as it relates to social and economic systems

• Experimental efforts to understand the capability of using neural activity to induce and regulate an intended physiologic activity

Operational Neuroscience: DSO is interested in research aimed at the use of neuroscience tools and techniques to design systems, train individuals, and measure the cognitive state in military settings. Specific areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

• Adaptability and resilience of individuals to high stress environments

• Novel wearable neural sensors and recording technologies

• Real-time neural signal acquisition and analysis in applied environments

• Investigations into the cognitive state of warfighters during real and simulated task environments

• Novel interface and sensor designs for interacting with the central (cortical and subcortical structures) and peripheral nervous systems, with a particular emphasis on non-invasive and non-contact approaches

• New approaches for understanding and predicting the behavior of individuals and groups, especially those that elucidate the neurobiological basis of behavior and decision making

• New approaches for training individuals and teams, including embedded training and simulation

• Experimental efforts to link social cognition to issues such as group cohesion, leadership and followership, and education and training

• Understanding and improving team performance

• New approaches for improving rapid decision-making in chaotic or data-poor environments

Behavioral Neuroscience: DSO is interested in the exploration and explanation of neurobiological mechanisms that are responsible for a variety of human capabilities and which are influenced by behaviors in the virtual world, as well as the neurobiology of moral judgment, development, and action.

• Understanding attitude and habit formation, particularly when uniquely influenced by or highly plastic in response to virtual interactions

• New approaches for measuring human propensity to engage in violence against out-group members

• Understanding mechanisms important to mobilization into violent social movements and groups

• Investigations into pathologies resulting in warfighter accidents, misjudgments, and maladaptive behavior


Basic Mathematics Research: DSO is interested in both theoretical mathematics that provide the foundations for advanced science and technology programs, as well as applied and computational mathematics that will help ensure continued technical superiority. Potential applications should encompass interdisciplinary efforts that target and clarify the mathematical aspects of the other core technologies listed in this document. Specific areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

• Algorithms

• Geometric and topological methods

• Combinatorics

• Graph theory and network analysis

• Probability and stochastic processes

• Inverse methods

• Multi-resolution analysis

• Advanced computation, including theoretical and experimental efforts to understand and surpass the limits of current computing paradigms

• Novel approaches for determining and/or predicting an individual’s immunological status by continuously monitoring a biological network that considers variables such as quantified expression levels, simultaneous expression ratios of multiple biomarkers, periodicity and time

Testing and Demonstration:

DSO is interested in modeling and demonstrator technologies and platforms to perform testing and evaluation activities either physically (hardware) and/or virtually (software), for basic science technologies. These include, but are not limited to, the following areas:

• Materials

• Robotics

• Vaccines

• Medical countermeasures

• Physical Sciences

• Neuroscience

• Manufacturing proof-of-concepts


Dr. Jon Mogford, email:  [email protected].

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