Research for High Pressure Materials for DoD Underway

Research for High Pressure Materials for DoD Underway

DARPA’s Extended Solids program seeks to create stronger, lighter materials for applications like armor and propulsion using ultrahigh pressure phases.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) needs stronger, lighter, and more resilient materials that can be used in any number of applications from armor to lighter weights which allow for faster propulsion. DARPA’s Extended Solids program is currently doing research to establish a means to synthesize these materials and they hope to identify the process that will allow them to use ultrahigh pressure phases to potentially create new materials.

Military missions place tremendous stress on the materials used for defense weapons, vehicles, and other applications. As a result, the search for stronger, lighter, and more resilient materials is never ending. Some materials have proven to have high pressure phases that could yield performance improvements in a variety of defense applications provided the processes could be scaled to create stable materials in the quantities needed for the defense mission. Applications range from stronger armor to lighter weights which allow for faster propulsion, to greater resiliency in aerospace, ground, and naval platforms. DARPA’s Extended Solids program seeks to identify processes that enable stabilization and production of high pressure phase materials, without the limitations of scale introduced by current high-pressure processes, that exhibit properties far superior to those currently available for DoD applications.

“We seek the ability to access these ultrahigh pressure phases without having to use the ultrahigh pressures currently required to achieve them,” said Judah Goldwasser, DARPA’s program manager for this effort. “In the thermochemical world, the ability to synthesize the vast array of materials available both biochemically and synthetically is predicated on exploitation of multistep synthesis and stabilization strategies, so target materials can be produced through intermediates using methods and conditions mild enough to be viable.”

Through this program, DARPA seeks the development of analogous strategies that can be applied to the barochemistry, or ultrahigh pressure regime. This technology could fundamentally change the way high-pressure polymorphs/phases are synthesized, potentially opening a vast new material design space for exploitation.

Goldwasser stressed that the complex nature of this research effort requires diverse sets of skills and expertise to meet program objectives and milestones, and encouraged potential researchers to team with others to help ensure success.

To increase awareness of this program and attract potential researchers, DARPA has scheduled a Proposers’ Day workshop February 9, 2012 at the Executive Conference Center, 4075 Wilson Boulevard, third floor, in Arlington, Va. This meeting is in support of the anticipated release of a Broad Agency Announcement for Extended Solids. The purpose of this workshop is to introduce the research community to this effort and its goals, explain the mechanics of a DARPA research program and the objectives and milestones of this particular effort, and encourage collaborative arrangements among potential proposers who have the required expertise, facilities and capabilities to conduct research and develop in support of Extended Solids. Proposers’ Day details are available through a Special Notice. Interested researchers should register soon, as participation is limited to 100 (2 people per organization). Deadline for registration is 5:00 p.m. EST on February 6, 2012.

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