Project 1 - Software Algorithm for Target Classification
Contract Vehicle: Subcontract with Lockheed Martin
Level of Maturity: Proof of Concept Developed, Modeling and Simulation Demonstrated
A robust system for classification and tracking of targets does not exist, there are many different approaches, but none have emerged as the industry standard. This would aid in the mass acceptance of unmanned and automated systems for surveillance, intelligence, and reconnaissance.
ErisTech currently has a contract with Lockheed Martin to develop a Level 0/Level 1 Data Fusion and Classification enginer for the Army's Future Combat Systems (FCS) program. ErisTech's current solution is on track to replace Lockheed's current solution and will be implemented into the final build.
The core of the Level 1 fusion system is the "tracker" that associates sensor data with targets to provide a consensus (fused) report of detected targets and their current location and other characteristics (e.g., previous travel path and current velocity and direction of travel). The Level 1 system is also required to report target classification.
Project 2 - Nanostructured Energy Sources
Contract Vehicle: DARPA SBIR Phase I Contract
Level of Maturity: Design Concept Developed
Nanostructured organics are the key to providing the next generation of energy collection and generation components. They are relatively cheap to produce, lightweight, ultra-efficient, and mimic natural proven processes.
Sandia researchers in Albuquerque , New Mexico , have discovered a class of nanoscale devices that can self-assemble when exposed to light. A potential application for these sub-microscopic structures is in splitting water molecules to generate hydrogen for use as fuel.
Researchers have already demonstrated that nanotubes, with platinum particles on the exterior and gold in the interior, can produce hydrogen when exposed to light. When growing gold wires within the nanotubes, the gold will only form in the core of a porphyrin nanotube. These wires are continuous and complete, not individual pieces of metal, and also form a gold ball at the end of the tube. The ball demonstrates some of the entire structure's electronic properties acting as a metal contact attached to a conductive metal wire. In certain applications, the porphyrin nanotubes can be dissolved by raising the pH of the aqueous solution leaving only a gold wire ending with a gold ball. (see Figure 2)
Figure 1 - Porphyrin nanotubeutilizes entire visible spectrum
Figure 2 - H 2 Production by Platinum-Micelle-Porphyrin Assemblies. Platinum catalyzes H 2 0 to H 2 using electrons from the SnP anion generated by the photcycle.
The device's hydrogen and oxygen generators use slightly different parts of the light spectrum but should be able to derive all their input-energy needs from the sun. In order to use solar power efficiently, light must be captured throughout the visible spectrum and the UV, and the porphyrin tubes are able to do that. They absorb out to about 700 nanometers in wavelength, so they get most of the visible and the UV, and then the tungsta uses UV and blue light to oxidize water to oxygen. (See Figure 1)
By downsizing the mechanism to the nanoscale, efficient solar-cell-like devices can be mass produced. But cost remains a major consideration before the process can produce industrial quantities of hydrogen because the nanotubes use expensive metals such as gold and platinum.
By using the technology described above, ErisTech was able to develop a lightweight solar-regenerative energy source system concept for DARPA (see Figure 3).
Figure 3 - The continuous system, during the daytime porphyrin-based photovoltaics are used directly for power needs. Some of the fuel cells are also run backwards for water splitting, which is then stored chemically as hydrogen and oxygen. Chemical storage is a more viable option compared to batteries in terms of efficiency and weight. The stored hydrogen and oxygen is fed into the fuel cells at night for continued use.