Research Programs from BAA - Electronics

1.0 Overview

Electronic components are recognized as key force multipliers in today's Army and will remain so for the foreseeable future. To maintain our technological advantage, the U.S. Army Research Office's Electronics Division seeks to support scientific and engineering endeavors in research areas that possess the potential to define new electronic capabilities or to enhance future electronic performance. The Electronic research subareas are Nano and Bioelectronics, Optoelectronics, Electronic Sensing, Electromagnetics, and RF Frequency Electronics.

1.1 Nano and Bioelectronics

This research area emphasizes efforts to discover and create unique phenomena at the nanoscale with the use of nanoscience, bioscience, and the combination thereof in an effort to provide novel electronic technological capabilities for defense-related applications such as sensing, data acquisition, information processing, communications, target recognition, and surveillance.

To establish the needed science base for future Army battle-space capabilities, innovative research is sought in areas involving mesoscopic quantum phenomena, internally and externally induced stimulus, and novel transport and electromagnetic interaction effects in nanoscale electronic structures. This fundamental research will address issues related to design, modeling, fabrication, testing and characterization to include the ability to individually address, control, and modify structures, materials and devices, and the assembly of such structures into systems of nano and microscopic dimensions. This research will seek to discover and develop novel electronic materials, advance processing and fabrication science, and identify advanced device concepts with revolutionary capabilities. Scientific opportunities in this research include, but are not limited to, quantum-confined structures (nanotubes/nanowires/nanodots) and large-scale precise alignment and integration of these structures to create collective interactions; mesoscopic transport phenomena in two-dimensional (2-D) atomic crystals and their heterostructures; spintronic, valleytronic, and mixed domain (charge/spin/quantum) device concepts based on topological insulator and other emerging nanomaterials; heterogeneous integration of different nanostructures into complex functional nanosystems; novel nanostructures/systems for efficient generation, transmission, and detection of electromagnetic radiation, especially those covering the THz spectral range.

The bioelectronics subarea is concerned with investigation of nanoscale electronic phenomena and processes in biological environment. The goals of this subarea are to 1) develop new mechanisms to interface with and manipulate molecular and biological systems; 2) explore biomimetic approaches to new electronic circuit functionality based on the detailed understanding of biological electrical and magnetic phenomena. Multidisciplinary approaches linking nanoelectronics and neurology, synthetic biology, genetics, biomimetics, etc., are highly desirable and encouraged. Scientific opportunities in this research include, but are not limited to, biocompatible nanomaterials for biotic-abiotic interface such as that between neurons and electronics materials; imaging, interrogation, and control of biomacromolecules, biological cells, neurons, and other bio-nanostructures utilizing electromagnetic wave spanning DC to THz, and optical frequencies; nanomaterial/strucutre platforms for artificial synthetic neuronal growth and biohybrid neural circuits incorporating both networks of synthetic neurons and nonbiological nanoelectronic structures/components; neuromorphic and biomimetic nanodevices/systems which exploit intrinsic material or structure physical limitations such as variability and stochasticity to create unprecedented capabilities; synthesis and fabrication of hybrid bio-nanostructures utilizing DNA origami self-assembly or other xenobiotic functional nanoscaffolds. Biologically inspired sensors and transducers based on semiconductor, hybrid molecular-semiconductor, and other hybrid organic-inorganic nanomaterial combinations are also included in this sub-area.

Technical Point of Contact: Dr. Joe Qiu,, 919-549-4297.

1.2 Optoelectronics

Research in this subarea includes novel semiconductor structures, processing techniques, and integrated optical components. The generation, guidance, and control of UV/optical/infrared (IR) signals in both semiconductor and dielectric materials are of interest. The Army has semiconductor laser research opportunities based on quantum dot and quantum well semiconductor materials operating in the eye-safe (>1.55), 3 5, 8 12, and 18-24 microns regions for various applications, such as ladar, IR countermeasures, and free space/integrated data links. Crystalline and amorphous wide-bandgap semiconductor materials are of interest for lasers and detectors operating in the ultraviolet and visible regime. Research is necessary in semiconductor materials growth and device processing to improve the efficiency and reliability of the output of devices at these wavelengths.

High-performance devices and components will be optimized for applications including high-data-rate optical networks. Interfacing of optoelectronic devices with electronic processors will be investigated for full utilization of available bandwidth. Electro-optic components will be studied for use in guided-wave data links for interconnections and optoelectronic integration, all requirements for high-speed full situational awareness. Optical interconnect components are needed in guided-wave data links for computer interconnection and in free-space links for optical switching and processing. For optical processing of images, research leading to 2-D arrays of surface-emitting lasers is necessary. Research addressing efficient, novel optical components, such as optical micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMs) is needed. Emitters and architectures for novel display and processing of battlefield imagery are important.

Technical Point of Contact: Dr. Michael Gerhold,, (919) 549-4357.

1.3 Electronic Sensing

he ultimate goal of Army sensing is 100 percent situational awareness to include day/night, all weather, non-line-of-sight and through natural and man-made obstructions for sensing of vehicles, personnel, weapons, chemical and biological threats, projectiles, explosives, landmines, IEDs, and motion. Sensing technologies of interest to this research subarea currently include acoustic, seismic, passive electromagnetic, magnetic, hyperspectral, and infrared. Novel techniques that enhance the stimulus-response characteristics of nanostructures and semiconductor devices are of interest. Other innovative sensors that meet an Army need are also welcome; however, chemical, biological, and radar sensing techniques are generally funded through other subareas as is image processing. Novel infrared or multispectral detectors and structures are of particular interest. Efforts are sought that raise the operating temperature and reduce the cost of "cooled," high-performance, infrared detectors, as well as efforts that increase performance of "uncooled" infrared detectors. Research opportunities include components based on quantum confined devices and semiconductor materials operating in the infrared 1-24 microns regions. Also of interest is the ultraviolet spectral region. In both regions, fundamental studies involving growth, defects, interfaces, substrates, doping, and other electronic characteristics will be considered.

Technical Point of Contact: Dr. David M. Stepp, email:, 919-549-4329.

1.4 Electromagnetics and Radio Frequency Electronics

This program area is concerned with the investigation of electromagnetic (EM) and radio frequency (RF) phenomena for integrated antenna arrays, multifunctional antennas, EM power distribution, and new sensing modalities. It also explores acoustic phenomena and new concepts for circuit integration for greater functionality, smaller size/weight, lower power consumption, and enhanced performance, with focus in the frequency regime from low to terahertz frequencies.

This area addresses the science behind new approaches to the generation, transmission, and reception of EM power and signals. Emphasis is placed on the HF through terahertz spectrum; however, novel ideas at lower frequencies down to direct current may be addressed. In the RF regime orders of magnitude improvements in systems performance, cost, weight, reliability, size characteristics, and functionality will be sought. Issues include the coupling of EM radiation into and out of complex structures, antennas, both active and passive, transmission lines and feed networks, power combining techniques, EM-wave analyses of electrical components, and EM modeling techniques. Thermal problems stemming from the concentration of higher and higher power into smaller and smaller volumes will be addressed. Antenna research will break away from the methodologies that were developed for continuous-wave, narrowband, steady-state operation to invent new design techniques, architectures, and materials that can dramatically increase the radiation efficiency and bandwidth of tactical antennas while simultaneously reducing their size and signature. The EM and acoustic detection and analysis of underground targets, landmines, and IED's will continue to be of interest. Unusual propagation effects in the atmosphere and gaseous plasmas offer new opportunities for sensing and detection. Army applications of this technology include communications (both tactical and strategic), command and control, reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition, and weapons guidance and control.

Technical Point of Contact: Dr. Joe Qiu,, 919-549-4297.


Last Update / Reviewed: January 20, 2015