The Department of Defense has awarded an additional $ 2 million in funding to two international research collaborations involving Australian universities. The two projects were also extended for two years to expand their work under the Australia-United States program of the Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (AUSMURI).
The projects cover quantum computing and additive manufacturing.
AUSMURI is a nine-year, defense-focused, $ 25 million investment program that encourages Australian universities to collaborate with their counterparts in the United States to explore opportunities in designated topics. The program is funded by Defense’s $ 1.2 billion Next Generation Technology Fund (NGTF).
The fund was established in 2016 with $ 600 million to support research and development of technology for the “next defense force after the next”. Originally scheduled for 10 years, the fund was completed last year to $ 1.2 billion and extended until 2030.
AUSMURI complements the Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) grant program administered by the United States Department of Defense.
“Quantum” jumps could improve the technology of tomorrow’s battlefield
One of the extended projects aims to create knowledge that could one day enable error-tolerant quantum computers.
It brought together Griffith University, Sydney University of Technology and the University of New South Wales to collaborate with an American team led by Duke University, which includes the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns University Hopkins and Dartmouth College.
Co-lead researcher Dr Gerardo Paz Silva of the Center for Quantum Dynamics says quantum technologies promise to revolutionize the way we process and store information.
During the first three years, the collaboration successfully developed the basic tools at the theoretical and experimental levels and carried out proof-of-principle tests of the basic components, explains Dr Silva.
“Now we’re trying to push the idea into the real-life scenario, where factors like technological constraints or energy budgets, for example, have to be taken into account,” he says.
Dr David Kershaw, head of the Science Engagement and Impact Division, Department of Defense, said the Australian collaboration, which looked at quantum control based on an environmental scan in real time by spectator qubits, has enabled revolutionary advances in quantum detection and control.
“With their grant extension, by 2022 the project is expected to benefit the Quantum Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing STaR Shot and could improve distributed sensor networks on future battlefields,” said Dr Kershaw.
Dr Silva says the local and international ties created under AUSMURI have greatly benefited their progress.
He notes that each research group brings different expertise, some based on theory and others experimental. This means that everyone brings their own approach and their own philosophy on what is important to solve a problem.
“This in turn provided context and grounded the theoretical work, ultimately allowing them to adapt it to a concrete experimental set-up,” says Dr Silva.
“Conversely, it allowed experimental groups to understand the possibilities – for example, how advanced analytical tools can open up more information than is evident from the experimental data. “
And, as expected, sharing information about how different teams tackled similar challenges proved to be fruitful.
“There have been many examples where theorists and fellow experimenters have created suggestions leading to a productive exchange of technical ‘tips’ that have now been implemented in different labs,” said Dr Silva.
Dream Team’s breakthroughs to support rapid repairs in the field
The other recipient of top-up funding is the University of Sydney, led by chief researcher Professor Simon Ringer. They are working to create more robust and available materials through additive manufacturing.
Ultimately led by the University of Tennessee, the global research team is impressive, also bringing together researchers from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory of the US Department of Energy, University of California Santa Barbara, L Ohio State University, Iowa State University, Colorado School of Mines and Virginia Tech.
Dr Kershaw says their work on microstructure control in metal additive manufacturing not only generated new scientific knowledge, but was instrumental in creating a world-class additive manufacturing facility in Australia.
Project results are expected to support rapid field repairs of aerospace structures and land vehicles and offshore repairs of maritime vessels.
“So far our project has been extremely successful due to groundbreaking research into understanding new ways in which phase transformations work under the extreme conditions of additive manufacturing, which will help us design new materials with remarkable structural properties ”, explains Professor Ringer.
He says one of the most exciting aspects of working on the AUSMURI program is the flexibility that is offered to them. “While our funders welcomed what we came up with during the detailed application process, they also encouraged us to ‘follow the science’, which means that we are encouraged to follow interesting or useful developments. as we move forward rather than sticking strictly to the original plans. “
Prof Ringer adds that the flow of funding has allowed the project managers to build a team of dream researchers, attracting top players from Australia and the United States.
University of Sydney Assistant Vice Chancellor (Research) Professor Duncan Ivison says many Defense Science, Technology and Research (STaR) plans require complex delivery platforms, doing additive manufacturing an essential technological catalyst.
“This means we have to get to the bottom of materials science in order to apply additive manufacturing as a defense technology,” says Professor Ivison.
He says the breakthroughs of the collaboration are helping researchers understand how to qualify additive processes and materials for applications in Australia’s air, sea and land defense platforms.
Breakthrough in Coding for Quantum Computing to Benefit Emerging Tech Sector