U.S. Air Force Summer Faculty Fellowship Program

U.S. Air Force Summer Faculty Fellowship Program

U.S. Air Force Summer Faculty Fellowship Program

U.S. Air Force Summer Faculty Fellowship Program

AFRL/RD Kirtland AFB, NM and AMOS Site, Maui, HI

SF.10.01.B1213: Adaptive Control for Improved Laser Beam Pointing & Tracking

Carreras, R.A.

(505) 846-2711

Aircraft-based laser tracking systems are subjected to a range of disturbances that originate from the aircraft, the optical train, aero-optics effects, and the dynamics nature of the atmosphere. The existence of these disturbances, coupled with the unknowns associated with the targets of interest, combine to make pointing and tracking with a laser beam tracking system a formidable task. Aircraft platform disturbances are particularly troublesome because system modeling and system identification approaches do not accurately capture a sufficiently true representation of this dynamic plant. The objective of this solicitation is to have research conducted into developing adaptive control approaches to mitigate laser beam pointing and tracking errors generated by these disturbances while maintaining at least the minimum required bandwidth. In addition, it is desired that the application of advanced adaptive control techniques result in the extension of this bandwidth to more desirable values. All developed techniques should be robust to uncertainties in the system models as well as to sensor noise, and be shown to be stable in the sense of Lyaunov. Performance of techniques developed under this solicitation must be tested against current state-of-the-art algorithms to demonstrate their improved performance.


Liu, Yu-Tai and Gibson, J. Steve. “Adaptive control in adaptive optics for directed-energy systems." Optical Engineering (2007): 046601-1 - 13.

Ioannou, Petros and Fidan, Baris. Advances in Design and Control: Adaptive Control Tutorial. SIAM, 2006

Narendra, Kumpati S. and Annaswamy, Anuradha M. Stable Adaptive Systems. New York: Dover Publications, 2005

SF.10.01.B2132: Spectral Coherence Analysis Techniques for Improved Laser Beam Control of Jitter

Carreras, R.A.

(505) 846-2711

Many laser beam control systems are quite complicated and are constructed of many sub-systems. All these different distinctive subsystems can be very well individually characterized. However, the combination of all the different subsystems to form the larger complex beam control system and the coupling of the mechanical disturbances to this larger systems can be very difficult to quantify. This research topics explores the application of advanced Spectral Coherence, Multiple Coherence and Partial Coherence Analysis techniques to accurately identify disturbance sources, perform system and model identification to further mitigate the sources of the disturbance. Complicating the analysis further, the laser beam control system is usually on a mobile platform. The platform can either be a mobile ground platform, an airborne platform or a naval vessel. The addition of the platform dynamics and the unknowns of the complex laser beam control system, contributes to a direct effect of jittering the laser beam on target. Jitter smears the HEL beam on target, reducing its integrated intensity and therefore its target damage capability. This is generically referred as jitter error.

The objective of this solicitation is to have research conducted into developing quantitative, analytical tools using Spectral Coherence, Multiple Coherence and Partial Coherence Analysis approaches to extend resolution techniques in identifying uncertainties from unknown disturbances which in turn create laser jitter errors. In addition, since the application of these advanced analysis techniques will improve the resolution of the disturbances, it is desired that more accurate model identification of the plan would naturally occur. Therefore, knowing an accurate model of the disturbances and an accurate model of the plant would then give the researcher the ability to develop more precise, robust and optimal compensation designs.


Petre Stoica, Randolph Moses, Spectral Analysis of Signals, Peason/Prentice Hall, 2005

Julius S. Bendat, Allan G. Piersol, Random Data, Analysis and Measurement Procedures, Second Edition, Wiley-Interscience1986.

T.T. Georgiou, “An intrinsic metric for power spectral density functions”, IEEE Signal Processing Letters, 14(8): 561-563, August 2007.

SF.10.02.B1122: Theory of High Peak Ultra-short Pulse Laser Propagation and Nonlinear Matter Interaction

White, W.M.

(505) 853-4957

This work involves determining the mathematical and physical nature of high peak intensity laser pulse generation, propagation, and eventual laser-matter interaction. Femtosecond pulses at Terawatt and Petawatt power levels are at the center of our work, including single or multiple pulses at high repetition rates. Our research includes theoretical physics studies coupled with numerical simulation to understand how ultra-short laser pulses propagate and interact with matter. For example, one of our goals is to examine the deterministic and statistical nature of femtosecond laser-induced plasma filaments in air and the resultant propagation process. Proposed work under this topic should focus on applied mathematics and computational development (coupled systems of nonlinear partial differential equations of the nonlinear Schrodinger type); as well as the theoretical physics necessary to describe the process of laser-induced plasma formation and electromagnetic field coupling to plasma filaments. Candidates with demonstrated experience in this field (or applicable associated research) are desired from a variety of fields including, but not limited to: mathematics, applied mathematics, and theoretical physics. Selected applicants should expect to work with USAF staff, collaborating university faculty, and summer students at the graduate and undergraduate level. The goal of this work is to develop and integrate theory and computational model components, and to improve the applicability of this resulting research across the optical spectrum.


W.L. Boyd, Nonlinear Optics, 3rd Edition. Boston: Elsevier Inc, 2008

A.C. Newell and J.V. Moloney, Nonlinear Optics, Westview Press, 2003.


Nonlinear optics; Terawatt laser; Ultra-short pulse lasers; Plasma channels; Laser-induced filamentation; Nonlinear propagation; Petawatt laser; Optical Kerr effect; High peak electric fields; Laser-plasma interactions; Laser-material interactions; Laser simulations.

SF.10.02.B3915: High Power Microwave Source Research

Hendricks, K.J.

(505) 853-3915

Vacuum electronic sources over a wide range of wavelengths at high power density represent a current area of research interest for the Air Force Research Laboratory. These sources span the range from 1GHz L-band sources at gigawatts of power to 90GHz W-band sources at megawatts of power to THz sources at hundreds of watts of power. Each of these technology areas shares the extreme difficulties of coping with large power densities that stress current materials technology as well as the physical understanding of basic physics phenomenology of the sources operation. As such, this research area requires a strong coupling between experimental work, theory, and modeling and simulation.

This research area consists of the following foci of interest: 1) Novel vacuum electronic sources, operating in the range from 1 GHz to the THz regime; 2) New technologies, such as nonlinear transmission lines, that provide wide ranges of frequency tunability and agility; 3) Supporting technologies to enable these devices. This area comprises technologies such as new cold cathode materials, new electron collectors, new vacuum window technologies, new vacuum pumping technologies, and new pulsed power materials and topologies; 4) Adoption of advanced materials modeling to investigate new materials for all aspects of these sources. Efforts to improve each of these areas, with strong coupling between theory, experiment, and modeling, comprise a vital aspect of these research goals.

SF.10.02.B4707: High Performance Compact Pulsed Power Components

Heidger, S.L.

(505) 853-4707

Compact, reliable pulsed power for high power microwave (HPM) generation is of particular interest to the Air Force. These generators require either high peak power at relative low duty cycle and high field strengths, or high average power at high duty cycle and lower field strengths. Development of each specific HPM generator has its own unique challenges. However, all have in common problems associated with the exposure of various devices materials to extreme electromagnetic, thermal and mechanical environments. This topic focuses on studying and utilizing new materials - dielectrics, insulators, metals and interface coatings in the design of components of the compact pulsed power systems such as modulators, capacitors, switches and anodes for cold cathode sources. Fundamental studies on compact pulsed power generation and innovative material and engineering techniques are needed to reduce the size and mass of these pulsed power components. An effective research effort in any of these component systems will require a combination of theory, experiment and modeling.

An example of a research area that is within the scope of this topic is high energy density pulsed power capacitors. The energy density of pulsed power systems for high power microwave (HPM) systems remains limited by the storage capabilities of the dielectric sub-system, which may consist of either capacitors or solid dielectric lines. Gigawatt-class HPM systems generally operate from megavolts to hundreds of kilovolts with pulse durations no more than several hundred nanoseconds long. The state-of-the-art for commercially available pulsed power capacitors approaches 2 J/cc. However, in practice, repetition rate (as high as 100 pps), discharge rate <0.1 microseconds and lifetime requirements for HPM systems limit the energy density of these capacitors to less than 0.5 J/cc. However, advances in pulsed power switches, capacitors and cold cathode anode materials are necessary to develop compact, reliable electric power on directed energy systems as well as advanced air and space platforms. All these areas are within the scope of this topic.

SF.10.02.B9076: Advanced Gas Lasers and High Performance Computing Simulation of Multi-Physics

Madden, T.J.

(505) 846-9076

This research is comprised of the physical processes that underlie gas lasers: laser physics, optics, physical chemistry, spectroscopy, and fluid dynamics. Gas lasers use various mechanisms for generating a population inversion within the gas: chemical reactions, electric discharges, rapid gas dynamic expansion, and optically pumping. As a part of the generation of the population inversion, chemical kinetic processes may support or erode the inversion, having a significant impact upon laser performance in conjunction with spontaneous and stimulated emission of photons. Spectroscopy plays an important role here with broadening processes associated with the lineshape of the lasing transmission, measurement of intermediate species populations, determination of gas temperature, and visualization of the flow structure providing critical roles. With a population inversion in place, lasing action occurs with the optical physics interplay with the laser gain generated in the gas media dictating power extraction from the gas. Stable and unstable resonator configurations are used with novel resonator configurations being of interest. As all of these processes occur within a gas, fluid dynamics play a critical role with flow stability, unsteadiness, and transition in subsonic through supersonic flows from very low to high Reynolds numbers being significant. Research opportunities exist related to all of the above areas in both experimental and theoretical capacities. Within the theoretical discipline, modeling of these complex physical processes utilizing high performance computing on very large parallel architectures is a significant activity with research opportunities in the various associated disciplines being available.

SF.10.03.B4320: Algorithm Development for Electromagnetic Plasma Simulation

White, M.

(505) 853-8172

Electromagnetic and low density plasma simulations have been dominated by the finite difference time domain technique coupled with a particle-in-cell approach. This dominance has been fueled by the relative ease of implementation combined by the nominal second order accuracy the scheme provides. The robustness of the scheme, combined with highly efficient parallel programming has allowed researchers to solve challenging problems with high confidence. However, due to the increased resolution available through high performance computing, many limitations have been reached with the aforementioned scheme, such as accurate geometric representation, physically realistic representation of particle emission, correct simulation of subgrid forces, and efficient simulation of high density plasmas. Many of these issues are observable in real-world simulations as an increased error, dropping a nominally second order scheme to first order or below. This tendency is often seen in many of problems of interest to the Air Force Research Laboratory's Directed Energy Directorate (AFRL/RDH). For example, it is seen in simulations of high power microwave devices, and it represents a major issue in the design process.

The goal of this research is to advance the state-of-the-art in EM/EM-PIC/EM-Fluid/EM-PIC-Fluid hybrid/parallel computing for improved simulation capabilities of HPM sources. This work spans the realm from basic to applied research and should result in both publications and potential incorporation into our in-house 3D highly parallel EM-PIC code. The candidate will have the unique opportunity to develop algorithms from scratch, incorporate the algorithm in a multiphysics code, and validate against real-world problems currently being studied in the laboratory.

SF.10.03.B4500: Analysis of Strong Turbulence Effects on Laser and Speckle Propagation

Gudimetla, V.S.

(808) 875-4500

NOTE: This opportunity will take place at the research facility in Maui.

Although strong atmospheric turbulence is often encountered in many space (low elevation angles) and horizontal paths, no large efforts were made to analyze the problem critically via analytical approaches. Simulations based on phase screen approaches have been done and some mitigation methods have been invented. Some work has been done in characterizing the moderately strong optical turbulence and its effects on the histograms of the intensity. But no efforts were made to arrive at analytical expressions for various optical system parameters in deep turbulence. This field was active in late1970s and early 1980s and since then, no publications have appeared except in the subtopic of the histograms of intensity and some related efforts such as coherence length. Hence, to develop a clear understanding of the problem and to optimize the methods of mitigating the strong turbulence effects in such important applications as space based imaging and the design of adaptive optics systems, a critical examination of various phenomena in strong turbulence in spatial, temporal and related spectral domains is needed. Here, we propose to examine the role of Kolmogorov spectral wave numbers in affecting the various important optical parameters such as Fried coherence length, isoplanatic angle, spectra of figure and tilt and several other optical parameters and use this information to develop analytical expressions. We expect that the resulting expressions to be multi-dimensional integrals and will use USAF super-computing resources available locally to calculate the results and complete the problem by comparing the data with simulations from the phase screen approach and experimental data if needed. This analysis work supports several on-going projects in space imaging, sodium guidestar beacons and related problems and deep turbulence mitigation.

SF.10.03.B5387: Effects on Radio Frequency (RF) Radiation on Electronics

Clarke, T.J.

(505) 846-9107

Our research focuses on modeling the interaction between continuous wave (CW) and pulsed radio frequency (RF) fields and analog and digital electronics. This includes large scale finite difference time domain (FDTD) modeling of the propagation of RF energy to an electronic device and the internal field structure that is established, as well as modeling the coupling of energy to cables and electronic components and circuit traces. It also includes predicting the effect of this coupled RF energy on the functioning of the electronic circuit. In addition, we are interested in modeling effects on large scale electronic systems comprising very large numbers of such circuits. This research involves performing electromagnetic modeling, as well as building new models describing the interaction with electronics and comparing the results from these models with experimental data to validate and improve the models.

SF.10.03.B6642: State-of-the-Art, Massively Parallel Computational Electromagnetics

Greenwood, A.D.

(505) 846-6642

Basic research in computational electromagnetics produces promising new techniques in terms of scaling and problems that can be solved. However, results for these techniques are often shown only for a few small test cases. Before the new methods can make an impact on production level simulations, more work is needed for validation and verification as well as to show that the techniques can be implemented fully in three dimensions and can scale to large numbers of processors on modern parallel architectures. Parallel implementation and scaling becomes an even larger concern with the anticipated move to multicore computer architectures with increasing numbers of cores on a single chip, but not necessarily an increase in bandwidth for transfer to off-chip memory. Areas of interest include, but are not necessarily limited to, fast matrix solution techniques (including robust preconditioners, both dense and sparse matrices as well as sparse-dense matrices from finite element-boundary integral techniques, and matrix compression techniques), finite-element time-domain analysis (including implicit time-domain techniques, efficient solution of mass matrices on massively parallel architectures, local terminating boundary conditions, higher order basis functions, complex material modeling, antenna feed network modeling, and the efficient, accurate addition of charged particles to the method), finite element tearing and interconnect (FETI) techniques (including use of FETI to accelerate interprocessor communication, continuous and non-continuous mesh analysis for multi-scale problems, and use of FETI for modeling finite periodic structures).

SF.10.03.B9101: Simulation of Plasmas and High Power Microwave Devices

Mardahl, P.

(505) 846-8571

The Air Force Research Laboratory is at the forefront of high-performance computing for the Department of Defense. The High Power Microwave Division has a solid record of developing plasma and electromagnetic simulation software. Researchers use these codes to investigate various concepts involving collisional and collisionless plasmas, in collaboration with investigators at other laboratories to help design and diagnose a variety of experiments. The HPM Division has access to some of the most advanced high-performance parallel computing platforms available, including machines with 1000s of CPU. Over the past few years, the division has developed portable, parallel, three-dimensional plasma physics simulation codes for complex geometries, using particle-in-cell (PIC), multi-fluid, and hybrid approaches.

Our principal goal is to improve the state-of-the-art of plasma physics simulations to enable virtual prototyping of high-power microwave devices. As advanced Air Force weapons concepts move from the laboratory to the field, the size of the packages must generally decrease. This effective decrease in the characteristic length scale increases the relative importance of diffusive processes compared to convection. We seek applicants with strong backgrounds in physics and the application of large-scale scientific computation for plasmas and charged-particle beams that interact with complex structures.

SF.10.13.B1205: Modeling studies of complex nonlinear systems for defense applications

Bochove, E.

(505) 846-4639

Participants in the program are expected to perform analysis of complex nonlinear systems, the nature of which is subject to his or her choice.

Topics of special interest will be given priority, such as, for example: atmospheric propagation of laser arrays through deep turbulence with application to targeting and destroying enemy missiles; modeling of biological and physiological systems, including sensory and cognitive behaviors of the central neural system; pattern recognition; the spread and control of pandemics; the treatment of disease by medication, radiation or other therapies; ecological and environmental studies, including predictions of climate change and its effects; political, social and economic system modeling, etc.

New mathematical and/or computational methods are sought, e.g. based on neural-net techniques, but the features in the models of nonlinearity, feedback, scaling capacity and complexity, massive interconnectivity, or others relevant to the proposed subject, are desired. Phenomena of interest include bifurcations and instabilities, chaos, and self-organization, but mathematical models should be founded on empirical precedent.

SF.10.17.B0001: Rayleigh beacon adaptive optics on a small telescope

Johnson, R.

(505) 846-6699

AFSPACE needs affordable, small, portable telescopes for space situational awareness applications, such as distinguishing closely spaced objects at low-Earth orbits up to geosynchronous-Earth orbit. This research topic would model, design, and build a Rayleigh beacon adaptive optics system for a 1-m telescope. Candidates would have a background in laser beacon adaptive optics and would have at least a secret clearance (or could receive one before starting). They must also be a U.S. citizen.

SF.10.18.B0001: Automation, Testing, and Demonstration of a Remote, Amateur Telescope for STEM Outreach at AFRL Maui

Swindle, R.

(808) 891-7746

The faculty member will revitalize and automate an 11" amateur telescope located at AFRL's Remote Maui Experiment (RME) on the island of Maui, Hawaii. Currently, the telescope -- named the "Aloha Telescope" -- requires mostly human-in-the-loop operation and suffers from several technical deficiencies, e.g. weather monitoring/synchronicity, object acquisition, accurate pointing, and hardware rebooting post-failure, to name a few. While at Maui, the faculty member will address these deficiencies as well as test subsequent autonomous operation and develop a very simple "go" script that will allow classroom teachers & K-12 students to task the telescope remotely. In addition to these technical challenges, the faculty member will assist in development of a local outreach program on Maui that can utilize this Aloha telescope to expose K-12 students to the night skies. This program would include, e.g. procedures, labs, teachers' aids, and self-assessment diagnostics. By summer's end, the faculty member should be able to demonstrate in-class use of the Aloha Telescope to both local and mainland based K-12 classrooms.

SF.10.19.B0001: AFRL New Mexico Tech Engagement Office

Fetrow, M.

(505) 620-5204

The AFRL New Mexico Tech Engagement Office (AFRL/RDMX) supports the AFRL Directed Energy Directorate (RD) and Space Vehicles Directorate (RV) in the following areas: Technology Transfer, Economic Development, Small Business Outreach and Media Relations/Corporate Communications. Areas of interest include: Federal Laboratory intellectual property processes as well as Patent License Agreement, Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA), Education Partnership Agreement, Commercial Test Agreement, Information Transfer Agreement, and Material Transfer Agreement opportunities.

AFRL/Directed Energy

Dr. Donald A. Shiffler, ST
Chief Scientist, Directed Energy
Air Force Research Laboratory
3550 Aberdeen Ave SE, Bldg. 497
Kirtland AFB, NM 87117-5776
Telephone: (505) 846-0862
E-mail: donald.shiffler@us.af.mil

Dr. Jeremy Murray-Krezan
Assistant Chief Scientist, Directed Energy
3550 Aberdeen Ave SE, Bldg. 497
Kirtland AFB, NM 87117-5776
Telephone: (505) 846-3950
E-mail: jeremy.murray-krezan@us.af.mil