TARDEC Scientists Awarded 2010 Research Grants to Pursue Sensor-Enhanced Armor Technology


DETROIT ARSENAL, WARREN, MI – The day when U.S. Soldiers will drive “smart-armor” vehicles that tell occupants when they are damaged has moved closer to reality. Scientists at the U.S. Army Tank Automotive, Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) have been awarded military funding to develop the crucial technology needed to support the system.

TARDEC Research Scientist Dr. Thomas Meitzler and Computer Engineer Dr. Elena Bankowski were awarded a 2010 Pilot Independent Lab In-House Research (ILIR) Grant and a 2010 Innovation Grant from the Army to pursue basic research and development of an experimental spin-torque nano-oscillator – a spintronic sensor – that will detect radar and changes in microwave radiation waves when vehicle armor is penetrated and damaged. When embedded in vehicle armor, the sensor would help warfighters quickly and accurately analyze the condition of the plates.

“Procurement of these grants is a significant scientific achievement that will help TARDEC pursue crucial ballistics protection technology on behalf of our fighting men and women,” TARDEC Chief Scientist David Gorsich noted. “These grants were awarded on the basis of an external peer review from among hundreds of entries. They represent clear recognition among other scientific organizations that TARDEC is at the forefront of cutting-edge military research and development activities.”

Although spintronic sensor technology has been used by the Army in production of low-output antennas, Meitzler and Bankowski began exploring the theory that a synchronized series of sensors or antennas would amplify the power enough for use in radar and microwave radiation generation and detection. Meitzler and Bankowski presented a white paper on their findings at the 2008 Army Science Conference and were awarded a first Pilot ILIR grant to pursue the theory in 2009. The 2010 awards allow the team to further develop their research and build a prototype device.

“The spintronic sensor is a quantum mechanical driven, solid-state device that is an important component in our sensor-enhanced armor program,” Meitzler commented. “We see this as one of the first steps toward producing armor that has more capability and can be used for different functions.

“This award is important for TARDEC because it helps put the organization on the map in terms of recognition,” Meitzler continued. “It also lets people know that this is a place where people are doing good fundamental research that addresses Army needs.”

TARDEC will collaborate with the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC) and Army Research Lab (ARL) on basic spintronic sensor research and development.

“We need to continue to place a heavy importance on research,” Bankowski remarked. “It is extremely important. It gives us technical superiority. We should continue to invest in new technologies that give us advantages on the battlefield.”

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Headquartered at the Detroit Arsenal in Warren, MI, TARDEC is the Nation’s laboratory for advanced military automotive technology and serves as the Ground Systems Integrator for all DOD manned and unmanned ground vehicle systems. With roots dating back to the World War II era, TARDEC is a full life-cycle, systems engineering support provider-of-first-choice for all DOD ground combat and combat support weapons, equipment and vehicle systems. TARDEC develops and integrates the right technology solutions to improve Current Force effectiveness and provides superior capabilities for Future Force integration. TARDEC’s technical, scientific and engineering staff lead cutting-edge research and development in Ground Systems Survivability; Power and Mobility; Intelligent Ground Systems; Force Projection; and Vehicle Electronics and Architecture. TARDEC is a major research, development and engineering center for the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM) and partner in the TACOM Life Cycle Management Command.

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