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DescriptionResearch activities are focused as multi-disciplinary, multi-physics, multi-scale approach to complex problems, and fall into four areas: Coupled Material and Plasma Processes Far From Equilibrium, Nanoenergetics, High Pressure Combustion Dynamics, and Electrospray Physics.
Basic Research Objectives Research in the first area is to significantly advance the state-of-the-art in our ability to understand the fundamental aspects of a coupled plasma/material system in non-equilibrium states, for a variety of potential applications. The typical conditions of interest are characterized by critical phenomena in small spatial and temporal scales which affect the behavior over a much wider range of scales. Detailed understanding and control of non-equilibrium and multiscale effects have the potential to overcome the limitations of traditional plasma in thermodynamic equilibrium, leading to improved system designs; preventing or leveraging dynamic features such as instabilities, coherent structures, and turbulence; and realizing chemical pathways, structural changes or electromagnetic processes for novel devices with unprecedented level of control. Research in second area is the ability to possess smart, functional nano-energetics for propulsion purposes only. There has been tremendous progress in the synthesis and fabrication of nanosized reactive materials. With significant advances in quantum chemistry and molecular dynamics over the last decade, as well as a broader understanding of the properties of nanomaterials, it may now be feasible to design a priori nanostructured reactive materials to perform a given function and then produce them in the laboratory according to the design, in order to avoid simply reacting in an uncontrolled fashion. Smart nanoenergetics may be activated by temperature, pressure, the presence of a particular chemical compound, or external electromagnetic stimuli, such as an electrical field or light. By smart, it may be desirable to initiate a reaction at a particular temperature, to release a particular compound at a particular temperature, to turn on or turn off a reaction, have tailored ignition properties, or to accelerate or slow a reaction with time or location. Research in the third area is to allow the Air Force to capitalize on the higher efficiencies, and increased performance options made possible by taking rocket and other propulsion systems to increasingly extreme pressures. As this necessarily pushes materials and structures to correspondingly extreme limits, it becomes essential to take into consideration the dynamics of combustion processes, because higher pressures lead to increasing coherent dynamic aerothermochemical events that convert thermal energy to thrust in a wider spectrum of time scales. Mathematical and experimental analysis also leads to a "big data" problem. It becomes necessary to combine and dynamically integrate multi-fidelity simulations and experimental probing or monitoring to systematically perform modeling, analytics, stochastic modeling, and dynamic data driven validation for chemical propulsion. Research in fourth area involves charged droplets and molecular ions that are emitted from the meniscus of a conducting liquid due to a strong electric field. A sufficiently strong electrostatic stress can cause either of two behaviors: (1) an aerosol of charged liquid droplets can be extracted from the surface and accelerated away by the field, or (2) single molecular or atomic ions can be ‘field evaporated’ from the liquid into the gas phase and accelerated away by the field. Research is sought to control multiphase liquid electrospray that can be used for nanoenergetic material processing, propulsion, and other applications.
All fundamental research ideas relating to space propulsion and power are of interest to this program in addition to the examples given above, but researchers should also consult the programs in Plasma and Electro-Energetic Physics, Aerospace Materials for Extreme Environments, Theoretical Chemistry and Molecular Dynamics, Computational Mathematics, and other programs as described in this Broad Area Announcement to find the best match for the research in question.
You are highly encouraged to contact our Program Officer prior to developing a full proposal to briefly discuss the current state-of-the-art, how your research would advance it, and the approximate cost for a three (3) to five (5) year effort.
Researchers are highly encouraged to Download the Space Power and Propulsion - Current Research Activities PDF.
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Contact InformationDr. Mitat Birkan AFOSR/RTA-1 Email:Space.Power@us.af.mil Dr. Birkan's Biography