By Dan Lafontaine, C5ISR Center Public AffairsNovember 25, 2019
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Nov. 25, 2019) -- A partnership with academia is enabling the Army to develop solutions that control extreme heat fluctuations in cutting-edge electronics.
The Army's Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Center -- known as C5ISR Center -- began working with the University of Maryland in April 2019 as part of a three-year effort with three phases. The university is developing advanced cooling technologies that will prevent excessive heat produced by military technologies from damaging sensitive electronic components.
The technologies and methodologies used to dissipate heat produced by electronics are collectively known as thermal management, said Dr. Terry DuBois, a senior research engineer for the C5ISR Center.
Thermal management plays a significant and growing role in the design and function of electronics, particularly as the use of electronic warfare systems and directed energy expands. Directed energy is the use of electric power for offensive and defensive applications, including lasers and high-powered microwaves.
"Microelectronic component powers have risen by a factor of 100 over the past 20 years, with an accompanying increase in heat flux," said Dr. Raphael K. Mandel, assistant director of the University of Maryland's Smart and Small Thermal Systems Laboratory. "The traditional approaches using natural convection and forced-air cooling are becoming less viable as power levels increase. We're focused on a liquid refrigerant as the best approach to achieve the necessary cooling capacity."
Thermal management is a cross-cutting capability applicable to many military platforms and Department of Defense research projects, DuBois said. The combined research and development efforts will be applied to the Army's Future Vertical Lift program, or FVL, one of the service's top six modernization priorities, DuBois said. Knowledge gained will transition to FVL as requirements for electronic warfare/survivability equipment are developed.
"Through this partnership with the University of Maryland, we're focused on addressing high thermal pulse applications, as critical components cannot function under large temperature fluctuations," DuBois said. "As the systems get smaller, the challenge gets much bigger. Heat intensity, when operating very close to the electronic component, could approach the same intensity as the surface of the sun."
Leveraging specialized expertise from academia is essential to solve the Army's most difficult technological challenges, said Beth Ferry, chief of the C5ISR Center's Power Division.
"Army power and energy researchers have a long history of forming academic partnerships in order to break new ground in fields that require the nation's leading experts," Ferry said. "Together, we can deliver innovative capabilities to our Soldiers."
The C5ISR Center is the Army's applied research and advanced technology development center for C5ISR capabilities. As the Army's primary integrator of C5ISR technologies and systems, the center develops and matures capabilities that support all six Army modernization priorities, enabling information dominance and tactical overmatch for the joint warfighter.
The C5ISR Center is an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command. Through collaboration across the command's core technical competencies, CCDC leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more lethal to win our nation's wars and come home safely. CCDC is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.