Sandia National Labs FY20 LDRD Annual Report


Enhanced positional awareness and jammer resistance for radar fuzing. A novel variant of terrain-aided location estimation was developed and validated by Sandia researchers to facilitate greater positional awareness using a beam-sharpened altimeter (vertical Synthetic Aperture Radar – SAR). This technology can provide future delivery systems with improved positional and trajectory awareness in flight to fuze the weapon at the correct time and location. This provides additional safety, while avoiding the additional equipment and processing complexity of a more complicated directional altimeter or conventional broadside SAR. Some of the technical enhancements achieved relate to ranging resolution, terrain

references, trajectory flexibility, ranging altitude, along-path fixes, and counter- measure response. The technique has been validated in flight with a test-bed radar installed on a manned aircraft, demonstrating improved predicted versus measured range differences and resulting in high-quality navigational updates, while flying at over 2,000 m above ground level. (PI: George Sloan)

Test flight path, with 3.2 km measurement tail (in purple).

Optical property sculpting with phonon laminates improve national security capabilities. Tunable infrared (IR) plasmonic devices offer utility unavailable with traditional optical components. They are hamstrung, however, by dielectrics that either offer optical or electrical performance but not both. In this project, the team leveraged emergent phonon phenomena — originally developed within thermal physics — to tailor the infrared response while also efficiently mediating electrostatic doping of underlying tunable optical materials. Tunable IR materials, with enhanced ability for detection and sensing, will improve national security capabilities. This project identified mechanisms affecting phonon and infrared responses of superlattices and then investigated these mechanisms for engineered functionality which led to a technical surprise with photoelectron emission. During this work, the project led to three graduate students mentored/recruited to internships, two postdoctoral fellows hired at Sandia, and one postdoctoral fellow converted to staff. In addition, four papers have been published to date. (PI: Thomas Beechem III)

A team of researchers developed a nanoantenna-enabled detector that can boost the signal of a thermal infrared camera by up to three times and improve image quality by reducing dark current, a major component of image noise, by 10 to 100 times. (Photo by Randy Montoya)



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