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book coverScientific Assessment of High-Power Free-Electron Laser Technology   (BPA)
Released 2009-03-06

This book presents a scientific assessment of free-electron-laser technology for naval applications. The charge from the Office of Naval Research was to assess whether the desired performance capabilities are achievable or whether fundamental limitations will prevent them from being realized. The present study identifies the highest-priority scientific and technical issues that must be resolved along the development path to achieve a megawatt-class free-electron laser. In accordance with the charge, the committee considered (and briefly describes) trade-offs between free-electron lasers and other types of lasers and weapon systems to show the advantages free-electron lasers offer over other types of systems for naval applications as well as their drawbacks. The primary advantages of free-electron lasers are associated with their energy delivery at the speed of light, selectable wavelength, and all-electric nature, while the trade-offs for free-electron lasers are their size, complexity, and relative robustness. Also, Despite the significant technical progress made in the development of high-average-power free-electron lasers, difficult technical challenges remain to be addressed in order to advance from present capability to megawatt-class power levels.

book coverSpectrum Management for Science in the 21st Century   (BPA)
Released 2010-02-25

Radio observations of the cosmos are gathered by geoscientists using complex earth-orbiting satellites and ground-based equipment, and by radio astronomers using large ground-based radio telescopes. Signals from natural radio emissions are extremely weak, and the equipment used to measure them is becoming ever-more sophisticated and sensitive. The radio spectrum is also being used by radiating, or "active," services, ranging from aircraft radars to rapidly expanding consumer services such as cellular telephones and wireless internet. These valuable active services transmit radio waves and thereby potentially interfere with the receive-only, or "passive," scientific services. Transmitters for the active services create an artificial "electronic fog" which can cause confusion, and, in severe cases, totally blinds the passive receivers. Both the active and the passive services are increasing their use of the spectrum, and so the potential for interference, already strong, is also increasing. This book addresses the tension between the active services' demand for greater spectrum use and the passive users' need for quiet spectrum. The included recommendations provide a pathway for putting in place the regulatory mechanisms and associated supporting research activities necessary to meet the demands of both users.

book coverFrontiers in Crystalline Matter:From Discovery to Technology   (BPA)
Released 2009-10-27

For much of the past 60 years, the U.S. research community dominated the discovery of new crystalline materials and the growth of large single crystals, placing the country at the forefront of fundamental advances in condensed-matter sciences and fueling the development of many of the new technologies at the core of U.S. economic growth. The opportunities offered by future developments in this field remain as promising as the achievements of the past. However, the past 20 years have seen a substantial deterioration in the United States' capability to pursue those opportunities at a time when several European and Asian countries have significantly increased investments in developing their own capacities in these areas. This book seeks both to set out the challenges and opportunities facing those who discover new crystalline materials and grow large crystals and to chart a way for the United States to reinvigorate its efforts and thereby return to a position of leadership in this field.

book coverA Performance Assessment of NASA's Heliophysics Program   (SSB)
Released 2009-03-24

Since the 1990s, the pace of discovery in the field of solar and space physics has accelerated, largely owing to NASA investments in its Heliophysics Great Observatory fleet of spacecraft. These enable researchers to investigate connections between events on the Sun and in the space environment by combining multiple points of view. Recognizing the importance of observations of the Sun-to-Earth system, the National Research Council produced a solar and space physics decadal survey in 2003, laying out the Integrated Research Strategy. This strategy provided a prioritized list of flight missions, plus theory and modeling programs, that would advance the relevant physical theories, incorporate those theories in models that describe a system of interactions between the Sun and the space environment, obtain data on the system, and analyze and test the adequacy of the theories and models. Five years later, this book measures NASA's progress toward the goals and priorities laid out in the 2003 study. Unfortunately, very little of the recommended priorities will be realized before 2013. Mission cost growth, reordering of survey mission priorities, and unrealized budget assumptions have delayed nearly all of the recommended NASA spacecraft missions. The resulting loss of synergistic capabilities in space will constitute a serious impediment to future progress.