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DARPA Takes Aim at Energy Conversion Technology


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Potential MATRIX applications.

DARPAs Materials for Transduction program seeks new classes of materials that convert energy from one form into another.

Credit: DARPA

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is launching a program called Materials for Transduction (MATRIX), which focuses on the conversion of energy from one form to another.

Transduction is common in many military and commercial areas, such as communications antennas, thermoelectric generators, and electric motors, but MATRIX seeks to "develop transductional devices with significantly higher conversion efficiencies and other performance attributes, such as lower loss, lower noise, higher sensitivity, and smaller size, weight, and power."

DARPA says MATRIX will develop a suite of multiscale, multimodal design and engineering tools that apply to a broad spectrum of transductional materials, devices, and applications. Potential uses include thermoelectrics, multiferroics, and phase-change materials.

"We aim to develop new classes of transductional materials that can be demonstrated directly in applications, and to advance innovative modeling and simulation tools that engineers can use to design systems that take advantage of these new materials," says DARPA's Jim Gimlett. "The goal is not just to design materials for use in devices; we envision developing materials that, because of their energy-transforming properties, are effectively devices themselves."

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