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Defense Department awards universities $169 million in research funding

By: Tony Peck
April 3, 2018 Updated: April 3, 2018 at 4:46 pm
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University researchers across the country are set to receive $169 million in federal funding for basic research in a variety of military related fields, the Defense Department announced Monday.

Research offices from the Air Force, Army and Navy sifted through 436 proposals for the 2018 Multidisciplinary University Initiative program before selecting 24 finalists.

“The Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative program, or MURI, supports research by funding teams of investigators that include more than one traditional science and engineering discipline in order to accelerate the research progress,” said Dale Ormond - a research director with the Defense Department - in a press release.

Each of the 24 research teams will receive roughly $1.5 million annually for five years.

The proposed projects are collaborative, allowing several universities to research each topic. Dr. John Cary – a physicist at the University of Colorado, Boulder – will run computer models for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology project researching microscopic electronics.

The team will research how tiny transistors operate in a vacuum – pushing the speed limit of future electronics.

“Right now, we are just trying to make a few transistors and see if the principal will work,” Cary said.

Potential outcomes of their research could impact data transfer speeds and system control for satellites and other military platforms, said Cary.

Cary and members of his team in Boulder will simulate models while researchers at MIT, Boise State University and Southern Methodist University build the physical prototypes.

“When they see something they don’t understand, we will run the model and see what we can find,” said Cary.

Cary will need to use a powerful computer to run the complex simulations, like the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center’s Cori supercomputer – comprised of about 2,400 processors with a peak performance of 30 petaflops.

“It is all about speed,” said Cary.

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