27 Feb 2013

Smart materials sought by MOD for defence and security

Materials which extend the lives of vehicles or textiles incorporating electronics are among the latest innovative ideas being sought by the Ministry of Defence.

The Materials and Structures Science and Technology Centre (MAST STC), established by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), launched the call for research proposals recently. It places high priority on the impact that novel materials and technologies can have on defence and security.

The call for innovative ideas was launched on Thursday 21 February by Dstl’s Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE), recognising that technical advancements in the ability to engineer micro- and nano-materials and structures means it is becoming increasingly possible to model, design and construct materials with unique properties.

Materials that exhibit ‘smart behaviour’ are categorised as those that have properties that can be significantly changed in a controlled fashion by external stimuli. Potential suppliers should consider the wide range of platform types, structures, equipment and devices used by the military, including futuristic nano-unmanned vehicles, large ships, land vehicles and aircraft.

Structures range from tents to large deployable operating bases, as well as headquarters, and equipment types range from radios to weapons to clothing. CDE focuses on novel and innovative research in support of planning for an agile future military capability. It is seeking disruptive technologies that can have a significant impact on operational capability with the desire for revolution rather than evolution.

Professor Ian Youngs, Technical Lead for the MAST STC, said: “It is vital for the success of MOD’s materials and structures technology programme to solicit high-quality and innovative studies through CDE in order to provide technical challenge to the core research programme. Smart materials represent a dynamic field of research and provide many opportunities to integrate added functionality to future military equipment concepts.”