Today's soldier enters the battle space with an amazing array of advanced electronic materials devices and systems. The soldier of the future will rely even more heavily on electronic weaponry, detection devices, advanced communications systems and protection systems. Currently, a typical infantry soldier might carry up to 35 pounds of batteries in order to power these systems, and it is clear that the energy and power requirements for future soldiers will be much greater.
These requirements have a dramatic adverse effect on the survivability and lethality of the soldier by reducing mobility as well as the amount of weaponry, sensors, communication equipment and armor that the soldier can carry. The Army’s desire for greater lethality and survivability of its men and women in the field is fundamentally tied to the development of devices and systems with increased energy efficiency as well as dramatic improvement in the energy and power density of battery storage and delivery systems.
The new research effort is based on the idea that by using powerful computers to simulate the behavior of materials on multiple scales – from the atomic and molecular nanoscale to the large or "bulk" scale – new, lighter, more energy efficient power supplies and materials can be designed and developed. Improving existing materials also is a goal.
The consortium, led by the University of Utah, includes Boston University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Pennsylvania State University, Harvard University, Brown University, the University of California, Davis, and the Polytechnic University of Turin, Italy.