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Sub-Millimeter Lab Beams Up $27 Million


Nov. 6, 2006

Also Contact:  Jennifer Hanson, 978-934-3108 or

LOWELL ߝ Out on the battlefield, the radar shows you something’s there. But what is it? You should know before you shoot.

Answering the question, what is it, is where UMass Lowell’s Submillimeter-wave Technology Lab (STL) makes itself usefulߞ;so useful that the U.S. Department of Defense has appropriated $27 million to fund its research over the next five years.

The STL is a member of the Expert Radar Signature Solutions consortium, developed by the Army’s National Ground Intelligence Center.

“We and our government sponsors are the only research program that uses terahertz frequency measurement systems to collect real-world radar signature data,” says Dr. Robert Giles, STL director and professor of physics, in explaining the lab’s unique position.

For 25 years, researchers at STL have engineered and constructed scale versions of all types of radar systems and models of actual targets, then measured and analyzed the radar scattering to produce identifying characteristics of ships, tanks and other tactical vehicles. The submillimeter, or terahertz, wave is to the scale models what radar is to the real target in battlefield conditions.

The model fabrication work converts tactical target photos and computer images into high fidelity scale modelsߞ;with scaled welds, bolt heads, track links, lug nuts, rust and battle damage, and non-metallic parts like rubber pads, fiberglass and canvas.

New research involves techniques to model complex terrain including roughness, rocks, trees, vegetation, roots, and grass, as well as changes in moisture. In addition, the clutter of objects found in real operationsߞ;troop packs, ammunition storage crates, fuel containers, damaged vehicles, etc.ߞ;can be modeled.

Besides its work for the Army, the lab has used its unique capabilities to fulfill radar measurement requests from agencies in all branches of the Department of Defense. The STL also conducts research for defense-related laboratories and companies, including MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Boeing Lockheed & Martin, and Raytheon.

UMass Lowell, a comprehensive university with a national reputation in science, engineering and technology, is committed to educating students for lifelong success in a diverse world and conducting research and outreach activities that sustain the economic, environmental and social health of the region. UML offers its 11,000 students more than 120 degree choices, internships, five-year combined bachelor’s to master’s programs and doctoral studies in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management, the School of Health and Environment, and the Graduate School of Education.

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For more information, contact or 978-934-3224