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CHIPS Articles: US Naval Research Lab to Showcase Innovations at Military Invention Day

US Naval Research Lab to Showcase Innovations at Military Invention Day
By Sarah Maxwell, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Public Affairs - May 18, 2018
WASHINGTON (NNS) — The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory's (NRL) novel technique to study traumatic brain injury, its seawater carbon capture technology, and the science behind laser weapons systems will be on display this Saturday at the Smithsonian's Military Invention Day.

The free, one-day event will be in the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian's Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation May 19 from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The Lemelson Center hosts the event that focuses on the role of the U.S. military in the invention of new technology, and the value of communication between service members and scientists and engineers. More information on the event can be found at

For nearly 100 years, NRL has and will continue to drive innovation as an integral part of the U.S. Navy to ensure that the future force has the technologies to be the most lethal, resilient and competent in the world. This Saturday, Lemelson Center visitors will get a chance to see what is usually only seen in the lab.

Attendees will have opportunities to personally interact with world-class NRL scientists behind the technologies and experience hands-on, family-friendly science demonstrations that will include:

Carbon Dioxide Capture from Seawater

This NRL patented technology pulls carbon dioxide from seawater to then convert it to fuel. It is the first demonstration to do this. The technology could have a major impact on naval operations worldwide by alleviating the reliance on jet and other fossil fuels and replace it with a carbon neutral fuel alternative that comes from an abundant source. It could have an impact on other sea-related industries as well, such as fishing and shipping. When fully developed, it will also benefit the ocean environment by pulling carbon dioxide out, which is increasing and causing acidification.

GelMan Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Many Department of Defense scientists are researching traumatic brain injury to understand and mitigate its negative effects on service members. NRL created synthetic materials to mimic the human head to capture the response to blasts. But, what is unique to the research community is NRL's ability to grow cells and actually take them out of the lab to the field for real-time blast testing. NRL scientists will demonstrate this on GelMan and gel brains at the event.

Laser Weapons Science

NRL researchers will demonstrate the basic physics of incoherent beam combining, which is a key technology that enabled the Navy Laser Weapon System (LaWS) that was on board USS Ponce (LPD 15). NRL scientists will discuss the technologies and the basic plasma physics behind them. Plasma, known as the fourth state of matter, is generated when a gas is heated up to temperatures that rip electrons from their atoms. However, visitors to this exhibit will be able to observe a low-temperature plasma that is safe to touch. A video of the LaWS in action on USS Ponce can be found here.

The event will also have talks featuring Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, stage programs and demonstrations, as well as nearly 30 interactive displays of leading technologies based on armed forces research alongside the museum's historical exhibitions and collections.

About the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory is the Navy's full-spectrum corporate laboratory, conducting a broadly based multidisciplinary program of scientific research and advanced technological development. The Laboratory, with a total complement of nearly 2,800 personnel, is located in southwest Washington, D.C., with other major sites at the Stennis Space Center, Mississippi, and Monterey, California NRL has served the Navy and the nation for over 90 years and continues to meet the complex technological challenges of today's world. For more information, visit the NRL homepage or join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

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Dr. Peter Matic, and Dr. Thomas O
Dr. Amit Bagchi, D Dr. Peter Matic, and Dr. Thomas O'Shaughnessy (left to right) use GelMan surrogates, made of synthetic bones and soft tissue, to test helmets and armor for the military. "Our job is to provide some basic understanding of what's going on," says Matic. "Then we can contribute to the design and selection of the best protective equipment." Photo by Ms. Jamie Hartman, US Naval Research Laboratory.
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