Research and Exploratory Development Mission Area
Additive Manufacturing Center
The Additive Manufacturing Center (AMC) adds value to sponsored programs in ways that cannot be achieved by traditional manufacturing. The AMC has a growing suite of industrial additive manufacturing machines (currently four polymer and two metal additive manufacturing systems) and multiple experimental test-bed printers. The center is advancing the state-of-the-art capabilities in additive manufacturing through applied materials research and development and integration of innovative process control methods to maximize the potential of enabling novel hardware solutions for critical challenges.
Advanced Electrical Fabrication Laboratory
The Advanced Electrical Fabrication (AEF) Laboratory provides a variety of capabilities. Our subject-matter experts can advise on novel manufacturing techniques, provide design for manufacturing guidance, and facilitate fabrication needs. From forward-leaning nanoscale research to high-reliability spacecraft assembly to quick-turn deployable prototypes, the AEF Lab is ready to physically realize products in a number of domains, such as printed circuit boards, electrical assembly, advanced plating, and micro/nanofabrication.
Advanced Optics and Photonics Laboratory
The Advanced Optics and Photonics Laboratory leverages APL’s experimental optics and remote sensing expertise to develop optical sensors for noninvasive brain–computer interface technology. Facilities house several world-class optical neural imaging systems that aim to improve the current state of the art in temporal and spatial resolution of these tools to create breakthroughs in both health and human–machine interactions.
Energy Storage Materials Laboratory
The Energy Storage Materials Laboratory hosts advanced materials synthesis, device fabrication, and characterization equipment for electrochemical energy storage, research, and development. This specialized facility is a uniquely designed space where APL scientists and engineers develop custom power sources from raw material synthesis/formulation to prototyping and system integration. Capabilities and equipment include a pilot pouch cell line for lithium-ion battery fabrication, 3D printers, hundreds of battery test station channels, potentiostats/galvanostats for electrochemical analysis, and environmental chambers for wide-temperature-range characterization.
Genome Sequencing Laboratory
Genome sequencing facilities enable next-generation sequencing and multi-type sample processing, including animal, plant, bacterial, and viral. Illumina MiSeq and NextSeq sequencers and multiple Oxford Nanopore Technologies MinION sequencers are maintained. A workflow integrates the data from these machines to high-power computation clusters within APL. Our researchers have developed novel sample processing, sequencing, and bioinformatics pipelines to enable innovative genomics analysis.
Intelligent Systems Center
The Intelligent Systems Center (ISC) is home to a cross-disciplinary research group spanning machine learning, robotic and autonomous systems, and applied neuroscience. This state-of-the-art facility includes laboratories for hardware and software development, modeling and simulation, human-subject testing, and rapid concept realization for intelligent autonomous systems. For more information, visit the ISC website.
ISC AI Arena
The ISC’s AI Arena is a creative space that serves as the incubator for AI research on the outer rim of the AI roadmap and has the flexibility to host demonstrations and events. It is also a software tool for setting up and running complex deep reinforcement learning problems and supports multi-agent and multi-policy training. For more information, visit the ISC website.
ISC Innovation Laboratory
The ISC’s Innovation Laboratory anchors much of APL’s research in ground robotics, advanced manipulation, machine perception, autonomous systems, and novel control for uncrewed ground vehicles and uncrewed aerial systems. For more information, visit the ISC website.
ISC UXV Gym
The ISC’s UxV Gym is a modular space that provides flexibility for testing of robots, autonomous systems, and other technologies related to intelligent systems. Test capabilities include a motion-capture system for 3D motion analysis, a mobility range for robot teams, and a floor-to-ceiling netted area to support testing of small uncrewed aerial systems. For more information, visit the ISC website.
Low Temperature Quantum Device Laboratory
The Low Temperature Quantum Device Laboratory’s capabilities are used to control and characterize novel quantum protocols and devices. The protocol and device development efforts are critical to the realization of quantum sensing and computing technologies that will forever change how we collect and process information.
Materials Characterization Facility
The Materials Characterization Facility solves critical challenges for APL’s sponsors through materials testing and analysis at the micro and macro scale. The facility combines expert staff and extensive analytical instrumentation to solve the most demanding materials problems, using standard and custom-designed, program-specific configurations. All material types are supported (e.g., metals, ceramics, polymers, composites, biomaterials), as are system and subsystem proof and validation testing.
Materials for Extreme Environments Laboratory
The Materials for Extreme Environments Laboratory uses innovative material formulations and processing techniques as well as unique testing to enhance material performance and survivability in extreme environments. Mission-engineered materials are created to enable critical capabilities demonstrated through internal and external testing venues.
Mechanical Fabrication Laboratory
The Mechanical Fabrication facility delivers prototypes and fully qualified hardware for complex systems (such as space and undersea) and research programs. Our diverse and exceptionally talented staff utilizes the unique manufacturing capabilities in a 24,000-square-foot state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, which includes CNC multi-axis milling and turning, welding, precision sheet metal fabrication, laser engraving, and waterjet and laser cutting. Our experts engage with engineers, designers, and sponsors throughout the Laboratory, providing recommendations on manufacturing feasibility and ensuring their hardware goals are achieved.
The NAMI Laboratory is a landlocked marine facility that runs on synthetic seawater, allowing users to replicate environmental conditions found anywhere in the world without the bias of a natural local water source. The facility currently supports experiments with bacteria, microalgae, macroalgae, hard and soft corals, mussels, barnacles, crabs, and specialized wood-eating clams.
Plant Growth Laboratory
Our facilities are equipped for plant growth (including multiple enclosed growth chambers), stress testing, imaging (confocal, stereoscope, thermal), molecular analysis, and genetic engineering. APL has experience evaluating the stress response across diverse plant species, with emphasis on grasses such as tall fescue and the genus Setaria.
Semiconductor Thermoelectrics Applications and Research Laboratory
The Semiconductor Thermoelectrics Applications and Research Laboratory (STAR) Laboratory is used to advance solid-state materials and device technology. The STAR Lab comprises the Metal Organic Chemical Vapor Deposition Lab and the Molecular Beam Epitaxy Lab, each equipped to enable new designer solid-state materials for applications across the electromagnetic spectrum—such as novel infrared sensors, innovative signature control materials, new generations of light-emitting materials/devices, and, potentially, a new class of photovoltaic energy conversion devices to harness the solar spectrum.
Vertically Accelerated Load Transfer System
The Vertically Accelerated Load Transfer System (VALTS) enables vertical, high-rate, accelerative testing. The VALTS facility accommodates instrumentation using biomedical sensors as well as high-rate imaging. Multiple impact-test platforms can impart complex and dynamic loading pulses representative of real-world blast loading conditions. This large facility can accommodate variably sized test articles and various fixtures, providing the ability to study a wide range of vertical loading scenarios.