(Forbes) Advanced Concepts & Technology, a team within Raytheon’s Intelligence and Space division, is developing technology for which there is no user requirement. Dr. Bradford Tousley, acting vice president of ACT, explains why in a new interview with David Hambling, a Forbes Contributor in Aerospace & Defense.
Tousley says ACT is not afraid to go after prizes that may look unattainable with current technology. Much of ACT’s activity is what Tousley terms “6.1 to 6.3” research – U.S. government categories for the basic and applied scientific research which is necessary long before practical application can be considered.
A recent example is a new microwave bolometer, a more sensitive tool for detecting light and other radiation than existing technology such as the CCDs used in cameras. The new device is based on a quantum effect.
ACT researchers are looking at how they can assemble a number of the super-sensitive bolometers into an array to create an infra-red camera far more capable than anything currently available.
This is not ACT’s only quantum project. They are also involved in quantum computing. While other research institutions are mainly concerned with increasing the number of qubits or quantum bits in their devices to attain the computing power required for practical applications, ACT are looking at the bigger picture.
Tousley says ACT is focused on the system engineering aspect of quantum computing in order to understand what kinds of algorithms they will be able to run for what sorts of applications. For example, he mentions the possibility of using quantum computers to design better aircraft and missiles. Current aerodynamic models require a huge amount of number crunching, as does calculating the radar profile of a new design. Quantum computing might provide a turbo booster to the design process for many of Raytheon’s product lines.