Two CSL professors receive MURI awards


Rick Kubetz, Engineering Communications & August Schiess, CSL

The U.S. Department of Defense recently announced its initial selection of 21 advanced science and engineering research projects for its FY16 DoD Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI). Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are included as principal investigators (PIs) or co-PIs in a third of the projects proposed by the nation’s top research institutions.

Two of those projects, which total $15 million, include CSL Professors Gary Eden and Tamer Başar.

The highly competitive Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative program, or MURI, supports research by teams of investigators that intersect more than one traditional science and engineering discipline in order to accelerate research progress, said Melissa L. Flagg, deputy assistant secretary of defense for research.

Internal Cooling of Fiber and Disk Lasers by Radiation Balancing and other Optical or Phonon Processes
Principle Investigator: CSL Professor J. Gary Eden, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
University Sub Awards: Clemson University; Stanford University; University of Michigan

Gary Eden
Gary Eden
Gary Eden
CSL professor J. Gary Eden will lead a MURI project team working to improve the internal cooling of lasers to increase beam quality. The $7.5 million project, “Internal Cooling of Fiber and Disk Lasers by Radiation Balancing and Other Phonon Processes,” is a collaboration with researchers from Clemson University, Stanford University, and the University of Michigan.

“No barrier to scaling the power of high power lasers beyond the 1 kilowatt-level is more daunting than that of heat removal, regardless of whether the gain medium is a solid, liquid, or gas,” Eden, the Gilmore Family Endowed Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Illinois, explained. “The foremost of these issues is beam quality, which often deteriorates quickly, particularly if the thermal conductivity of the gain medium is poor. For this reason, beam quality has proven to be the most challenging metric in major DoD laser development programs.”

A multidisciplinary team of internationally recognized leaders in the fields of fiber lasers, laser cooling, rare earth-doped optical materials, and fiber fabrication has been assembled to advance the research in this critical area. In its proposal, the research team noted that, “…radiation balancing has proven to be a viable means for reducing the thermal load in specific laser materials. However, this and other approaches to reducing the temperature of a gain medium in a spatially-uniform manner are only in their infancy, and the potential for employing radiation-balancing and other techniques in previously unexplored material/resonator combinations is enormous. Several recent developments make this an opportune time to pursue a new capability for cooling laser gain media.”

ADAPT: An Analytical Framework for Actionable Defense Against Advanced Persistent Threats
Principle Investigator: Radha Poovendran, University of Washington
University Sub Awards:
 Tamer Başar, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Georgia Institute of Technology; University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Santa Barbara

Tamer Başar
Tamer Başar
Tamer Başar

CSL Professor Tamer Başar will collaborate with researchers from the University of Washington, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of California, Berkeley, and University of California, Santa Barbara to model and create defenses against stealthy, long-term system attacks called advanced persistent threats (APTs).

Advanced persistent threats (APTs) “infiltrate cyber systems over an extended period of time and compromise specifically targeted data and/or resources through a sequence of stealthy attacks, and often have multiple variants. Currently, there is no scientific framework to represent APTs, understand the effectiveness of cyber defenses, or develop an actionable cyber defense,” according to the team’s proposal.

The team will investigate and develop security strategies that use new adversary learning techniques to design effective cyber defenses. Başar will particularly investigate the problem in terms of game theory.

“My focus … will be on the formulation and strategic analysis of the dynamic game between cyber defense and the adversary actions, and decomposition of the higher level game into local games through a multi-scaling approach,” said Tamer Başar, a Swanlund endowed chair and electrical and computer engineering professor.

The first part of the $7.5 million project will focus on analytical representations of APTs.

“This entails research and development of an analytical middleware that provides a time-varying representation of the adversarial actions … to construct realistic models of the adversarial cyber interactions and defense strategies,” Başar said.