Director, Lincoln Laboratory

Lincoln Laboratory is a mission-oriented laboratory operated by MIT for the Department of Defense (DoD) carrying out research and development in surveillance, identification, and communications. The laboratory is celebrating its establishment by MIT fifty years ago in 1951 as Project Lincoln in response to a request from the Army, Navy, and Air Force. During the past year, agencies of the DoD—namely, the Air Force, the Army, the Navy, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Ballistic Missile Defense Office (BMDO), and the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO)—supplied approximately 88 percent of the laboratory's budgetary support. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) provided most of the non-DoD support, which additionally includes work for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA). Lincoln Laboratory also carries out pre-competitive research with industry under approved Cooperative Research and Development Agreements. For the federal fiscal year 2000, Lincoln Laboratory received $361.5 million, supporting the efforts of 1200 professional technical staff.


The following administrative changes occurred at the laboratory Steering Committee level. Dr. Antonio F. Pensa, Head of the Aerospace Division, was promoted to Assistant Director. Mr. Carl E. Nielsen, Jr., Assistant Director, has retired following over 39 years of service to the laboratory. Mr. William M. Brown, Jr., was promoted to Head and Dr. Grant H. Stokes was promoted to Associate Head of the Aerospace Division. Mr. Kenneth F. Colucci joined the laboratory in the position of Assistant to the Director for Strategic Resources.

Program Highlights

Activity at the laboratory focuses on DoD tasks in surveillance, information extraction, and communications technologies, supported by advanced electronic technology and on air traffic control technology for the FAA. Technical work areas include radar and optical sensors, measurements, and systems; communications; signal design and processing; identification algorithms; lasers; solid state devices; digital technology, circuitry, and data systems; and tactical control systems. Unclassified summaries of several accomplishments during the past year are presented below.

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Surveillance Technology

Health Surveillance and Biodefense Study

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency selected Lincoln Laboratory to lead a study on a proposed means of dealing with a bioterrorist attack on the U.S. homeland. This national study includes participants from MIT, Harvard, other universities, and the government, and follows a Defense Science Board (DSB) summer study on bioterrorism. The context of the DSB's defensive strategy is to monitor sick patients presenting to physicians and hospitals by utilizing emerging technologies of genetic and proteomic diagnostic chips. Output from the diagnostics would be compared with pathogen databases and reported via a national network. The immediate study will be to build upon the DSB recommendations, and provide an R&D investment strategy in this area for the Department of Defense.

Fluorescence Detection Of Biological Agents

The Bio-Aerosol Warning Sensor (BAWS), a UV-fluorescence-based detector of aerosols of biological origin, has been developed at Lincoln Laboratory to provide warning of a potential biological threat. The BAWS sensor is the result of a four-year development effort, and exploits the laboratory's previously developed microchip laser as a high-power, compact source of short pulses for exciting the fluorescent signatures of biological particles. The successful fielding of the BAWS integrated with the prototype Joint Biological Point Detection System led to quantity procurement from industry. The laboratory has continued to transfer the technology to industry and ahs developed improved fabrication technology for the microchip laser.

The laboratory is utilizing the BAWS technology to obtain background data for environments other than typical military locations.

Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research Program

The Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research Program (LINEAR) program operates a wide-area asteroid search program employing an advanced electro-optics search system originally developed for Air Force-sponsored space-surveillance applications. Now the world's leader in asteroid discoveries, LINEAR searches 15,000 square degrees of sky per month to a limiting magnitude of 19.2 and has generated 4.4 million observations during the time period of March 1998 through July 2001. These account for over half of all observations in the Smithsonian Minor Planet Center archives, and 70 percent of the reported observations generated since March 1998. This effort has resulted in discovery designations for 666 near-Earth asteroids of a total 1395 known (the first dating back to 1898), 62 comets, and over 110,000 main-belt asteroids.

The wide sky coverage of LINEAR provides a much more thorough search than other surveys and reveals a previously unrecognized number of near-Earth objects having orbital paths that are highly inclined relative to the plane of the solar system. Professor Richard Binzel and graduate student Scott Stuart in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, are using this data to refine the orbital distributions for the near-Earth object population.

Earth Observing 1 (EO-1) Mission: Advanced Land Imager

Lincoln Laboratory is responsible for the design, development, and flight validation of the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) that was launched on the NASA Earth Observing-1 mission, on 21 November 2000. ALI has demonstrated advanced technologies to meet NASA's Earth Science Enterprise needs in the 21st century. The new technologies dramatically reduce the size, weight, and power of ALI versus the LANDSAT-7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper, at the same time increasing the instrument's sensitivity and resolution. ALI has been operating successfully on orbit, returning on average eight images per day. The images are being used to validate the instrument performance by the Laboratory design team as well as by thirty independent Science Validation Teams. With this success, NASA has selected ALI as the benchmark design for the LANDSAT Data Continuity Mission, currently in the planning stage.

Multi-Sensor Fusion and Exploitation

With this increase in data from advances in sensor technology that cover larger areas, there is an associated challenge to automate the data reduction process. Lincoln Laboratory has focused on automation techniques that enable both scene visualization and target detection. Scene visualization is accomplished by registering the multi-modality data to a three-dimensional site model and fusing the layers by using a model of the human visual system. Image mining techniques are applied to the fused data to automatically detect terrain features like roads, buildings, and trafficable areas. This information can then be used as contextual information for advanced target-recognition algorithms. In the last year, an integrated visualization system to support the intelligence community was deployed. This system provides a capability to visualize color-fused three-dimensional scenes of areas of interest.

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Missile Defense

Ground-Based Midcourse Defense Program

The DoD has a program to develop and examine a system to defend the U.S. against a limited ballistic missile attack. Lincoln Laboratory is supporting the Ground-Based Missle Defense (GMD) program at both the system and element levels. System work focuses on evaluating discrimination architecture against postulated and potential countermeasures. Additional effort emphasizes characterization and assessment of early warning radar, prototype ground based radar, and exoatmospheric seeker performance, primarily through design and analysis of flight tests.

Theater High-Altitude Area Defense Program

The Theatre High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system is currently in the engineering and manufacturing development phase. The system is designed to provide large-area defense against theater ballistic missiles. Lincoln Laboratory provides detailed characterization of the radar's performance. In addition, the laboratory conducts testing and analysis of the baseline decision algorithms, as well as continuous development and transfer of discrimination algorithm upgrades for the THAAD radar.

Navy Theater Air and Missile Defense Program

Over the past several years Lincoln Laboratory and the Advanced Electronic Guidance and Instrumentation System (AEGIS) program office have been developing a theater ballistic missile defense (TBMD) capability. This capability is separated into two programs: a Navy Area system (lower tier) and a Navy Theater-Wide (NTW) system (upper tier). Both programs differed greatly from the current AEGIS anti-aircraft warfare capability. The challenges associated with detection, discrimination, and handover of hostile targets within the TBMD complex have been an area of active laboratory work. The laboratory has developed algorithms for synthetic wideband radar measurements and algorithms to improve IR focal-plane performance, which includes the use of a two-color focal plane. Extensive experiments were conducted this year using a wideband radar data collection system and a captive-carry seeker.

Space-Based Infrared System Surrogate Test Bed

Lincoln Laboratory has been selected to lead a multi-year effort to use existing space-, air- and ground-based optical assets to emulate the space component of the nation's proposed Ballistic Missile Defense System. The Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) Program is responsible for developing and deploying a constellation of operational satellites needed for detecting, tracking, and aiding in the discrimination of all of the lethal and benign objects deployed by a ballistic missile launched against the United States and, potentially, its allies. The SBIRS Surrogate Test Bed is envisioned as a low-cost, low-risk, rapidly deployable system designed to assure the collection of SBIRS-like data during ballistic missile flight tests. The laboratory designed and operated Midcourse Space Experiment satellite's Space-Based Visible sensor, which will be utilized with other sensors. In addition, a data fusion processing system will be deployed and tested at the Maui High Performance Computing Center in late 2003. The SBIRS Surrogate Test Bed will demonstrate and validate the concept of SBIRS and will demonstrate many functions of the SBIRS system, prior to the planned launching of the first operational satellites in 2006.

Theater Missile Defense Critical Measurements Program

The Theater Missile Defense (TMD) Critical Measurements Program (TCMP) employs a sequence of flight tests executed at the Reagan Test Site (formally called the Kwajalein Missile Range) to provide IR and radar measurements that address critical TMD system-level issues. Lincoln Laboratory supports TCMP in four task areas: mission planning and integration; payload development; flyaway IR sensor development; and data analysis. The TCMP-3B campaign was successfully completed in February 2001. The data collected are being used to develop new discrimination algorithms for the missile defense acquisition programs.

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Air Defense Technology

Airborne Seeker Test Bed

The capabilities of modern air-defense missile systems have been severely challenged by the advent of low-observable vehicles and modern electronic countermeasures. The Airborne Seeker Test Bed (ASTB) is an instrumentation platform developed by Lincoln Laboratory to investigate these challenges and identify appropriate seeker architectures and signal processing algorithms for dealing with them. The ASTB is based in a Gulfstream II aircraft and provides high-fidelity RF and IR reference instrumentation sensors that are used in parallel with special-purpose wing-pod payloads carrying production seekers or sensors under test. The combination of the system under test with the instrumentation sensors yields insight into the performance of sensor systems and advanced signal processing algorithms.

This year's ASTB activities include one major test campaign and infrastructure upgrades. The test campaign was conducted in Nevada to evaluate the effectiveness of electronic countermeasures against a modern air-to-air missile system and to verify readiness to operate with a modern surface-to-air missile system. The latter will allow flight testing of target intercepts in which ground-based tracking radar and the on-board RF seeker share data and act as an integrated system. Because the ASTB also carries IR focal-plane arrays and IR seekers, these and previous flight tests provide data to evaluate the degrading effects of background clutter on the IR detection and tracking of target aircraft. Another new RF seeker has been received and is being integrated into a flight-test configuration; completion is expected at the end of 2001.

Airborne Countermeasures Test System

The Airborne Countermeasures Test System (ACTS) is a Falcon-20 business-class jet converted to operate either as a versatile target for testing of current and future air-defense missile systems or as a GPS jamming platform. The ACTS can provide a variety of electronic countermeasures and can be configured to operate at L-band, X-band, or Ka-band. The ACTS has been operating since 1997, and this year flight-test campaigns were conducted for DARPA and the Air Force.

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Information Extraction

Embedded Digital Systems

Several existing and planned DoD systems are designed on the basis of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technology. The DoD is relying on acquiring and leveraging embedded digital hardware from COTS vendors. Even though the hardware is dominated by COTS technology, the software is application specific. The DoD has recognized the need to standardize the software development for advanced high-performance systems. Lincoln Laboratory has been asked to lead a DoD-wide software standardization initiative to develop and demonstrate orders of magnitude reduction in software development efforts. The laboratory is working with Northrop Grumman, MITRE and the Air Force Research Laboratory, to quantify, via prototypes demonstrations, the improvements achieved in reducing software development time and cost.

Precision Targeting Via Collaborative Networking

The ability to accurately geo-locate, identify, and engage enemy mobile air-defense systems is very difficult due to the ability for these threats to shoot and move on a very short timeline, typically five minutes or less. Lincoln Laboratory, under DARPA sponsorship, is responsible for demonstrating accurate geo-location and identification by leveraging recent dramatic advances in wireless and fiber networking. The demonstration will include airborne assets, a high-speed fiber network referred to as BosSNet (Boston South Network), and advances in front-end filtering algorithms and target identification techniques.

Advanced Radar Systems

Lincoln Laboratory is assisting the Navy in the development of systems and technologies aimed at improving ship survivability against airborne threats. For example, an effort is ongoing to demonstrate an upgradeable, expandable, COTS replacement of aging AEGIS computer systems capable of executing exoatmospheric target discrimination algorithms. These efforts include all aspects of the signal processor development, focusing on new algorithms, software portability, and life-cycle support.

Ocean Systems

Lincoln Laboratory continues to provide algorithm improvements to the Los Angeles class submarine fleet. Operator feedback from the testing of the Lincoln Interactive Passive Acoustic Classifier in the fall of 2000 expressed confidence for the first time in the promise of automated aids to classification. In the spring of 2001, Lincoln Laboratory-developed algorithms for mitigating the effects of cable strum in adaptive beam forming were submitted for inclusion in the fall test series. Lincoln Laboratory initiated work on algorithms to exploit the increased vertical aperture to resolve targets in depth and range on a DARPA-sponsored program.

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Communications and Information Technology

Next Generation Terrestrial Networks

As part of the Next Generation Internet (NGI) initiative, DARPA has sponsored a unique dark-fiber-communications research and application test bed called BosSnet. BosSnet extends four modern optical fibers from MIT and MIT Lincoln Laboratory to the Washington DC area, enabling terabit per second communication. The test bed became operational in December 1999 and is planned to continue operations for four years. New optical transmission methods are being explored to extend the bit-rate times distance product beyond the current state of the art, resulting in lower installation and operating costs. BosSnet connects to the national DARPA-sponsored Supernet; increasing this national fiber-optic connectivity among researchers.

Military Satellite Communications

The movement of military operations to rapid maneuver, precision strike, and information dominance has resulted in large increases in communications data rate and volume requirements, especially to small mobile or transportable satellite terminals. This year the laboratory continued to develop advanced modulation, coding, and multi-user access techniques to increase efficiency of use of limited allocated bandwidth and transmitter power for future (2010+) satellite communications systems.

Lincoln Laboratory's development of a test bed to demonstrate higher-data-rate waveforms for the DoD's next-generation protected satcom system (Advanced EHF; 2006 launch) has been successfully completed. Efforts are now addressing highly instrumented test terminals and payload simulators. In addition, successful field demonstrations of previously developed protocols for highly efficient transfer of bursty, packetized data traffic over satellites have been conducted. The laboratory has also developed interfaces to permit its satcom facilities to accommodate a heterogeneous mix of input/output devices to support the Services as they field the new medium-data-rate Milstar satcom system. These interfaces are being used for both industrial-factory and post-launch Milstar testing and experimentation.

Army Communications

To provide connectivity between the sustaining base and the fighting forces, an integrated, global communications system is required. While satellite communications can provide the range and terrain independence required of the communication system, a particularly challenging problem is to provide satellite communications to vehicles on the move. Passing objects such as trees or buildings block the received signal. This year, Lincoln Laboratory developed a data-link algorithm that mitigates these signal outages. This algorithm supports multiple qualities of service so that important time-critical information (such as command and control) receives the highest priority while less time-critical information is queued for transmission.

For very small, low-profile antennas required for on-the-move and portable communications at EHF frequencies, there is a significant advantage for making best use of the available power in the communications channel by employing advanced channel-coding techniques. A novel algorithm and design of a "Turbo Decoder" was developed that significantly reduces the required signal-to-noise ratio of the channel while still maintaining the quality of the transmissions. The Lincoln Laboratory-developed decoder is an order of magnitude less in size and complexity than other available decoders. This algorithm is being incorporated into the Army's Single Channel Advanced Milstar Portable (SCAMP) satcom terminal.

Submarine Communications

The application of adaptive diversity combining to improve submarine communications with satellites has continued with the development of an Advanced Technology Demonstration model of the Laboratory-developed buoyant cable antenna. Also, similar techniques are now under development for retrofit into submarine mast antennas.

Smart Sensor Web

Lincoln Laboratory is the system integrator for the smart sensor web, a multi-service, multi-national program. The program is developing a conceptual system design for a tactical information network for the lower-echelon warfighters. An operational test bed has been established at the Military Operations in Urban Terrain Center At Ft. Benning, Georgia. A series of experiments have been planned to evaluate the functional components of such a system. Experiments began in august 2000.

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Automatic Speaker Recognition

The Lincoln-developed Gaussian Mixture Model and Universal Background Model approach to speaker recognition has become the de facto standard for automatic text-independent speaker-recognition research and applications. In annual international evaluations of speaker-recognition technology performed by the National Institute of Science and Technology, the laboratory system has consistently been one of the top-performing systems. In the latest 2001 evaluation, laboratory systems achieved top performance in five of seven tasks. A new Lincoln Laboratory technique based on using only a small set of words spoken by a speaker has produced an accuracy of >99 percent correct decisions. This technology is being transferred to law enforcement efforts. The Laboratory-developed system is also currently being used in a prototype forensic tool at the FBI's Audio Forensic Laboratory.

Intrusion Detection For Government Networks

Lincoln Laboratory continues to develop and deploy novel intrusion detection techniques and systems into essential government networks. The Laboratory has improved the accuracy of the systems deployed for the FAA, and the Laboratory Battlefield Intrusion Detection System (BIDS) has been selected for deployment into U.S. Army hosts in tactical environments. Two implementations of the bottleneck verification algorithm were developed: one for BIDS for use in a wireless environment, and one for use in a wired environment. Cooperation with Air Force Information Warfare Center has enabled the wired implementation to be successfully integrated with the Air Force's existing intrusion detection system and deployed on the computer networks of nine Air Force bases. The laboratory's bottleneck-verification software has performed well on these networks, detecting attacks with a minimum of false alarms (fewer than 1 per week). Based upon this excellent performance, the software is slated for deployment to all Air Force bases.

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Air Traffic Control

Automation Tools

Lincoln Laboratory is working with the FAA and NASA to enhance air safety, reduce controller workload, and increase airport capacity by developing planning aids for air traffic controllers. In a NASA-sponsored effort, Lincoln Laboratory is integrating advanced weather products from the Lincoln Laboratory-developed Integrated Terminal Weather System (ITWS) into the Center Terminal Automation System (CTAS) developed by NASA. CTAS helps coordinate activities between arrival controllers located at en route centers and final-approach controllers located at radar control facilities. The initial work is integrating wind field products from the ITWS to improve aircraft trajectory estimates. Work is also under way on the use of ITWS convective weather products in CTAS for determining weather-impacted routes.

Surveillance Technology Improvements

The laboratory is collecting and analyzing field-test data to evaluate the performance of a new solid-state Airport Surveillance Radar (ASR-11) for use at second-tier civil and military airports in the United States. The laboratory is assisting with design modifications to the current Airport Surveillance Radar (ASR-9) in use at the nation's busiest airports that will permit the ASR-9 to continue operation to 2020.

Aviation Weather Detection and Prediction

Technology transfer for major aviation-weather-information systems developed at the laboratory has proceeded. The laboratory-developed Integrated Terminal Weather System is undergoing operational test and evaluation at Kansas City and Houston prior to national deployment. A Medium Intensity Airport Weather System (MIAWS) has been developed to provide real-time, high-resolution information on thunderstorm location and movement at small airports. MIAWS utilizes data from the National Weather Service's Doppler weather radars, together with laboratory-developed data quality editing and storm-tracking algorithms. The laboratory has deployed a Corridor Integrated Weather System (CIWS) covering the busy Cleveland, Chicago, and Indianapolis en route centers to facilitate traffic management during thunderstorm activity. CIWS integrates data from over 20 radars to provide timely, high-quality surveillance of thunderstorms and utilizes Lincoln Laboratory-developed thunderstorm forecasting technology to provide accurate 30-minute to 1-hour forecasts of future air-route impacts. Dedicated displays at all the major ATC facilities, coupled with Internet access to the CIWS products for airline operations personnel provide common situational awareness for all the participants in tactical decision making during thunderstorm impacts.

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Electronic Devices

CANARY B-Cell Sensor for Rapid, Sensitive Identification of Pathogens

The CANARY B-cell sensor is a device that uses B cells, or white blood cells, as the detector elements to rapidly identify pathogenic organisms. Lincoln Laboratory has genetically engineered B cells to bind to the pathogens that cause foot-and-mouth-disease, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, plague, and tularemia, and to emit photons starting in less than one second after the binding occurs. The photons are detected by using a photomultiplier tube and simple readout electronics. Over the past year, this apparatus has demonstrated the best combination of speed and sensitivity for any known pathogen-identification test (limit of detection of a few particles in a few minutes or less). In addition, the consumables cost per test is estimated to be one to three orders of magnitude lower than that for present medical diagnostic identification tests.

Microscopy at Sub-200nm Wavelengths

Lincoln Laboratory has recently constructed a prototype optical microscope operating at the very short ultraviolet wavelength of 193 nm, and has demonstrated its high sensitivity in detecting traces of materials on various surfaces. Imaging in the sub-200nm wavelength range opens up new possibilities, since it takes advantage of different optical properties than those at longer wavelengths. As a result, the reflectivity is quite different, and the chemical sensitivity of the imaging can be vastly increased. For instance, a layer of organic polymer as thin as one nm can be easily observed on a silicon or quartz substrate when using this microscope, whereas it is completely undetectable with visible or near-ultraviolet radiation. The calculated enhancement in optical contrast at 193 nm compared to visible microscopy can exceed two orders of magnitude. In addition to this improved chemical sensitivity, microscopy at 193 nm affords improved spatial resolution by virtue of straightforward scaling of diffraction-limited imaging with wavelength. As imaging with infrared radiation reveals unexpected features, so imaging in the deep ultraviolet may open new opportunities in detecting trace contaminants in the microelectronics industry and forensics, and may enable the observation of unexpected structures in other fields such as molecular biology.

Burst-Rate Imager

Burst-rate charge-coupled device (CCD) detectors are being developed at Lincoln Laboratory for Los Alamos National Laboratory's (LANL) Nuclear Stockpile Stewardship Project. The two-dimensional imager captures and locally stores four sequential images at a 1.6 MHz frame rate (one 512-by 512-pixel frame every 646 ns). The laboratory-developed CCD detectors will be integrated next year into the diagnostic sensor at the LANL Dual Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test facility currently under construction. Besides fast shutter times, the high sensitivity (100 percent fill factor and 60 percent quantum efficiency) of these sensors is critical to ultra high-speed electronic imaging.

Ladar Detector

Lincoln Laboratory has developed a single-pulse, three-dimensional imager for laser radar (LADAR) applications. Thirty-two by thirty-two pixel arrays have been fabricated by hybrid combining of sensitive Geiger-mode avalanche photodiodes with fast CMOS timing circuits. A short (fraction of one ns) laser pulse actively illuminates a scene, and only a single photon per pixel is needed to measure the range to a target. The return time of the first photon returned for each pixel is converted directly to a digital word by the CMOS counter in that pixel. This approach both provides the range and avoids the analog signal processing chain found in most LADAR detectors. The depth resolution of the LADAR detector is six cm and can be improved to one cm. This detector architecture is suitable for three-dimensional imaging of fast moving targets from small platforms where power, weight, and size are constrained.

Advanced Thermoelectric Materials

Self-assembled quantum dots provide a mechanism to reduce the electron density of states (DOS) in a material by locally confining the electrons on a very small scale, ~10 nm. One result of this enhanced electron confinement is a significant increase in the Seebeck coefficient, which relates the heat transport to the electric current passing through a p/n junction. This year, 10,000 layers (~ 0.1 mm) of quantum dots superlattices (QDSLs) have been epitaxially grown at Lincoln Laboratory by using the lead-salt material system, PbTe/PbSeTe. This material system allows full exploitation of the enhanced Seebeck effect to build high-efficiency thermoelectric coolers. These bulk lead-salt QDSL materials have been used to build the first functioning thermoelectric cooling device based entirely on 3-D quantum-structured materials.

David L. Briggs

More information about Lincoln Laboratory can be found online at

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