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Army researcher defends dissertation, pursues safeguarded technology

May 15, 2019

An electronics engineer at the Army's corporate research laboratory successfully defended his doctoral dissertation, while working to safeguard fielded technology for the Soldiers of today and tomorrow.

Dr. Wayne Churaman, an electronics engineer at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command's Army Research Laboratory, defended his dissertation, "Investigating Energetic Porous Silicon as a Solid Propellant Micro-Thruster" for the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland.

Churaman serves as team lead for the On-Chip Energetics and MEMS Team at ARL, having completed his doctoral work while developing nano-scale energetics for electronic device protection. His work supports the Army's Network Modernization Priority.

"My work involves developing novel integration approaches to augment traditional microelectromechanical systems, or MEMS, and electronics with on-chip reactive materials for a wide variety of applications ranging from device protection, thermal battery ignition sources and fuzing," Churaman said.

Churaman also leads a group of world-class scientists in developing strategic technologies and capabilities for members of the intelligence community.

"When I first joined ARL in 2005 as a contractor, fresh out of my undergraduate degree, my role focused on developing the fundamental material science behind energetic porous silicon," Churaman said. "Over the years, I have been able to direct the evolution of this material into a number of application spaces with direct relevance to both the Army's mission and those across the intelligence community."

According to Churaman, the research in developing methods to augment electronics and MEMS with highly tunable reactive materials is critical to the Army and the Soldier because it represents a unique capability to protect both the fielded technology of today and potentially in the future.

"As warfare continues to span the range of the electronic spectrum with an ever evolving multi-domain scenario, the need to put technology in the hands of the warfighter is critical," Churaman said. "We not only aim to equip them with the most sophisticated technology, but also to protect the technology from the adversary. Protecting this technology translates into protecting our fighting force."

As it pertains to his recent academic venture, Churaman noted that the successful defense of his dissertation is a significant milestone in his life that holds both personal gratification and professional promise.

"It is a significant accomplishment both personally and professionally to have successfully defended my Ph.D. dissertation," Churaman said. "My family has always supported me throughout my academic endeavors and it means everything that I can share this accomplishment with them, particularly my wife and my parents, whom without, this would not have been possible. This is an incredible blessing from God. It also represents a significant professional accomplishment as I received great mentorship from countless members of the CCDC ARL family. It represents a return on investment from ARL, as they have afforded me this opportunity."

Moving forward, Churaman continues to establish key engagements with members of the defense and intelligence communities to identify and fill technological gaps that affect the security of sensitive hardware deployed across multi-domain operational platforms.

"My vision for the next five to ten years is to have a greater and lasting impact for the Army and the warfighter," Churaman said. "I have spent an immense amount of time developing a niche, but relevant use case for energetic porous silicon, and have worked with incredible scientists here at ARL to elevate the technical readiness level of this material. My vision is transitioning this capability to fielded use to enable a new battlefield capability. I also would like to increase ARL's reputation and notoriety as a premier lab for the entire DOD by pursing leadership roles to drive new technology and infuse new, innovative thinking across the lab."

U.S. Army Research Laboratory

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