Core Competencies

The ISN has cultivated a robust and expansive set of core competencies, both in terms of S&T capabilities and operational strengths.

In response to sponsor needs, the ISN can expand these competencies, and add totally new ones, by engaging experts from across the MIT campus and Lincoln Laboratory, a Federally-Funded Research and Development Center that is part of MIT.


Core Competencies – Science & Technology Research

Advanced Structural Materials – blast & ballistic protection; damage detection & repair; lethality; light-weighting manned and unmanned platforms; vibration damping 

Energy and Power – compact, lightweight devices for electricity generation; ultra-long lifetime “batteries”; wireless, non-radiative transmission of electric power 

High-fidelity 3-D Dynamical Modeling – simulation of durability, fracture and failure of materials, platforms & structures owing to blast, ballistic, other mechanical, and thermal impacts

Hypersonic Flow Environments – materials behavior & durability; new materials & structures; shock related phenomena in condensed phase materials

Innovative Manufacturing – alloys; fibers & fabrics; liquid spray technology; multifunctional materials

Multi-material Fiber & Fabric Devices – combat ID; communications; detection & emission of heat, light & sound; energy generation & storage; synthesis of tiny particles 

Nano-Plasmonic & Topological Phenomena – electronic, photonic & plasmonic processes for detection, displays, obscurants, secure communications & signal processing applications

Network Science – network localization & navigation; network operation; interference exploitation; secret key generation; cognitive quantum entanglement distillation; multiparty quantum communication

Neuromorphic Optical Systems – deep learning optical computing architectures (ultra-fast, ultra-low power)

Next-generation “Electronics” – optoelectronic and other unconventional information carriers; 2D photonic integrated circuits for compact LIDARs and novel displays 

Novel EMR Sources – compact, portable, and widely tunable from THz to X-ray

Sensing Technology for Full Spectrum Situational Awareness – CBRNE sensing; detection, imaging & ranging of stationary and mobile targets (multi-band & hyperspectral)

Warfighter Medicine – battlespace and far-forward care; disease detection & prevention; sensing technologies for human physiological monitoring


Core Competencies – Operations

Basic (6.1) Research – in the physical, biological and information sciences, and engineering to enable novel technologies for U.S. military and homeland security applications

Applied (6.2 & 6.3) Research – performed on the MIT campus to facilitate technology maturation

Seed Funding – to fast-track exploration of promising new research ideas

MIT R&D Infrastructure – rapidly engage experts & facilities from across the MIT campus and MIT Lincoln Laboratory to provide a critical mass of talent to solve complex S&T problems

Rapid Transitioning – accelerate transitioning of promising results of on-campus research by partnering with the Army, other U.S. military services, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, and industrial companies

R&D Collaborations – substantive, symbiotic partnering with the Army, other U.S. Military Services, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, and industry to discover and advance transformative technology solutions for U.S. defense and homeland security needs

MIT Ethos of Innovation & Defense R&D – network & leverage MIT’s culture of entrepreneurship & MIT’s Defense Research Ecosystem (i.e., academic departments, research labs & centers performing research in support of National defense and homeland security)

Perform Non-classified Research Relevant to Sensitive R&D – information firewalls at off-campus partners enable the ISN to perform non-classified research on the MIT campus that supports classified extensions and/or applications at extramural locations