Focus on Technology
2:00 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

New UD lab proves this is not your grandfather's radar

The University of Dayton's new Mumma Radar Laboratory opened, not with bangs, but with lots of blips.

The state-of-the-art facility, in Kettering Laboratories, contains perhaps the most precise radars in the world, accurate to 1/10th of a micron or within a fraction of a human hair. They also don't take a lot of power. Lab Director Dr. Michael Wicks says they only need the power equivalent to 1/100th of a Christmas tree bulb.

In the lab, four robotic arms rotate, while, a custom-made eight-channel analyzer collects data from eight antennas. On June 10, researchers put the machinery to music for a demonstration. Visiting Pakistani Journalist Fasiha Sharif took this iPhone video:

Dr. Wicks says the hope is students or companies can experiment and develop groundbreaking techniques. Here are some of the possible applications:

  • Better medical imaging (detecting skin cancer earlier, for example)
  • Better weather prediction (detecting tornados sooner in Southwest Ohio)
  • Making the manufacturing process autonomous
  • Detecting defects in 3-D printed objects

There is a cost element. The university has purchased marine radars for $6,000 each, far less expensive than the multi-million dollar aircraft and weather radars being used. Take a look at UD's radars: