What We Do
Developing and building state-of-the-art solutions for challenging problems faced by the U.S. Navy has been our core expertise for several decades.
Modern submarines host thousands of sensors that are used for tactical purposes and also to collect data that are subjected to later analysis such as mission reconstruction.
APL-UW is the implementing organization for the Pacific Northwest component of the NSF Ocean Observatories Initiative: Regional Scale Nodes. This underwater cabled observatory will be installed off the Washington and Oregon coasts to span the Juan de Fuca plate. We are engineering leads for this high bandwidth, high power distribution system, and will also deliver the scientific instrument packages that connect to it. More >>
Custom Recording Systems
We develop custom recording systems and also the interfaces between them and ship's sensors for every U.S. Navy submarine. We also develop the highly specialized signal processing tools used to analyze the collected data.
We have developed a new class of high-definition sonars used to inspect and identify objects in turbid water where optical systems fail and continue to explore applications for them. They can identify underwater intruders as part of harbor security, and can be deployed on remotely operated submersibles where they can scan for objects of interest. The sonars are even being used to count migrating salmon by fisheries researchers.
DIDSON high-definition sonar images: fish (L) and stingrays (R)
Photonics is the use of light to acquire, transfer and store data of all types. Systems operating with light are expected to replace many electronic devices in the future. Researchers are developing fiber optic modulators and switches based on organic electro-optic polymer materials. We are also working on spectroscopic identification of materials using terahertz radiation.
Gary Harkins, EPS Department Director
Our engineers participated in VISIONS'11, a major research cruise aboard the R/V Thomas G. Thompson. Their work prepared for installation of the Regional Scale Nodes underwater cabled observatory (part of NSF’s Ocean Observatories Initiative). View the excellent graphics and real-time underwater video collected by remotely operated vehicle ROPOS. Areas of exploration included the Oregon Margin at Hydrate Ridge and Axial Volcano, more than 200 miles off the Washington coast. More >>
APL-UW conducts basic scientific research to increase the predictive capabilities of counter-IED efforts and to detect IEDs at distance and speed before they can cause harm. More >>
Senior Engineer and Affiliate Associate Professor Antao Chen's photonics group is engaged in multidisciplinary research on advanced fiber optic materials and devices to address the bandwidth needs of the future.
XRay Flying Wing Glider
Principal Engineer and Affiliate Associate Professor Jim Luby leads the Laboratory's team in developing the large undersea glider in partnership with Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
In the News
Cables, instruments installed in the deep sea off Pacific Northwest coast
UW News and Information, Hannah Hickey
18 Sep 2013
After almost seven weeks at sea, University of Washington scientists and engineers have installed pieces for a historic observatory. Sitting on the ocean floor are 14 miles of cable connected to sensors, seismometers and a high-definition video camera, poised to send status updates from the deep ocean.
Work this summer extends reach of cabled deep-ocean observatory
UW New and Information, Hannah Hickey
1 Jul 2013
The University of Washington research vessel Thomas G. Thompson is loading up for six weeks at sea. When the team returns to Seattle in late August they will have extended the cabling to key research sites, an important part of building the first real-time, continuous eye on the mysterious creatures, currents and geologic forms in waters off the Pacific Northwest coast.
Wang, D., A. Chen, A.K.-Y. Jen, "Reducing cross-sensitivity of TiO2-(B) nanowires to humidity using ultraviolet illumination for trace explosive detection," Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 15, 5017-5021, doi:10.1039/c3cp43454k, 2013.
14 Apr 2013, Link
Klinck, H., D.K. Mellinger, K. Klinck, N.M. Bogue, J.C. Luby, W.A. Jump, G.B. Shilling, T. Litchendorf, A.S. Wood, G.S. Schorr, and R.W. Baird, "Near-real-time acoustic monitoring of beaked whales and other cetaceans using a Seaglider," Plos One, 7, e36128, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0036128, 2012.
18 May 2012, Link
Arbab, M.H., D.P. Winebrenner, T.C. Dickey, M.B. Klein, A. Chen, and P.D. Mourad, "A noninvasive terahertz assessment of 2nd and 3rd degree burn wounds," In Proceedings, CLEO 2012: Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics, San Jose, CA, paper CTu3B.3 (Optical Society of America, 2012).
6 May 2012, Link