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DESI: Defense Enterprise Science Initiative
Accelerating impact through university-industry partnerships

DESI is a pilot program that supports university-industry research collaboration focused on accelerating the impact of basic research on defense capabilities. The goals of DESI are twofold. First, it seeks to foster sustainable university-industry partnerships to identify and apply new discoveries and knowledge on existing capabilities and address technological gaps. DESI also aims to charter a new pathway to accelerate the transfer of basic research to innovative technologies and complement the Department’s other basic research programs such as the Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship, the Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI), and the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP).

DESI is sponsored by the Basic Research Office in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. The Air Force Office of Scientific Research administers the program in collaboration with the Army Research Office.

Teams were chosen from five topical areas, and each will receive up to $1.5 million over two years to further fundamental knowledge and understanding in the context of end-use applications. Learn more about the topic areas and awarded teams below. 


  • Power Beaming (Topic Chief: Dr. Jason Marshall, Air Force)


    The Boeing Company (lead), Arizona State University, Syracuse University


    Power beaming, the wireless transfer of energy, may utilize lasers as an energy source due to its inherent advantages relative to other approaches, such as increased range.  Early demonstrations of power beaming with lasers used conventional solar cells for a fielded system, which is not an ideal choice. This is because solar cells are designed to capture sunlight, which has a broad range of frequencies, but lasers operate at narrow bandwidths, resulting in poor beaming efficiencies. The proposed project will perform the fundamental research necessary to develop and demonstrate laser power converters that take advantage of the narrow bandwidth of lasers and improve the low efficiencies of these systems.