Siddharth Samsi holds a microscope slide containing a brain tissue sample. The sample will be imaged using the hyperspectral and quantitative phase imager system, at right, set up in the Biophotonic, Electric, Acoustic, and Magnetic Measurement Lab.

Innovation and Collaboration

The Technology Office works to enhance inventiveness and innovation at the Laboratory through various opportunities and Laboratory-wide activities that sustain a culture of creative problem solving and innovative thinking.

Toroidal propeller

Technology Office Challenges

Each year, we design scenarios that challenge multidisciplinary teams to invent creative solutions to emerging problems affecting national security. The goals of these challenges are to promote innovation, encourage people to work in new areas, and have fun.


We organize events at which researchers from national labs, academia, the military, and industry can learn about the latest developments in a wide range of technologies that can have significant impact on national security.

The Advanced Research Technology Symposium (ARTS) is typically held at MIT to connect with academics, students, and entrepreneurs on MIT campus and in the New England area. The symposium highlights some of the most pressing challenges confronting our nation's security and well-being, and proposes ways advanced technology can help address these challenges. Presentations, poster sessions, and panel discussions engage attendees.

ARTS Website

The Recent Advances in Artificial Intelligence for National Security (RAAINS) focuses at a deep-technical level on current state-of-the-art AI applications that have been developed for national security needs. The workshop showcases examples of significant progress in applying AI and provides a glimpse into promising future R&D into AI technology. 

RAAINS Website


Best Invention and Best Paper

Annually, to reward experimentation and creative thinking, we recognize one or two inventions that demonstrate an innovative solution to an engineering problem.

We also recognize a paper that presents the results of creative, high-caliber research, fostering the importance of publishing findings that can fuel the development of new concepts and technologies.


2020 Best Invention

Electrospray Device and Fabrication Methods, invented by Melissa Smith, Donna-Ruth Yost, Noah Siegel, Daniel Freeman, and Paulo Lozano

This invention comprises novel manufacturing techniques and a prototype for an electrospray device capable of generating charged particles (tiny droplets or ions) that are electrostatically extracted from an electrically conductive liquid. This advancement is specifically being applied to electric propulsion for small satellites. The invention increases the thruster density for ion electrospray devices by 10 to 100 times over current manufacturing methods and promises to revolutionize propulsive capabilities and maneuverability of small satellites. 

2020 Best Paper

Operation of an Optical Atomic Clock with a Brillouin Laser Subsystem,” written by  William Loh, Jules Stuart, David Reens, Colin Bruzewicz, Danielle Braje, John Chiaverini, Paul Juodawlkis, Jeremy Sage, and Robert McConnell, and published in Nature, Volume 588, December 2020.

This paper was chosen on the basis of its well-written, lucid description of the use of ultrastable lasers and chip-scale trapped ion systems to enable a major advance in the field of portable optical clocks with performance in precision and accurate timing comparable to that of current state-of-the-art clocks.

Previous Best Inventions & Best Papers