NASA SBIR 02-1 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER:02- S4.01-8295 (For NASA Use Only - Chron: 023704 )
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Science Instruments for Conducting Solar System Exploration
PROPOSAL TITLE: Mini-Cell Ion Mobility Spectrometer for In Situ Chemical Analysis

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Ion Applications Inc.
7383 Hazelwood Circle
Lake Worth , FL   33467 - 6528
(561 ) 966 - 1582

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Robert Stimac
7383 Hazelwood Circle
Lake Worth , FL   33467 - 6528
(561 ) 966 - 1582

A miniature, specialized Ion Mobility Spectrometer (IMS) will be designed, built, and evaluated that is responsive to the requirements of NASA exobiology flight experiments.

The helium-based Ion Mobility Spectrometer previously developed for NASA by the key personnel making this proposal provides the universal response and ppb sensitivity required. However, the minimal resources available onboard for missions to planets and small bodies such as comets, asteroids, and moons, mandate that the instruments provide maximum analytical capabilities with minimal requirements of volume, weight, and consumables. Therefore, further miniaturization and development of the IMS is required. For Phase I it is proposed that a miniaturized IMS prototype be designed, built, and evaluated as the platform for a space-capable instrument. This instrument will incorporate a number of novel features that advance the current technology. The modifications and improvements to the former design will provide the required analytical and space-flight capabilities to serve as the basis for a miniature space-capable instrument. Phase II will entail the evaluation of the Mini-Cell IMS in conjunction with MEMS GC and the possible further miniaturization and production engineering of delivered instrumentation. Potential commercial applications are for the manufacture of hand-held detectors for explosives or illegal narcotics.

The greatest potential commercial application for the Mini-Cell IMS is for the manufacture of hand-held detectors for explosives or illegal narcotics. The Mini-Cell design concept should be scalable to mass production techniques which will drastically lower the cost of production versus the standard IMS while still providing the high sensitivity required for the demanding explosives or drugs detection applications, Using a non-regulated ionization source, such as the Am-241, makes the Mini-Cell IMS much more widely available. Other commercial applications would be in the detection of trace chemicals in the semiconductor industry. Here there also exists a need for sophisticated instrumentation with very low, and always becoming lower, detection limits for a variety of chemicals deleterious for the production environment. Having a non-regulated source would also be very well received in this application.

NASA applications are as described in this proposal for a chemical detector which, when mated to a miniature GC, can provide the detection and confirmation of identity of chemicals eluting from the GC. The low weight and consumables usage of the Mini-Cell IMS make the use of this instrument practicable for the contemplated future missions to explore the atmospheres and gaseous contents of moons, comets, and planets including the proposed balloon rover missions.
Another potential NASA application is for an IMS to replace the IMS currently used to monitor the crew environment on the space shuttle. The current system is bulky, and the replacement of it with something smaller sized is being investigated. The americium source could also be an advantage here because the device could be advertised as no more hazardous than a common commercial smoke detector.

Form Printed on 09-05-02 10:10