NASA SBIR 2003 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER:03-A5.02-8896 (For NASA Use Only - Chron: 034109)
SUBTOPIC TITLE:Nanotechnology
PROPOSAL TITLE:Nanostructures for Electronic and Sensing Applications

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Synkera Technologies Inc.
2021 Miller Drive, Suite B
Longmont ,CO 80501 - 6786
(720) 494 - 8401

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Debra J. Deininger
2021 Miller Drive, Suite B
Longmont ,CO  80501 -6786
(720) 494 - 8401
U.S. Citizen or Legal Resident: Yes

The proposed project will develop sensors and electronic components from metal oxide based nanotubes and nanowires. These nanostructured materials will be grown under controlled conditions and characterized via electron microscopy in order to relate the effects of variations in growth parameters to the resulting morphology. The focus will be on the fabrication of nanotubes and nanowires with varying aspect ratios and chemical composition. Then the morphology of the nanostructures will be related to the electrical and chemical properties of the material. Finally, the results of these studies will be used to guide the preparation of improved chemiresistive sensors and varistors. Although carbon nanotubes and commercial ceramic powders with roughly spherical geometry are common, the control and exploitation of novel geometric nanostructures for improved performance in sensors and other applications is unusual. Through precise control and understanding of the material structure at the nanoscale, Synkera Technologies believes that significant gains in device performance will be achieved.

The use of nanostructured metal oxides to improve the performance of chemiresistive sensors and varistors will be useful in a variety of NASA applications.
Sensor applications include fuel-cells, emissions monitoring; and air quality monitoring. The proposed sensors will offer increased sensitivity over state of the art and will be suitable for use in hostile environments and amenable to miniaturization.
The production of varistors from complex nanostructured materials is expected to yield improved performance (higher clamping voltage) and/or smaller package sizes. These improvements are important for conservation of space in the ever-increasing complexity of electronic circuitry.

The intended commercial applications are similar to the NASA applications. Two primary sensor market opportunities exist where the proposed technology could find significant commercial success, due to the anticipated improvement in detection limits. These opportunities are indoor air quality measurements (IAQ) in schools, hospitals and office buildings, and process control/emission measurements in industrial manufacturing.
In addition to the advantages of size and clamping voltage cited above, the proposed varistors offer lower capacitance values than currently available devices, and lower cost due to the use of cheaper electrode materials (silver versus platinum).