NASA SBIR 2003 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER:03-A5.02-8935 (For NASA Use Only - Chron: 034070)
SUBTOPIC TITLE:Nanotechnology
PROPOSAL TITLE:Carbon Nanotube Gas Sensor

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Mainstream Engineering Corporation
200 Yellow Pl
Rockledge ,FL 32955 - 5327
(321) 631 - 3550

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Robert P Scaringe
200 Yellow Place
Rockledge ,FL  32955 -5327
(321) 631 - 3550
U.S. Citizen or Legal Resident: Yes

Sensing gas molecules is critical to environmental monitoring, control of chemical processes, space missions as well as agricultural and medical applications. Existing electrical sensor materials are based on semi-conducting metal oxides, silicon devices, organic materials and gas responsive polymers or ceramics. To achieve high chemical sensitivity, semi-conducting metal oxide sensors must be operated at elevated temperatures (200 to 600?C). This need for high temperature operation increases the device complexity and renders them unsuitable for real-time portable applications. On the other hand, conducting polymers and organic semi-conductors are suitable for room temperature operation, but exhibit limited sensitivity. Clearly, there is a need to develop new technology that will allow for operation at room temperature and atmospheric pressure and provide for high-sensitivity measurements and low response times. We have already experimentally demonstrated under our own Internal R&D funding, that carbon nanotubes provide this enabling technology
This effort will experimentally demonstrate a new nanotube sensor technology, which is a radical departure from conventional nanotube sensor approaches. Tests already performed with the proposed carbon nanotube sensor indicate that the electrical response of each gas is unique and that the individual gas concentrations can also be determined.

Our marketing studies have clearly identified that in addition to the obvious gas sensor, chemical vapor detection, and space sensor applications, the high performance of a nanotube sensor has other NASA applications including hazardous gas detection, air purity monitoring as well as low-power sensors for micro- and nano-satellites.

In addition to the obvious gas sensor, chemical vapor detection, and commercial/DoD space sensor applications, a nanotube sensor has numerous other commercial and Homeland Defense applications. Initial industrial applications include hazardous and/or toxic gas detection, chemical warfare agent detection, and air quality analysis. The unique features of the carbon nanotube sensor make a portable battery-powered high-accuracy sensor possible, leading to many diverse commercial sampling/testing/quality applications. In both DoD and commercial applications, there is a need for trace gas detection. In the Homeland Defense market, there are obvious applications for both NBC and explosives detection sensors.