NASA SBIR 2003 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER:03-S4.02-8123 (For NASA Use Only - Chron: 034884)
SUBTOPIC TITLE:Robotic Technologies
PROPOSAL TITLE:High Temperature Electrostrictive Ceramics

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
TRS Technologies, Inc.
2820 East College Ave., Suite J
State College ,PA 16801 - 7548
(814) 238 - 7485

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Edward   Alberta
2820 East College Ave.
State College ,PA  16801 -7548
(814) 238 - 7485
U.S. Citizen or Legal Resident: Yes

TRS Technologies proposes to develop high temperature electrostrictors from bismuth-based ferroelectrics. These materials will exhibit high strain and low loss in the 400 to 500?C temperature range, enabling the development of robotic components such as high power ultrasonic transducers and high force actuators for NASA?s planned missions to Venus. Such devices are currently made from piezoelectric Pb(Zr,Ti)O3 ceramic (PZT), which does not operate above 350?C. Existing high temperature piezoelectrics (such lead titanate and quartz) are only useful for sensor applications. They do not have high enough properties or low enough electromechanical loss for actuators and transducers. Electrostrictive materials have been successively used for high precision positioning actuators and high power sonar projectors. They have inherently low losses regardless of operating temperature. The materials developed on Phase I will be specifically designed to operate at 460?C, the Venus surface temperature. Other types of actuators such as pneumatic, hydraulic, electro-active polymer, and shape memory alloy will be difficult if not impossible to implement at such high temperature. In the Phase I program TRS will fabricate 460?C electrostrictors and demonstrate their feasibility for transducers and actuators with strain vs. field measurements. Actuators and ultrasonic devices will be developed in Phase II.

Electrostrictive ceramics are very effective drive elements for compact, highly efficient, very precise electromechanical devices. For NASA?s planned Venus missions, there are a broad range of devices and mechanisms that could make use of high temperature electrostrictors including high precision linear actuators for micromanipulation, amplified linear actuators for robotic arm or finger motion (e.g. x-frame actuators, inchworm motors, or flextensional actuators ), piezoelectric motors for rotary (wrist) motions and instrument or optics deployment, and ultrasonic drills for soil and rock sampling.

Commercial applications for high temperature electrostrictors are actuators for distributed control systems and vibration control on supersonic aircraft and acoustic transducers for rock strata characterization in geothermal and oil well drilling tools. Other potential severe environment applications include robotic devices for vulcanology, NDT transducers for nuclear reactors and other power generation technologies, and high performance engine components (fuel injectors, knock sensors, active vibration control).