NASA SBIR 2008 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 08-2 O3.03-8945
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Vehicle Integration and Ground Processing
PROPOSAL TITLE: Photonic Sensor for Nondestructive Testing of Composite Overwrapped Pressure Vessels

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Los Gatos Research
67 East Evelyn Avenue, Suite 3
Mountain View, CA 94041 - 1518
(650) 965-7772

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
An-Dien Nguyen
67 East Evelyn Avenue, Suite 3
Mountain View, CA 94041 - 1518
(650) 650-3459

Expected Technology Readiness Level (TRL) upon completion of contract: 5 to 6

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Los Gatos Research proposes to develop a new automated health monitoring sensor system capable of monitoring distributed load and acoustic emission (AE) for rapid inspection of damages in composite overwrapped pressure vessels (COPV). Our novel sensor technology offers a number of advantages including sensor compactness and lightweight with multiplexing capability for load and AE for monitoring and characterizing damages in advanced composite structures and components. We achieve this by employing Bragg grating sensor arrays and using a novel interrogation technique combined with state-of-the-art AE method to detect and pinpoint composite defects in these structures. In Phase I, we have demonstrated the sensor's capability to measure crack-induced acoustic emissions in a composite overwrapped pressure vessel structure loaded up to rupture pressure. In Phase II, the grating sensors, interrogation system, and diagnostic software will be integrated into an automated system, capable of measuring and correlating the load history, acoustic emission activity, and determining the severity of damages and their location in the COPV. This dedicated prototype will include an integrated fiber optic conditioning hardware, state-of-the-art AE hardware and software, and address the power and stability requirements unique to ground based and in-flight studies.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Optical fiber technology provides significant advantages for advanced aerospace platforms because they are lightweight, immune to electromagnetic wave interference, and do not produce short circuits or ground loops. Therefore the development of fiber optic sensors has the potential to increase reliability, enable lower cost, and facilitate more effective health monitoring and nondestructive evaluation of NASA's advanced aircraft and spacecraft components and systems. The FO sensor device LGR has demonstrated and proposed to further develop for Phase II will greatly enhance NASA efforts to develop state-of-the-art, compact, low-cost, waveform-based, quantitative strain and ultrasonic wave sensing technology for load, temperature, corrosion, and crack monitoring of advanced structures.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Advances in high-resolution, high sensitivity, and large dynamic range load and AE sensing technology has immediate applications in civil engineering for monitoring cracks, corrosion, and fatigue in steel and concrete structures such as bridges, freeways, and buildings. High frequency ultrasonic signal detection method development can be utilized in ultrasonic testing, medical ultrasonic imaging, and other non-destructive testing (NDT) technology. LGR's FO technology development can be readily incorporated into current fiber optics and optical cross-connect technology for next-generation telecommunication applications.

NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.

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