NASA STTR 2008 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 08-1 T2.01-9941
RESEARCH SUBTOPIC TITLE: Foundational Research for Aeronautics Experimental Capabilities
PROPOSAL TITLE: Metal RubberTM Sensors for Skin Friction Measurements

NAME: Nanosonic, Inc. NAME: Virginia Tech - Aerospace & Ocean Eng
STREET: 1485 South Main Street STREET: 219-D Randolph Hall
CITY: Blacksburg CITY: Blacksburg
STATE/ZIP: VA  24060 - 5556 STATE/ZIP: VA  24061 - 6150
PHONE: (540) 953-1785 PHONE: (540) 231-5283

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Hang Ruan
1485 South Main Street
Blacksburg, VA 24060 - 5556
(540) 953-1785

Expected Technology Readiness Level (TRL) upon completion of contract: 4 to 5

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
The objective of this NASA STTR program is to develop conformal thin film sensors and sensor arrays for the direct measurement and mapping of distributed skin friction on the surfaces of flight-test vehicles and wind tunnel models at DFRC and other NASA centers. NanoSonic would use its patented Metal RubberTM materials to fabricate the patterned "sensor skin" arrays. Metal RubberTM is a free-standing self-assembled nanocomposite that acts as a transducer to convert shear stress into changes into electrical impedance. During this program, NanoSonic would work cooperatively with Virginia Tech to develop an improved mechanical and electrical model of skin friction sensor performance that will allow quantitative optimization of material properties and suggest optimal methods for sensor attachment and use for NASA applications. We will perform synthesis of sensor skin materials with optimized transduction, hysteresis and environmental properties, specifically for high Reynold's number flow and also varying temperature use. We will fabricate patterned two-dimensional sensor arrays and internal electronics using optimized materials. NanoSonic and Virginia Tech will perform complete analysis of sensor cross-sensitivities and noise sources to allow optimization of signal-to-noise ratio and practical sensor sensitivity. Support electronics will be developed to acquire, multiplex, store and process raw sensor array data. NanoSonic and Virginia Tech will also experimentally validate sensor array performance through extended water and wind tunnel evaluation, and possible flight testing, and produce a first-generation skin friction sensor array and data acquisition electronics system for sale.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The anticipated initial market of the Metal RubberTM sensor skin arrays is for flight testing and wind tunnel testing of flow models for NASA flight research centers. An appreciation of the instrumentation issues obtained by working with such centers would allow improvements in sensor materials, electronics and packaging, and potentially allow the transition of related products to operational vehicles. The commercialization potential of the Metal RubberTM technology developed through this NASA STTR program lies in four areas, namely 1) Metal RubberTM sensor skin arrays for the measurement of skin friction, 2) Broader sensor skin arrays for the measurement of pressure, 3) Single-element air or water flow sensors, and 4) Metal RubberTM material itself.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Primary customers would be university, government laboratory and aerospace industry researchers. Small, unmanned air vehicles large enough to carry the extra load associated with electronics and power, and operationally sophisticated enough to require air data sensors would be a likely first military platform use. Distributed pressure mapping on air vehicles as well as in biomedical devices and other systems
may have merit. Further, the thin film shear sensor elements may be used as air flow or water flow devices in systems where either the low weight, low surface profile, lack of need for space below the flow surface, or high sensitivity at a low cost are needed. Such broader commercial sensor opportunities would be considered during Phase II.

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.

Multifunctional/Smart Materials
Sensor Webs/Distributed Sensors
Testing Facilities

Form Generated on 11-24-08 11:59