NASA STTR 2009 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 09-1 T7.01-9887
RESEARCH SUBTOPIC TITLE: One-Sided 3D Imaging of Non-Uniformities in Non-Metallic Space Flight Materials
PROPOSAL TITLE: Terahertz Quantum Cascade Laser Based 3D Imaging

NAME: LongWave Photonics LLC NAME: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
STREET: 2711 Centerville Rd STREET: 77 Massachusetts Ave
CITY: Wilmington CITY: Cambridge
STATE/ZIP: MA  19808 - 1645 STATE/ZIP: MA  02139 - 4301
PHONE: (310) 650-6276 PHONE: (617) 253-2431

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Alan Lee
2711 Centervill Rd
Wilmington, DE 19808 - 1645
(310) 650-6276

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 4
End: 6

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
The NASA Constellation program has a need to non-destructively test (NDT) non-metallic materials (foams, Shuttle Tile, Avcoat, etc) for defects such as delaminations and voids. While imaging systems at terahertz frequencies (0.3 to 3 THz) have been demonstrated for 2D imaging of similar materials, they have not yet demonstrate full 3D volumetric imaging. To meet this need, LongWave Photonics proposes to use high-power, low-frequency terahertz quantum cascade lasers (QCLs) developed at MIT, to demonstrate 3D imaging using Laser Triangulation. By using high-power QCL sources, large signal to noise ratios (SNRs) are attainable, resulting in resolution of subtle defects at fast scan speeds. The shorter wavelengths emitted by QCLs, 60 to 250 ┬Ám, allow high lateral and depth resolution. The feasibility of a second system based on Swept-Source Optical Coherence Tomography will also be explored using a recently developed tunable THz QCL from MIT. In addition to the benefits of high SNR, this technique allows sub-wavelength depth resolution. The current generation of QCLs are compatible with a cooling package that is <1 Kg, with <100 W power consumption. Phase II work will package a second generation of QCLs in a compact system to meet NASA's portable 3D NDT needs.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The proposed Terahertz QCL based 3D Imaging system will be valuable in characterizing the voids and delaminations in materials used in the Constellation program (e.g. urethane based foams, silica based composites, etc). The high depth resolution enabled by this system will also allow measurement of thin non-conductive polymer layers, such as paints and compositions to verify thicknesses and integrity. Further application include inspection for corrosion damage under paint layers or foams.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Pharmaceutical applications for this technology include in-process monitoring of thicknesses of polymer coatings in controlled release tablets. Numerous defects in the thin coatings can occur during processing affecting the performance of the tablet, leading drug complications and drug recalls. The use of QCL based 3D imaging technology could improve the uniformity in a batch tablet coating process. In the automotive and aerospace industry spray application of paint is both inefficient and environmentally unfriendly. In situ monitoring of sprayed paint thicknesses would allow reduced paint usage and reduced emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

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.

In-situ Resource Utilization
Optical & Photonic Materials
Semi-Conductors/Solid State Device Materials
Testing Requirements and Architectures
Thermal Insulating Materials

Form Generated on 09-18-09 10:14