NASA SBIR 2010 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 10-1 S1.08-9765
SUBTOPIC TITLE: In Situ Airborne, Surface, and Submersible Instruments for Earth Science
PROPOSAL TITLE: Miniaturized Sensors for Monitoring of Atmospheric Trace Gases using Multiple Deployment Platforms

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Daylight Solutions
15378 Avenue of Science, Suite 200
San Diego, CA 92128 - 3407
(858) 432-7500

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Miles Weida
15378 Avenue of Science, Suite 200
San Diego, CA 92128 - 3407
(858) 432-7514

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 3
End: 3

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Daylight Solutions proposes a miniaturized sensor package based on ECqcLTM and QEPAS technology that were independently developed by Daylight Solutions (San Diego, California) and the Laser Science Group Laboratory at Rice University (Houston, Texas)

ECqcLTM lasers and QEPAS detectors have been successfully combined into table-top experiments, and the detection of several atmospheric gases in the low ppb range has been demonstrated. ECqcLTM based portable sensors have also been used to demonstrate the detection of 12CO2 and 13CO2 isotopologues at atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

The ECqcLTM-QEPAS technique involves tightly focusing an infrared laser beam between the prongs of a commercial quartz tuning fork (QTF). Absorption of the laser emission by the sample heats up the gas between the prongs of the QTF. The resulting pressure spike is detected as an electrical signal due to a deformation of the prongs that results in a charge separation on electrodes deposited on the QTF prongs. Acoustically a QTF is a quadrupole, which results in excellent environmental noise immunity.

By scanning the laser over a wide tuning range, the spectra of multiple atmospheric gas species can be recorded using only a single laser. The QEPAS technique does not require a sample chamber and air volumes as small as 1 mm3 containing atmospheric concentrations of 12CO2, 13CO2, CO, CH4, NO2, H2O2, H2CO, O3, and bromine oxides can be measured with ppb sensitivity.

Both QEPAS and ECqcLTM technologies are amenable to miniaturization, monolithic construction, and mass production following a straightforward engineering path using established MEMS technologies. The result would be a small, battery-operated, rugged sensor package that can be mass produced at low cost. The sensor would be insensitive to environmental factors and deployment platform independent. Wireless communication, self-calibration, and remote servicing are inherent components of such a miniaturized monolithic sensor package.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Compact sensors based on ECqcLTM and QEPAS technology for the trace detection of atmospheric gases are of interest to several NASA centers, such as Goddard Space Flight Center, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and collaborating groups of NCAR and NOAA. CO2, CH4, N2O and O3 are primary greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere, but also in other planetary atmospheres. The proposed sensor technology will not only serve to augment existing non-laser instrumentation, but also to study the feasibility and implementation of new innovative techniques with the precision and accuracy necessary for in-situ measurements and remote sensing of Earth and other planetary atmospheres as indicated in this subtopic, as well as subtopic S1.09: In Situ Sensors and Sensor Systems for Planetary Science.

Another important NASA application is to detect, monitor and quantify the reactive intermediate formaldehyde (H2CO), which is one of the most abundant gas phase carbonyl compounds in the atmosphere and has been of interest to atmospheric scientists for many years. This gas is formed in the atmosphere from the oxidation of most anthropogenic and biogenic hydrocarbons. Formaldehyde is also directly emitted into the atmosphere from biomass burning, incomplete combustion, industrial emissions, and by emissions from vegetation. Typical atmospheric mixing ratios vary from ~1 ppbv to several 10s of ppbv for polluted air over urban regions and air influenced by petrochemical refinery emissions.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Daylight Solutions believes that there are numerous applications for a compact, battery powered, low cost sensor that can detect trace gases (parts-per-billion and below) within a mixture of other gases. Applications exist within the DOD, DHS, first responder, and forensic communities for the detection of harmful/lethal gases, explosives, illicit drugs, and a variety of other agents. The portability and sensitivity of this system, along with the instrument's ability to discriminate between target agents and other atmospheric gases, would greatly reduce the false-positive warnings inherent to most current detection schemes, and could provide an early-warning of target gases before they reach dangerous levels. Such low powered sensors could also be dispersed throughout a wide area to create an autonomous environmental monitoring network to measure green house gases. In medical diagnostics, trace gases present in exhaled human breath can be mapped to specific diseases and used to monitor the effectiveness of treatment. The detection of very low concentrations of gases would greatly increase process control and contamination monitoring in industrial applications. The device proposed under this SBIR could also provide a low cost method for individuals to monitor their exposure to hazardous materials where wide area monitoring is not possible.

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING (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.)
Analytical Instruments (Solid, Liquid, Gas, Plasma, Energy; see also Sensors)
Chemical/Environmental (see also Biological Health/Life Support)
Lasers (Measuring/Sensing)
Optical/Photonic (see also Photonics)
Sensor Nodes & Webs (see also Communications, Networking & Signal Transport)

Form Generated on 09-03-10 12:12