NASA SBIR 2010 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 10-1 X5.04-8154
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Spaceflight Structural Sensor Systems and NDE
PROPOSAL TITLE: Miniaturized Time Domain Terahertz Non Destructive Evaluation for In-Orbit Inspection of Inflatable Habitats and Thermal Protection Systems

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Picometrix, LLC
2925 Boardwalk Drive
Ann Arbor, MI 48104 - 6765
(734) 864-5600

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
David Zimdars
2925 Boardwalk
Ann Arbor, MI 48176 - 6765
(734) 864-5611

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 2
End: 3

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Picometrix's time-domain terahertz (TD-THz) non-destructive evaluation (NDE) technology could be used
to inspect space flight structures such as inflatable space habitats, thermal protection systems (TUFI-type
tiles, SOFI TPS), for voids, disbonds, and damage such as tearing and micron-meteorite impact. In this
Phase I SBIR project, we propose to test the feasibility of three key technological changes which could
substantially reduce the volume, mass, and power requirement of the TD-THz instrumentation, making it
more suitable for use by an operator in space. The current instrumentation paradigm is that a multi-purpose
TD-THz control unit is used to provide common drive, data acquisition, and analysis functionality to
interchangeable sensors and imaging which connect to the control unit with a fiber-optic/electrical
umbilical. However, the current COTS control unit is substantially larger and heavier than would be
desirable for a space-flight capable unit. The proposed developments would enable a control unit for a
hand held NDE imaging tool, sufficiently robust for spaceflight, no larger than a small shoebox. It should
be possible to reduce the size of the control unit to approximately one sixth of the current values to, for
example, 14 in. X 8 in. X 4 in and 10 pounds.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
At the end of a successful Phase II, the goal would be to space qualify the compact control unit design in
Phase III so that it could be used for in-orbit inspections of inflatable habitats and thermal protection
systems. In addition, THz NDE instrumentation will be valuable in characterizing the aging and durability
of aircraft and spacecraft materials and components. Materials include ceramics, foams, Kevlar, Zylon, and
other non-conductive polymer matrix composites. Additional NDE applications include inspection of soft
shell fan containment, thermal protection systems, and composite overwrap pressure vessels.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Ceramics, foams, and polymer matrix composites are used in automobile and ships and many other
consumer and industrial products. A compact TD-THz imaging system could be used inspect automobile
dashboards, inspect for delamination of printed circuit boards, inspect of pipe insulation, as well as inspect
manufactured parts such as pure plastic and paper products. A compact TD-THz imager benefits homeland
security applications under development such as personnel and luggage inspection for concealed weapons
and explosives (in luggage, shoes, etc.).

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.)
3D Imaging
Nondestructive Evaluation (NDE; NDT)
Optical/Photonic (see also Photonics)
Space Transportation & Safety
Spacecraft Design, Construction, Testing, & Performance (see also Engineering; Testing & Evaluation)
Terahertz (Sub-millimeter)

Form Generated on 09-03-10 12:12