NASA SBIR 2016 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 16-2 H12.03-8207
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Novel Imaging Technologies for Space Medicine
PROPOSAL TITLE: Multi-Purpose X-ray System

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Stellarray, Inc.
9210 Cameron Road, Suite 300
Austin, TX 78754 - 3971
(512) 997-7781

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Ronald Hellmer
9210 Cameron Road, Suite 300
Austin, TX 78754 - 3971
(512) 997-7781

CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Mark Eaton
9210 Cameron Road, Suite 300
Austin, TX 78754 - 3971
(512) 997-7781

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 3
End: 5

Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
Novel Imaging Technologies for Space Medicine is a Technology Available (TAV) subtopic that includes NASA Intellectual Property (IP). Do you plan to use the NASA IP under the award?

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
The proposed Multi-Purpose X-ray Source and System (MPXS) can be used on flight missions, space stations, planetary excursions and planetary or asteroid bases, to meet nearly all NASA imaging needs in the Exploration Medical Condition List (EMCL). This includes a range of radiographic imaging modalities - 2D, digital tomosynthesis and half or full CT to cover routine and emergency imaging needs. The MPXS source is comprised of sections, each designed for a specific range of x-ray imaging conditions. The source is currently designed as a rectangular box made primarily of aluminum nitride (AlN) sheets. Each AlN sidewall has a window that allows x-ray flux to exit. The window can be a hollow section of the sidewall or a thin strip of low Z material over a window aperture in the sidewall. Thin strips of metal can be placed over the windows for beam filtration. Each window will output flux from one or more rows of spots (x-ray pixels, or xels) on the metal anode inside, for example a 1 x 30 xel row. These xels are digitally addressed with separate electron beams from field emission cold cathodes in the cathode array. The system will comprise one or more sources, paired with one or more digital x-ray detectors, controlled by software loaded on a laptop or mission systems. Each pair will weigh less than 0.1% of a current tomographic imaging system in less than 0.1% of the volume. Extensions to the source design can reduce these figures even further. The programmability of the x-ray flux sequences/patterns from the sources will enable the range of imaging modalities, and make MPXS well suited to use with emerging AI capabilities in radiographic diagnosis.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
This project will produce a versatile multi-beam x-ray source and configurable imaging systems for human subject imaging on space stations, planetary excursions and planetary or asteroid bases. MPXS will meet the imaging needs for the dental and musculoskeletal (MSK) imaging conditions of current interest to NASA. MPXS systems will go beyond the capabilities currently planned by enabling 3D/tomographic imaging, which will be particularly useful in MSK imaging and in some dental imaging. MPXS can then be used for a much greater number of medical conditions of interest to NASA, particularly head and neck injuries, several conditions requiring imaging of the chest area and dual energy X-ray osteoporosis imaging. The specific gaps the proposed work addresses are 4.02 (We do not have the capability to provide non-invasive medical imaging during exploration missions) and 3.03 (We do not know which emerging technologies are suitable for in-flight screening, diagnosis, and treatment during exploration missions). Although not a focus in Phase I, MPXS could also be used for applications such as 4.27 (We do not have the capability to sterilize medical equipment during exploration missions). Other applications could include sources for a range of instruments NASA uses on space missions, including XRF and XRD. The sources carried on board for imaging applications could be used for sample analysis both on spacecraft and bases and perhaps during excursions.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
There are many commercial applications of the core technology being developed in this project, including a wide range of pre-clinical, clinical and industrial imaging systems. Stellarray's smart x-ray sources, which MPXS will lead, can be used in various x-ray medical imaging systems, especially portable tomographic imaging (tomosynthesis or CT) for breast imaging, emergency medicine and systems for emerging markets. A major mobile radiography and tomographic systems integrator is now discussing with Stellarray the use of simpler versions of MPXS sources for its mobile radiography solutions. Stellarray will develop some systems on its own but more often sell sources and IP for applications where larger companies are better suited to clinical trials and market entry. MPXS sources will also be sold to other developers, particularly at universities and medical schools, a number of which have asked for our resources as they are developed. They could be sold at $75K range to these developers for a good business line. By the time NASA is testing MPXS systems for its missions there should be a reasonably sized installed base at universities generating research and tests results for an even wider range of medical conditions, including new application designs and reconstruction algorithms.

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.)

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