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Grant
Agency: National Science Foundation | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 100.00K | Year: 2009

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I research project explores a novel laser processing technique to produce nano-dielectric films which are based on polymer coated metal nanoparticles. This will enable in-house synthesis of nano-dielectrics films using laser irradiation of target materials in a liquid environment exhibiting a dielectric constant several orders of magnitude higher than that of the host polymer. Scaling up this technology will lead to fabrication of high energy density capacitors with both reduced size and mass. The pulsed laser ablation process has been successfully applied for fabrication of micro column arrays on various materials for blackbody and thermal management applications. The proposed method can lead to very high dielectric constants which would increase the energy density of the dielectric. The proposal also addresses high temperature use. The broader impact will be to lead to the fabrication of ultra high energy storage capacitors that will find use in commercial and military systems where size and weight are a premium. These devices should allow storage of a large amount of charge per unit volume (high energy density) that can be released rapidly (high power density). Commercial super-capacitors currently available have either too low power or energy density to meet future power storage needs or are too expensive to manufacture. This technology will find applications in load leveling, power back-up in electronics and automotive industry and various aerospace and military systems.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2013

One of the very important issues in many industries is bonding of dissimilar materials, since high bond resistance to high and rapid thermal and mechanical loads is required. The problems associated with the bond durability stem from fundamental differences in the coefficients of thermal expansion and thermal conductivity. For example, ceramic has a relatively low coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE), while metals have a relatively high CTE. In addition, thermal conductivities are very different too, which actually adds to the problem: under conditions of rapid temperature increase it is found the metal airframe may become hotter than the ceramic because of the differing thermal conductivity characteristics. The objective of this project is to achieve a revolutionary improvement of the bonding process between highly dissimilar materials used in various industrial applications. The proposed technology is applicable to both adhesive and brazing types of bonding. Achievement of a dramatic increase in the bond strength in the metal alloy/adhesive (braze) and composite/adhesive (braze) interfaces of existing advanced materials and structures suitable for advanced industrial applications is the main goal of the Phase I project, which will also focus on implementation of the proposed technology for newest materials developed up to date and scaling of the proposed technology to large area and complex shape ceramic- and composite-to-metal structural joints. The proposed technology developed at Integrated Micro Sensors Inc (IMS) is based on laser- assisted fabrication of Micro Column Arrays (MCA) on the surface of the two dissimilar materials prior to adhesive bonding or brazing. There are several advantages of the MCA technology in the drastic improvement of bonds between any similar and dissimilar materials. First, mechanical strength increases due to the interlocking of the adhesive or brazing material between micro columns. Second, the bond strength increases due to the increase of the specific surface area by more than an order of magnitude. Third, stability increases due to the inherent elasticity of the micro cones during a deformation that can occur due to stresses induced by differences in thermal expansion between the material and adhesive or braze or under shear stress . Fourth, increase in the bond durability because of the repeated bend contours of the surface preventing hydrothermal failure. Fifth, wettability of the material surface significantly improves due to (i) a highly developed surface morphology at the micro and submicron level, and (ii) changes in local chemistry due to surface oxidation that could be beneficial to promoting a stronger bond. Sixth, the MCA technology is efficient, highly reproducible, environmentally safe, and can be applied virtually to any solid state material. Seventh, the MCA technology is highly scalable to large areas and minimum processing times, as the MCA fabrication efficiency is proportional only to the average laser power (see Task 1 of the Work Plan section for details). Commercial lasers with powers up to 5 kW are currently used for cutting of large area (several feet) materials. The combination of these unique features will result in a significant improvement of the bonds between materials targeted in this project. Integrated Micro Sensors Inc has already filed a U.S. Patent application on this technology. This project will be conducted by Integrated Micro Sensors Inc in collaboration with a team from the University of Houston, which will provide facilities and expertise in mechanical testing of coupon samples fabricated to demonstrate the advantages of the proposed technology.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 600.00K | Year: 2011

Achievement of a dramatic increase in the bond strength in the adhesive and composite/adhesive interfaces of existing fiber reinforced composite material joints and structures suitable for various NASA applications is the main goal of this project. The proposed technology developed at Integrated Micro Sensors Inc is based on laser-assisted fabrication of Micro Column Arrays (MCA) on the surface of the two materials prior to bonding. There are several advantages of the MCA technology in the drastic improvement of any bond: (i) mechanical strength increases due to interlocking of the adhesive or brazing material between micro columns, (ii) the bond strength increases due to the increase of the specific surface area by more than an order of magnitude, (iii) stability increases due to the inherent elasticity of the micro cones during a deformation, (iv) increase in the bond durability because of the repeated bend contours of the surface preventing hydrothermal failure, (v) wettability of the material surface significantly improves due to the highly developed surface morphology at the micro and submicron level and changes in local chemistry as a result of surface oxidation. Based on the feasibility proven in the Phase I project, this Phase II project will focus on implementation of the proposed technology for newest materials developed up to date and scaling of the proposed technology to large area and complex shape FRP composite structural joints. The investigation of the approach based on using the bond interface electrical properties for joint health monitoring initiated in the Phase I project, will be further developed into viable transducer device concepts.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 100.00K | Year: 2011

The objective of this project is to develop a wireless intelligent dual-band photodetector system for advanced fire detection/recognition, combining UV/IR III nitride material photodiode structures controlled by FPGA portable circuitry, with a neural network identification capability. Spectral range, detector speed, spatial resolution become critical for fast fire detection as well as for avoiding costly false alarms. Current detectors are bulky, have low mechanical and temperature strength, and cannot be easily integrated into networks. Miniature, chip-based dual-color high-temperature visible- or even solar-blind optical sensor system would allow for fast and false alarm-free fire detection and recognition, thus providing a fast and reliable response in separated UV and IR bands with high spatial resolution, and "smart", artificial neural networks based signal analysis Moreover, development of such sensors will promote fabrication of multi-pixel dual-band UV/IR focal plane arrays with a visible- or solar-blind imaging capability. This project will also consider integration the optical sensor system with existing state of the art smoke sensors for detection of smoldering (flameless) fires as well. One of the approaches for such integration is based on placing the remote high sensitivity dual-band UV/IR focal plane arrays integrated smoke detectors in areas that are prone to possible fires, such as aircraft or spacecraft engines and power circuits. These devices will then communicate with one central control system that analyses the nature and type of flame and sound an alarm accordingly. The second approach is to integrate the smoke and the high sensitivity dual-band UV/IR focal plane array detector into a unit controlled by one system, and then place them in a close proximity of possible fire sources.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 125.00K | Year: 2012

High-performance, radiation-tolerant detectors are required for the time-of-flight laser based rangefinders. Avalanche photodiodes (APDs) are conventionally chosen as detectors for standard laser rangefinder systems. However, the performance of currently used APDs degrades significantly after exposure to high levels of radiation. Integrated Micro Sensors Inc (IMS, Houston, TX)) proposes novel intrinsically radiation-tolerant III nitrides based high-speed APDs superior for use in space-based laser-altimeter systems. The Indium Gallium Nitride (InGaN) alloy has the potential of forming photovoltaic devices covering a range of 0.7 eV (InN) to 3.4 eV (GaN). This energy range allows for providing a perfect match to the 1.06 um wavelength (~1.17 eV) of the lasers used in the time-of-flight range finders. The III-Nitrides exhibit inherent chemical and thermal ruggedness, which makes them suitable for several space and military applications. It has recently been determined that these Nitride materials can offer exceptional radiation tolerance that is well beyond what can be achieved with conventional materials that are currently flown into space. The InGaN APDs to be developed in this project will be targeted for operating conditions up to 250 oC, and up to 2 MeV proton irradiation, which are substantially higher than those for the standard currently used materials, such as Si or GaAs. IMS envisions that devices developed in this project would be especially beneficial to Europa Jupiter System Mission (EJSM) that requires high performance sensors and detectors that can operate with low noise under the severe radiation environment.The ultimate goal of this project is to develop high-speed, radiation-tolerant visible-blind APDs responding to laser beams of 1.06 um wavelength for rangefinder applications.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 100.00K | Year: 2010

Current calibration techniques do not permit pre-flight, in-flight, or real time calibration. The available optical calibration sources such as lamps and blackbody simulators are bulky, can be used only in laboratory conditions and require precise adjustments of the total flux, color, and spectral shape, accomplished by using filters, diaphragms, mirrors, lenses and software to perform complicated calculations to calibrate the data. The objective of this project is development, fabrication, and testing of miniature high-stability integrated super broadband optical emission sources for field and in-flight calibration of stellar photometers and spectrometers. In order to meet this objective we will utilize results in the area of Silicon Carbide and Si-based avalanche Light Emitting Diodes achieved by Integrated Micro Sensors Inc, in order to develop more efficient and mature devices of this type based on III nitride materials. This effort will be based on the new developments in III nitride materials growth, characterization, and processing accomplished by the Center for Advanced Materials (University of Houston). The high stability of the proposed devices in a wide temperature range, including cryogenic temperatures and vacuum environments, will be provided by employment of the avalanche electroluminescence process based on intra-band hot electron transitions. BENEFIT: High stability of the proposed devices in a wide temperature range, including cryogenic temperatures and vacuum environments, will be provided by employment of the avalanche electroluminescence process based on intra-band hot electron transitions. High performance and super-broad spectral range will result from implementation of improved quality more efficient direct bandgap materials and bandgap-engineered structures, as well as employment of advanced processing methods. The extended emission spectrum ranging from at most 280 nm to at least 1770 nm, will be achieved using broad-band emissions from tuned III nitride-based avalanche LED structures and their combinations, integrated on a single chip. Individual addressing of each LED in the structure will allow for spectral simulation of a large variation of different class stars.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 599.99K | Year: 2010

The objectives of this Phase II project are to develop InGaN photovoltaic cells for high temperature and/or high radiation environments to TRL 4 and to define the development path for the technology to TRL 5 and beyond. The project will include theoretical and experimental refinement of device structures produced in the Phase I, as well as modeling and optimization of solar cell device processing. The devices will be tested under concentrated AM0 sunlight, at temperatures from 100ºC to 250ºC, and after exposure to ionizing radiation. The results are expected to further verify that InGaN can be used for high temperature / high radiation capable solar cells in NASA space missions.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 100.00K | Year: 2010

Achievement of a dramatic increase in the bond strength in the composite/adhesive interfaces of existing fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) composite material joints and structures suitable for NASA applications is the main goal of this Phase I project. The Phase II project will focus on implementation of the proposed technology for newest materials developed up to date and scaling of the proposed technology to large area and complex shape FRP composite structural joints. The proposed technology developed at Integrated Micro Sensors Inc is based on laser-assisted fabrication of Micro Column Arrays (MCA) on the surface of the two materials prior to bonding. There are several advantages of the MCA technology in the drastic improvement of bonds between any similar and dissimilar materials. First, mechanical strength increases due to interlocking of the adhesive or brazing material between micro columns. Second, the bond strength increases due to the increase of the specific surface area by more than an order of magnitude. Third, stability increases due to the inherent elasticity of the micro cones during a deformation that can occur due to stresses induced by difference in thermal expansion between the material and adhesive or braze or under shear stress). Fourth, increase in the bond durability because of the repeated bend contours of the surface preventing hydrothermal failure. Fifth, wettability of the material surface significantly improves due to (i) a highly developed surface morphology at the micro and submicron level resulting from rapid solidification of the material surface during laser processing, and (ii) changes in local chemistry due to surface oxidation that could be beneficial to promoting a stronger bond.


Grant
Agency: National Science Foundation | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 480.39K | Year: 2010

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project aims to develop a core-shell nanoparticle architecture with metal nanoparticles as the high capacitance core, and polymers as the shell. The nanoparticles will be entrained in a broad spectrum of host polymers via a novel approach to produce high dielectric-constant films with minimum dielectric loss. To scale up this process without losing the unique and valuable properties of core-shell nanoparticles, a wet chemistry route with laser for selective polymerization will be utilized to coat each metal nanoparticle with a polymeric shell. The broader/commercial impact of this project will be the potential to provide high-dielectric constant nanoparticles for the development of nanocomposite to meet future energy storage needs of supercapacitors. Currently, commercially available supercapacitors either have too low power or energy density or are too expensive to manufacture. This project is expected to enable the fabrication of ultra high energy storage capacitors by providing high energy and power density in a cost-effective manner.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 408.34K | Year: 2010

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project aims to develop a core-shell nanoparticle architecture with metal nanoparticles as the high capacitance core, and polymers as the shell. The nanoparticles will be entrained in a broad spectrum of host polymers via a novel approach to produce high dielectric-constant films with minimum dielectric loss. To scale up this process without losing the unique and valuable properties of core-shell nanoparticles, a wet chemistry route with laser for selective polymerization will be utilized to coat each metal nanoparticle with a polymeric shell.

The broader/commercial impact of this project will be the potential to provide high-dielectric constant nanoparticles for the development of nanocomposite to meet future energy storage needs of supercapacitors. Currently, commercially available supercapacitors either have too low power or energy density or are too expensive to manufacture. This project is expected to enable the fabrication of ultra high energy storage capacitors by providing high energy and power density in a cost-effective manner.

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