Blacksburg, VA, United States
Blacksburg, VA, United States
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Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.45K | Year: 2012

ABSTRACT: The team of MicroXact, Inc., ODU and Virginia Tech proposes to develop a revolutionary high efficiency thermoelectric material fabricated on completely new fabrication principles. The material comprises the three-dimensional"wells"of PbTe/PbSe superlattices fabricated by a conformal coating via Atomic layer Deposition (ALD) of macroporous silicon substrates. Such a material will provide ZT>2 at macroscopic thicknesses of the material, permitting 20% or more conversion efficiencies for 400K-600K temperature range. Specifically to the Air Force, the proposed solution can provide more energy- and weight-efficient cooling of infrared focal plane arrays, can provide additional power source on missions where power is at premium (UAVs, satellites) and may find applications in many other applications. In Phase I the team developed and demonstrated ALD conformal coating of high aspect ratio macroporous silicon templates with Pb2Te3, Pb2Se3 and PbTe/PbSeTe superlattices, developed a thorough model of the material, and numerically verified that the proposed material can enable>20% conversion efficiency at 400K-600K range with practical heat sinks. Phase II the team will fabricate the proposed material and device, and will demonstrate ZT>2 and conversion efficiencies exceeding 20%. After the Phase II, MicroXact will commercialize the proposed thermoelectric technology. BENEFIT: Due to predicted unmatched performance characteristics (high efficiency, small size/weight) and large volume-compatible, economically advantageous fabrication process the proposed thermoelectric materials and devices are expected to find a wide range of defense, scientific and commercial applications. Potential DoD applications of the proposed technology are spanning from power generation (higher efficiency jet engines, additional power sources for military satellites) to efficient cooling of infrared cameras in focal plane arrays and thermoelectric cooling of electronics and optoelectronics. In all these applications the incorporation of the proposed material will result in significant improvements of operational characteristics of mentioned components. Commercial applications include auto market (where thermoelectric materials are already being used for cooling seats and improving efficiency of engine), water coolers, and potentially power plants. The advantages of the proposed technology will provide the competitive advantage to MicroXact sufficient for successful market penetration. The proposed concept, when developed and commercialized, is expected to cause a significant impact on both the DoD missions and commercial applications.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.65K | Year: 2011

ABSTRACT: The team of MicroXact, Inc., UCLA, UC Irvine and Carnegie Mellon University proposes to engineer revolutionary nonvolatile reconfigurable plasmonic gates for information processing on the basis of ultrafast plasmon-enhanced all-optical magnetization switching. This unique approach allows one to program any gate between several different states at very high modulation rates and low power consumption, thus allowing tremendous opportunities to engineer all-optical Field Programmable Gate Arrays. Gates modulation is nonvolatile and one can use the proposed solution to built reconfigurable memory arrays. The proposed reconfigurable gates, will enable optical information processing engines with unmatched speed, functionality, integration density and low power dissipation. Specifically to the Air Force, the proposed solution can provide integrated processing platforms for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, where the processing speed and integration density are critical. In Phase I the team fully validated the proposed approach by experimentally demonstrating optical magnetization switching at 100 times lower laser fluence to pulse duration ratio and predicted 10,000 fold enhancement in appropriate structures. In Phase II the team will experimentally demonstrate 10,000 fold enhancement of mentioned ratio in plasmonic nanostructures and will fabricate and demonstrate nonvolatile reconfigurable optical gate operating at 80GHz frequency. In Phase III MicroXact will commercialize the proposed technology. BENEFIT: The proposed nonvolatile reconfigurable optical gate technology can greatly benefit existing and emerging DoD missions, where fast processing of large volumes of data is needed (remote sensing, e.g., hyperspectral imaging etc.). Also, the all-optical ultrafast generation of strong, highly localized magnetic fields will find applications in chemical sensing (such as explosive detection, biological and chemical warfare agent detecting/identification, etc.). The proposed technology is expected to find commercial applications in next generation signal processors and FPGAs, magnetic memory, as well as material characterization systems. Unique performance characteristics of the proposed solution will ensure rapid commercialization of the proposed technology.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 119.96K | Year: 2015

Thermoelectric devices are critical to multiple NASA missions for power conversion with radioisotope sources. At present, commercially available TE devices typically offer limited heat-to-electricity conversion efficiencies, well below the fundamental thermodynamic limit, calling for the development of higher efficiency materials. The team of MicroXact Inc. and Virginia Tech is proposing to develop a revolutionary high efficiency thermoelectric material fabricated on completely new fabrication principles. The proposed material and device will provide NASA with much needed highly efficient (ZT>1.6), macroscopically thick (from 100s of micrometers to over a millimeter) thermoelectric material that will permit >15% conversion efficiency of thermoelectric generation when using high grade space-qualified sources. The proposed material is comprised of PbTe/PbSe three-dimensional "wells" of PbTe/PbSe quantum dot superlattices (QDS) fabricated by a conformal coating of a structured silicon substrate with electrochemical Atomic Layer Deposition (eALD). In Phase I of the project the feasibility of the approach will be demonstrated by proving ZT>1.6. In Phase II the team will fabricate the thermoelectric generator, and will demonstrate conversion efficiencies exceeding 15%. After Phase II, MicroXact will commercialize the technology.


Grant
Agency: Department of Commerce | Branch: National Institute of Standards and Technology | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 99.98K | Year: 2016

High density wafer scale cryogenic probing solution for testing at 4.5K temperatures or below is needed for testing and characterization of devices and circuits employing superconducting electronic components (such as used for quantum processing, high speed classical processing, magnetic field sensors, etc.) as well as for testing of various particle and light detectors for astronomy, aerospace, defense and homeland security applications. MicroXact Inc. will develop a semi-automated, closed cycle, wafer scale high density cryogenic probe station for testing at below 4.5K to 300K or higher. In Phase I MicroXact will finalize the performance specifications, will develop mechanical model and design, and will verify system performance via simulations.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 124.70K | Year: 2016

For sensitive detection of neutral and charged particles in satellite survey missions, instrumentation for the efficient rejection of EUV, Deep UV and visible flux is needed that also efficiently transmits the particles. At present, commercially available filters offer deep UV rejection, limited particle transmission efficiency, and limited lateral dimensions. The team of MicroXact Inc., Virginia Tech and Old Dominion University (ODU) is proposing to develop a deep UV blocking particle filter for NASA and commercial applications that will combine superior mechanical stability, with efficient UV blocking and high particle transmission efficiency. The proposed filter is based on macroporous silicon with conformal pore wall coating by Atomic Layer Deposition. In Phase I of the project the team will finalize the design of the MPSi structure, will make two iterations in fabrication of the filter prototype and will perform testing of both UV rejection and particle transmission to fully validate the proposed approach. In Phase II the team will optimize the material fabrication, and design and fabricate a packaged UV blocking particle filter that will fully comply with NASA specifications and will perform testing in a relevant environment. The filters developed on this SBIR project will be commercialized in Phase III.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 739.11K | Year: 2012

ABSTRACT: The team of MicroXact, Inc., UCSB and UC Irvine proposes to develop a CMOS-compatible memristor, which will enable next generation signal processors, extremely efficient (i.e. dense, inexpensive, low power consuming), with the capabilities for massively parallel signal processing. More specifically, we offer to solve the reliability and repeatability problem in memristive devices by utilizing new design and fabrication processes. Specifically to the Air Force, the proposed solution can provide integrated processing platforms for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and other devices, where the processing speed and parallelism are critical. Proposed memristive devices will allow the development of an faster and more capable DSP and FPGAs for tomorrow"s high speed signal processing, and the development of reliable and repeatable memristive devices will have innumerable potential applications. In Phase I the team developed a first model of the resistive switching in metal-oxide metal memristors and conceived the fabrication process that would provide reliable and repeatable memristor devices. In Phase II the team will improve and experimentally verify the developed model, will optimize fabrication processes and will demonstrated reliable and repeatable fabrication of memristors. In Phase III MicroXact will commercialize the proposed technology. BENEFIT: According to the ITRS 2007 Roadmap, currently used CMOS technologies will reach the 18-nm technology node and 7-nm physical gate length by 2018. It is anticipated that beyond this point, CMOS scaling will likely become very difficult if not impossible due to power dissipation problem. This represents a tremendous business opportunity for new technologies that will be able to solve the power dissipation problem to capture significant portion of the humongous ($200 billions) market in ten years from now. The team of MicroXact Inc. and UCSB proposes to develop this revolutionary memristive devices and circuits which have the potential to significantly increased efficiency and reduced power consumption by achieving highly parallel information architectures with low heat dissipation. CMOS compatibility of the proposed solution permits significant extending of the lifetime of fabrication facilities and equipment, thus providing the tremendous savings on otherwise imminent replacements of the currently employed technology.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 999.84K | Year: 2014

All high power target facilities and accelerators, especially the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB), require magnetic field sensors to measure magnetic fields in various magnets employed at these facilities as well as in cyclotrons. The currently used and/or commercially available sensors show only limited radiation resistance and in general require replacement every 3-4 months, resulting in, on average, two days per year of lost facility operation. Since a similar problem persists with other domestic and international accelerator facilities, the solution of such a problem will result in significant savings to both the scientific community and taxpayers MicroXact Inc. is developing a new type of fiber optic magnetic field sensor and instrumentation that will be small, sensitive, inexpensive and radiation resistant. Proposed sensors and instrumentation will work for years without the need for frequent replacement and/or recalibration. In Phase I MicroXact experimentally verified the feasibility of the proposed approach by fabricating 1st generation sensor prototype, assembling bread-board interrogation instrumentation and testing the sensor material in radiation environment. In Phase II the team of MicroXact, MSU, OSU, ORLN and TechOpp Consulting will develop and test stand-alone sensors and instruments. At the end of Phase II one set of interrogation instrument and calibrated sensor will be delivered to FRIB for actual use. After completion of Phase II MicroXact will commercialize the developed technology. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: The proposed solution is expected to meet or exceed all the requirements of FRIB and other facilities for radiation resistant magnetic field sensing. The proposed sensors are expected to function for years without the need for replacement or recalibration, thus saving US taxpayers and the scientific community significant sums (many $millions annually if counting all US accelerator and tokamak facilities) currently spent on magnetic field sensor replacements. Sensors and instruments developed on this program are expected to find multiple applications in magnetic field sensing for accelerator facilities, fusion reactors (ITER, etc.,), as well as NMR and MRI instruments where zero RF emission of such sensors is highly beneficial.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 999.08K | Year: 2013

The main obstacle Photovoltaic (PV) industry is facing at present is the higher cost of PV energy compared to that of fossil energy. While solar cell efficiencies continue to make incremental gains these improvements are so far insufficient to drive PV costs down to match that of fossil energy. Improved in-line diagnostics however, has the potential to significantly increase the productivity and reduce cost by improving the yield of the process, as proven by industry leaders. MicroXact proposes to develop a high-throughput in-line PV manufacturing diagnostic system, which will provide fast and accurate data on the spatial uniformity of thickness and refractive indices of the thin films comprising the solar cell as the solar cell is processed reel-to- reel. The retrieved information will provide the opportunity to detect a wide variety of processing errors, including but not limited to thickness/composition inhomogeneity in any layer comprising PV device, non-uniform scribing, cracking and layer separation. During the Phase I, MicroXact designed and assembled breadboard system prototype and unambiguously experimentally verified that the proposed solution meets all the expected specifications in terms of resolution, accuracy and throughput, and demonstrated defect detection on actual CIGS solar cell samples. An advanced design of the portable system adapted to PVMC pilot CIGS PV manufacturing line was conceived and Phase II validation testing plans were developed/budgeted. In Phase II, MicroXact will complete the design, develop and test the portable PV manufacturing diagnostics system for the 0.6m wide CIGS manufacturing line and will validate its performance initially in-house on solar cell samples from the same manufacturing line, and then will perform demonstration of PV manufacturing diagnostics on PVMC pilot manufacturing line. The demonstration of a high-throughput in-line PV manufacturing diagnostic system at PVMC pilot line will lead to the rapid and successful commercialization of the technology in Phase III. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: The target application for the proposed in-line manufacturing diagnostic system is the PV cell manufacturing lines with high production capacity ( & gt;10MW/year), in which the benefits of the in-line diagnostics (such as yield improvement and cost reduction) are expected to outweigh the cost of system installation immediately. In addition, low-cost system modifications will be developed to target off-line quality assurance and quality control at smaller-scale PV cell manufacturing lines.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 149.27K | Year: 2013

All high power target facilities and accelerators, especially the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB), require magnetic field sensors to measure magnetic fields in various magnets employed at these facilities as well as in cyclotrons. The currently used and/or commercially available sensors show only limited radiation resistance and in general require replacement every 3-4 months, resulting in, on average, two days per year of lost facility operation. Since a similar problem persists with other domestic and international accelerator facilities, the solution of such a problem will result in significant savings to both the scientific community and taxpayers. MicroXact, Inc. is proposing to develop a new type of fiber optic magnetic field sensor and instrumentation that will be small, sensitive, inexpensive and radiation resistant. Proposed sensors and instrumentation will work for years without the need for frequent replacement and/or recalibration. In Phase I MicroXact will experimentally verify the feasibility of the proposed approach by fabricating 1st generation sensor prototype, assembling bread-board interrogation instrumentation and testing the sensor material in relevant environment. In Phase II MicroXact will develop and test stand-alone sensors and instruments. At the end of Phase II one set of interrogation instrument and calibrated sensor will be delivered to FRIB for actual use. After completion of Phase II, MicroXact will commercialize the developed technology. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: The proposed solution is expected to meet or exceed all the requirements of FRIB and other facilities for radiation resistant magnetic field sensing. The proposed sensors are expected to function for years without the need for replacement or recalibration, thus saving US taxpayers and the scientific community significant sums (many $millions annually if counting all US accelerator and tokamak facilities) currently spent on magnetic field sensor replacements. Sensors and instruments developed on this program are expected to find multiple applications in magnetic field sensing for accelerator facilities, fusion reactors (ITER, etc.), as well as NMR and MRI instruments where zero RF emission of such sensors is highly beneficial.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 149.28K | Year: 2012

The main obstacle Photovoltaic (PV) industry is facing at present is the higher cost of PV energy compared to that of fossil energy. While solar cell efficiencies continue to make incremental gains these improvements are so far insufficient to drive PV costs down to match that of fossil energy. Improved in-line diagnostics however, has the potential to significantly increase the productivity and reduce cost by improving the yield of the process, as proven by industry leaders. MicroXact proposes to develop a high-throughput in-line PV manufacturing diagnostic system, which will provide fast and accurate data on the spatial uniformity of thickness, refractive indices, and the film stress of the thin films comprising the solar cell as the solar cell is processed reel-to-reel. The retrieved information will provide the opportunity to detect a wide variety of processing errors, including but not limited to thickness/composition in homogeneity in any layer comprising PV device, non-uniform scribing, thin film stress, cracking and layer separation.Commercial Applications and Other Benefits The initial target application for the proposed in-line crystalline silicon and thin film manufacturing diagnostic system is the PV cell manufacturing lines with high production capacity ( & gt;10MW/year), in which the benefits of the in-line diagnostics (such as yield improvement and cost reduction) are expected to outweigh the cost of system installation immediately. In addition, low-cost system modifications will be developed to target off-line quality assurance and quality control at smaller-scale PV cell manufacturing lines.

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