Austin, TX, United States
Austin, TX, United States

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Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 125.00K | Year: 2016

Mapping spectrometers have been extremely useful in multiple NASA applications, from Earth climate monitoring to identifying hydrocarbon lakes on Titan. Traditionally, imaging spectroscopy systems are not only heavy but also large in order to accommodate the long path lengths needed for spectral separation. There are several varieties, such as push-broom and scanning imaging spectrometers, but hyperspectral framing cameras are still relatively rare and are often untenably bulky. However, framing cameras place fewer restrictions on platform motion and can complete their data acquisition more rapidly, which allows more time and power to be dedicated to other instruments. A chip-scale full-frame hyperspectral imager would provide the ideal balance: small, light, no moving parts, low power requirements, and suitable for numerous mission architectures. Nanohmics, teaming with Dr. Hewagama at the University of Maryland, proposes to develop a chip-scale hyperspectral imaging technology as a commercial solution for ultra-compact UV-VIS hyperspectral cameras for smallsat and CubeSat applications. The technology will provide spectral dispersion orders of magnitude smaller and lighter than grating or prism options with full spatial-spectral registration.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Army | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 1000.00K | Year: 2015

"ABSTRACT: Bioassays employed to evaluate the diverse range of biomarkers associated with organ injury are time-consuming, costly and require multiple instruments/testing formats to reach a diagnosis (i.e. fluorescence-based capture, ELISAs, PCR, etc.). Individually, these platforms are incapable of predicting the onset of irreversible organ tissue injury (e.g. kidney, liver, heart and lung). If a single multiplexed screening bioassay could be fabricated to assess multiple, pre-clinical biomarkers that are predictive indicators of systemic toxicity, it would significantly reduce the complexity, expense and turnaround time associated with injured soldier diagnostics. One barrier to transitioning microarray technology into multiplex medicinal diagnostics has been the limitations imposed by fluorescence/optical-based labeling and endpoint detection. To overcome these limitations, Nanohmics Inc., an early-stage biotechnology and sensor development company (Austin, TX), working in collaboration with commercial and University partners is proposing the continued development of a multiplexed diagnostic platform based on direct electrical detection of pre-clinical and eventually clinical toxicity biomarkers for predictive organ tissue injury. The overall goal of the program is to develop a tissue injury diagnostic platform that can assess biomarkers originating from diverse biospecimens (e.g. urine, blood plasma) in a single compact detection system. "


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 750.00K | Year: 2015

"ABSTRACT: Modern electronic and opto-electronic devices are predicated on controlled deposition and patterning of functional material layers (e.g. semiconductors, conductors, and dielectrics). A handful of techniques, including vacuum epitaxy and chemical vapor deposition, in conjunction with lithographic micromachining methods, have long dominated the manufacture of these systems, particularly as feature critical dimensions are driven further into the nanoscale. While these techniques are well-established and routinely deliver reliable and excellent performance, they are expensive to operate and maintain and are relegated to the processing of rigid, planar substrates. A host of new integrated optics and photonics technologies stand to benefit from transitioning the successes of vacuum thin film deposition and lithographic patterning to a mass-producible, conformable optoelectronic device manufacturing platform. Critical to this transformation will be the ability to use low-cost conventional printing technologies to pattern precursors of active-layer materials (e.g. semiconductors with high refractive indices) onto a variety of substrates and subsequently “consolidate” the precursors into photonic circuit components (waveguides, splitters, modulators, amplifiers, filters) and electro-optical devices (energy harvesting devices, conformal antennas, and infrared emitter and sensor arrays, for example). In some applications, a small performance tradeoff may be acceptable for a significant cost savings, but the patterned and consolidated end product performance ultimately must be comparable to its high-cost, traditionally-manufactured counterpart. To enable high-throughput, low-cost manufacturing of photonic circuitry, Nanohmics, Inc., an electro-optics and early-stage-technology development company based in Austin, TX, working in collaboration with industrial and academic partners have formulated a class of high-refractive-index-material inks and developed methods for in-line, direct-write printing and consolidation of the inks into photonic circuit components on large-area, continuous webs."


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 750.00K | Year: 2015

ABSTRACT: Modern electronic and opto-electronic devices are predicated on controlled deposition and patterning of functional material layers (e.g. semiconductors, conductors, and dielectrics). Vacuum epitaxy and chemical vapor deposition, in conjunction with lithographic methods, have dominated the manufacture of these systems. While these techniques are well-established and routinely deliver reliable and excellent performance, they are expensive to operate and maintain and are relegated to the processing of rigid, planar substrates. New integrated optics and photonics technologies stand to benefit from transitioning the successes of vacuum thin film deposition and lithographic patterning to a mass-producible, conformable optoelectronic device manufacturing platform. Critical to this transformation will be the ability to use low-cost conventional printing technologies to pattern precursors of active-layer materials (e.g. semiconductors with high refractive indices) onto a variety of substrates and subsequently consolidate the precursors into photonic circuit components (waveguides, splitters, modulators, amplifiers, filters) and electro-optical devices (energy harvesting devices, conformal antennas, infrared emitter, sensor arrays, etc.). To enable high-throughput, low-cost manufacturing of photonic circuitry, Nanohmics, Inc., working in collaboration with industrial and academic partners, have formulated a class of high-refractive-index-material inks and developed methods for in-line, direct-write printing and consolidation of the inks into photonic circuit components on large-area, continuous webs. BENEFIT: The proposed method form factor is amenable to a number of distributed sensor network applications including chemical- monitoring, where Nanohmics has identified a current unmet need in the industrial safety monitoring market. In addition to the possibility of producing a printed, conformal chemical sensor measurement device, the inks and sintering techniques developed under this program will enable a large number of other optically-active elements including arrayed waveguide gratings, printed microemitters and detectors, photonic crystals, lasing elements, and other gas- and liquid-phase optical sensors. The primary goal of the work effort is the development of low-cost methods for producing precursor inks and subsequently sintering them into impactful photonic circuits.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 1000.00K | Year: 2016

Next generations of scanning probe microscopy tools will have enhanced operational capabilities, such as improved variable pressure/temperature/atmosphere systems, including reactive cells. Several technologies exist to enable components of these next-gen capabilities, but most rely on optical detection of probe deflection. In many situations, providing optical access to the sample is not readily achieved—scanning probe microscopy systems would benefit from next-generation deflection sensors. Project approach: We propose to develop and demonstrate an integrated deflection sensor based on an inductive measurement technique. These integrated sensors will enable high-speed measurements, including MHz-capable video microscopy, without requiring optical access. Phase I tasks: During the Phase I program, we will model the proposed sensor to determine optical engineering parameters. Micromachining techniques will be used to prepare test coupons for feedback into the models. A breadboard device will be demonstrated to validate the concept. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: Performance enhancements for materials important to energy generation, transmission, storage, and conversion are being innovated at the nanoscale more and more often—scanning probe microscopy tools are most powerful in the nanoscale regime and are being used to great effect to reveal secrets about these energy technology materials. The development of advanced scanning probe tools will open the door to the study of additional materials under new conditions and with greater ease.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 750.00K | Year: 2016

Planetary missions (e.g., Pioneer, Cassini, or Voyager) and applications with moderate power draw and increased mobility requirements (e.g., Curiosity) have successfully employed radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) as thermal-to-electric power converters. While ~100 We-class radioisotope power sources continue to be in demand, new higher power electric generators (≥500 We) will enable, and enhance, numerous robotic space applications and are ideally suited for upcoming Discovery- through Flagship-class missions. These ≥500 We generators will require both increased source power and increased conversion efficiencies. State-of-the-art thermoelectric generators, for instance, achieve ~7% efficiency, and recent laboratory results are paving a route toward ~15% efficiency. Alternatively, promising results from Lee et al1 and other groups have shown that thermionic thermal-to-electric (TTEC) generators are capable of achieving high conversion efficiency (>25%) at temperatures ≥1200 ?C by leveraging modern microfabrication techniques. An additional benefit is that the high-quality ?waste heat? from these thermionic systems is rejected at ~800 ?C, which opens the door to its use as a topping stage for more traditional converters, including thermoelectrics, dramatically raising the ceiling on total system conversion efficiency. To further advance NASA?s high-power solid-state thermal-to-electric conversion capabilities, Nanohmics Inc., working in collaboration with The Boeing Company (Huntington Beach, CA) and Sandia National Labs? Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies (CINT) proposes to demonstrate a high-efficiency thermionic thermal-to-electric converter (TTEC) module based on nanostructured, high survivability emission materials. TTEC realization will open up new opportunities for deep space planetary science missions, and future manned spaceflight voyages that are no longer tethered to the sun by photovoltaics.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 155.00K | Year: 2016

Plasma fusion promises safer, lower cost, power generation with no carbon emissions. Of concern in all plasma fusion systems is the ability of reduced activation ferritic martensitic (RAFM) structural materials to not only withstand operating conditions but to limit the amount of tritium permeation. Tritium retention/transmission not only creates a safety hazard but also increases operational costs of the reactor. Statement of how this problem or situation is being addressed Incorporating a thin hydrogen isotope permeation barrier within RAFM structures provides an optimal solution for limiting tritium permeation. Specifically the barrier is shielded from the worst of the environment and experiences limited erosion allowing it to maintain a high permeation reduction factor (PRF) over the life of the structure. In a recent effort we constructed and tested a W plate with a thin sputtered SiC diffusion layer topped with a sputtered W layer. Tests demonstrated the SiC barrier provided an excellent permeation barrier to Hydrogen isotopes. Further the close match in thermal expansion coefficients between SiC and W allowed multiple thermal cycles to be performed with no delamination. A similar structure involving RAFM and sputtered SiC would provide the same benefits. The mismatch in thermal conductivities may be mitigated by a thermal buffer layer, a gradient composite from RAFM to pure SiC or tungsten. Phase I/II effort In the proposed Phase I, samples consisting of a RAFM base, thermal buffer layer, sputtered SiC permeation barrier and tungsten topcoat will be constructed and specific tests will be performed to provide metrics for optimization of the construction. These test will include multiple (100’s) of thermal cycles, thermal conductivity measurements of the SiC layer and the ability of the stack to withstand the irradiation environment and maintain an adequate PRF. Further a fully dense tungsten topcoat for protecting SiC permeation barrier layer must be constructed that will survive an operating fusion environment. In Phase II optimizing the deposition parameters will be continued and a means to commercially manufacture large numbers of RAFM components will be developed. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: The reliable manufacture of RAFM structural components with low tritium permeation is a critical challenge to the development of successful fusion power facilities. Materials R&D will play a major role in the successful deployment of fusion technology for the benefit of the public energy needs. Key Words: RAFM steels, hydrogen permeation barrier, tritium


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 155.00K | Year: 2016

The future of the fuel cell market depends on developing new infrastructure for the preparation, transportation, and storage of hydrogen. Liquefaction maximizes storage and transport efficiency, but is particularly challenging in distributed systems because of the extremely low temperatures required. While fuel reformer technology is constantly improving, storing and transporting the fuels for on-demand use remains a problem. Project approach: Nanohmics proposes to develop a novel magnetocaloric metamaterial for hydrogen liquefaction. The innovation is to drive the cooling effect using a controlled micromechanical structure rather than tailoring intrinsic materials properties. By introducing an artificial phase transition in the metamaterial, it’s possible to use ferromagnetic materials like nickel to accomplish the cooling, or alternatively to enhance the efficiency of Gd-based alloys. Phase I tasks: A modeling effort will provide performance bounds and guidance on the metamaterial geometry. Microfabricated test coupons will provide reduce the development risk. Measurements of magnetocaloric enhancement will provide proof-of-concept. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: An enhanced magnetic refrigeration technology will reduce dependence on fossil fuels by making hydrogen a more viable fuel technology. Improving the liquefaction process will increase the international distribution and storage potential, allowing hydrogen to be used more readily in fuel cells and generator applications. Additionally, improvements in magnetic refrigeration technology will enhance research and laboratory facilities that require low-temperature instruments. As a solid-state refrigerant, it does not require ozone-depleting gases and may find application in commercial refrigerators. Key Words: Magnetocaloric materials, magnetic refrigeration, metamaterials


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 155.00K | Year: 2016

Planetary missions (e.g., Pioneer, Cassini, or Voyager) and applications with moderate power draw and increased mobility requirements (e.g., Curiosity) demand ~100s We-class continuous power sources with high reliability and robustness. To avoid the risks and challenges associated with mechanical-to-electrical energy conversion, including the use of working fluids and bearings, solid-state converters are preferred in many power generation applications as they can achieve reliable, high power-densities with moderate efficiency. State-of-the-art thermoelectric generators, for instance, achieve ~7% efficiency, and recent laboratory results are paving a route towards ~15% efficiency. To achieve higher efficiencies that can compete more directly with mechanical energy converters, however, higher operating temperatures are required, which essentially requires fundamental materials-discovery research for thermoelectrics. Project approach: Nanohmics Inc. proposes to develop a high-efficiency thermionic thermal-to-electric converter (TTEC) module based on nanostructured, high survivability emission materials. The TTEC device will offer higher energy conversion efficiency (greater than 25%), total power output of 500 We, and better resistance to high temperature and harsh environments (stable to about 2500 degrees F). Phase I tasks: Primary efforts under Phase I will be directed toward prototyping the proposed vacuum diode thermionic converter based on low-work-function thermally-stable emitter (hafnium carbide, zirconium carbide) and collector (lanthanum boride) materials, quantifying prototype device efficiency, and maturing emitter and standoff processing protocols to maximize operational lifetimes with an ultimate goal of multi-decade stability. Modeling and experimental efforts will lead to a wafer-scale thermionic device that will be evaluated at the end of the program. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: Nanohmics Inc. is developing a novel high efficiency TTEC product that uses innovative nanostructured low-work-function emitters capable of high current thermionic electron emission. The primary application of this innovation is for radioisotope power systems (RPSs). There are other applications of this technology that present a more substantial commercial opportunity. These include applications within the combined cycle power generation market (topping cycles) and microwave vacuum electronics market. Key Words: Radioisotope power system, thermionic emission, thermal-to-electric converter.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Defense Health Program | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 1000.00K | Year: 2015

Bioassays employed to evaluate the diverse range of biomarkers associated with organ injury are time-consuming, costly and require multiple instruments/testing formats to reach a diagnosis (i.e. fluorescence-based capture, ELISAs, PCR, etc.). Individually, these platforms are incapable of predicting the onset of irreversible organ tissue injury (e.g. kidney, liver, heart and lung). If a single multiplexed screening bioassay could be fabricated to assess multiple, pre-clinical biomarkers that are predictive indicators of systemic toxicity, it would significantly reduce the complexity, expense and turnaround time associated with injured soldier diagnostics. One barrier to transitioning microarray technology into multiplex medicinal diagnostics has been the limitations imposed by fluorescence/optical-based labeling and endpoint detection. To overcome these limitations, Nanohmics Inc., an early-stage biotechnology and sensor development company (Austin, TX), working in collaboration with commercial and University partners is proposing the continued development of a multiplexed diagnostic platform based on direct electrical detection of pre-clinical and eventually clinical toxicity biomarkers for predictive organ tissue injury. The overall goal of the program is to develop a tissue injury diagnostic platform that can assess biomarkers originating from diverse biospecimens (e.g. urine, blood plasma) in a single compact detection system.

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