Blacksburg, VA, United States
Blacksburg, VA, United States

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Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 747.64K | Year: 2016

Prime Photonics proposes to team with Dr. Duke of Virginia Tech to develop a multi-mode, enhanced piezoelectric acoustic emission sensing system to couple large damage events to local distribution of damage accommodation. Our system will be centered around an instrument designed to accept the output of a piezoelectric transducer sensitive to in-plane acoustic events. The signal processing path will not only monitor high energy acoustic emission events to detect impact events, but also transitions in the background power spectral density of the acoustic emission events, and real time strain. The system will be designed to operate with macro fiber composite (MFCs) sensors to provide the simultaneous AE and strain detection, but will also accept as inputs traditional isometric type transducers. Augmentation of background acoustic energy transition states with temporal and spatial information about impact and strain enables unprecedented non-destructive evaluation capabilities to enable semi-autonomous structural health monitoring of systems and components.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 124.95K | Year: 2015

Monitoring of structural strain is a well-established method for assessing the fatigue life and operational loads of aerospace vessels, aircraft, bridges, and other load-bearing structures. Information from extensive instrumentation using 100's to 1000's of strain gages can be fed into a condition based maintenance (CBM) algorithm to improve structural health assessments, detect damage, and lower maintenance costs. Current methods for measuring strain are too cumbersome, bulky, and costly to be practical for a large scale dense network of strain sensors. Furthermore, existing piezoelectric-based vibrational energy harvesters are built around general purpose components designed for operation in low-temperature application spaces. To realize pervasive structural health monitoring across a wide range of thermal and vibrational environments, a low cost, minimally intrusive, low maintenance, and reliable technology is needed. Cutting edge microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) sensors for measurements of strain, acceleration, pressure, acoustic emission, and temperature are becoming increasingly available for use in CBM and structural health monitoring (SHM). While these sensors offer a promising future for wireless sensing networks (WSN), implementation for CBM remains cumbersome due to the lack of versatile, cost-effective powering solutions. Wiring external power to sensors is an unattractive solution given the required installation overhead and associated maintenance costs. Battery powered solutions are unreliable and battery maintenance for a dense network of thousands of sensor nodes is not practical. For this STTR effort, Prime Photonics proposes to team with Virginia Tech to develop a multimode vibrational-thermal harvester with effective energy capture and efficient conversion.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 124.91K | Year: 2015

A variety of nondestructive inspection (NDI) techniques are already available for detection of small defects within structures. These techniques, although useful, provide little insight in terms of the remaining useful life of components or structures. Furthermore, NDI techniques rely on statistical analyses of historical usage records and can often result in situations where maintenance schedules are occurring more often than necessary to insure safe operation. Intelligent monitoring of the state of constituent materials allows for operation at reduced sustainment costs without sacrificing mission safety. Prime Photonics, LC. proposes to develop a novel acoustic emission monitoring sensor as part of a larger structural health monitoring system capable of providing end-of-useful life determination. The designed acoustic emission spectrum (AES) system will combine constituent fatigue history with local impact events tp provide a complete view of component lifetime.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Navy | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 499.84K | Year: 2016

Prime Photonics proposes to build on our successful Phase I SBIR effort to elevate the TRL of a novel non-destructive inspection technique to enable detection, localization, and characterization of subsurface cracks in non-ferrous components within Navy propulsion systems. Under the Phase I effort, Prime Photonics demonstrated the ability to detect and localize cracks in the bore of medium caliber gun barrels. The Phase I hardware was able to locate cracks in ferrous samples that had machined surface features (rifling) and non-ferrous coatings (chromium plating). We were also able to detect qualitatively changes in general material characteristics in mechanically damaged areas within the bores of retired barrels.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Navy | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 246.56K | Year: 2015

Prime Photonics will refine and demonstrate a FOD detection system on the first stage fan of a F402 engine. The FOD detection system will increase the safety of aircraft operations by providing the ability to identify the occurrence of FOD allowing for remediation of any damage which may have been caused. The FOD detection system is based on the FOCIS sensor technology, a case mounted optical blade tip timing sensor. The system to be tested includes optical probes, laser instrumentation, data acquisition hardware, and analysis software. Furthermore, the implementation of the sensing system requires minimal modification to the engine. This new capability will enhance the safety and reliability of the AV-8B fleet, and ultimately other aircraft platforms, by providing data which can be used to eliminate engine failures resulting from undetected damage caused by FOD.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.94K | Year: 2014

Advances in the capabilities of electronics have enabled high power density devices. However, even in light of advances in electronics efficiency figures, the increased power density operational points result in the generation of excess heat. In order to maintain efficiency and to product sensitive components from thermally-induced failure, intelligent rejection of thermal energy is often a critically limiting constraint in system development. Novel concepts for thermal management are particular necessary in applications with finite energy stores, such as long-duration space missions. The Prime Photonics magnetothermal fluid pump provides for game-changing, autonomous self-powered thermal management systems. Our self-powered pump converts excess thermal energy into point-of-use mechanical energy with a low mass insertion penalty. The operational frequency of the pump is proportional to the magnitude of the thermal gradient, supplying additional pump capacity in response to increased thermal loads.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 149.70K | Year: 2015

Problem being solved: Research is increasingly trying to push the boundaries with respect to observing rare elemental isotopes encountered as a result of highly energetic cosmic events. These rare elements can be produced through naturally through events such as supernovae, but prove problematic to synthesize and observe in controlled laboratory settings. Rare isotopes can be produced through nuclear interactions, such as neutron capture or proton collisions, and subsequently separated and guided using sophisticated quadruple magnetic lenses. The energetic reactions required to create the isotopes generate radioactive decay byproducts. The combination of the gamma, neutron, and proton particles create a harsh environment that complicates observation and control of the magnetic fields required for beam steering. The neutron fluxes experienced in the beam pathway lead to significantly reduced lifetime and effectiveness of conventional liquid proton procession type magnetometers. How problem is addressed: Development of a radiation resistant magnetic field probe would allow in-situ monitoring of the magnetic fields while limiting the amount of recalibration and costly downtime to carefully remove the damaged magnetic field probes. A compact, all-optical magnetic field sensor capable of scalar magnetometry with low noise, high sensitivity, and a high threshold for radiation damage allows for direct observation of magnetic field strengths, and provides significant cost savings in terms of replacement and recalibration. Commercial applications and benefits: Medical treatments, such as treatments for cancer, stand to benefit from the new isotopes and the research on how they interact with nuclei. Rare isotopes may also -be able to provide safer, enhanced imaging and medical diagnostic tools. Cost reductions in isotope research and generation translate directly to increased understanding and decreased cost of implementation of rare isotope technologies. Keywords: Sensors, instrumentation, magnetometer, radiation resistant, isotope generation Summary for Congress: Prime Photonics will design and develop innovative low cost, long-life, radiation resistant magnetic sensors based on optical fibers. These sensors will reduce the cost of generating rare isotopes in high radiation environments.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2015

ABSTRACT: Prime Photonics is developing an ultrasonically enhanced magnetic field detection system that will measure defects, voids and residual stresses in ferrous and non-ferrous materials. Successful development and deployment of this technology will enable on condition replacement of critical components, increasing safety and reducing cost. This product can also be part of an integrated logistics support plan. This will be developed with General Dynamics, the OEM to insure all the relevant requirements are met and executed in the development plan. BENEFIT: High resolution of surface and internal flaws: The Prime Photonics system will be capable of characterizing flaw sizes within 0.002"in both length and depth. State of the art arrayed eddy current systems are capable of detecting these resolutions, but only for surface flaws. Eliminates human error: Since the process is automated, scans are consistent from one run to another. Ultrasonic methods rely heavily on data interpretation, as do hand held eddy current probes. Deployable for In-Situ inspections: The arrayed magnetometer is very small, and does not require a sterile lab environment to operate in. Arrayed eddy current systems require they be set up in lab environments, as do ultrasonic, magnetic particle detection, and dye penetrant inspections. Reduced inspection time/Can be deployed on existing support equipment: The Prime Photonics system can be packaged to operate on existing laser bore mapping support equipment.


Polymer matrix composites normally consist of spherical or ellipsoidal reinforcement phases distributed randomly throughout the material. The spherical shape of the reinforcing materials reduces the effective electromagnetic properties of the reinforcement. Provided is a composite material which advantageously uses anisotropic electromagnetic properties of high aspect ratio loading using alignment to optimize the extrinsic effective electromagnetic property of the composite. Methods of manufacturing the composite are also described.


Methods of detecting non-uniformities in a material are described. Such methods can comprise inducing changes in strain state or changing the magnetic moment of a material and measuring magnetic flux leakage that is synchronous with the changes in strain state or magnetic moment, while simultaneously applying an external magnetic field to control the relative magnitude of the magnetic flux leakage.

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