Santa Fe, NM, United States

Southwest Sciences Inc

www.swscience.com
Santa Fe, NM, United States

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Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 1.00M | Year: 2015

Experiments planned to better constrain the value of the neutron electric dipole moment will test the standard model of physics and thereby contribute to DOEs mission to understand the fundamental forces and particles of nature as manifested in nuclear matter. These experiments take place in an interaction region where the magnetic and electric fields must be precisely controlled. It is a challenging environment, because access to the interaction region is limited, the temperature approaches absolute zero, and the sensors must cause minimal perturbations to the fields. This Phase II STTR project will further develop an all-optical measurement technique that can monitor fields without perturbing them and can operate at cryogenic temperatures, and thus could monitor the fields in the interaction region while the experiment is in progress. The overall goal is to develop an all-optical monitor based on diamonds doped with nitrogen, then processed to create nitrogen-vacancy centers. The magnetic and electric fields change the spectroscopy of the centers. Optical fibers bring light to and from the diamond. The Phase I research developed several fiberized sensor designs. One design was tested at low temperatures and shown to be robust. The optical noise associated with the design was shown to be low. Intellectual property developed includes a method for reducing effects from laser speckle and a proprietary sensor design. The Phase II project will produce a number of sensors based on the best designs. They will be tested for magnetic signature, modeled for electrical signature, and used to measure magnetic and electric fields. The optical design will be packaged and software will be developed to make a turn-key device. The sensors will be tested at a neutron electric dipole facility. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: Successful completion of Phase II will result in a sensor with a unique combination of sensitivity and electro-magnetic inertness. Other physics experiments could benefit, as could particle accelerators. Further development may lead to additional sensors for medical and industrial applications.


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

ABSTRACT: Hypersonic vehicles will require structures that can withstand highly transient flows and complex loadings throughout the flight trajectory. Shock boundary-layer interaction can excite panels locally and lead to structural failures. Non-contacting measurement technologies are needed to characterize the effect of flow transients (due to pressure and temperature fluctuations) on the structural integrity of the aircraft panels and the structural response to shock boundary-layer interactions. Southwest Sciences will develop a non-contact instrument capable of measuring surface topology with a field of view and resolution suitable for ground and in-flight inspections and meeting the specified requirements in the Solicitation. This is a collaborative work between Southwest Sciences and the University of Florida. The goal of this STTR project is to develop an imaging sensor for 3D surface deformation measurements below aerodynamic surfaces in hypersonic flow conditions for both ground and flight test systems. The Phase I project will demonstrate the feasibility of using light modulation technique to measure surface deformations of aerodynamic surfaces in hypersonic flow conditions. ; BENEFIT: This project will be of great interest to the Federal Government, especially the Air Force and NASA; providing an important diagnostic and control instrument for advanced combustion systems and hypersonic ground test facilities. In collaboration with military aircraft engine and instrumentation manufacturers, this high-speed surface deflection 3D imaging sensor would be developed into a commercial product combining modest cost with high performance for ground-based diagnostics in hypersonic wind tunnels and in-flight hypersonic vehicles. The broad market for this 3D imaging sensor includes the engine manufacturers for aircraft and ground-based applications, manufacturers of combustors and burners for industrial applications, research facilities in the academia, industry and government. If this technology finds use for service inspections, the market will increase significantly. We also anticipate that this inspection technology will find use in the automotive and other machinery manufacturing industries. In addition, optical imaging and inspection methods are finding growing use in the food industry and, of course, medicine.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 1.50M | Year: 2014

Nitrous oxide is the third most important greenhouse gas (GHG,) with an atmospheric lifetime of ~114 years and a global warming impact ~300 times greater than that of CO2. The main cause of nitrous oxide’s atmospheric increase is anthropogenic emissions, and over 80% of the current global anthropogenic flux is related to agriculture, including associated land-use change. An accurate assessment of N2O emissions from agriculture is vital not only for understanding the global N2O balance and its impact on climate and also for designing crop systems with lower GHG emissions. Such assessments are currently hampered by the lack of instrumentation and methodologies to measure ecosystem-level fluxes at appropriate spatial and temporal scales. Southwest Sciences and Princeton University will develop new open-path eddy covariance techniques and instrumentation for continuous and fast (10 Hz) measurement of nitrous oxide emissions. Once tested and validated, the method will transform the ability to measure and understand ecosystem-level nitrous oxide fluxes at multiple scales. The work plan includes assessment of key underlying technical issues supporting the technique during the Phase I budget period, followed by development of prototype flux instrumentation that will be tested extensively in field environments during the Phase II budget periods. At the conclusion of the Fast Track project, Southwest Sciences will develop and market a commercial instrument to the atmospheric research community. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: The results of this research will be commercialized as a product for N2O measurements that is truly portable and cost- effective. The technology is especially groundbreaking as it could be widely applied across CO2-based FLUXNET sites (>1200 worldwide) for direct measurements of N2O exchange. The technology can be more broadly applied to a wide range of gas monitoring requirements in industry, environmental monitoring, health and safety, etc.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 1.01M | Year: 2014

Monitoring the root systems of plants is essential to improving models of crop productivity, soil carbon sequestration and biogeochemical cycling. Fine roots (considered to be smaller than 1-2 mm in diameter) are the dominant component of this system, with roots & lt;0.2 mm in diameter often representing 50% to 95% of total root length. The plasticity and dynamism of fine root development must be characterized to accurately assess ecosystem biomass. This goal is most easily achieved using a high-throughput non- destructive evaluation tool by which repeated measurements of a given root system can track its evolution. New instrumentation is needed to provide rapid, high resolution 3D imaging of fine root systems. In this program, an optical tomography instrument and accompanying automated analysis software will provide a significant advance in the development of high resolution instrumentation for 3D imaging of fine root systems where ease of analysis and high throughput are critical. Commercial Applications and OtherBenefits: Federal benefits include the availability of a rugged, low cost, instrument for 3D imaging root system architecture that will provide a valuable new tool for evaluating biological carbon sequestration, as well as characterizing biological response to climate change. Direct commercial application areas include environmental monitoring research and root phenotyping in the plant breeding and agricultural biotechnology industries.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 125.00K | Year: 2015

Southwest Sciences proposes to develop small, low power instrumentation for the real-time direct measurement of carbonyl sulfide (OCS) in the atmosphere, especially targeting airborne measurements. The instrument will be based on a recently introduced room temperature interband cascade laser (ICL) operating in the 4830 nm region. This laser has a substantially reduced (by a factor of approximately 12) power requirement than quantum cascade lasers operating in the same region and should be better-suited for use in atmospheric field instruments. The Phase I effort will concentrate on characterizing the sensitivity and precision that can be achieved for OCS measurement, using this laser in a laboratory prototype. The Phase I work will also include direct measurement of ambient carbonyl sulfide in the local outside air. The follow-on Phase II project will emphasize development of an airborne-worthy prototype instrument that can be field tested. Carbonyl sulfide is the most abundant naturally occurring sulfur species in the atmosphere, with previous measurements of its concentration yielding results in the range of 500 parts-per-trillion (ppt). The lifetime of OCS in the troposphere is believed to be several years, allowing its transport into the lower stratosphere where it is photochemically oxidized to sulfate particles. Improved understanding of the tropospheric – stratospheric exchange of this important species is needed to gain a better understanding of the role of OCS in sulfate particle production. In turn, the sulfate aerosol layer may significantly influence the earth's energy budget through increased solar scattering. Existing instrumentation for measurement of OCS is bulky and expensive and is complicated by several indirect steps. In contrast, this R&D effort will result in an instrument that measures OCS directly, in real time, with 1-second time response or better.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 750.00K | Year: 2015

An aircraft system for detecting ambient methane will be developed in this project. The system will use a diode laser to perform a wavelength modulation absorption measurement of this greenhouse gas. The optical system will feature a open path system that is mounted outside the aircraft. The system will make measurements at a 10 Hz rate.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 155.00K | Year: 2015

Statement of the problem or situation that is being addressed: Contaminants in concentrations as small as a fraction of a part per million can poison fuel cells in hydrogen powered vehicles. Thus, contaminant detection at hydrogen fuel stations is needed. An instrument that can monitor the fuel purity is sought. Construction of hydrogen fuel stations are starting to accelerate, making this issue a priority. Statement of how this problem or situation is being addressed: A diode laser instrument will be developed that can detect common fuel contaminants in hydrogen fuel. Multiple lasers will be used in the instrument to detect the various contaminants. A sensitive optical absorption technique known as wavelength modulation spectroscopy will be used in the instrument. Phase I project An instrument will be constructed to detect carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and methane using two lasers. Measurements will be made to establish the sensitivity of the instrument for these contaminants. Optimization of the instrument configuration will be performed to ensure fast response and simplicity in design. The Phase I results will lead to a Phase II instrument that will also include water vapor detection capability. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: The proposed instrument will be used for the detection of contaminants in hydrogen fuel at fueling stations. Key Words: Diode laser, spectroscopy, hydrogen fuel Summary for Members of Congress: A contaminant detector for hydrogen fuel is needed to prevent fouling of fuel cell vehicle engines. A laser instrument for the detection of hydrogen contaminants at fuel stations will be developed in this project.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 1.00M | Year: 2015

The ability to detect radiological materials at standoff distances of a kilometer or more would be invaluable to national security and nonproliferation efforts. In particular, it is important to be able to distinguish isotopes of uranium and other elements associated with nuclear weapons development and use. Current methods for identifying radiological isotopes require direct sampling. Laser based methods such as plasma emission spectroscopy and laser induced breakdown spectroscopy have shown promise in the laboratory for detection of some radio nucleotides, however, these methods cannot be performed at distances of more than about 100 meters. Southwest Sciences and the University of New Mexico are investigating the use of light filaments for spectroscopic detection of radio nucleotides over large distances of a half kilometer or more. Narrow diameter laser beams can be propagated over long distances and can potentially be used to create a plasma at a distant target for emission spectroscopy. This phenomenon is known as light filamentation and its use for standoff atomic emission spectroscopy is promising. The opportunity is that a self-trapped lament would have enough intensity to vaporize and excite a material remotely, and enough energy to make the glow of that excitation visible through a telescope collection system and spectrometer at long distances. The ultimate objective is the development of this technology into a mobile field instrument. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: The development of a method for remote sensing of radiological materials, particularly uranium isotopes and nuclear decay products related to weapons development is of high importance to the security of the United States and its allies. This technology would aid nuclear non- proliferation and nuclear forensics efforts. Light filament technology developed for plasma emission spectroscopy of remote targets may also have other important uses such as detection of trace explosives and of soil contaminants in inaccessible or dangerous places such as abandoned mining and industrial operations.


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

In this Phase II SBIR program, Southwest Sciences will continue the development of small, low power instrumentation for real-time direct measurement of carbonyl sulfide (OCS) in the atmosphere, especially targeting airborne measurements. The instrument is based on a room temperature interband cascade laser (ICL) operating in the 4800 - 4900 nm region. This laser has a substantially reduced (by a factor of 40) power requirement compared to quantum cascade lasers operating in the same region and should be better-suited for atmospheric field instruments. Phase I concentrated on characterizing the sensitivity and precision that can be achieved for OCS measurement, using this laser in a laboratory prototype. Phase I also demonstrated direct measurement of ambient carbonyl sulfide in the local outside air, at levels of about 450 parts per trillion. Phase II emphasizes development of an airborne-worthy prototype instrument that can be field tested during the Phase II performance period. Carbonyl sulfide is the most abundant naturally occurring sulfur species in the atmosphere. The lifetime of OCS in the troposphere is believed to be several years, allowing its transport into the lower stratosphere where it is photochemically oxidized to sulfate particles. Improved understanding of the tropospheric - stratospheric exchange of OCS is needed to gain a better understanding of its role in sulfate particle production. In turn, the sulfate aerosol layer may significantly influence the earth's energy budget through increased solar scattering. Existing instrumentation for measurement of OCS is bulky and expensive and is complicated by several indirect steps. In contrast, this R&D effort will result in an instrument that measures OCS directly, in real time, with time response of a few seconds or better. At the conclusion of Phase II, Southwest Sciences will manufacture and sell commercial instruments for OCS measurement to NASA and the broader atmospheric research community.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 1.01M | Year: 2016

Contaminants in concentrations as small as a fraction of a part per million can poison fuel cells in hydrogen powered vehicles. Thus, contaminant detection at hydrogen fuel stations is needed. An instrument that can monitor the fuel purity is sought. Construction of hydrogen fuel stations are starting to accelerate, making this issue a priority. Statement of how this problem or situation is being addressed: A diode laser instrument will be developed that can detect common fuel contaminants in hydrogen fuel. Multiple lasers will be used in the instrument to detect the various contaminants. A sensitive optical absorption technique known as wavelength modulation spectroscopy will be used in the instrument. Phase I project An instrument will be constructed to detect carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and methane using two lasers. Measurements will be made to establish the sensitivity of the instrument for these contaminants. Optimization of the instrument configuration will be performed to ensure fast response and simplicity in design. The Phase I results will lead to a Phase II instrument that will also include water vapor detection capability. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: The proposed instrument will be used for the detection of contaminants in hydrogen fuel at fueling stations.

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