ABSTRACTS - Phase I (Continued)
Topic 20-Electrical and Communications Systems
This project is aimed at exploiting a newly discovered characteristic of resonant tunneling diodes and high electron mobility transistors (HEMT) and assessing its potential for product commercialization. Recent research results obtained at the University of Minnesota have demonstrated for the first time a novel and strong stress dependence of the current voltage characteristics of III-V semiconductor double barrier resonant and P-channel HEMTs. The effects observed are attributed to the piezoelectric nature of the constituent materials. Preliminary estimates of the gauge factor (a strain gauge figure of merit) approach 1000. This is roughly five times the sensitivity of silicon based piezoresistive sensors commonly used in industry. As such this newly demonstrated effect can be exploited for use in a novel strain gauge sensor. The main objective of the Phase I effort is to assess the novel device relative to existing piezoresistive and piezoelectric strain sensor technology and to determine its potential for commercialization. The technical approach includes microscopic modeling of the current voltage characteristics, modeling of the possible modes of operation including electrical characterization of existing devices, and a study of potential packaging approaches including first order mechanical modeling.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Because of the ever-growing needs for miniaturized, highly sensitive sensors for industrial and military applications, the potential market for a commercialized version of the novel strain sensor is expected to be enormous. Applications include strain sensors, acoustic sensors, pressure sensors, accelerometers, seismic sensors, and sensors capable of remote operation.
A liquid crystal based magneto-optic sensor is addressed for direct visualization of discontinuities using eddy currents. This approach to eddy current testing offers significant advantages over conventional eddy current methods. The sensor has potential for significantly increasing the field-of-view of eddy current instruments (e.g., 5x) without a dramatic increase in cost. Moreover, there is good potential for making the sensor flexible which could significantly improve the applicability of eddy current testing to curved and contoured parts. Phase I research focuses on the design and fabrication of magneto-optic sensors using new, high-sensitivity liquid crystal systems to demonstrate the feasibility of the eddy current testing approach.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The work will have commercial opportunities in the $500 million nondestructive testing market, where eddy current testing is currently one of the fastest growing segments. There may also be opportunities in other fields such as biomagnetics and military surveillance.
The project examines enhanced holographic data storage in ferroelectric photorefractive recording media as a promising approach to overcoming the present I/O bottleneck that exists between high-speed microprocessors and mass storage peripherals. Many of the needed optical systems components (SLMS, CCDS, and tunable diode lasers) are now available with sufficient performance specifications; however, the lack of a suitable volume recording medium remains a problem. Therefore, 3D Technology Labs is investigating the possibility of using domain screening in a ferroelectric medium such as SBN to significantly improve the dynamic range and to provide other very useful enhancements. This approach, when combined with two-photon recording for nonvolatile readout, may provide a storage material with near optimal performance.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The development of a suitable volume recording material will allow for holographic storage based on a photorefractive recording material and could potentially lead to significant advances in database management, high-definition digital video, and new interactive multimedia software for entertainment, education, and business.
A low cost technique to provide highly reproducible wavelength stabilization of diode lasers is being developed. Frequency stabilized diode lasers are required for applications including WDM communications networks, process control, medical instrumentation, and data storage. At present these needs can only be met using expensive distributed feedback and distributed Bragg reflection diode lasers. This project provides an integrated optic reflection grating structure which can be used to stabilize and lock the output wavelength of inexpensive Fabry-Perot diode lasers, significantly reducing the cost of single frequency stabilized sources. The same grating fabrication process can be applied to stabilize the entire range of diode laser output wavelengths. In Phase I, Deacon Research is building and measuring the performance of an integrated grating feedback device which will be integrated into a prototype laser device in Phase II.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The product, a frequency stabilized diode laser which operates at a pre-set optical frequency, will be applied in WDM communications networks, process control, medical instrumentation, and data storage. The technology has a sufficiently low cost that it will also stimulate the expansion of existing markets into areas of unmet need.
Researchers are developing a new capability for robust system identification that will enable more effective neurocontrol. The work benefits control of complex nonlinear dynamic systems and includes: (1) development of figures-of-merit for system identification useful to translate quality-evaluation metrics into terms that can be used for computation of a strategic utility function in an adaptive critic neurocontrol architecture; (2) biologically-based approaches to system identification that permit modeling of more complex systems, including systems which evolve or change over time; and (3) enhanced ability to build system identification with complex temporal associations allowing more complex processes to be controlled. One or more of these innovations will be hosted in AAC's adaptive critic architecture. Feasibility demonstrations show ability to select and use an appropriate function for optimization and use of context-dependent processes in producing a system model.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The improved system identification methods developed in this project permit adaptive control of a wide range of systems with applications to flight control, control of electric cars, control of biomedical devices, robotic motion control, and many others. The flight control technology in hypersonic waverider aircraft is being commercialized and this capability is being used to enhance its flight control capabilities as well as the "clean car" development.
Researchers are adapting the EPRI Operator Training Simulator (OTS) to the special needs of electric power distribution systems. System automation in electric power systems is quickly extending beyond transmission systems down into the distribution area which is creating a need to train distribution control center operators in complex situations. The objectives of this work are to: (1) incorporate three-phase models and a three-phase load flow into the EPRI-OTS package; (2) modify the FABGraph Graphical User Interface so that the three-phase results can be easily visualized; and (3) find testing locations for Phase II research. The result of the research is a demonstrable product which differentiates itself in the arena of Operator Training Simulators for Distribution Management Systems.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The most likely customers are electric power utilities seeking improved training for their Distribution Management System (DMS) Operators. DMS Vendors may want to license this software directly for inclusion into their advanced application packages. In addition, companies developing software tools for electric power distribution systems could use the DMS-OTS to assist in development, debugging, and performance testing. This product is available in both stand-alone and fully-integrated configurations, and is available to both new customers and existing OTS customers alike.
The objective of the project is a feasibility study of an exciterless, brushless, three-phase alternator. The alternator generates three phase AC at the standard power system frequency of 60 Hz or any other. Unlike conventional alternators which need a separate exciter machine, or an external source of DC to supply its field windings, the machine is a self excited machine which does not need a separate exciter or any external source to supply its field circuit. The excitation system is incorporated in the alternator itself, using the concept of dual rotating fields. For this, the alternator has an auxiliary winding on the stator which produces a rotating field at a different speed and induces AC voltages in an auxiliary winding on the rotor. Rectification of this AC, by rotor mounted diodes, serves to provide the DC excitation. The machine self-excites and quickly builds up voltage regeneratively as in a conventional DC shunt generator by residual magnetism. An electronic automatic voltage regulator which maintains the output AC voltage constant under changing load conditions is also being designed.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The alternator, besides being brushless, has the additional advantage of not needing an exciter to supply its DC field. Therefore, it should be economical in size, weight, and cost as compared to a conventional machine plus its exciter. It can replace conventional alternators for most applications where AC power needs to be generated and should have a good commercial potential.
Researchers are developing a new, purely electronically tunable laser source capable of emitting narrowband emission in the mid-infrared region. The purely electronic tuning and the high efficiency of difference frequency generation in a nonlinear crystal is being achieved by the use of a specially designed acousto-optic tunable filter. The filter serves two purposes: selecting two lasing wavelengths simultaneously generated inside the cavity, and controlling the cavity gain for each of those wavelengths. The gain control ensures optimum pulse energies and pulse synchronization for efficient generation of mid-IR emission in a KTP crystal. Development of this tunable laser enlarges the areas of application of laser spectroscopy and greatly increases the ability of differential absorption lidar techniques to direct atmospheric contaminants.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The tunable laser will find wide application in mid-IR laser spectroscopy, in remote atmospheric sensing, and in environmental monitoring.
This project is investigating the fabrication of volume holographic grating filters for retro-reflection in the 1.55 micron band with sufficient bandwidth to provide wavelength monitoring over a 1-2 nm range. This would be sufficient to monitor any signal over the full channel width of a wavelength division multiplexed (WDM) optical network, addressing a need for external wavelength references to insure that the lasers do not drift out of their assigned channels. Current alternatives are not feasible for integration into telecom equipment because of size constraints or technical limitations. Phase I focuses on increasing bandwidth of current IR holographic grating filters and decreasing input signal requirements with higher detector sensitivity and filter throughput. A prototype design is being made.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Anticipated commercial applications of this technology include network monitors for WDM transmitters and accurate wavelength laser sources, both for telecom and other laboratory applications. In addition, these filters can be used for remote sensing, i.e., eye-safe LIDAR, instrumentation, and spectroscopy.
This project is investigating the use of polycapillary optics for the determination of low Z(Z<14) elements on silicon semiconductor substrates using x-ray fluorescence (XRF). Light element contamination is a significant problem in semiconductor production resulting in reduced device yields, increased production cost and impaired industrial competitiveness. No satisfactory analytical technique is available that is both nondestructive and has the necessary detection limits as set by the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) National Technology Road Map for Semiconductors (NTRMS). Proprietary software developed at XOS predicts that the proven technology of polycapillary x-ray optics can effectively collect a large solid angle of x-rays and preferentially transmit photons below the Si absorption edge. The transmitted beam can be focused upon the targeted area of a silicon semiconductor with high intensity. The performance characteristics of several polycapillary fibers is being studied for transmission of low energy x-rays in different geometric configurations. These results will be used to design a novel polycapillary optical system for low energy XRF. The polycapillary system will improve the signal-to-noise ratio for light element analysis. The analysis can be performed nondestructively, using laboratory based x-ray sources, minimizing Si K x-rays emitted from the substrate. A collaboration of experienced scientists has been assembled from the analytical laboratory of AMD (a major semiconductor manufacturer), the Center for X-Ray Optics of the State University of New York, and from X-Ray Optical Systems, Inc. (the world leader in polycapillary optics). Having individually a solid record of successful project accomplishments, they have joined to investigate this important development.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: When completed, the work would extend the capability of the XRF technique to a greater range of light elements and would provide improved detection limits necessary to meet the stated needs of the semiconductor industry and other analytical fields. This would lead to a competitive advantage in sale of analytical instrumentation and to improved semiconductor device yields.
This project will result in an Adaptive Critic-based controller design for use in optimizing control of complex large-scale multigoal systems which exhibit nonlinear dynamics. Currently implemented Adaptive Critic controllers often work well on small-scale problems, but convergence is slow on complex large-scale problems. In addition, the need to optimize performance with competing goals makes learning and convergence of Adaptive Critic controllers difficult. NeuroDyne will demonstrate this Adaptive Critic controller on a typical but challenging problem: optimization of auto driving characteristics over an EPA specified driving cycle. The goals of the controller are to optimize throttle control, acceleration, deceleration and braking so as to minimize energy expenditure over the course while also traversing the cycle in a minimum time span. This is similar to a long-haul truck driver searching for an optimal sequence of gas pedal and brake controls to go from New York to Los Angeles in a minimum amount of time and burning a minimum amount of fuel (and traveling through hills and mountains in between). This effort will result in a better understanding of advanced Adaptive Critic designs and the application of Adaptive Critic controllers to challenging real-world problems.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: This project will advance the design of Adaptive Critic controllers for practical use on a wide variety of real-world industrial systems. This methodology will enhance numerous efforts currently underway at NeuroDyne to implement intelligent controllers applied to real-world systems, and therefore has wide potential in a large number of application domains. Key commercial potential for this work includes the automotive industry, semiconductor manufacturing, and flight control.
Addressed is the study of the use of in situ real-time film thickness monitoring and in situ real-time uniformity manipulation to improve the process uniformity of the CMP process. Improving the process uniformity of the CMP process is critical to the yield and effectiveness of the CMP process, which has become the most important semiconductor planarization process.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The most clear application of the technology is to improve the CMP planarization process used in semiconductor manufacturing. Other potential applications include micromachining, optical circuits and fine optics production.
The transport of dry unipolar toner with electrostatic traveling waves in a manner required for use in advanced forms of color laser printing and direct powder printing is being demonstrated. Traveling wave toner conveyors for this purpose have been investigated in the past but have not been successful. One form of traveling wave device, known as the "electric curtain," transports toner too slowly for the desired use. Another form, known as the "charged toner conveyor," transports toner too fast. However, a new way of operating a traveling wave conveyor has recently been discovered, via analysis, which predicts that toner speed can be controlled to achieve exactly the range desired. This has led to the invention of a non-interactive, unipolar (NU) development process which can convey toner past electrostatic latent images in the manner sought. During Phase I, traveling wave conveyors will be constructed and demonstrated to transport toner over the favorably predicted speed range.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Outcomes of the research will be: (1) simpler, lower-cost color laser printers which can be more competitive with printers based on the liquid ink jet technology, providing better quality prints at higher speed, and (2) direct powder printers with the ultimate in simplicity, reliability, low cost and continuous-tone color capability, eventually enabling a digital photo-printer with a better quality/price ratio than can be achieved by any other technology.
Poly(gamma-benzyl-L-glutamate), PBLG, an alpha-helical polymer when cast from appropriate solvents, is known to display piezoelectric (PE) properties when aligned in magnetic or electric fields. Analysis of the molecular conformation of the aligned dipoles suggests that the direction of the dipole vector in aligned PBLG films may be reversed by application of an electric field, thus giving rise to ferroelectric (FE) behavior. The thermal stability of PBLG, its facile film forming capability, and the ease of alignment makes this a useful material in applications exploiting its PE and FE behavior in transducers and electro-optical switching. The object of this Phase I effort is to demonstrate FE behavior in PBLG and then to improve upon the observed FE behavior by exploring mechanically compliant blends of PBLG with poly(isoprene) and poly(styrene). This work will apply techniques developed by CSI for aligning large (3 cm x 5 cm) polymer films.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Structural advantages accrue from use of ferroelectric thin polymer films: polymers may be fabricated as thin films with flexibility and strength, and a variety of forms are possible. Ferroelectrics find a number of applications: e.g., pyroelectric detectors, ultrasonic and electro-acoustic transducers, and ultrasonic light modulators. The ease with which poly(gamma-benzyl-L-glutamate) can be ordered in an externally applied electric field to create films with strong dipole alignment suggests that it and other self-organizing and alignable polymers may be suitable materials for development of ferroelectric materials. Further, PBLG, which is known to be piezoelectric as well, also shows nonlinear optical (NLO) activity. Thus it can serve as a material with multiple functions within a single device or may have broad applications in a variety of devices.
This project outlines a design for a tunable infrared source. For many years, spectroscopists have depended heavily on tunable dye lasers and harmonic generators to explore molecular reactions and compounds by their characteristic spectra in the visible and ultraviolet wavelength regions. More recently, solid state parametric oscillators have become indispensable tools in the UV, visible, and near-IR. Compared to these wavelength regions, the mid-infrared region of 4 to 12 µm is relatively unexplored. Although the mid-IR is rich in rotational/vibrational spectra for molecules, there are no commercial, coherent, tunable mid-IR sources available for spectroscopy. INRAD is developing this vitally important system. Further, it is being designed such that it can be pumped with an ND:YAG laser, which is one type of laser a spectroscopy laboratory is likely to already have.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: A tunable mid-IR source would be useful for environmental monitoring, chemical and pharmaceutical research, microelectronics manufacturing, and combustion research for the automotive and defense industries.
Interest is rapidly increasing in wide bandgap semiconductors for superior high frequency and high power electronics. SiC is the most advanced wide bandgap semiconductor from a materials and device processing point of view. However, many device applications, especially high frequency devices, require insulating or semi-insulating substrates for optimum performance. Advanced Technology Materials is developing a SiC on insulator technology similar to that of silicon on insulator (SOI). Instead of silicon dioxide, ATM will use AlN as the insulator. AlN has a wide bandgap of 6.2 eV and is virtually insulating in its as-deposited form. Another potential use for this material system is as an insulator in metal-insulator-semiconductor (MIS) devices as an alternate to SiO2 for use at high temperatures. In Phase I, ATM is investigating the growth of this structure on 6H-SiC substrates. The researchers will characterize the interfaces and layers for their use in electronic devices.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: This program will lay the foundation for cost-effective and reproducible manufacture of a SiC on insulator technology which will greatly improve the performance of high frequency devices. AlN may also be a useful insulator for MIS structures which must operate at high temperatures.
This project is designed to demonstrate the feasibility of applying silicon optical bench technology to manufacture lasers which are low-cost and ultra-compact. Diode-pumped solid-state (DPSS) lasers have yet to achieve mass-market penetration because of the costs associated with the current manufacturing techniques and laser designs. This project addresses the fundamental laser design necessary to allow batch processing and miniaturization. The objectives are to: (1) demonstrate a miniaturized single frequency diode laser in a novel configuration; (2) demonstrate frequency-doubling of this laser into the blue using passive optical-locking; (3) demonstrate the feasibility of using silicon optical bench technology for mounting the components used in these lasers. The work involves implementing frequency control of a laser diode using a miniaturized Fox-Smith interferometer. Cavity components will be designed, fabricated, assembled; and the laser performance will be characterized. This laser will be frequency-doubled into the blue using a small KNbO3, inserted into the cavity. In parallel, design and processing of silicon wafers for mounting will be investigated using photolithography and anisotropic etching.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Low-cost blue lasers will access the consumer optical data storage market. WDM commun-ications and cable TV represent large markets for 1.3 micron lasers. Green versions will replace inefficient HeNe lasers in laser pointers and other applications. Lower volume markets exist in pc board inspection, instrumentation, and materials processing.
Thermosetting anti-reflective coatings (ARCs) that are optimum for 193 nm optical lithography applications are being developed. This is the most likely exposure wavelength for the generation of equipment that follows deep-UV (248 nm). Since materials reflectivity coefficients at this shorter wavelength are similar or (in some instances) higher than at 248 nm, there will be a definite need for an ARC underneath the 193 nm resist. The objective of this program (Phases I and II) is to provide at least one outstanding (optimum) 193 nm ARC for manufacturers to use during resist development and for the production of semiconductor devices. Light absorbing chromophore (193 nm) is chemically attached to three different polymer hosts. The host polymers were selected because of high aliphatic content and the expectation that they will exhibit improved oxygen plasma etch rates. To assure insolubility in photoresist solvents, the dye-attached polymers are formulated into thermosetting systems (ARCs). The profile of 193 nm resist poly(methyl methacrylate) [PMMA] at optimum exposure and dose is used to optimize ARC chemistry. Plasma etch rates of the cured 193 nm ARCs will be compared to ARC CD11. ARC stability and manufacturability will be determined. ARCs developed in Phase I will be further improved in Phase II and performance characterized with an amplified resist.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: This program will develop optimized ARCs (thermosetting) for 193 nm usage. A successful product will be of long-term importance to integrated circuit makers, offering promise for increased packing density on semiconductor substrates.
Techniques for solving complex stochastic control problems using neuro-dynamic programming (NDP) are being developed. Although stochastic control problems are prevalent in many critical areas of national importance, there are no satisfactory solutions for most real-world stochastic control problems, due to their enormous complexity. However, recent advances in NDP may enable or significantly improve solutions to stochastic control problems that were once dismissed as intractable. Phase I begins by developing a methodological framework for the application of NDP and applying the technology to one complex real-world stochastic control problem of great commercial interestæthat of supply chain management. This sophisticated approach exploits all information that is critical for optimal control and is expected to greatly surpass existing strategies for stochastic control. A rigorous comparison will establish NDP as an important and practical technology. Upon success, a user-friendly commercial software product can be developed to enable the widespread application of neuro-dynamic program-ming. Furthermore, strategies developed from the case study in supply-chain management can be integrated into existing commercial supply-chain management software, potentially benefiting all U.S. manufacturing companies.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Potential applications of NDP are numerous and include process control, queuing and scheduling problems, and data network optimization. Commercial software that supports NDP would be useful in all of these areas. An approach to addressing the stochastic control aspects of supply-chain management, to be developed as a case study in Phase I, will itself be of great commercial interest. Improved control strategies can be integrated into existing commercial supply-chain management software that is already widely used by U.S. manu-facturing companies.
Phase I research demonstrated, for the first time to our knowledge, a planar waveguide 1X2 fiber optic switch in a new photonic materials family based on electronically switchable Bragg gratings in polymer/liquid crystal composites. A holographic polymerization process results in distributions of extremely small (30-100 nm) microdroplets, yielding high diffraction efficiencies. The feasibility of waveguide packaged micro gratings shown, offers a new path to complex switching and WDM devices with significant advantages in performance, fabrication methods and cost compared to competing semiconductor technologies.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The telecommunications industry, as well as fiber optic sensor and phase array radar communities, require a variety of large scale fiber optic switch and wavelength control devices based on integrated optics. Functions needed by the marketplace include wavelength channel Add-Drop Multiplexers, crossconnects, and tunable filters. The overall market for broadband, multiwavelength optical network hardware is expected to reach $12B/year by the year 2005.
Precision displacement sensors have a multitude of uses in industrial processing, the operation of linear and rotary machines, robotics and the semiconductor industry. However, for well developed technologies such as capacitive sensors, factors like cost per channel, limited range, and sensitivity to gap medium inhibit their use. SatCon is planning a microsized sensor which utilizes discrete counting electrodes and a suspended slider. The range is then limited by the linear extent over which dimensional tolerances can be met on the die. Resolution is constrained by the fraction of the minimum feature size that can be interpolated with the processing electronics. With the slider to target gap positioned electronically, variations in refractive index can be compensated and active guarding is superfluous. This design should increase resolution while reducing drift and decreasing cost. The SatCon design utilizes a three-layer nickel construction with a monolithically attached, tall facing electrode fabricated with deep plasma etching. Force attenuation is electrostatic. With the electronics and MEMS integrated onto a common substrate, commercial devices could be manufactured inexpensively and in a compact package. In Phase I, promising geometries are identified, sensing and drive electronics designed, and test structures capable of demonstrating key aspects of the high aspect ratio fabrication are being produced in conjunction with a subcontractor, Northeastern University.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Compared to current well-developed displacement sensors, the SatCon micro-fabricated displacement sensor has greatly improved range, lower drift, and potentially much lower cost. Control of the movable slider will allow direct position measurement and compensation for temporal variations in the gap index. Integrating the structure with electronics on the same substrate will ultimately result in lower cost and expendability. The device has wide use in robotics, process feedback control, and the implementation of micro-mechanical devices themselves. Integration of sensor arrays onto a single substrate could have uses in adaptive optics where a high density of low-cost sensors is required.
The project deals with the development of coreless transformers in switching power supplies for frequencies above MHz. The miniaturization of integrated circuits has not been matched by a similar reduction in the size of their power supplies. Although high-frequency operation has always been associated with smaller energy storage components, the conventional power transformer is resisting such a trend due to the increasing core and ohmic losses, and the parasitic effects associated with higher frequencies. The transformer without ferrite core consists of the cascade of printed striplines on multilayer structures. The idea is to store and transfer energy by electromagnetic waves through waveguiding structures (transmission lines). The turns-ratio is determined by the stripline characteristic impedances. Computer aided design will be implemented to determine the phase constants and the line impedances of the striplines as a function of various parameters. Practical design issues will be addressed including the maximum possible voltage ratio one can obtain with the constraint of the device dimension, possible low-loss material with high permittivity or permeability for wavelength reduction, bandwidth enhancement method, and the geometrical shape of the stripline for the best use of the real estate of the planar surface. Other design issues including power handling and heat dissipation capability, dimension minimization will also be considered.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Transformers are indispensable in the power processing circuits which are required in all common electric appliances such as cellular phones, television sets, VCR, computers, etc. The demanding requirement of size and weight reduction and the speed enhancements pushes the development of power converters with switching frequencies beyond MHz. There is tremendous commercial potential considering the fact that there are no satisfactory electronics power transformers in the market in MHz range.
A polarization independent wavelength routing switch for wideband fiber optic communication is being developed. The enormous potential of all-optical network for wide area telecommunication has stimulated considerable research on the supporting optical device technologies. At the core of the wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) based optical network is a crossconnect switch for routing a larger number of wavelength channels. The acousto-optic tunable filter (AOTF) has shown to be the most promising candidate for the wavelength routing switch due to its unique capability of routing many wavelengths simultaneously and independently. Present technology of this key device, however, has basic performance limitations that include limited resolution, unacceptable crosstalk and high insertion loss. Aurora Associates is developing a new type of polarization independent (PI) AOTF. The novel concept adds greater flexibility in the selection of materials and device design and offers the potential of overcoming all of the deficiencies of present AOTF technology. During Phase I, a feasibility model will be built to prove the principle of the new PI AOTF and show its potential for WDM switch applications. Projected key performance of the feasibility model PI AOTF includes 1 nm bandwidth at 1550 nm and sidelobes below -30 dB.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The new AOTF can be used in a wide range of commercial applications: multiplexing fiber optic sensor, tuning of laser, fiber optic spectrometer, and most importantly, the WDM cross-connect switchæthe key device in an all-optical networks for wide area telecommunications.
This project studies the feasibility of storing energy in a novel thermoelectric loop, for later release to balance peak demands on the electric utility grid. Electric power costs six times more to produce and distribute during peak hours than full-out production at night. Development of a practical storage means will reduce production costs, pollution, and defer building new capacity for ten years. Research objectives are to determine if large scale thermoelectric generators, operating with industrial sources of waste heat can store sufficient energy, at low loss, to satisfy next day's peak demand. Storage experiments and characterization on multiturn, increasing-scale thermoelectric units will allow performance extrapolations that describe an industry sought-after sized 60 MWh store. Anticipated results will be performance curves that predict the practical operation of a 60 MWh store for grid leveling.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Commercial applications of this research will be a safe, efficient, low cost, solid-state, distributed means of storing electricity to satisfy daytime peak demands on the utility grid.
This project shows that narrow width (0.1 µm to 0.3 µm) stripes of Giant Magnetoresistance multilayers can form new magnetic structures which are very promising for magnetic field sensors and for tape and disk read heads. Initial data on these narrow stripes shows two magnetic states, each of which gives linear changes in stripe resistance with applied magnetic fields, but with opposite polarities. This magnetic structure is a result of a number of magnetic considerations, including bilinear and biquadratic exchange between magnetic layers, exchange coupling within magnetic layers, magnetostatic energy, and crystalline and field-induced anisotropies. The magnetic configuration improves sensitivity by compensating anti-ferromagnetic coupling with size effects in the nanometer scale stripes, and improves noise characteristics by utilizing single domain devices. A computer model is being developed to predict the magnetoresistance behavior of the stripes as a function of line width and material parameters. In Phase I, a hybrid sensor assembly will be fabricated and characterized using these narrow stripes, and a read head will be designed for very narrow track widths.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Commercial applications include high sensitivity magnetic field sensors for medical, industrial, and automotive sectors and read heads for very high density disk and tape drives.
Topic 21-Design, Manufacture, and Industrial Innovation
This project demonstrates the feasibility of a next-generation manufacturing machine designed for flexible fabrication applications within vacuum processes and other micromachining applications. American Research Corporation of Virginia is using a novel machine tool based on parallel platform robotic technology, coupled with technology to provide a standardized machine tool interface for existing integrated manufacturing applications. The positioning system will have full six axis motion, plus a redundant seventh axis permitting operation as either the tool or workpiece holder for numerous advanced manufacturing applications. The work will benefit vacuum- and micropositioning-related industries by enabling affordable, precision components to be produced in small lots. Phase I objectives include specification of the positioning system, development of the fully articulated laboratory model in a 3-D solid modeling environment, preliminary integration of manufacturing software into the virtual machine environment, performance assessment, laboratory model demonstration and engineering model design. Representatives from both research and industry will participate in the development of the system during all program phases.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: A standardized, multifaceted seven axis positioning system designed for vacuum use will find numerous flexible manufacturing applications in electronic materials, metallurgy, optical coatings, thick-film coatings, instrumentation, tooling, forming, shaping, precision cutting, grinding and drilling, as well as laser processing of advanced materials.
This project investigates ways to microencapsulate phase change materials (PCMs) in a form stable enough to withstand the melt-spinning process. If microPCMs could be incorporated into meltspun fibers, the resulting fabrics (polypropylene, nylon, polyester) could have enormous thermal energy storage abilities. MicroPCMs have already been successfully incorporated into low temperature, solution-spun acrylic fibers and fabric samples, increasing their thermal storage capacity tenfold. The commercial potential of meltspun fabrics with similar qualities is enormous. However, at melt-spinning temperatures (higher than 200oC) microPCMs particles lose their core material, which corrupts the melt-spinning process. Before these materials can successfully be incorporated into meltspun fiber, capsules must be available with more stable wall structure. The research uses analytical methods differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) to establish the behavior of current microPCMs at temperatures exceeding 200oC to gain insight into the mechanism of microcapsule failure. This information will then be used to design and produce microcapsules with modified wall structures. Their stability at high temperature will be compared to that of existing microcapsules. The most promising concepts for improving thermal stability of the microPCMs will be recommended for further study in Phase II.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Once microPCMs can be created that are stable at high melt-spinning temperatures, very thermally enhanced materials can be fabricated and marketed from melt-spun fibers in the form of apparel (e.g., socks, gloves, jackets) and industrial insulation materials, where hot or cold thermal control is required.
This project will have a potentially large impact in reducing the time and cost of research, development and manufacturing of microsensors and other microelectro-mechanical (MEM) devices. IntelliSense is developing MEMCAD tools for MEM device design. These MEMCAD tools are an innovative enabling technology being developed further under this multiphase program which will benefit both government organizations and commercial enterprises. MEMCAD is a CAD software toolset tailored for MEM systems but may also find use for microelectronic devices. MEMCAD is an integrated software system consisting of databases, simulators, a solid modeler and an intuitive graphic user-interface for the workstation environment. It incorporates a wealth of manufacturing data which feed state-of-the-art simulation tools. The unique approach in this development stems from constraining design by empirical manufacturing information. Using MEMCAD, process engineers and designers conceptualize, design, simulate and optimize the performance of MEM devices from the same underlying knowledge-base. This approach promises to result in designs that are manufacturable. In Phase I, IntelliSense will develop the architecture of MEMCAD technology armed with isotropic etching process technology and define the specific components needed to perform these functions. A preliminary prototype of MEMCAD specific to bulk micromachining will be assembled and benchmarked in Phase I.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Anticipated benefits are lower prices for microelectromechanical devices and the faster proliferation of these devices, in both cases because of reduced development costs. Commercial applications include software tools for the design and development of microelectromechanical devices including sensors, actuators, and integrated-circuits.
The flat honing of parts for industrial use plays a vital role in the U.S. economy. The honing processes used for flat machining represents a million dollar contribution to the U.S. GNP. Currently, with the exception of urethane stones made in-house by a few American end users, the bulk of these grindstones are made from polyvinyl alcohol resin strengthened with a second thermoset polymer. The stones are produced by two Japanese companies and imported into the U.S. This project focuses on a totally new approach to ultra-precision honing. The initial products Advanced Ceramic Research desires to bring to market are high performance stones engineered for specific applications of flat surface machining that fit a low cost of ownership manufacturing model. Technically, this project investigates new compositions and approaches for fabricating honing stones made with U.S. products. Optimization will be accomplished by testing against Japanese stones for existing product lines, and against lapping processes where honing stones are not yet available.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Success of this Phase I potentially offers a lower cost method for flat machining of vital parts that could reduce costs of ownership of many products to the American consumer. Furthermore, it offers increased stimulation of the U.S. economy and an opportunity to become an exporter of economically strategic materials, whereas, we are currently importers.
This project demonstrates the feasibility of a novel, high-efficiency process for the infiltration/densification of fiber preforms. This method, designated closed-system chemical vapor infiltration (CSCVI), offers several advantages over conventional CVI. Raw material is used in a highly efficient manner, and unreacted raw material is easily recycled for future use, thereby minimizing materials costs. Because the process takes place inside a sealed system, there is no waste stream, and only extremely small amounts of hazardous material are used. The dramatic reduction in the waste stream translates into greatly reduced costs for waste treatment. This project will specifically address the feasibility of CSCVI for the manufacture of fiber-reinforced ceramic matrix composites (CMCs). By operating at high efficiencies and all but eliminating the waste stream, it is expected that the cost reduction per part will be on the order of 45% (based on material costs alone). Furthermore, because the size of the waste stream is reduced by orders-of- magnitude, the capital equipment required for waste treatment will be greatly reduced.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Essentially any system currently utilizing conventional CVI can benefit from the application of CSCVI. The successful demonstration of the CSCVI technique will lead to tremendous improvements in the economics of ceramic matrix composites. Much interest has been generated in CMCs with the success of C/SiC and SiC/SiC materials. The cost of these materials is quite high, however, and any technique that will significantly reduce their cost will have a large effect on the market.
Most failures of large scale engineering systems have been attributed to the progressive environmental degradation of metallic components over a long period of time. Due to operational and cost constraints, timely repair or restoration of equipment performance has not been feasible. Consequently, premature failures of these systems have resulted in loss of productivity and materials wastes. Many of these problems may be prevented if generic post-manufacturing processes and technologies are developed for in situ forming of environmentally protective coatings over engineering material surfaces subject to various degradation scenarios. The objective of this research is to develop a low cost thermal process for engineering materials to combat corrosion-related problems. This project addresses material designs and processing criteria in dry and wet conditions in order to provide fundamental technologies leading to practical applications. The specific intent is to evaluate resultant coatings in terms of high-temperature oxidative and hydrogen environment applications. Phase I demonstrates basic concepts for material compatibility and key process parameters that could lead to desired coating quality, and the resultant capability to show resistances to oxidation and corrosion.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: A major aspect of the process, if successful, is that it will provide a significant cost reduction for restoration or modification of engineering material surfaces leading to an extension of the usefulness or life of manufactured systems. The process is specifically adaptable to on-site, or in situ surfaces that are unaccessible to conventional surface treatments, such as plating, laser cladding and plasma spraying. The process is also extremely attractive to form durable surface layers because a true alloying of the electrode material to substrate occurs.
The project is combining two mature technologies through an innovative concept to develop a low-cost manufacturing process for miniature thin film electroluminescent (TFEL) displays. A color, TFEL head mounted display (HMD) based on passive matrix addressing and indium bump bonded drive electronics is being developed. Passive matrix addressing simplifies fabrication and improves HMD manufacturing yields by decreasing the number of high voltage drive transistors required for display operation. Additional improvements in producibility flow from separate fabrication and test the miniature TFEL panel and drive chips. Ion implantation of multicolor activators through high resolution masks is used to introduce luminescent centers and form color pixels. Miniaturization of the TFEL panel allows it to operate at high refresh rates, resulting in a high-brightness display. In Phase I, Spire will establish the feasibility of producing multicolor pixels at 1,000 lines-per-inch resolution by ion implantation and demonstrate a 640 x 480 TFEL/HMD, driven through an indium bump interconnect. A preliminary design of the Phase II HMD will be completed. ARPA- and NASA-supported programs at Spire complement this work by evaluating ion-implanted thin-film phosphors.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Low cost, miniaturized TFEL displays are used in applications requiring hands-free transfer of information such as equipment maintenance, telepresence surgery, and simulators for training. However, the largest potential commercial application is in high-performance virtual reality entertainment systems.
Developers are designing a steam modulated water jet that can be used for surface cleaning or material machining operations. The collapse of a steam bubble in subcooled water is known to result in the radiation of pressure waves of enormous magnitude. These pressure waves can be used to fracture and/or remove material from a surface if they can be directed. A water nozzle which periodically injects steam bubbles into subcooled water is being developed. The pressure from the collapsing steam bubbles is directed through an acoustically designed nozzle to the work surface. The device can be used to remove any affixed material safely and efficiently without degrading the properties of the substrate surface (wood, steel, concrete, or composite), or causing surface fatigue or damage. All of the removed material is carried away in a filtered water stream producing minimum waste and no dust.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The successful development of the Steam Modulated Water Jet Cleaner would result in a new cleaning tool which has no moving parts and the potential for achieving material removal rates heretofore not attainable, with minimum waste, no dust, substantially lower cost, enhanced operator safety, and maintaining surface integrity.
Researchers are evaluating the feasibility of using spray coating technology to produce solution-derived, ceramic lithium ion-conductor (IC) films for electrochromic windows. The worldwide development of electrochromic (EC) glazing technology has been severely impeded by the inability to identify and develop an electrolyte that satisfies the performance, durability, and cost requirements demanded for architectural glass applications. Developers are achieving the performance and stability objectives with a solution-derived IC. Although used to some extent in commercial applications, dip coating is an expensive and impractical batch process. Handling and manufacturing costs are critical to the ultimate commercial potential. A technology well-developed by the automotive industry, spray coating has tremendous potential in the extremely demanding EC window application. Specific issues associated with this include microstructure, composition, thickness, ionic and electronic conductivities, and surface morphology. Developers are demonstrating the feasibility of spray coating for lithium ion-conductor films by successfully making a functional small-area EC device by: (1) coating lithium IC films on glass substrates to evaluate uniformity, thickness, and composition; (2) fabricating partial device structures to establish compositional uniformity, ion conductivity, electronic resistance and functionality of the relevant interfaces; and (3) incorporating the spray coated IC into a complete EC device to demonstrate the performance of the integrated system. This research can raise production rates, improve safety and process reliability, and reduce manufacturing costs resolving the one major technological barrier to cost-effective electrochromic glazings. These results are estimated to represent a 25% cost savings based on costs at full market penetration.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Electrochromic glazings will have a large impact on the architectural glass industry since building occupants and owners will have the ability to electronically control the shading of their window glassæanywhere from clear to heavily darkened. EC glazings will find application in any window where solar control is an issue benefiting the residential, commercial, and government building sectors by providing substantial energy savings and enhanced comfort. In addition to architectural windows, EC glazing will be ideally suited for automobiles and other transportation vehicles and for numerous specialty applications including large-area electronic displays, recreational products, and consumer appliances and gadgetry. Beyond its application in electrochromics, this spray coating technology may find uses in other large-area thin-film applications that include rechargeable lithium batteries, sensors, and optical coatings.
This project develops a combination of high-brightness semiconductor diode laser arrays and novel brightness-conserving optics to realize a hundred-watt to kilowatt laser machining system with the performance of conventional CO2 and YAG-based systems but at a fraction of the cost, size, and power. Laser machining is a rapidly expanding component of industrial materials processing, but the size, cost, and efficiency of present systems limit their usage. By combining recent order-of-magnitude improvements in diode laser brightness with novel beam-combining concepts, SDL will realize a scalable low cost architecture for laser cutting, welding, and selective surface treatment.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The laser machining system will drastically reduce the cost of laser machining and will, therefore, expand the role throughout the U.S. automotive, aerospace, and metalworking industries. This critical technology area has been targeted by foreign industrial policy for investment; the development of this key manufacturing capability will enhance U.S. competitiveness across the manufacturing sector.
This project is demonstrating the fabrication of a high temperature high pressure sensor for measuring contact stresses between moving surfaces. Wear due to friction and high contact stresses is a major factor in the design and analysis of mechanical components such as gears and bearings. Due to the uncertain nature of the real area of contact between surfaces, there is no recourse but to use models to predict these contact stresses. Numerous analytical models that have been developed attempt to predict surface stresses occurring at various locations. However, actual verification of these models presents significant difficulties due to the lack of accurate experimental data. This can be attributed to the non-availability of sensors capable of withstanding temperatures as high as 900K and pressures on the order of many GPa. Furthermore, these sensors must be capable of making a point contact without interfering with the contact motions. Although many types of sensors are available on the market, none of these sensors are able to measure the required parameters in situ. In Phase I, MMI is developing a novel non-invasive sensor that is capable of withstanding these temperature and pressure extremes while delivering accurate real-time data. Phase I focuses on the synthesis and development of these sensor elements.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: These stress and strain sensors have a multitude of commercial applications. Some of them include stress sensors in automobile and industrial gears, monitoring cutting forces in cutting and machine tools, smart sensors for aircraft engines and power generator turbines, smart sensors for in situ monitoring of lubrication needs to extend life of automotive engines and associated components, and in analytical instrumentation in research laboratories.
The project addresses the opportunity for rapid prototyping of new products which incorporate "microprocessor" technology. Invariably, today, development of each new microprocessor controlled product involves "re-invention of the wheel." Custom designed hardware and custom designed software are routinely developed which, in many cases duplicate functionality previously implemented into other products. This process of "re-inventing the wheel" presents the highest risk development path, often requiring years of R&D at costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars. This project offers an alternative to the traditional "re-invent the wheel" approach to prototyping. This novel alternative is designated "Computer Aided Prototyping" or "CAP." The Phase I research will prove that it is possible to configure a new product prototype with proven hardware and proven software using a Personal Computer "click and drag" scheme as the configuration tool. Unique hardware design, unique software design, and unique merging concepts are being researched in Phase I. The result of Phase I research will be a "practical" CAP concept. The significance of the CAP concept is the potential for a drastic reduction in the cost and time required to prototype a new product. No longer will it be necessary for teams of engineers and programmers to spend months or years designing, coding, compiling, and debugging prototypes. Technicians trained with a "Draw it and Run It" mentality will be able to use a PC to build a working prototype in a matter of days or weeks. Virtually anyone tasked with prototyping a new microprocessor based product would find CAP to be an extremely intriguing and valuable product development tool.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Phase II Research and Development activities will produce an introductory CAP system ready for commercial enhancement and marketing in Phase III. The CAP approach would be very exciting to inventors and entrepreneurs wanting to get a new product idea "off the ground." In that nearly every electronic product produced today contains a microprocessor "chip," applications of the CAP concept would be endless. Commercial, medical device, business product, manufacturing process, aviation, and government arenas could realize the CAP advantage.
The research demonstrates the feasibility of a worldwide web-based machinability process simulation CAM library. The research effort focuses on the development of robust and well-defined interfaces between web protocols and CAM modules. A reliable security scheme will also be developed to offer adequate protection for the transmission and storing of sensitive design data. An innovative feature of the research is the early involvement of actual floor personnel from over one hundred small- and medium-sized businesses to evaluate the effectiveness of the prototype. The research effort also focuses on the development of an adequate online, self-paced training facility with extensive design and analysis examples, application, and utilization notes.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: An extremely low cost, pay-per-use, machinability process design and manufacture service will be developed based on the results of the research.
This project is to design an effective approach for a large scale production of fullerene which meets ecological and economical constraints. The current prevailing fullerene manufacturing is based on a synthesis of soot from an evaporated graphite rod and a dissolution of the soot in an organic chemical solvent to extract the fullerene. The soot synthesis is highly energy consuming and impractical for a large scale production, while the organic chemical process is environmentally toxic and hazardous. The project is to extract fullerene from fullerene containing coal. The process will involve two parts: (1) demineralization and impurity elimination of the coal; and (2) extraction of fullerene by sublimation. This economical and ecologically benign process would lead to a commercialization by wider industries to meet the presently developing large volume demand.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Fullerenes represent a class of novel material currently under rapid expansion for practical applications. A success of the process will result in a technology to produce the material in large volumes at reduced cost through the replacement of synthetic soot by a selected coal, and an elimination of the toxic dissolution agent through sublimation.
A variational geometric modeling and analysis framework based on the concepts embodied in finite element analysis is investigated. A procedural interpretation of geometric dimensioning and tolerancing information is formed as the stiffness matrix, loads and material properties in order to create feature variation in size, position, orientation, and form. The goal is to provide a standardized mathematical basis for comprehensive, three dimensional tolerance analysis. The inclusion of structural deformations, thermal expansion, and its discretized synergy with coordinate measuring systems, offer a bold move forward in the field of variational dimensional management and simultaneous engineering. This innovation will enable the engineering of three dimension spatial objects (virtual parts) for optimal tolerance allocation of real-world problems. A key turning point in the practice of tolerance analysis as an art to that of an engineering science will have been achieved, and with it mainstreaming the critically important concept of dimensional management. The method supports and enables dimensional management by providing a mathematical representation in which design, structural and thermal analysis, manufacturing processes and inspection methods can be considered rapidly in a common framework. Together with new possibilities in the visualization of variational affects as well as new heights to view future innovations in the field, it offers significant commercial potential.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Outcomes include: robust product design, simultaneous engineering, rapid prototyping, cost reduction and quality enhancement, computer aided tolerance analysis and optimization for the design and manufacture of mechanical and electrical systems.
As international markets become more open and competition between domestic and foreign companies grows, novel approaches for improving the efficiency of net shape forming operations such as Powder Metal (PM) processing became necessary. One area that needs improvement is in the area of post-finishing operations for PM parts. These operations contribute significantly to the overall part cost. Elimination or reduction of post-finishing operations will have a significant impact on PM processing economics. IAP Research, Inc. is developing a novel process based on the application of electric field energy, that has the potential to enhance the surface finish and improve the surface density of PM parts during the sintering operation. The Phase I effort focuses on determining the optimum conditions under which Electric Field Sintering (EFS) can improve PM surface finish and surface density.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: This new process for post-finishing will be useful in commercial PM sintering.
This project establishes whether mechanical liberation followed by optical sortation can be the basis of a cost effective, automated high-speed system for sorting metals derived from the electronic fraction of post-consumer electronic products and durables. The disposal of consumer electronic products is the cause for growing environmental concern and an issue affecting the global competitiveness of the U.S. electronics industry. A major barrier to establishing an effective recycling infrastructure for consumer electronic products is the difficulty associated with the recycling of the electronic components, plastics and metals at high enough value to justify their recovery. Conventional hand-sorting recycling technology results in a mixture of a wide variety of non-metallics and metals with little commercial value. If this fraction can be effectively sorted into its individual component materials, the value of the fraction would be greatly enhanced and would provide the economic incentive needed to rapidly commercialize the recycling of consumer electronic products. Optical sortation is used commercially to remove PVC from PET bottles and has proven to be a cost-effective method for the high-speed discrimination and ejection of contaminant materials in a steam of plastics. National Recovery Technologies (NRT), who originally developed optical sortation, has conducted research to widen the application of this technology to other recycling problems and has established that the system is theoretically capable of discriminating between a wide range of metals and non-metals. The research conducted in this project will establish whether high-speed optical sortation is an effective method for the separation of one metal from another and from other materials derived from electronics and durable goods.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Approximately 12 million TV sets and 10 million computers are disposed of every year along with a variety of other consumer electronic products and durable goods. If this research is successful, recyclers would have access to a small, reasonably priced sortation system that could be used to recover large quantities of high value metals from consumer electronics and durable goods that are disposed of in the municipal waste stream today. Given the sheer magnitude of the numbers of the products that are discarded, there could be a large demand for the sortation system and the commercial potential could be enormous.
This project completes a feasibility study in developing an Automated Design, Analysis, and Manufacturing System (ADAM) to facilitate commercialization of ISR's advanced spray cooling technology. This system incorporates the most recent advances in Parametric Design, Finite Element Analysis (FEA), Database Management, and Dynamic Data Exchange, coupled to principles of Design for Manufacturability and Assembly, Agile and Just-in-Time Manufacturing, and Virtual Corporations. Full-scale development of such a system is well beyond the scope of a Phase I program. However, ISR has already established the overall strategy and some of the required developments under other funding sources. Additional programs will also be leveraged to compliment the effort. The Phase I program will demonstrate key feasibility issues. Specifically, an "intelligent" interface will access the customer input of Multichip Module (MCM) geometry and operational constraints to automate the generation of a three-dimensional solid model of an optimized spray cooled MCM. Integration tools will transfer this model to FEA for performance predictions and generate the appropriate machine code to fabricate a prototype, automatically.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The effort will facilitate commercialization of ISR's advanced spray cooling for electronics. This "enabling" technology is currently being investigated for application to supercomputers, advanced servers, MCMs, power electronics, radar, and avionics. The variability in design requirements necessitates the strategy projected. However specific to spray cooling, the techniques and methodologies developed are widely applicable to other mechanical systems, thus enhancing U.S. manufacturing competitiveness. The technique described here has received considerable attention from the agile manufacturing community. ISR is already using a paperless design in a manufacturing environment to fabricate prototypes. Furthermore, once fully developed, ISR can supply turnkey, commercial ADAM systems to other users.
The project develops via displacement reactions a novel composite for use in cutting tools used in high-speed machining operations. The ability to increase machining speeds as well as metal removal rates will result in a significant increase in productivity as well as a cost reduction in manufacturing. The development of a composite cutting tool insert of SiC whisker-reinforced alumina (Al2O3-SiCW) has resulted in a breakthrough for machining nickel alloys to speeds of 15 m/s and feed rates up to 0.5 mm/rev. A significant potential exists to dramatically improve ceramic composite cutting tool inserts through optimization of the ceramic matrix for thermal conductivity, hardness, coefficient of friction, toughness, and strength coupled with a new whisker that enhances these properties as well as chemical inertness. The new optimized ceramic composite will also expand the range of metal alloys, including cast iron, that can be machined at increased speeds and feed rates, which will result in increased manufacturing productivity at reduced cost. This program will utilize displacement reactions to develop an economical, optimized ceramic composition that will have immediate and widespread commercial application.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: A new class of in situ composites with high strength and fracture toughness and low production costs will be developed. A material with such desirable properties can open up many new markets where advanced ceramics are not yet cost effective. Potential commercial applications include cutting tool inserts for machining nickel, iron, and other alloys; heat exchangers; pump seals; abrasive-jet nozzles; wear plates; and engine components (cam followers, brakes, etc.).
An important issue in environmentally conscious manufacturing design for disassembly (DFD) is investigated. In a product's disassembly stage, parts are separated and sorted based on their environmental characteristics; or the ability to reuse, recycle, treat, or dispose of them. Successful product reuse or recycling can be achieved with the appropriate disassembly analysis methodology and software tools. The research will formulate an economical disassembly model in a realistic manner based on a deep understanding of the disassembly process and its cost drivers. An efficient and effective solution procedure will then be sought to solve the model. Finally, a Windows-based software environment will be developed to implement the methodology. The results of the disassembly analysis will include the following information for an assembly design: the optimum disassembly sequence; the terminating disassembly point (part) in the sequence; and the maximum net profit.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: As no commercial design for disassembly systems is available on the market, the potential applications of the project are promising. Based on the results and observations of the research, commercial DFD software systems can be developed for product reuse and recycling analysis. At the ultimate stage, a commercial decision support system can be developed for environmentally conscious manufacturing.
This project provides a basic understanding of a new machining process called Electrochemical Orbital Abrading (ECOA). Advanced materials, such as high temperature metal matrix composites and single crystal alloys, have properties affording advantageous performance parameters but which are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to machine. The ECOA machining process combines several materials removal processes to achieve a viable, economic three-dimensional machining technology for complex shapes and advanced materials. Phase I is determining feasibility of the ECOA process as measured by dimensional accuracy, surface integrity assessments, and surface finish. Research focuses on basic factors which influence ECOA including electrolyte solution, tooling, and process parameters. A combined configuration of electrochemical removal, electrochemical grinding and orbital tool motion are being investigated to establish feasibility of maintaining a balance necessary for high accuracy machining.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: By virtue of anticipated advantages of fast stock removal with excellent surface finish and integrity, ECOA is expected to find applications for a very broad cross section of traditional materials and configurations as generic as tool and diemaking for casting, forging, stamping, plastic molding, etc. An important application to receive attention in early trials of this new process is machining of advanced materials in industries such as advanced propulsion engines where serious machining problems are likely to emerge with the introduction of advanced material components.
This project sponsors the research necessary to develop quality software for solving, planning, and scheduling problems in flexible manufacturing facilities. This software is being designed to provide high quality solutions to large scale industrial planning and scheduling problems. The ability to solve these problems effectively and reliably will have a major impact on many domestic industries. High quality scheduling and planning systems lead directly to increased production capacity, reduced waste, lower operating costs, reduced inventories and greater responsiveness to customer needs. In this project, an integrated software system for solving large scale planning and scheduling problems is being developed. The approach is based on rigorous mathematical formulations of planning and scheduling problems and relies on a novel problem decomposition methodology. This decomposition scheme uses a sliding time window containing a detailed model, coupled to a coarse grained planning model for the remainder of the time horizon. The heart of the method is an automated mechanism for propagating the detailed time window along the entire time axis in an iterative fashion, much like numerical integration. The time axis is decomposed into a fine and coarse grained section. In the fine grained section, the scheduling problem will be modeled and solved as a rigorous mixed integer linear program. The length of the fine grained time window will be chosen so that the scheduling sub-problem may be solved using a customized algorithm. The remainder of the time horizon (outside the fine grained window) will be modeled using aggregate constraints and will be solved by relaxing the integrality conditions. This will allow such macroscopic features as overall plant capacity and anticipated product demand to be propagated into each detailed scheduling subproblem which should preclude shortsighted scheduling decisions which cause capacity related infeasibilities at later times. This gives an opportunity to capitalize immediately upon successful development as there are currently industrial applications which could benefit substantially from this system.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The impact of a successful project will be the creation of a new engine for scheduling tools with broad implications for the process industries. Existing software is difficult and expensive to install and maintain and does not provide high quality solutions. A new generation of scheduling tools is needed to reduce costs and provide more effective utilization of capital investment. The results of this activity will be at the core of the scheduling and planning tool for which there are existing customers. The work will reduce the amount of customization and installation time necessary for successfully completing industrial applications with a better quality result. The target market includes the process industries, which represent a considerable fraction of the U.S. economy. This market is currently not well served, so the commercial potential is large.
Topic 22-Chemical and Transport Systems
Presently available technologies for natural gas combustion are subject to a number of limitations. While the amount of NOX produced by natural gas combustion varies from one technology to another, they are all similar in that some NOX is produced. In regions such as Southern California in which the air quality problems are critical, preventable NOX emissions are likely to be intolerable even if they are relatively small. Available natural gas combustion technology is also unsatisfactory in that it involves mixing the natural gas with air prior to or during the combustion process. This causes the CO2 and H2O produced by the combustion process to be diluted with nitrogen from the air. This lowers the partial pressure of water vapor in the postcombustion gases, decreasing the dew point to such an extent that useful recovery of the heat of vaporization of water is not practically possible. The dilution of the combustion products with nitrogen also makes it impractical to recover and sell the CO2. This is regrettable both because there is a substantial market for CO2, and because of the possible problem of global warming. If a technology which could economically recover and sell CO2 from combustion gases were fully developed, it would then be available as a method of controlling CO2 emissions in the event that such control was discovered to be necessary. This novel combustor addressed would allow the combustion of natural gas to be done with air as the oxidizing agent, without mixing of the air and fuel, thereby allowing CO2 and H2O to be recovered in an undiluted state. This combustor also has the advantage of zero NOX production.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Initial applications of this technology are likely to be limited to regions with critical air quality problems such as Southern California and to situations in which it is practical to sell the recovered CO2. Very widespread application is to be expected if it becomes necessary to control CO2 emissions.
Researchers are developing a molecular sieve catalyst for selective hydrogenation of benzene to cyclohexene. Currently, no commercial catalyst is available for shape selective cyclohexene synthesis. The molecular sieve catalyst combines the two unit operations of reaction and separation into a single reactive separation step. The selective synthesis is being accomplished by shape and size selective discrimination of molecules involved in the reaction. Molecular sieve catalysts are being prepared for selective synthesis of cyclohexene. The catalyst is characterized for structure, morphology, and metal content and tested for shape selective hydrogenation activity.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Cyclohexene is expected to be a major feed stock for bulk chemical production and an important chemical intermediate for specialty chemical industry. Use of cyclohexene as a feed stock offers significant environmental, operation, and economic advantages.
The project is developing significantly better varistors by the engineering of interfaces. The need for better varistors originates from the fact that almost all electronic devices are subject to noise and high voltage surges from IC integration, switching, or electrostatic discharge. These surges and noises can severely affect the performance of electrical and electronic devices. Varistors based on metal oxides are commonly used to minimize this problem. However, current metal oxide varistor device technology is not well suited for rapid response, low voltages, and high frequency applications. This program is directing efforts to remedy this. The technical approach synthesizes and fabricates varistors from materials with very large interfacial area. The varistor is dramatically smaller and lighter, and yet features high non-linear coefficient, lower leakage current, and higher critical electric field values. These advantages are from increased interfacial area, homogeneity, increased density, and potential quantum confinement effects.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Varistor technology can enable system miniaturization without sacrificing electronic component performance. Applications include varistors for protecting integrated LSIs, ICs, telecommunications equipment, electric power and transmission management, and for devices to dramatically improve reliability of energy and automotive electronics.
Researchers are developing highly selective membranes for use in the chemical process industry (CPI). The advantages of membrane processes for simple, efficient separations are well known, but membranes have not made major inroads into the CPI for three reasons: (1) many CPI feed streams contain components that dissolve or swell current membranes or module materials; (2) many CPI separations occur at temperatures too high for commercial modules to withstand; and (3) many membranes that show high selectivity when tested on pure-component feed streams lose this selectivity when operated on multicomponent feed streams. The goal of this project is development of a new type of hybrid polymeric material that can be used to make membrane coatings for a wide range of organic/organic separations in the CPI. These coatings are applied to unique solvent- and temperature-resistant hollow-fiber supports to form thin-film-composite (TFC) membranes. These, in turn, are used in high-efficiency solvent-resistant modules that enable the use of membrane technology in many applications. The hybrid materials are being tested as flat-sheet membranes and applied as a coating on a solvent-resistant support in a hollow-fiber module.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: TFC membranes based on the hybrid materials developed in this program could be applied to a wide range of separations in the CPI, including the separation of aromatics from aliphatics (e.g., benzene from gasoline) and olefins from paraffins (e.g., propane from propylene)ætwo of the largest classes of separations in the CPI. Examples of potential separation applications range from the treatment of natural gas at the wellhead through the refining process to the production of finished chemicals.
Researchers are capitalizing on the success of the renormalization group (RNG)-based turbulence models in order to develop an effective approach to predict the behavior of difficult, highly anisotropic turbulent flows often encountered in chemical engineering devices. Existing RNG models have demonstrated superior performance in physical situations. Where the anisotropy of turbulence scales is moderate, they require an extension to handle significant body forces due to high swirl, buoyancy, etc. RNG two-equation models are being extended to a tensorial framework to handle significant small-scale anisotropy induced by high swirl. These models are being tested and refined on a variety of prototype cases. Proof-of-concept studies of separation and/or purification devices are being performed followed by detailed comparisons with experimental data and alternative prediction techniques.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The prediction of the behavior of advanced separation and purification devices remains a difficult problem. The work will replace empirical estimation by predictive capability and should find wide applications throughout chemical engineering. The implementation of the new models in the commercially viable computer code FLUENT will ensure wide application of results.
Researchers are producing novel refractory microspheres for insulation applications. Insulation is an essential technology with a broad impact on almost all industries. Fuel efficiency, raw material usage, equipment size, equipment weight, and system reliability all depend on the properties of the insulation used in the system. Existing insulation materials have one or more of the following limitations: (1) excessive volume or weight; (2) material degradation at temperatures greater than 1000oC; (3) low thermal shock resistance; and (4) high cost. Researchers are producing refractory microspheres that feature low weight, low volume, high thermal shock resistance, low cost, and the ability to work effectively at temperatures as high as 2500oC. During Phase I, the proof of concept will be demonstrated.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Thermal insulation is a multibillion dollar industry serving a wide range of residential and industrial application needs. Low to high temperature insulation is needed to maximize fuel efficiency in process industries, reduce heating and utility bills in residential markets, protect microelectronics and fragile devices from the adverse effects of heat, and ensure safety of personnel and property on fire-prone structures such as bridges and offshore oil rigs.
This project focuses on the development of high-performance membranes for the separation of carbon dioxide/hydrogen mixtures. This separation is performed on a massive scale in every refinery as part of the production process for hydrogen. Current best technologies are amine absorption or pressure swing adsorption, both expensive, energy-intensive processes. The membranes being developed are based on rubbery, highly hydrophilic polyether-polyamide block copolymers. Preliminary data show that the membranes are exceptionally selective for the separation of polar/non-polar gas mixtures such as carbon dioxide/hydrogen. The research being conducted in this project is the first quantitative evaluation of the gas transport properties of polyether-polyamide block copolymers for this industrially important application. To demonstrate the feasibility of the approach, the new polymers are being made into thin-film composite membranes on the laboratory scale.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: High-performance, hydrophilic rubbery polymers that exhibit higher selectivity and higher gas permeability than conventional hydrophobic polymers could have a significant impact on many polar/non-polar gas separation applications such as the removal of carbon dioxide from hydrogen. Availability of these novel polymers in thin-film composite membranes and modules would dramatically improve the process economics, and make membrane systems competitive with conventional separation methods in these applications.
This project investigates and develops fire suppression technology. The focus is on structures located in environments where water can be as damaging as the fire, and typical chemical suppression systems is hazardous to occupant health or is polluting to the environment. Phase I will demonstrate the proof-of-concept.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The innovation can lead to fire suppression technology for structures where water and conventional chemical suppressants are unsuitable. Furthermore, it can help reduce billions of dollars lost every year in fire and intangibles associated with the property. The technology also has applications in growing applications such as fire suppression for microelectronics products.
This project is directed to development of a method for disinfestation of raw agricultural products. The advent of containerized refrigerated cargo transport has allowed fresh agricultural products to be shipped to ever more distant markets and conferred the ability to readily transfer containers between different modes of transport as required without rehandling of the cargo. Insect infestation of raw agricultural products is a universal problem in produce storage, processing and shipping that must be effectively addressed to minimize health concerns and to maintain an appetizing appearance, shelf life and marketability. Cargos that cross state and national boundaries are also generally subject to stringent regulations for all the same reasons as well as to prevent the importation of harmful new agricultural pests. The use of containerized cargo transport in which containers carry a dedicated refrigeration unit ("Reefers") has presented the opportunity to employ controlled-atmospheres for preservation of perishable products. Giner, Inc. has developed and is currently testing a system for active continuous removal of oxygen leaking into "sealed" reefers to very low levels (<1000 ppm) to extend CA technology to other food preservation applications. This is being implemented with an on-board Electrochemical Oxygen Removal (EOR) system developed by Giner, Inc. The confluence of refrigerated, sealed CA shipping containers and active oxygen removal now presents the further opportunity to implement disinfestation by controlled-atmosphere modification, typically low oxygen and high carbon dioxide. The oxygen level must be lowered sufficiently for disinfestation but not below the tolerance level of the respiring produce. The Giner, Inc. EOR system is uniquely suited for potential adaptation as an Electrochemical Oxygen Control (EOC) system and they are developing a land-based independent system. For Phase I, they are designing and constructing a prototype EOC system suitable for disinfestation, building on the technology currently being developed for on-board low-oxygen maintenance with the introduction of innovative catalyst and control technology, and performing a feasibility demonstration with fresh produce.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The anticipated benefits of this development are greater availability of fresh healthy agricultural products without the loss of quality associated with disinfestation by heating or freezing or the chemical residues from pesticides. There should also be substantial cost savings associated with the prevention of losses that would otherwise occur for producers, shippers and consumers. This technology may also open more distant markets for American products by ship transport that are now only accessible by limited, expensive air transport. In addition, the technology developed is anticipated to find application for disinfestation in many other environments where insect infestation is a problem.
This project addresses a pollution prevention problem in the existing commercial synthesis of isocyanates. The manufacture of these important raw materials for the manufacture of polyurethane entails the hydrogen reduction of a nitroaromatic compound to the corresponding amine and its subsequent reaction with phosgene to the urethane monomer. This process represents the primary use of phosgene in which over 85% of the world's output is consumed. The demand for this chemistry continues to grow due to the properties of the polyurethanes, but the toxic hazard of phosgene has created difficulties in plant location approvals. This project is investigating an alternative chemical synthesis that bypasses the toxic feedstock by directly reducing and carbonylating the nitroaromatic using an alkaline promoted homogeneous metal carbonyl catalyst system. Systems derived from homogeneous water-gas-shift catalysts in alcohol-water solutions of alkaline salts and amines will be investigated under various conditions of temperature and carbon monoxide pressure.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Direct carbonylation of the aromatic nitro compounds offers an attractive commercial alternative to synthesize isocyanates and urethanes which avoids the use of large quantities of hydrogen and the need for expensive and toxic phosgene. This nonphosgene preparation is needed by industry because restrictions involving chlorine and phosgene are being increasingly enforced.
This research is directed at demonstrating and commercializing a unique and novel steam-plasma (SPT) torch that has broad application for advanced materials synthesis, chemical conversion, waste remediation, coating deposition and gasification. The overall research objectives include the development, design and operation of a prototype SPT torch, and will focus on demonstrating its application for chemical conversion. The project requires the accomplishment of two steps. The first is to demonstrate that the SPT can be operated reliably and the second is to demonstrate its viability for an industrial application. The research will result in providing essential findings that will be used to solve the primary issue impeding application of the SPT for commercial applications, e.g., choosing and demonstrating a durable electrode material for the steam-plasma environment. The application chosen, plasma spraying, has tremendous market potential. This work will be completed by a select team of small businesses and an internationally renowned university researcher. The project activity will be supplemented by participation of an industrial partner. The program takes the advantages of exploratory work completed on the SPT torch, its processing applications, an existing plasma torch electrode development program, internationally recognized experts in the field, and an industrial partner.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Use of the SPT torch represents a quantum improvement in process productivity and renders expanded applications for the plasma spray and as a generic processing tool, opens a broad range of industrial chemical processing industrial applications. These applications include materials processing such as thermal spraying and powder synthesis; and chemical conversion processes such as the destruction of hazardous chemical and biological agents (including CFCs, PCBs, and other toxic or carcinogenic substances) and waste to energy conversion.
Recent needs and developments in information technology have spurred efforts to fabricate ever smaller features on silicon wafers. To do this, many lithographic techniques are being explored for their ability to provide high resolution photoresist masks capable of producing such submicron features. Needs for chip features down to 0.18 microns are predicted by the year 2002, with need for smaller 0.125 micron features soon after. Over the last decade, Langmuir-Blogett (LB) films, a surfactant based process, has been recognized as a viable candidate masking technique. The LB process has demonstrated ultra-thin, pin-hole free masks down to resolutions of 0.010 microns (i.e., 10 nm); however, the LB process is limited to using only those few surface active monomers capable of both substrate adsorption and polymerization. In contrast, an alternative surfactant based process, developed in the laboratory, allows ultra-thin film formation by practically any organic monomer capable of serving as a photoresist polymer. The process relies on electrostatically adsorbed bilayer surfactant aggregates (admicelles) in an aqueous environment into which resist monomer is solubilized and polymerized to form polymerized thin films physically adsrorbed to the metal oxide surface. The thin film mask is removed from the surface by changing the net surface charge by a pH change or imposing an electrical potential on the surface. Thin films formed by using admicelles have already found industrial use for modifying surfaces ranging from metal oxides used in thermoset polymer composites to drug delivery systems. This technique offers a variety of choices in fabricating ultra-thin masks. Such masks offer a range of etching sensitivity for the lithographer while at the same time eliminating the need for volatile organic solvents used in standard lithographic processes. This process is aqueous based, environmentally acceptable, offers versatility, and resolutions equal if not greater than LB films.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The dominance of the United States in semiconductor technology and the military and economic implications of that status are significant not only because of employment aspects but also national security concerns. The competitiveness of the U.S. semiconductor industry depends on its ability to innovate. The development of the ultra-thin masks may allow integrated circuit fabricators to manufacture integrated circuits with much finer detail than is possible by the industry today, thus allowing the industry to maintain its worldwide technological lead.
This project demonstrates the economic separation/ purification of fullerenes (C60, C70) without the use of solvents. Fullerenes, the third form of carbon after graphite and diamond, have ushered in a completely new field of carbon with potential applications in diverse fields such as electronics, medicine, materials, and chemistry. The continued research and the pace of large scale application development are, however, hampered by the availability of small quantities and, hence, the high cost of pure and solvent-free fullerenes which are currently separated by liquid chromatography. Residue solvents in the fullerenes are impurities that often significantly interfere with applications of interest. A major contributor to the high cost is the separation/purification cost primarily arising from the difficulty in completely removing the residue solvent. This program will demonstrate a continuous, energy integrated separation method that utilizes the difference in the volatility of C60 and C70 and incorporates a fluidized bed technique into the separation. The results of this program will immediately bolster fullerene research and commercialization.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Commercial applications of purified fullerenes are impeded by their extremely high separation and purification costs. This program will result in dramatically reduced prices leading to large scale applications of fullerenes in optics, high temperature superconductivity, catalyst, polymers, medicine, diamond synthesis, and a host of other diverse applications.
The goal of this project is to develop an innovative photochemical process capable of transforming existing stockpiles of ozone-depleting substances into environmentally benign and commercially valuable products. Existing stockpiles of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) pose a serious threat to the depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer. Their replacement with alternative materials will cause a significant disposal challenge. Currently, there is no economically practical and environmentally acceptable technology. This project offers a unique solution designated, Photo-Hydro-Dechlorination (PHD). It is based on a synergistic effect of UV initiation combined with a reducing atmosphere of hydrogen, promoting chain-propagation reactions and leading to high selectivity of desired products. The primary objective of Phase I is to experimentally demonstrate feasibility by efficiently transforming representative CFCs into desirable hydrofluorocarbons (HFCS) and/or monomers. To accomplish this objective, there is a four-task research plan. It includes: (1) design and construction of a special photochemical flow reactor, (2) experimental demonstration, (3) kinetic modeling, and (4) cost estimates.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: This PHD process will lead to a "green" technology for environmentally safe transformation of ozone-depleting substances into commercially valuable products. The current stockpile of estimated 4.5 billion pounds of CFCs, which poses a serious disposal problem, will become a vital feedstock to produce high value products. Based on preliminary cost estimates, the existing stockpile which represents a huge environmental liability, can be turned with the PHD process into about $4 billion of saleable products.
A second generation solar fullerene reactor that is capable of semi-continuous feed of the graphite source material was constructed and tested. It was demonstrated that graphite feedstock with low-conductivity as well as feedstock with high conductivity can be evaporated in the solar apparatus to produce fullerene soot that yields as much or more fullerene as the more mature electric arc production process. Fullerene yields in the current work were as high as 9%. A major advantage of the solar process is that no "slag" material is produced, whereas in the arc process, it is common to recover over 50% of the starting material weight as "slag." Thirty-five experimental runs were conducted with various reaction chamber configurations. After identifying a system that allowed long run-times, the gas pressure and flow rate, as well as rod geometry and solar flux were varied to explore the characteristics of solar fullerene production. In the data for the experiments that yielded enough soot product for HPLC analysis, trends were identified: if the yield was high, there was a smaller proportion of oxides formed, a larger proportion of higher order fullerenes and a higher C60, C70, ratio than if yields were found to be low. General trends were also identified in experiments that varied only gas flow rate and system pressure. Cost analyses were performed for the existing electric arc process and for a hypothetical solar process using data from this investigation. The use of inexpensive source materials and the low cost of solar energy allow the solar process to produce fullerene extract at lower cost than the arc process.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: An environmentally benign process of utilizing waste carbon and solar energy to economically produce fullerene will be demonstrated that will be scaled to one ton/day in 1998 to meet the projected demand of fullerenes for electrodes in hydride batteries, fuel cells, gas storage of hydrogen, oxygen and hydrocarbons and as precursors to deposit diamond.
This project seeks to discover one or more chemical additives for LiBr-water vapor absorption chillers that will significantly improve absorption rates compared to currently available additives. Current state-of-the-art absorption chiller technology uses performance additives to increase rates of vapor absorption in order to reduce absorber size and cost and to make the technology economically feasible. An additive meeting this goal will enable absorption chillers to be built with significantly smaller copper tube heat exchangers, resulting in reduced first costs. This in turn will allow for increased market share for absorption chillers in the air conditioning industry, and significantly enhance the competitiveness of this non-CFC containing alternative technology. Candidate additives will be selected based on the chemical properties that can be expected from their structure. Absorption rate enhancement activity will be determined using a falling film test absorption machine.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Potential commercial applications include all machines in service and all new designs of LiBr-H2O absorption chillers, used for cooling buildings requiring 100 tons to several thousand tons.
Fresh water is an essential life-sustaining consumable. In scenarios of prolonged military conflict, natural disaster, water shortage, water contamination, or drought, efficient desalination devices utilizing in situ resources would be an ideal solution. However, given the many examples of expensive desalination plants in use today, cost is a major concern. Oceanit Laboratories, Inc., intends to develop a simple, portable and efficient water desalination device that takes full advantage of abundant natural resources of cold deep ocean water, solar energy, and the unique aspect of utilizing the dynamics of generated secondary vortices of the type commonly encountered when stirring a cup of tea or, on a larger scale, within a hurricane. Several of these devices could be placed on a barge to create an inexpensive mobile vortex-principle water desalination plant for military troops, island states (e.g., Hawaii), territories, atolls, Third World nations and coastal drought areas to increase fresh water supply routinely, on demand, and during emergencies. In nature, the hurricane is actually a "solar still" whose efficiency is greatly enhanced by secondary vortices which rapidly transport moisture-laden air to the cooler upper atmosphere where it precipitates as rain. The device is a smaller version of a contained hurricane whose efficiency is increased by rotor-generated vortices. Phase I of the research will focus on the fabrication of a Hurricane Tower desalination plant pilot system (1/2 scale), generation of a secondary vortex in a closed system, and engineering/feasibility tests of the system distillation efficiency utilizing deep ocean water (4-6oC) as the coolant to condense rapidly rising vapor, and solar-heated ocean salt water (for desalination).
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Commercial applications include desalination plants for military, oil rigs, coastal regions, island and inter-island water supply; emergency water supply during disasters, water contamination, drought; reliable water supply for atolls, island states and nations, Third World nations; and economical water desalination plant to replace aged and expensive fixed plants in use today.
This project has the potential to reduce substantially the energy consumed in distillation processes, particularly for separating azeotropes and other close boiling mixtures. It also has the potential to improve product purity, reduce environmental pollution, and reduce equipment costs. The project addresses a novel process in which azeotropic distillation is augmented with reversible gel absorption requiring approximately half the energy of conventional azeotropic distillation, as components in a mixture can be selectively absorbed and recovered without undergoing a phase change. Whereas conventional hybrid processes are generally limited to aqueous azeotropes, the gel system is expected to be useful for a broad range of commercially important aqueous mixtures. The objective of the Phase I investigation is to synthesize and characterize a gel suitable for at least one commercially important azeotropic system. The project is building on recent work in which polyethylene-based gels were found to absorb components selectively from mixtures of close-boiling liquids. Information on gel selectivity and the phase transition process will be obtained and used to estimate energy costs for the new process.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee:
This novel process has the potential to dramatically reduce the costs of removing nitric oxide (NOx), hydrocarbons (HCs), carbon monoxide (CO), and dry particulate material (DPM also called soot) from the exhaust gases produced by stationary diesel engines. The process is specifically aimed at those engines that drive electrical generators that are capable of producing 50 kW of electrical power or greater. These units, of which there are nearly 200,000 operating in the U.S., are utilized most commonly for standby and emergency electrical power by entities such as hospitals, insurance companies, government agencies, schools, and manufacturing plants. The CHA Corp. is examining a new approach where a very small amount of hexane is injected into the diesel exhaust as it exits the engine manifold. The exhaust gas then passes through a catalyst impregnated filter that is excited with low level microwave energy. The filter captures the DPM which then oxidizes rapidly in the presence of microwave energy. A second section contains a fluidized catalyst which effectively promotes the reduction of NOx with hexane and other hydrocarbons in oxygen rich atmospheres. Finally, a third section contains an oxidizing catalyst to promote the complete conversion of CO and HC, including any surviving hexane, to CO2. The application of low intensity microwave energy, in addition to driving the oxidation of the captured DPM, will enhance the catalytic reactions in the second and third layers of the filter to achieve very high conversions of NOx, HCs, and CO. In Phase I, the CHA Corp. demonstrates the technical and economic feasibility of the approach.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee:
This project demonstrates that metallofullerenes can be efficiently and economically purified by electrochemical processing. Metallofullerenes, closed carbon cage molecules containing a trapped metal atom or atoms, are a unique new class of molecules with many potential applications in such fields as superconductors, electronics, nonlinear optics, and pharmaceuticals. Metallofullerenes are currently purified using a very expensive and time consuming two-step chromatography process. This process is so expensive that pure metallofullerenes are not yet commercially available, and research on metallofullerene applications is not yet economically feasible. Because the encapsulated metal atom transfers its electrons to the fullerene shell, metallofullerenes have a substantially different electronic structure than empty fullerenes. An electrochemical process, based on this large difference, would be relatively cheap to implement, more economical to run, and could be scaled to much larger capacities than the current chromatography processes. During Phase I, TDA is determining the feasibility of electrochemical purification.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee:
This project is involved with the direct electrosynthesis of two types of commercially important, high value-added carbohydrate intermediates. The first transformation to be studied is the oxidative decarboxylation of a sugar acid, as exemplified by conversion of D-gluconic acid (or salts thereof) to D-arabinose. The second transformation is the cleavage of a 1,2-diol to a dicarbonyl compound, as exemplified by the conversion of mannitol diacetonide to 2,3-isopropylidene-D-glyceraldehyde; this reaction is customarily accomplished using sodium periodate, but a direct synthesis would be preferable from both cost and environmental standpoints. Both D-arabinose and isopropylidene glyceraldehyde are important and useful intermediates in their own right, but in order to demonstrate the generality of the processes studied, each process will be extended to another substrate. For each of the specified processes, a number of anode materials are being evaluated in Phase I; in addition, the effects of solvent and pH are being examined. Some small-scale optimization studies are also being carried out on a selected process.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee:
The feasibility of extending the interferometric phase Doppler technique to irregular particles was examined in Phase I. Phase shift signals generated by the irregular particles were interpreted as the outcome of a stochastic process, i.e., a given particle (depending upon its orientation in the measurement volume) is expected to generate a particular phase shift with a certain probability. This project aimed at experimentally examining the nature of the phase shift probability functions associated with different kind of irregular and inhomogeneous particles. Preliminary measurements indicated that these functions may be fairly simple in form. For this purpose, irregular particles were qualified using an alternative technique that measures particle aerodynamic diameter. Finally, numerical inversion schemes are developed to deduce velocity-resolved particle size distributions from the measured phase shift distributions. The theory of geometrical scattering by statistically random particles is also being developed to predict the above probability functions.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee:
This project is evaluating a multicompartment electrodialysis cell using a new anion-exchange membrane for the separation and recovery of metals in contaminated wastewater. The initial application is for chromium recovery from plating and metal finishing baths which is of both environmental and economic concern. Regulatory standards are increasingly stringent and significant savings would result from recovery and recycling of the metal. Use of membranes for filtration and concentration is a promising method to address the problem because they operate at low temperatures, do not generate new waste, and are able to handle large volumes. The cell will permit simultaneous removal of both hexavalent and trivalent chromium from the waste stream. In the Phase I program a new membrane with high chemical resistance is being synthesized that is less expensive than perfluorinated membranes. Its chemical stability and electrical properties will be measured and compared to currently available membranes. The membrane will be incorporated into a three-compartment, laboratory-scale electrodialysis cell to demonstrate effective removal of toxic metal cations and hexavalent chromium.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee:
This project addresses the problem of removal and recovery of mercury from combustion/incineration flue gas with concurrent control of SO2, and NOX. Coal combustion and incineration of municipal and hazardous wastes result in air pollution due to emissions of trace amounts of heavy metals. Because of high toxicity of these species, their emissions are or will be regulated. High volatility of mercury makes control of this metal particularly difficult. The approach is based on regenerative adsorption on novel sorbents. A proprietary adsorption/stripping/regeneration scheme is addressed, with mercury recovery downstream of the regenerator. The preferred location for the adsorption unit is directly before the stack, which makes retrofitting an easier task, and also makes it possible to carry out adsorption at relatively low temperatures (50-200oC). The success of the project hinges upon the proof-of-sorbent performance, which is the objective of the Phase I research. To date, no technology is available for mercury removal from combustion/incineration gases. The objective of the Phase I project is to demonstrate the high mercury removal efficiencies and the technical and economic feasibility of the process. The project will be carried out in three tasks: (1) selection and preparation of sorbents; (2) assembling and testing the experimental set-up; and (3) sorption/regeneration experiments.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The main result of this research will be a novel technology for the removal of mercury from combustion flue gas, with simultaneous reduction in SO2 and NOX levels. Future extension of this process to other pollutants (e.g., other volatile air toxics, N2O, etc.) is also possible. The obvious applications for the process are: coal-fired power plants as well as municipal-, medical- and hazardous-waste incinerators.
Topic 23-Civil and Mechanical Systems
This project investigates a method to monitor the mechanical response of civil engineering systems by use of fiber-optic sensors. The effect of forces exerted on structures during natural catastrophesæsuch as earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, or severe storms could be measured. These devices will be rugged, low-cost, and will provide monitoring of strain in real timeæallowing a constant vigilance of the state-of-stress during aging and changing loading profiles. This would increase the ability of the engineer to assess the safety, state of repair, and expected lifetime of the structure. The commercial sensor systems will contain "proven" low-cost optical-fibers, hardware, software, memory display, and support equipment. This will be achieved through research, and application of a new approach that uses innovative ideas built on existing fiber-optic interferometric sensors. If successful, it will be possible to accurately measure the mechanical response properties of civil engineering structures in any desired location. Strain from long-term and transient loads can be measured and recorded. The sensors could be used in structures that use concrete such as buildings, parking garages, or bridges. Currently, large civil engineering structures are visually inspected. Extensometers or mechanical measuring devices are used on a periodic basis to evaluate the structure. Unfortunately, visual inspections usually occur after a structural problem has already manifested itself. Presently there are no sensing devices on the market that provide constant monitoring of the state of the structure.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The ultimate goal of this research effort is to commercialize a fully developed fiber-optic sensor system that can be used throughout the construction industry.
Addressed is the construction and testing of a full size fluid damper using electrorheological (ER) fluid as its operating medium. The damper can be installed within the frame of a building or bridge to increase the structure's capability to resist earthquake loads. The damper uses a unique monolithic control valve, having no moving parts and using inertial flows of the ER fluid. The valve is electronically activated by a control signal to alter the damping constant of the damper. When activated, ER fluids radically increase in viscosity, approaching a gel-like state. This change of state can occur instantaneously and disturbs flow through the control valve, thus greatly increasing the dampers resistance. This also allows the damper to respond to the extremely broad band of frequencies existing in a structure during a seismic event. The damping forces dissipate the seismic energy, thus greatly reducing damage to the structure. Because the required power to operate an ER fluid damper is very low, even a conventional battery becomes an effective source of control power for massive structures. The low power demand and high frequency response of the damper solves previous problems associated with the active control of full size structures.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: This research will allow the active control of buildings and bridges subjected to earthquake motions, reducing or eliminating damage during maximum credible seismic motions. Specific structures which will show the greatest improvements are steel moment resisting frame buildings and reinforced concrete highway bridges.
Quick and effective nondestructive evaluation of structural damage is important for earthquake studies. A novel real-time nondestructive structural damage measurement technique is described using the CSL high sensitivity, direct photon-electron conversion x-ray and gamma-ray image system. This new technique is based on the development of an x-ray or gamma-ray image detecting and processing system to directly visualize and quantify the structural damage, including damage location, pattern and size. In addition, real-time assessment of the earthquake damaging process is possible by utilizing this fast response detector and processing system as an active monitoring system. This system can be used either in the laboratory or in the field. During the Phase I effort, CSL will work together with the National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research at SUNY, Buffalo to conduct a series of experiments to quantify the major design parameters of the system to prove the practicality of this novel technique. This research will result in a portable, low cost and easy to use x-ray or gamma-ray inspection system for structural damage assessment. This system will benefit both laboratory and field work, and reduce the cost of earthquake damage assessment significantly.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The research will lead to a better understanding of structural damage caused by seismic activity. The technique, once developed, offers a very useful tool for laboratory studies as well as field inspection for monitoring and measuring earthquake damage. In addition, the real-time, nondistortion, high spatial/temporal resolution, and portable x-ray/gamma-ray system offers potential for use in inspection and monitoring of public structures and utilities as well as for use in monitoring product quality control in the manufacturing process.
The feasibility of developing an innovative motion video-based Photogrammetry Data Acquisition and Processing System for special areas of highway design and maintenance is being examined. To design and maintain transportation systems, three-dimensional data on specific areas are collected usually by means of aerial photography, manual surveys, and labor intensive data processing. The current aerial photography methods cannot effectively collect data on areas that may not be seen readily from an aerial position. These areas include bridges, rock face slopes, river banks, and tunnels. The goal is to develop a portable, easy-to-use, motion video-based system that uses close-range terrestrial photogrammetry techniques to accurately model areas not covered by aerial methods. In addition to a motion video camera, the hardware of the data acquisition system will consist of a Global Positioning System (GPS), encoders, and a laptop computer. A novel feature of the method is that the system will be tailored to the accuracy desired for different applications through the use of a mathematical model. The main research objectives focus on developing methods to obtain accurate camera position and orientation data, and to automatically identify and correspond 2-D points between video images. The new system will offer significant labor and time savings in gathering photogrammetry, ground survey, and surface description data. CamSys, Inc. has extensive experience in producing and marketing automated measurement equipment for acquiring photogrammetry data, and has distinct capabilities needed to develop the new system.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Benefits include innovative hardware-software methods to acquire and process video data to produce photogrammetry and surface description information for assessing the condition of bridges and tunnels, and modeling rock face slopes and river banks. This new system will make the process of designing and maintaining transportation related systems more efficient and reliable. Additional commercial applications exist in industries such as transportation, construction, architecture, education, and entertainment.
This project is developing a nondestructive evaluation method based on sensors containing elements of giant magnetoresistance (GMR) material. New techniques are needed for the nondestructive evaluation (NDE) of anomalies and stresses in metal structures used in buildings, bridges, and aircraft components. Current techniques based on visual inspections, eddy current, x-ray radiography, and acoustic emissions suffer from limitations in inspection capability, speed of inspection, and cost of inspection. The GMR effect has resulted in the development of magnetic field sensors with extremely high signal-to-noise levels capable of detecting extremely weak magnetic fields under ambient conditions. The microfabrication techniques used to form these sensors are well suited to the construction of low cost sensor arrays with a wide range of geometries. Magnetic methods have been shown to be capable of detecting anomalies such as cracks and for estimating the stresses in and around welds in steel components. With proper sensor design it is possible to use magnetometry to obtain high resolution, three-dimensional information concerning the internal structure and stress of a component. TPL is developing a sensor array based on GMR material and combining it with instrumentation and analytical concepts that will permit the 3-D imaging of metal components. A predictive capability will be developed to assess the mechanical integrity of components analyzed with the NDE system.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: A simple-to-use, field-portable NDE technique for metallic structures would find many applications including the inspection of bridges, buildings, and aircraft. The flexible sensor would permit the inspection of a wide range of different sample shapes. Rapid, high resolution images would permit practical cost effective inspections. The ability to predict mechanical degradation would provide critical insight concerning which structures are severely damaged and which can remain in service. The sensors will be simple and inexpensive to fabricate and the support electronics required is available so, in addition to high performance, it should be possible to manufacture the system at a reasonable cost.
This project could significantly reduce the cost of radiologic nondestructive assessment. Adelphi Technology is using an inexpensive compact betatron as a high-flux x-ray source for the purpose of NDE in civil structures. The x-ray source would replace more expensive RF linacs and, thereby, reduce the cost of radiological equipment. In conventional betatrons, eddy-current losses in the iron limit the frequency and the maximum field, thereby limiting the output beam power. With the use of proprietary low-loss, high-frequency materials, Adelphi Technology has found that higher driving frequencies permit much higher x-ray fluxes. Radiologic NDE requires just such an x-ray source to provide rapid, high signal-to-noise analyses. Under Phase I, they will determine the necessary betatron design parameters including the electromagnet dimensions, the pole shapes, pole gap, and the optimum placement of the electron gun for injection. They will utilize computer programs recently developed by them for the Department of Energy for high repetition-rate betatrons. The analysis will demonstrate that an inexpensive betatron will provide the x-ray flux necessary to examine concrete structures up to 70 cm thick.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The research will demonstrate the commercial and technical feasibility of an inexpensive compact betatron suitable for the NDE of civil structures. Other commercial applications of such a betatron include cancer radiotherapy, medical imaging, microlithography of integrated circuits, and compact baggage scanners.
Natural hazards have caused heavy damage and casualties. Earthquakes, in particular, are devastating and unpredictable. The delay of transmission of disaster information has been a major cause for serious damage and loss of lives. An early fast warning system for immediate actions would mitigate most, if not all, losses during such disaster events. Researchers are developing a fast early warning system for impending earthquake motions called the Integrated Telecommunication Information System for Disaster Reduction (ITIS-DR). The system integrates the advanced satellite telecommunication technology, intelligent sensor devices, and the accumulated disaster modeling knowledge. It produces reliable disaster information and transmits it instantaneously via satellite(s) to the system users. ITIS-DR can also serve as an automatic shutdown system for critical lifelines. Incorporating allied weather, flood, and other disaster information, ITIS-DR can be extended as a global warning system for wind, flood, and other hazards. ITIS-DR consists of four major subsystems: MOnitor (MOS), Central Control (CCS), TElecommunication (TES), and REception (RES). MOS collects and transmits the potential data to CCS via TES. CCS processes the data and sends the final warning/shutdown to RES also via TES. The RES displays the disaster information or directly controls the shutdown system for the users. The project studies ITIS-DR technical and economical feasibility by developing a limited number of monitors (MRs) and receivers (RRs).
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The potential commercial applications of ITIS-DR are manufacturing and marketing the complete, ITIS-DR monitor and receivers. The users of the system and subsystems are broad. They include public agencies at all levels of government which are responsible for civil infrastructure systems safety operation, utility companies, port and airport authorities, heavy or delicate equipment plants, and even safety-concerned individuals. The receivers can be deployed as easily as smoke detectors for safety purposes. The commercialization will increase jobs in the U.S. The ITS-DR whole- and sub-system, as hi-tech products, can be exported to foreign countries in earthquake and disaster-prone regions around the globe.
The project addresses a pulsed-ablative method for safely removing leaded paint from structural materials such as steel, concrete, and wood. The method is being evaluated using a computational model to determine expected operating parameters and to optimize performance. An engineering analysis is being performed. The method removes paint without the use of abrasives and without damage to the substrate. Residual waste is reduced to nearly the irreducible minimum, i.e., the paint itself. Potential health risks to workers and the local population are avoided, and the local environment is not contaminated. Bubble enclosures, as often needed in sandblasting, are not required.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Major application areas are removing paint from bridges, ship hulls, tank farms, other exterior structures, and aircraft. The technique is also expected to find use in the removal of other types of coatings besides paint.
Researchers are developing and demonstrating a low cost system for Wireless Remote Evaluation of Abutments and Piers (WREBAP). The WREBAP system addresses the most common cause of bridge failure: i.e., from floods, during which scour of bridge foundations causes failure of piers and abutments. Accurate and timely evaluation of these critical bridge abutment and pier conditions that can lead to such failures is a critical part of implementing a cost-effective, safety conscious bridge management program. The system is based on monitoring of pier and abutment movements caused by thermal and live loading. These movements, and their relationship to measured distortions, are combined with parameter estimation models to determine the characteristics of unknown foundations and overall condition of the pier or abutment. The information is transmitted autonomously to the Department of Transportation bridge management database where it can be used for rehabilitation planning and budgeting, prioritization, and rapid and emergency response. By eliminating wires and using low cost, mass produced electronic components, the system is affordable for implementation on a large number of structures, so that the population of bridges can be effectively monitored. The key technical issues to be faced in the development of the WREBAP system are: (1) the reliability and accuracy of pier and abutment evaluations using long-term monitoring data; and (2) the ability of the system to provide data of adequate quality. The program addresses these two issues by: (1) conducting simulation pier and abutment evaluations using simple models and synthesized data; and (2) designing and demonstrating field data collection using an experimental prototype system mounted to an in-service bridge.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The system will be applicable to all bridges owned by State and Local Departments of Transportation, railroad companies, and toll and tunnel authorities.
This project will substantially improve ground-probing radar (GPR) by providing beam steering capability to existing GPR systems. Ground-probing radar is a proven technology for the investigation of structures and targets in the subsurface. Existing GPR systems utilize a method (referred to as linear profiling) of dragging the transmitter along a surveillance path and gathering reflection time data to detect dielectric interfaces in the subsurface. The system will sequentially trigger a linear array of transmitter antenna elements to form a single imaging beam from coherent superpositions of the element transmissions to provide beam steering for wider transmitter coverage, greater depth penetration at high frequencies (100 to 500 MHz), and higher probing resolution. The improvements are also expected to permit ground probing from a mobile platform which will greatly reduce costs of gathering areal data. Due to low antenna cost (of those designed by TWS engineers), the system can be permanently affixed to areas requiring periodic monitoring to detect potentially hazardous movements in the earth's surface (such as underground mines) at a greatly reduced cost. Preliminary development of each task will be performed simultaneously by the principal and co-principal investigators during the first three months of the project. The results of each task will then be evaluated to develop a single unit for testing during the second half of the project. Testing of the GPR system will be performed in the field using the natural laboratory of the Black Hills of South Dakota to determine beam steering accuracy of the improved system. The transmission field will be measured directly after it has interacted with earth materials. Receiving antennas will be placed to determine the resultant field from the transmitting antennas. During beam steering, it is anticipated that sensors placed in target locations will receive strong signals as the imaging beam is aimed in their directions while those in areas outside the steered beam will receive weak signals.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The GPR system represents an innovative approach that will improve and broaden the application of GPR to near-surface earth exploration. Applications of this technology include location of underground utilities, static monitoring of key underground structures to predict failure, subsurface fluid-front migration that may be associated with environmental concerns, multiphase groundwater flow and contaminant transport in geomaterials, soil structure interaction, and location of hazardous waste containersæparticularly those constructed of dielectric materials for which an abundance of data is necessary for detection and identification. When employed as a mobile platform, the system would greatly reduce the cost of data acquisition for areal targets while enhancing data quality. The system is designed to enhance existing commercial GPR systems. Its low-cost fixed antennas will add to its market potential because they can be thought of as "consumables."
This project is developing and demonstrating a process to synthesize open-ended buckytubes and intercalate them with lithium to be used as new electrode materials for lithium batteries. All experiments reported to date have shown that buckytubes produced in inert gas arcs are capped at the ends. MER has demonstrated, for the first time, that sharp, open-ended nanotubes with empty interiors can be synthesized in a hydrogen arc discharge. The availability of open-ended buckytubes makes it possible to fill the tubes and fabricate completely new one-dimensional materials with unprecedented, novel properties such as conducting or semiconducting "quantum wires," ultra-short wavelength optical waveguides, nanofibers with the highest tensile strength, etc. In this Phase I program, the process for synthesis of open-ended buckytubes is being perfected through a systematic investigation, and the open-ended buckytubes with strong electron affinity are being intercalated with lithium to produce electrode materials with a higher ratio of carbon to lithium than can be obtained with current graphite. This could be extremely important to high performance, low cost, and very safe rechargeable lithium supplies and storage systems.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Open-ended buckytubes can, themselves, be nanofilters, field emitters, nanocrystal seeds, and have a host of applications. Doped buckytubes have even more potential applications. The results of this research will be immediately integrated to MER's commercial supply of fullerenes and the successful intercalation of open-ended tubes with lithium for the use of electrode materials could lead to novel lithium power supplies and storage systems.
The chemical modification of hard carbon coatings through reaction with radical species in order to improve their tribological performance is investigated. These modifications can also lead to the realization of wear resistant solid lubricant coatings. Two complementary approaches are examined in parallel, fluorination and nitridation. Fluorination of hard carbon surfaces can reduce their friction, while reaction of hard carbon with active nitrogen species may produce nitrogen-containing carbon films with excellent thermal stability and hardness. In Phase I, Aerodyne is investigating pathways to improving the tribological properties (friction, striction and wear) of hard carbon coatings through chemical modifications of the surface region. The goal is to define the mechanisms of fluorination and nitridation using novel sources and to establish quantitatively the relationship between the surface chemical composition, surface morphology and the tribological properties. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) is being used in conjunction with Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) to characterize the modified films chemical composition, surface structure, morphology and their tribological performances (friction, striction).
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: This project is designed for the development of solid lubricant coatings in the areas of precision tooling, magnetic recording, space technology, etc. A major market that would be affected would be magnetic disk media. As recording density increases, the distance (fly height) between the read/write head and the disk has to be decreased; full contact operation is under consideration. As a result, the tribological properties of the hard carbon overcoats directly affect the dualibility of the disk and the read/write head.
This project conducts fundamental research into the failure mechanics and fatigue performance of composite materials applied to the high stress rotating environment of energy storage flywheels. Implicit in the work is the premise that manufacturing and/or service induced defects in composite flywheels are inevitable, and that commercial success requires a comprehensive understanding of the type and extent of defects which may be safely accommodated. A combined program of operational and micromechanical analysis and testing is underway, leading to both manufacturing quality acceptance standards and methodologies for predicting composite flywheel service life. Unique features are the incorporation of inhomogeneous composite material models into the evaluation of flow criticality and growth, as well as explicate consideration of local loading increments due to flaw growth. Phase I encompasses initial conceptualization of the analysis plus coupon testing. The end result of this project will be a database of nominal and intentionally flawed coupon strength and rotor spin tests as well as a computer-based composite flywheel reliability design tool. These data and analyses will be formulated so as to assist designers in choosing among the diverse composite flywheel architectures showing commercial promise. The design tool will also guide choices as to design safety factors, estimated service lives, and operational diagnostic and servicing procedures.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The research will redress current deficiencies in the understanding of composite flywheel reliability and service life, which demand either very large design safety factors or exceedingly restrictive standards of fabrication and inspection. The results are expensive in either case, diminishing delivered performance on the one hand, and dramatically increasing scrap rates (and costs) on the other. The development of rational defect acceptance standards and service life predictions will remove one of the most significant barriers to composite flywheel energy storage applications currently pending in the automotive and fixed-base UPS markets.
This project is aimed at the development of a network of miniaturized, intelligent, addressable sensing modules (ASMs), that can be embedded within a composite structure, remotely powered, and interrogated by a personal computer through a noncontacting inductive link. The inductive power link is also used for bi-directional communications. A computer-based interrogation system will transmit a data request to a specific ASM on the embedded network. This data request will be encoded on the AC waveform that delivers power to the embedded electronics. Once addressed, the embedded ASM will power up its strain sensing elements, and data conversion components. The strain data will be sampled and encoded as pulse code modulated (PCM) data. The PCM serial data modulates a carrier for transmission out of the embedded material, back to the interrogating computer. The system will be designed to allow a variety of sensing devices to be used interchangeably on the network. This will allow smart structures sensing means to be tailored for a specific application. Development of the system will be accompanied by thorough testing along the way to insure target specifications will be met.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Structures with a broad variety of capabilities may be developed by embedding intelligent sensing networks of temperature, strain, crack propagation, pressure, magnetic fields, etc. Applications include health monitoring of thick composite structures, bridges, dams, and buildings. Military and commercial market potential for these systems is significant.
This project concerns nonlinear modeling and control Terfenol-D based actuators. SatCon is developing nonlinear models which allow the design of control systems that extend the linear operating region of these materials. Although Terfenol-D is noted for large force and power densities, high stiffness, and the largest peak strain of all piezoelastic materials, the application of this material is limited by its inherent nonlinear behavior. The nonlinearities result in higher harmonics when dynamic inputs are applied. These harmonics increase unwanted vibration and tracking error. Models will be derived using nonlinear magnetoelastic equations and lumped parameter modeling methods for magnetic, electrical, and mechanical subsystems. Hysteresis and saturation, will be included in the nonlinear magnetoelastic equations. The resulting nonlinear dynamic model will be validated experimentally through open and closed loop control experiments. By extending the linear operating region, it is expected that harmonic content, and hence vibration and tracking error, will be reduced. Also a substantially higher force density will be achieved. This will result in the ability to design smaller, lighter, less expensive actuators for use in applications which demand precise positioning and/or extremely high force to weight ratios; such as, vibration and noise cancellation, high pressure pumps, and micropositioners.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Development of these nonlinear controllers will allow up to a 50% increase in performance for dynamic applications, thus reducing size, mass and cost. As evidenced by the growing piezoelastic material market, commercial applications are increasing for these types of actuators. It is expected that Terfenol-D will replace these piezoelectric materials in rapid micropositioning, micropositioning of large objects and vibration isolation.
This project provides the necessary foundation for the design, manufacture, and integration of a truly unique self-contained powder-lubricated quasi-hydrodynamic (PLQH) backup bearing into flywheel energy storage (FES) systems that use magnetic bearings. Advances in lightweight high strength composites, high speed brushless motors, magnetic bearings and solid state electronics, coupled with improvements in the achievable energy density, output power levels, rapid energy withdrawal and recovery, and cost have made compact/efficient FES systems for vehicular applications feasible. While the major components that make the FES concept feasible are now in place, there exists a critical need for a reliable and durable backup to the magnetic bearings. This backup bearing must be capable of repeated and intermittent operation in the vacuum environment, even in the presence of repetitive high speed transient impacts. Finally, the backup bearing subsystem must itself be lightweight, compact, simple (i.e., no external lubrication system) and low in cost. The self-contained PLQH bearing meets these needs. Over the past ten years, under the sustained sponsorship of DOD, NASA and DOE, the fundamental aspects of this powder lubrication technology have been brought from its embryonic state to fruition in a practical machinery application. MiTi is pleased to be able to transition this technology to a product that will support the development of durable FES systems for vehicular applications. Toward that end, this Phase I program will develop two-dimensional powder lubrication design analysis to include axial flows and pressure distributions and will validate the design analysis through component testing. In a self-contained bearing, where the available lubricant is limited, optimizing the bearing geometry so as to avoid extreme starvation is crucial to successful operation. The outcome of this Phase I effort will therefore be the guidance and tool needed to optimize the self-contained PLQH bearing geometry.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: FES systems, if successfully developed for commercial vehicular applications, would initially represent approximately 100,000 to 200,000 units per year. Additionally, Army hybrid electric heavy combat vehicles which would require between 3 to 7 FES modules would represent up to an additional 100,000 units. Aircraft gas turbine engines also using magnetic bearings and requiring backup bearings represent an additional market. Developing this key fundamental element may also impact other fields where precise control of the wear process is used in machining operations (e.g., finishing operations for ceramic balls).
This project will experimentally validate a technique for dynamic analysis of structures with very high modal density acted on by uncertain loads. The primary tools for dynamic analysis are finite element modeling, modal analysis, and statistical energy analysis. These methods are powerful tools but have limitations when applied to extremely complex structural systems. A technique known as admittance modeling has the potential to overcome these limitations, but has not been thoroughly tested on practical problems. The goal is to develop this promising theory into a practical tool for the analysis of very complex structural systems. Two experiments will be performed during Phase I. The first involves the control of a truss structure with an attached tuned-mass damper. The second experiment is a vibro-acoustic system consisting of a "black box" attached to a stiffened panel that is excited by multiple acoustic sources. For both experiments, dynamic response will be predicted using experimental measurements and the admittance modeling technique. The accuracy of the admittance technique will be tested by comparing the predicted responses with the measured data of the actual system. A preliminary software package will also be developed to analyze the experimental data and provide a basis for the full-scale development in Phase II.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: A fully developed admittance modeling package would fill an important gap in the toolbox of structural dynamicists. A commercially available package would be of interest in the aircraft and automotive industries because of the inherent complexity of their structural vibration problems.
Topic 24-Bioengineering and Environmental Systems
An alarming increase in fungal infections has focused attention on the need to identify new compounds with antifungal activity. This project focuses on developing a rapid method for screening compounds for antifungal activity using gel microdrops and fluorescent activated cell sorting. This technique provides a quantitative approach for evaluating growth and antifungal sensitivity. Conventional drug screening, which is based on dilution and plating methods, is costly, time consuming, and difficult to automate. An additional benefit of this method is the ability to recover microorganisms of interest for further analysis, such as gene sequence determination. This project offers an innovative approach to drug screening.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The market potential for developing rapid automated susceptibility assays for screening drug candidates against infectious disease targets is significant. In addition to screening cells on a fee for service basis, the company is also leasing CellSyTM microdrop makers for encapsulation and screening in individual research laboratories.
The project exploits novel photocatalysts for air pollution control. Technological innovation is required to effectively manage dilute sources of air pollution from industrial operations and from remediation of contaminated groundwater and soils. Emissions controls are needed which are cost effective, use energy efficiently, are suitable for remote locations, and produce no hazardous by-products. Photocatalysis has these characteristics, employing ultraviolet (UV) light to destroy chemical compounds at ambient temperatures and pressures. Photocatalysis is particularly attractive if an efficient solar technology is available, exploiting inexpensive and abundant UV radiation from the sun. To date, solar photocatalysis has not been sufficiently efficient or effective for large scale adoption. Novel photocatalyst formulations which are about 50 times as active as conventional titania photocatalysts are being developed. The effectiveness of using solar radiation in the UV spectrum is greatly increased by such photocatalysts. The technical feasibility of exploiting these unique photocatalyst formulations to capture the potential of solar radiation for the destruction of environmentally hazardous gaseous emissions in the air is being established. The performance of the photocatalysts enables effective utilization of solar UV radiation and efficient scale-up to capacities of relevance to practical applications. The program addresses chlorinated volatile compounds and toluene as model compounds.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The environmental control equipment market in the United States is forecast to grow to sales of $1.6 billion by the year 2000. The solar photocatalytic air pollution control products developed in the program find broad application in that marketplace. Solar photocatalytic units could be installed to control air emissions from soil and groundwater remediation due to the superior economics and ready adaptability to remote locations. Future products will address industrial emissions control and indoor air quality maintenance.
The project is developing early prototype devices to implant erythropoietin-producing cells in an animal to treat erythropoietin deficient anemias. Erythropoietin is a hormone produced in specialized cells in the kidney and is released when oxygen delivery to these cells declines secondary to hypoxia or anemia, thereby stimulating red cell progenitor proliferation to increase red blood cell volume in the circulation. This hormone is deficient in many chronic diseases, including chronic renal failure, AIDS, and cancer. This formulation is cost effective as well as a more optimal treatment strategy for this disease process. Researchers are constructing an early hollow fiber prototype to immunoisolate cells of an established human hepatoma cell line, HepG2, which produces erythropoietin in an oxygen sensitive manner for implantation into the systemic circulation of an animal. Researchers are identifying the best geometry of hollow fiber encapsulation of HepG2 cells to grow the maximum packed cell density without compromise of cell viability in vitro. They are demonstrating that erythropoietin gene expression and protein production by these encapsulated cells in a single hollow fiber bioreactor can be regulated by varying oxygen tension or oxygen carrying capacity in vitro. They plan to scale up these studies to a cartridge of encapsulated cells in 100 hollow fibers to test viability and oxygen responsivity ex vivo in preparation for cartridge implantation of encapsulated HepG2 cells into the systemic circulation of an animal in vivo during the Phase II component of this program. This Phase I project will, therefore, support the important transition phase from basic to applied research and preliminary design of a testable device designed to provide cell therapy for erythropoietin deficient anemias.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: A cell therapeutic device to treat erythropoietin deficient anemia may optimize therapy in a cost effective manner.
Researchers are developing reagents and methods for surface modifying membranes with hydrophilic photoactivatable polymers to reduce fouling. One of the greatest problems, particularly with ultrafiltration (UF) membranes, is fouling, which is largely caused by solute interactions with the membranes. Fouling reduces the flux and use life of membranes and increases the solute retention, thus changing the selectivity during use. The project is achieving greatly reduced fouling with minimal or no reduction in flux on microfiltration membranes. The polymers being developed are expected to be useful for UF as well as for microfiltration (MF) and reverse osmosis (RO) membranes. The primary types of membranes used are polysulfone UF membranes; however, the method is expected to be useful for other types of membranes, including MF and RO membranes as well as membranes made from other materials (e.g., polycarbonate and PVDF). The method for modifying the membranes involves synthesis of hydrophilic polymers containing photoactivatable moieties (e.g., benzophenone derivatives) at one end and hydrophilic polymer chains at the other end. These polymers have surfactant characteristics that wet hydrophobic membrane surfaces from aqueous solutions and orient with the photogroups associated with the membrane surface and the hydrophilic ends oriented away from the membrane surface. They are then covalently coupled to the membrane surfaces photochemically. The performance characteristics of the modified membranes will be compared with other commercially available similar membranes for fouling characteristics.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Membrane filtration is an important technique for many industrial processes. However, fouling limits the usefulness of ultrafiltration and other membrane separations including reverse osmosis and microfiltration. This project is expected to make an important contribution to improving efficiencies of membrane filtrations by reducing fouling of membranes made from hydrophobic materials such as polysulfone and polyvinylidene difluoride. This surface modification technology is expected to have significant commercial potential for improving membranes.
This project seeks to discover a fundamental new approach to a problem older than Noah; namely, how to keep the bottoms of boats free from biofouling in an environmentally acceptable manner. Since Noah first used pitch, man has relied on toxic materials to inhibit biofouling. Unfortunately these have tended to persist in the marine environment and increased use of marine resources by man has tended to compound the problem to the point where today only a very short list of toxicants are permitted, and even this list is undesirable. The objective of this research is to demonstrate that persistent toxicants are unnecessary. Laboratory formulation of phototoxic surfaces are investigated as well as tests of their resistance to biofouling in the marine environment. If successful, the approach will largely replace coatings which rely on persistent toxicants such as copper and organotin compounds.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Bottom paint represents a $300 million market worldwide. Most of this paint is manufactured and sold by foreign firms using technology which is a century old. Their products are solvent based and hazardous to apply and remove. Paint chips must be collected and disposed of as hazardous waste. Replacing this technology with one that is more environmentally acceptable is very desirable and is becoming more and more necessary as country after country bans toxicants for antifouling.
This project offers a novel reductive photothermal process for environmentally safe destruction of chlorinated aromatic compounds such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). It utilizes UV light to photo-initiate hydrodechlorination of PCBs at moderate temperature, leading to their complete conversion into valuable hydrocarbons and HCl. The process is conducted in a reducing atmosphere of hydrogen, providing the necessary radical chain-carriers and circumventing production of soot and toxic oxychlorinated species. A large number of sites are contaminated with chlorinated hazardous wastes such as TCA, TCE, PCE, PCB, etc. These compounds have been widely used and their presence entails severe environmental concerns. All current remedial technologies are inadequate. They suffer from high cost, incomplete destruction, emission of toxic products, and disposal/liability problems. Consequently, there is a dire need for the new process for the treatment of these compounds. The main objective of Phase I is to experimentally demonstrate the feasibility of converting PCBs into environmentally benign products. To meet this objective, a five-task work plan is projected. Unique UV light sources will be employed and two proprietary options will be pursued, single-stage and two-stage processes. A detailed kinetic model for a representative PCB will be developed, and computer predictions will provide guidance to the experimental effort. Experiments with two representative PCBs will be performed in a bench-scale photothermal flow reactor. Successful completion of Phase I will provide the technical foundation for a comprehensive Phase II R&D, in which a prototype demonstration unit will be designed, constructed, and tested.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: This novel reductive photothermal process will lead to a "green" technology for environmentally safe conversion of aromatic chlorohydrocarbons (e.g., PCBs). It will provide a unique and cost-effective clean-up technology circumventing all the problems associated with current methods, such as high cost and emission of soot and other toxic products. Consequently, it will be of immense benefit to Federal and State governments and to the private sector in their remediation efforts.
This project aims to investigate the feasibility of developing new compounds capable of utilizing common marker gene expression in transformed cells to control the growth and character of cells in living tissue. If successful, the research will provide breakthroughs needed to advance the promising commercial uses of recombinant genes. In Phase I, Marker Gene Technologies will establish the feasibility of the technology by preparing conjugates of common growth regulators, drugs and enzyme inhibitors, for administration to a variety of animal cells or bacteria that contain gene fusion markers. These new conjugates will provide innovative methods of detecting gene fusions and utilizing these fusion systems in transformed cells to control selected biological properties of the cells. In Phase I, the new conjugates will be assayed in tissue culture and in vivo for their ability to cause specific and localized inhibition or improvement of cell growth in culture and to deliver these conjugates in a cell- or tissue-specific manner.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The success of this project opens up enormous commercial possibilities in the fields of plant and crop production, medical intervention in genetic diseases, immunoadjuvant therapy for cancer treatment, and biotechnological production of new proteins and drugs in cell-culture systems. In addition, it contributes new information and techniques for basic cell-biology research.
The cost and availability of health care products based on peptides currently limit access to treatments. New methods are needed to produce pharmaceutical quality proteins such as subunit vaccines and antimicrobial peptides for human use on a large scale. This project is determining the feasibility of producing peptides in plants fused to the surface of viral particles. The approach integrates the inexpensive synthesis of protein in plant biomass under non-sterile conditions with the design of an abundant, stable and unique molecular structure that may easily be processed from plant extracts. By dramatically reducing production costs, this technology will enable vaccines and antibiotic peptides to be more accessible to a larger fraction of the world population who suffer from numerous infectious diseases.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: By making vaccines and antibiotic treatments more affordable, substantial new markets will be created worldwide for these low-cost, high-volume health care products.
Process Engineering Inc. is demonstrating the technical and economic merit of a recently invented and patented self-cleaning filter. The novel device permits localized sequential backwashing of a filter element in a continuously operating filter. The result is a filter with extremely long run times, very low maintenance requirements, and a clear potential for substantial cost savings. A wide variety of conventional filter media can be employed meaning that the range of possible commercial applications is enormous. The idea appears especially promising for filtration and separation systems that recover product from a process effluent stream, as well as those that require a final polishing stage beyond a conventional solids separation process. In both these cases, ultimate disposal of the backwash stream is not required and there is a strong potential for significant pollution prevention. The conceptual design has been completed and some encouraging preliminary test results have been obtained using an early prototype. The research objectives are therefore to design and build the second generation prototype, conduct filtration and backwash performance tests, further delineate the range of potential commercial applications, and begin to assemble a computer-based performance and cost model to facilitate process optimization.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The initial market focus will be to provide final effluent polishing filters for wastewater treatment facilities. As solids and bacterial discharge standards to rivers, lakes, estuaries, and oceans become more stringent, the filter could be used to improve substantially the final effluent quality without any major upgrade to the treatment plant. The backwash flow generated is returned to the head of works eliminating the need for additional residuals treatment.
Corrosion inhibitors are widely used for the protection of metal surfaces against corrosion. In some cases, their use is the only possible way to protect metals from an aggressive environment. Corrosion inhibitors cover a wide spectrum of chemical substances including both inorganic and organic compounds. In many cases, however, the highly efficient inhibitors are very toxic and, therefore, are a high risk to health and to the environment. There is a great need for new, low cost, environmentally safe, high performance corrosion inhibitors to replace the existing no-longer satisfactory substances such as chromates. The Phase I research examines a new class of naturally based corrosion inhibitors. These materials have the potential to meet the need for a completely non-toxic, environmentally safe corrosion inhibitor. In Phase I, research is carried out to investigate critical issues related to the preparation and performance of the new inhibitor.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The new corrosion inhibitor should be highly efficient, non-toxic, biodegradable and is prepared almost entirely from renewable natural resources. Furthermore, the technology is simple and the raw materials are low-cost. These key features are of great commercial potential for all applications where metallic surfaces have to be protected against corrosion.
This investigation focused on using alcohol flooding to remediate soil and groundwater contaminated with lighter-than-water non-aqueous phase liquids (LNAPLs, i.e., oils) at petroleum refineries. Significant problems exist using conventional remediation technologies at sites such as oil refineries which are heavily contaminated with LNAPLs. Residual oil saturation in porous media and the trapping of LNAPLs above and below the water table by capillary forces make LNAPLs extremely difficult to mobilize under conventional hydraulic gradients for purposes of well-head recovery. The main attraction of an approach involving alcohols is that the recovered alcohols and LNAPL can be directly used as feedstocks to the refining process, therefore, minimal ex situ treatment of the pumped liquids is required, if at all. Accordingly, two-dimensional flow experiments in unconfined homogeneous and layered sand samples using a combined pure ethanol and 50/50 (vol.%) ethanol-water flooding strategy were conducted on the bench-scale to mobilize LNAPL (toluene). In homogeneous sand, toluene emplaced below the water table was effectively mobilized to the recovery port using a strategy of alcohol injection and lowering of the water table. Chromatography results of samples taken at the leading edge of the LNAPL-laden ethanol water interface indicated toluene concentrations in excess of 300,000 mg/l. For the toluene emplaced slightly above the water table in homogeneous sands, vertically-downward mobilization of LNAPL along the sloping ethanol-water flooding interface occurred because the LNAPL had a greater density than the pure alcohol used for flooding. In all cases, the toluene appeared to be effectively removed from the sand.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Remediation of LNAPL-impacted soil and groundwater is an important problem at oil refineries, aviation terminals, military installations, tank farms, and other locations where hydrocarbon fuels are stored or dispensed. As alcohol is an octane enhancer, the alcohol-LNAPL mixture recovered from the subsurface has commercial value as a feedstock for refineries, thereby offsetting the cost of remediation. Therefore, this application of alcohol flooding has a significant cost savings advantage over other available technologies for LNAPL cleanup at potentially greater LNAPL recovery efficiencies.
Topic 25-Education and Human Resources
The project addresses a fundamental difficulty encountered by a number of groups that desire to have networked students collect scientifically valid data for use by scientists. The challenge is to have students collect accurate data which has been scientifically validated without sacrificing the educational aspects of the program. An example network might measure the pH, dissolved oxygen, and temperature in a river from its headwaters to its outlet as an indication of the river's environmental condition. Researchers are addressing this issue of data accuracy and validation by using a unique set of hardware along with unique software algorithms. The hardware includes a low-cost, hand-held, four channel data logger with a set of self-identifying sensor modules. The unique calibration and data tagging aspects of this system provide an opportunity for data tracking that does not exist for any other product. This information is processed using innovative software algorithms which perform a number of internal consistency tests to validate the data. These checks are part of an education organizational model that helps students learn critical thinking skills and can be replicated in all the network programs. This model links students with scientists and promotes direct interaction focused around a specific scientific goal. The aim of this program is to develop an organizational model combined with unique hardware and software that can aid networks in gathering scientifically valid data while insuring an educationally significant experience for the students.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: This research improves the scientific skills of students and helps to promote the use of scientific tools in education. Students gain critical thinking skills and engage in active communication with scientists. A market for innovative curricula and advanced educational materials is being created as a result of the research conducted during the program. The successful implementation of the described system is of great benefit to a wide range of scientific programs and, supplies innovative tools for conducting research.
Researchers are studying ways to conjoin current research with the latest technology in a multimedia environment that allows early learners to gain conceptual understanding of number sense and prepare for more formal mathematics. Current research has defined four foci of this project: realistic problems, models, own productions, and acoustics. Realistic problems are those mathematical situations that actually occur in a child's daily experience and so hold meaning to him or her. Models are any number of representations that allow children to apply their understanding of mathematics. These may include their own invented and informal strategies, use of the number line or blank number line, or other models such as the bead string, arithmetic rack, etc. Own productions refers to children's constructions of mathematical situations or descriptions of them in their own terms. Acoustics refers to studies of how children learn through sound, rhythm, and movement and how this affects their understanding of numbers as structural representations. All of these have an effect on the way in which children develop their understanding of mathematics. Understanding progresses gradually through varying levels of abstraction, such as the following: mathematizing concrete problems through the use of invented or informal strategies, to the use of models, and then to formal or abstract mathematics. This project studies the feasibility of creating an active and realistic learning environment in which students are able to build upon the levels of understanding. New advancements in technology, including the use of video (which students can manipulate and edit to portray mathematics), graphics (to use as constructed models or representations of mathematical situations), sound (for vocal description or as reinforcement of acoustic implications in learning), and text tools can all amplify the learning potential of primary grade students as defined through the research. A major objective would be to exploit these technologies to their fullest advantage while maintaining an interface that is friendly to the primary student.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: A K-2 math program which incorporates highly visual and realistic video and sound with intriguing mathematics problems is needed in the school market. A program that goes beyond drill and practice and integrates new research on learning could make a great impact on mathematics instruction and the development of number sense in the primary years. The product could conceivably cross over to the home market.
This project is developing a novel instrument and associated courseware targeted to undergraduate university-level (level 4) laboratory teaching/learning in the physical, chemical, biological and engineering sciences. The instrument is based on an inexpensive, rugged phase fluorometer recently developed at Ciencia. This instrument will make it possible to bring, for the first time, to the undergraduate laboratories a capability that until now has only been available at highly specialized research centers. Potential applications span physics, chemistry, biology and engineering laboratory courses. In Phase I, courseware modules are being developed for specific experiments suitable for the laboratory component of general undergraduate physics courses (for science students), as well as for sophomore level optics courses and senior level student research. Ciencia is collaborating with the University of Connecticut Physics Department in the development of the teaching modules and for testing the system in the classroom.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Potential commercial applications include undergraduate laboratory research as well as classroom teaching in the laboratory component of undergraduate science and engineering courses. Potential markets include the physics, chemistry, biology, and engineering departments at colleges and universities.
The goal of this project is to demonstrate that highly technical scientific topics can be effectively learned through a modern multimedia experience. Specifically, this grant is developing a multimedia product illustrating the subtle relationship between structure and function in macromolecular biochemical systems. A student will interact with sophisticated computer models of molecules and interrogate their molecular properties in a state-of-the-art multimedia format running on standard personal computers. Ironically, as science reveals new and exciting insights into life's processes, science and non-science professionals find it more and more difficult to digest and integrate the knowledge into a comprehensible whole. The "information age" threatens to overwhelm us. Multimedia technology is integrating voice, video, animation, and simulation into a virtual reality that can present complex topics in a stimulating, interactive, and hopefully comprehensible medium. This grant focuses on the "molecules of life." It includes biochemical background on proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates, and lipids for the novice. More importantly, it assembles detailed examples illustrating the relationship between molecular and chemical structure and a molecule's biological function. Examples covering biological motion, information storage, nerve impulse propagation, enzymatic catalysis, and nutrient transport are included among others. More than just a computerized textbook, the student interacts with the molecular systems, probing their structures, discovering first hand what physical and chemical forces give rise to their biological properties. The developers hope that this project will enable even a high school student to appreciate the chemical processes responsible for life.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Phase I objectives, if met, will demonstrate that a multimedia product integrating high end 3-D molecular models, hypertext cross referencing, and biochemical knowledge base can be produced on a personal computer platform. Completion of the course during Phase II will result in a CD-ROM title that will be marketed to high school and college students. Perhaps more valuable in the long run, the tools and technologies developed along the way will be invaluable in creating additional titles in other areas of molecular biology and chemistry.
The goal of this project is to develop and demonstrate the feasibility of providing an illustrated, interactive American Sign Language (ASL)/Science dictionary for children with hearing disabilities using interactive videodisc (IVD) technology. The dictionary will use text, graphics, video animation, and ASL signs to define new words for elementary school level. The child can call words via keyboard, touch screen, IVD controls or other input devices and display the word definition in both English and ASL or can input definition via selection of ASL signs or English words to identify representative words. The first phase will produce a prototype of a first dictionary (about 1,500 words) appropriate for middle school on a microprocessor, using an authoring workstation. Each frame will display a word, a video of the ASL representation of the word and definition of the work, a graphical illustration of what the word represents (this can be still graphics, video image, or animated graphics or cartoons). The prototype dictionary will be alpha tested, and evaluated by subject matter experts prior to introduction to other student's display media, and by users. Means to reduce the cost for use in schools and at home will be sought for eventual implementation on IVD system.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The dictionary can be directly used by children with hearing disabilities. The technique can be applied to a vast amount of education materials for a wide range of population, including adult illustrated dictionaries, games, entertainment and training products, controls of processes, etc.
The necessary hardware components for a one semester course on laser operating principals for advanced undergraduate and Masters-level graduate students is being developed. The laboratory package takes advantage of recent technical advances in diode-pumped solid state laser technology, that now make it possible to design a complete laser laboratory course based on a set of low cost components. During Phase I, the necessary components for the kit are being identified, engineered, and fabricated. Simultaneously, a set of laboratory notes outlining experiments to be performed with the Laboratory Optics Kit will be prepared. Five prototype test kits are being assembled and delivered to the Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers at the University of Central Florida, where they were to be tested as the basis for a one-semester laboratory course scheduled to be offered during the 1996 summer semester. The anticipated final result of this project is the marketing of a self-contained, economical laser laboratory package by VLOC, complete with hardware, optics, and lab text.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The successful completion of the research effort will lead to the commercial introduction of a laser laboratory package consisting of optics and hardware kits and an accompanying lab text. The availability of this package should make it possible for graduate and undergraduate institutions to add a laboratory component to classroom courses on laser operating principles.
This project is generating the technical data for the development of an automated note-taking and multimedia lecture delivery system based on a patented electro-optical sensing and scanning technology. The system will enable mobility-impaired teachers to overcome many of the instructional problems imposed by physical limitations and will enhance and facilitate the learning experience for students with physical and learning disabilities. The basic goals of the Phase I project are to produce a prototype automated note-taking system and to establish the parameters for the multimedia lecture delivery system, which will be fully developed in Phase II. The R&D effort in Phase I focuses on the evaluation of the technologies required to apply the digitization technology established by Digital Scanning Systems, Inc. for the development of an automated note-taking and multimedia lecture delivery system which will be of particular benefit to the handicapped community, both within and outside of the education environment.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The automated note-taking and multimedia lecture delivery system will be marketed for use by the handicapped community in education, as well as in business and other noneducational environments. There are numerous other applications for the technology which can be utilized by both disabled and non-handicapped individuals: producing hardcopy (print-outs) from whiteboards; automated note-taking in business and other conference rooms; teleconferencing; and the digitization of large-area design boards.
Development of an interactive multimedia educational program "Planning Genetic Engineering Experiments" is underway. The program will be stored and distributed on CD-ROM. The overall project aim is to create an interactive learning resource for college students in which the student is the experimenter, working through a complex problem that requires integration of their knowledge of recombinant DNA techniques and the scientific process. The software is being designed to give intelligent feedback to the user during experimentation. Background information resources (graphics, animations, photos, video clips, and simulations) will be available to fully explain each technique whenever the user needs this information. Different skill levels from advanced high school to undergraduate biology majors will be accommodated in this multimedia format. Sufficient understanding of recombinant DNA techniques and the ability to integrate knowledge for use in problem-solving is difficult to obtain from textbooks, lectures, and from standard laboratory exercises. The interactive design of this CD allows students to go through many problems at minimal cost, make their own mistakes, receive some guidance, and gain a deeper understanding of the technique and its application. During Phase I, a team of experienced educators and software engineers will develop scenarios involving molecular markers, RFLPs. A problem scenario is presented and once the student has devised a general approach to the question, he or she can enter the interactive laboratory. In the virtual lab, the appropriate "hot buttons" are selected to activate a technique. To carry out the procedure, specific program-generated questions that require a conceptual understanding of the technique must be answered. If they are unfamiliar with a technique, or have trouble carrying out a technique, they can exit the laboratory field and go to a background description of the technique. The prototype will be thoroughly tested in Phase I, then expanded during Phase II to include problems applicable to the content in several college courses.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Because recombinant DNA technology is pervasive in biological research today, experiments using these techniques are described in many biology courses from introductory to specialized upper level courses. This type of resource has tremendous commercial potential for use throughout biology curriculum. It is anticipated that students will acquire this as a supplement to their textbooks.
The need for physically-disabled students to be able to conduct laboratory experiments in the physical sciences is addressed. This project demonstrates the feasibility of developing efficient computer simulations of laboratory experiments, based on first principle mathematical models, that can be run by disabled students on personal computers with an absolute minimum of motor input. It combines: (1) state-of-the-art personal computer technology, (2) existing knowledge about dynamic simulations of a variety of mechanical, chemical, electrical, magnetic, and optical processes, and (3) existing technologies developed by Words+, that enable persons with severe disabilities to operate sophisticated computer software with very little motionæas little as the blink of an eye. The ability to experience first hand the results of simulated experiments, and to control the setup and operation of those experiments, will change the perspective of the physically-disabled person in the laboratory from that of a spectator to an active participant. This should prove to motivate more disabled students to an active interest in the sciences, which can be ideal for vocations by those whose brains function well but whose bodies prevent them from working in more physical forms of employment. The famous theoretical astrophysicist Professor Stephen Hawking of the University of Cambridge in England (a Words+ user) is a clear example of a severely physically-disabled person who is making major contributions to science.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Software that can be run by the physically-disabled can also be run by the able-bodied, so the results of this project will lead to software with tremendous commercial potential. The final commercial products from this effort will be CD-ROMs or other similar media with software simulations covering a wide range of science and technical disciplines, and distributed through mass market channels to high school and university students around the world. Accurate, first principle simulation is currently used in some industries. Its use in education is both inevitable, and can be expected to evolve continuously for the foreseeable future as the knowledge base on which mathematical models are derived improves, and as affordable computer resources continue to increase. A new company called Simulations Plus, Inc. has been founded that is now the parent to Words+. Its purpose is to develop educational simulation software of the type described above.
The groundwork for the development of interactive and exploratory geometry-learning software realized on inexpensive, pen-based and handheld computers is established. The research draws on the proven benefit in today's classrooms first of the existing dynamic geometry softwareæThe Geometer's Sketchpadæand second of the accessibility afforded by handheld technology (currently in the form of "graphing calculators"). The research develops classroom scenarios of pen-based devices used in classrooms, taking into account possibilities for interaction with desktop-based computers. These scenarios will be used to develop algorithms for pen-based geometry input, prototypes of a pen-based Sketchpad product, and specifications for a minimal hardware platform for launching this new technology in a mathematics education context.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The Geometer's Sketchpad enjoys a position as one of the most highly regarded and commercially successful educational software systems presently available in the U.S. and around the globe. The research, led by Sketchpad's original author and ongoing project director, will pave the way for migrating the successful software to the most exciting hardware platform on the horizon of educational technology. Such a product will be commercially successful in school markets because it represents an environment which is educationally sound (in that it draws on existing Sketchpad), is widely accessible (in that it's both portable and inexpensive), and ideally suited for exploring mathematics (because it's pen-based).
This project is conducting a formative evaluation to design and implement prototype software that allows children in the age range 5-7 years to explore symbolic representations in a variety of domains by developing codes and coded representations of text, pictures, and animations. The software is intended to supplement the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) curriculum standards by focusing on mathematical representation as an act of communication. Whereas the NCTM approach takes concrete experience with real objects as its starting point and gradually develops cognitive links to abstract representations, this software would encourage children to manipulate and explore symbolic representations for the purposes of communication. The pedagogical objective of the software is to help young children develop an understanding of symbolic representation in many of its manifestations through experiences creating codes and decoding the communications of their peers. Educators often recommend that phonetics be taught alongside invented spelling and other whole language techniques for reading. Similarly, fostering exploration of symbolic representations as part of a mathematics curriculum based on the NCTM standards is likely to lead to a deeper understanding of the linkages between concrete activities and the symbolic representations used in NCTM style exercises. Such an understanding will allow children to more readily develop the capacity for using mathematical languages to model the real world. Moreover, because symbolic representations are the foundation for language development in all of its forms, this educational software will offer opportunities for children to practice reading and writing skills and to see mathematics as a descriptive language in analogy to spoken or written English.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: It is expected that Kidcode software will become another resource available to support the mathematics curriculum in elementary and preschools. Moreover, because use of symbolic representations cuts across the language arts and mathematics curricula, it can become an essential element in the software libraries of these schools. In addition, the objective is to design software that is intrinsically interesting to children so that they choose to use it on their own. If successful, Intellinet will develop the software for the rapidly growing market for educational software for the home.
Topic 26-Next Generation Vehicles
This project demonstrates the applicability of a novel approach to produce low cost, high conductivity, and ultra-light bipolar plates for fuel cell applications. An innovative approach to produce conductive polymers with comparable conductivities to the currently used graphite bipolar plates is addressed. The fabrication technology of the conductive polymer is being investigated to produce net shape bipolar plates, thus eliminating the exceedingly expensive machining of graphite plates. The conductive polymer bipolar plates will be fully characterized and they will be evaluated in single cell configurations for electrochemical stability, resistivity, and gas diffusion. The overall concept will be assessed both for technical performance and cost for further developing.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Conductive polymer could offer a significant performance and cost advantage to fuel cell technologies. Net shape conductive polymer bipolar plates could be produced, which could have significant commercial potential in fuel cell markets and could enhance the potential for the commercialization of this technology to power electric vehicles and the next generation vehicles.
The Next Generation Vehicles program seeks to develop automobiles capable of 80 miles per gallon (or the energy equivalent), 300 mile range, and a cost and other characteristics that would be acceptable to typical American automobile buyers. These goals could be achieved by automobiles powered by PEM fuel cells if some practical method could be found for on board conversion of liquid hydrocarbon fuels to the hydrogen which the fuel cells require. The presently available technology of conversion of hydrocarbons to hydrogen is steam reforming. This process is clearly unsuited to use on board a vehicle for two reasons. First, the steam reforming reaction is endothermic. This means heat must be generated and transferred to the steam reforming reactor, a complex and cumbersome process unsuited to on board use. Second, the hydrogen produced by steam reforming contains large amounts of CO and CO2 and cannot be used in fuel cells without extensive purification. Such purification is also a complex and cumbersome process unsuited to on board use. EER Corp. has developed a new technology for producing hydrogen via a modified steam reforming reaction. Since this modified reaction is mildly exothermic the need to supply heat to the reactor is eliminated and the hydrogen produced is of high purity. The EER technology thus eliminates the problems of conventional steam reforming and is a potentially ideal solution to the problem of on board hydrogen generation. This project describes a series of experiments which will provide bench scale proof of concept for the EER technology in application to on board hydrogen generation.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Successful development of the EER technology for on board hydrogen generation could radically change the automobile industry, eliminating the automobile's contribution to urban air pollution and eliminating most of America's imports of foreign oil.
This project concerns the production of hydrogen fuel for use in next generation vehicles. Hydrogen is an environmentally clean fuel but it is difficult to transport and store. A low-cost method of producing hydrogen from natural gas in the 1,000 to 1,000,000 scfd range is required so that hydrogen can be manufactured close to the point of use. This project describes development of a methane reformer fitted with a hydrogen-selective palladium-alloy membrane to separate hydrogen from carbon dioxide. The process produces 99% pure hydrogen at low cost and is suitable for small-scale hydrogen production plants. To make this process feasible, efficient high-temperature hydrogen-selective membranes are required. Palladium-alloy membranes have the required selectivity but current membranes are too thick and impossibly expensive. Sputter-coated palladium-alloy membranes only 1,000 A thick are being produced in small rolls and have hydrogen/carbon dioxide selectivities of greater than 2,000. The object of this project is to show that current palladium-alloy membranes can be adapted for use at temperatures as high as 250oC to allow high fluxes to be obtained. The membranes must also be mechanically strong enough for incorporation into membrane modules.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: These on-site hydrogen production units would make the use of hydrogen as a vehicle fuel much more attractive. The systems are also likely to find an immediate use in the on-site production of hydrogen for users in the chemical, metallurgical, and electronics industries.
The project addresses a novel type of amphibious vehicle. The most reliable method to maintain traction in mud, snow, sand, ice, etc., is for a vehicle to exploit tracks such as are used on tanks and tractors. These vehicles achieve good traction, however, they perform very poorly on paved roads at high speed and cannot be easily configured for amphibious operation. For other types of vehicles, use of tracks is untenable and large tires with heavy treads are used. These vehicles are able to drive on conventional roads but their traction is less than desired in extreme conditions such as heavy snow or deep sand. Large wheeled vehicles could possibly be configured for amphibious operation but they would require an additional propulsion system. The Half-Wheel Multi-Terrain Amphibious Vehicle (MTAV) is a novel concept which yields a vehicle able to drive on normal roads at normal road speeds with normal smoothness yet has traction equal to that of a tank or tractor. When operating in water, the half wheels provide efficient propulsion and there is no time lost in the transition from land to water operation. The MTAV can operate in open water, swamp conditions, snow, sand, mud, over steep rocky terrain, etc.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The most immediate application for the MTAV is as a new generation of amphibious vehicles but it has other applications as well. The MTAV is ideal for recreational or rescue vehicles which must function reliably over difficult or steep terrain or in extreme conditions while providing efficient water transportation with no changes required. It also has significant potential for farm and construction tractors since the MTAV would have traction similar to these vehicles yet would still be able to travel on conventional roads at normal speeds.
This project determines the feasibility of fabricating detailed parts based on C-C composites for use in a rotary engine. The innovative rotary engine that these parts are being designed for operates on what is known as the "true Diesel" compression ignition cycle. Successful adaptation of these C-C components will result in this engine not only being more compact, significantly lighter in weight, quieter and more fuel efficient, but also costing less than the presently available best piston or Wankel type engine. Finite element thermal and stress analysis of these parts will be done after the operating conditions of the engine have been analyzed.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Potential commercial applications for C-C composites include wear and corrosion resistant capacitors in battery and combustor components, bearings, gears, shafts, nozzles, crucibles, high temperature alloy production, high temperature tape and wire drawing dies, sensors, read-write heads in computers, brushes in electric motors and superior thermal management devices for microelectronics. The rotary engine has numerous applications in power, refrigeration, helicopter and materials handling industries and is a global market due to high HP per unit pound of weight.
The operating temperature range of low-temperature proton-exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells can be increased by using proton-conducting inorganic membranes instead of polymeric PEM electrolytes. In this project, proton-conducting membrane-like zeolites are being developed for use in low-temperature fuel cells. Prototype fuel cells are also being developed and tested. The low-temperature ionic conductivity in zeolites will be induced by incorporating proton-conducting hydrous salt ions as cations in the zeolite lattice. The cations in zeolites, along with protons, reside in the microscopic channels, cages and cavities of zeolite framework. The structure and chemistry of cations in proton-conducting zeolites are being investigated by spectroscopic techniques: extended x-ray-absorption fine structure (EXAFS), x-ray-absorption near edge structure (XANES), x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. The ionic conductivity will be determined by AC impedance and DC conductivity measurements. The structural and chemical information, to be obtained by spectroscopic studies, will be used to optimize the chemical composition and crystal structure of proton-conducting zeolites. In Phase I, proton-conducting mordenite and ZSM-5 zeolite thin films on conductive porous substrates will be synthesized. The zeolite films will be prepared by hydrothermal crystallization from aluminosilicate gels followed by ion-exchange treatments and heat-treatments for drying and calcination.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The low-temperature fuel cells with proton-conducting zeolite electrolytes are expected to work in a temperature range of about 90o-125oC. These fuel cells with inorganic electrolytes, which will generate power using methanol or hydrogen as a fuel, will have potential application in high-performance zero-emission vehicles: automobiles, buses, watercraft and submarines.
This project addresses the problems associated with polymer electrolyte membranes (PEM) for direct methanol-air fuel cells. The primary advantages of fuel cells based on PEMs include simplicity of design, light-weight, low operating temperature, improved catalytic activity, elimination of electrolyte loss from vaporization or redistribution within the cell stack, and reduced corrosion of cell materials. The membranes of choice in the majority of PEM fuel cells have been based on perfluorosulfonic acid polymers. When considered for use in direct methanol-air fuel cells, the greatest limitations of the perfluorosulfonic acid membranes are their cost, the rate of methanol transport across the membrane, and the requirement to maintain hydration of the membrane. The incompatibility of perfluorosulfonic acid membranes with methanol leads to a limited lifetime of the fuel cell as the membrane dissolves. Therefore, TDA Research is developing a solid polymer electrolyte that is not based on perfluorosulfonic acid polymers like Nafion, for application in direct methanol-air fuel cells. The non-perfluorosulfonic acid-based PEM will have high proton transport rates, will not transport methanol, will be stable in the presence of methanol, will be easy to process, and will operate at higher temperatures where CO is less of a problem for the catalyst.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The first anticipated application of this new solid polymer electrolyte material is the subject of this project: its use as proton exchange membranes (PEM) for use in direct methanol-air fuel cells. Other potential commercial applications include its use in polymer electrolyte batteries, electrochemical sensors for reducing gases such as H2, NH3, CH4, etc., polymer based acid catalysts, and as chlor-alkali membranes.
In the not too distant future, stationary and vehicular power supplies will be required to perform with higher energy efficiencies and lower pollutant emission rates than today's systems. Long-term durability, quiet operation and modular design are other desirable properties that will also be required of future energy technologies. Solid Polymer Electrolyte (SPE) fuel cells offer promise that, with continued improvement, can meet all of these requirements. One of the areas for improvement is the SPE itself. A research effort is described to explore the possibilities of an improved SPE for hydrocarbon/air fuel cells. This effort involves the preparation and characterization of a novel form of perfluorinated acid membrane and will demonstrate the promise of higher temperature operation of SPE fuel cells.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: If successful, the approach will result in an improved high temperature SPE. This development could mean that portable fuel cells could run on unrefined fuels such as methanol and propane. The upshot here could be more practical fuel cell designs for automotive and portable power usage.
Mechanical engineers have long recognized that the optimum way to match the performance characteristics of an engine to the drive train of a vehicle is with a continuously variable transmission; and for more than 100 years, designers have tried unsuccessfully to develop one which can match the torque capacity, efficiency, size, weight and manufacturing cost of stepped-ratio transmissions. In 1989, Epilogics introduced the first fully geared, continuously variable transmission for automobile and trucking applications. This transmission, called the IVT, has the potential to satisfy these needs without sacrificing size, safety or performance. The key technical issue is that of mechanical stresses on the internal components of the IVT. A thorough and systematic engineering analysis of operating forces indicates that the most critical component is the one-way clutch. Such clutches in conventional transmissions are cycled only when changing gears. Nominal lifetime requirements are one million cycles. The one-way clutch in the IVT, without which the transmission would not work, is cycled once every revolution of the transmission. The lifetime requirement is 600 million cycles, or more than two orders of magnitude greater than the requirements of a standard device. The lack of a one-way clutch is presently the key technical barrier to the widespread commercial development of the IVT. The goal of the Phase I research project is to demonstrate the feasibility of developing a suitable one-way clutch. If successful, Phase II will carry the development further by building a number of pre-commercial prototype units and comprehensively testing them. If a technical solution can be demonstrated, Epilogics has an industrial partner ready to pursue the initial commercialization of the technology.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: To date, commercialization activities of the IVT have focused on the automobile and truck industries for obvious reasons. However, Epilogics believes the IVT will be of greatest value for electric cars. The IVT would allow the use of significantly lighter electric motors. The IVT would significantly reduce demands on the battery system. The IVT would provide access to a much wider envelop of speeds and torques. The IVT could even act as an input device in a hybrid vehicle to couple both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor into a single drive train. The IVT has other applications than cars and trucks. By virtue of its high torque capacity, the IVT is applicable to a variety of medium- and heavy-duty transports, such as recreational vehicles, utility and cement trucks, on- and off-road vehicles, and heavy construction equipment. Various niche applications of the IVT include engine-driven electrical generators and engine accessories like alternators, fans and power-take-off (PTO) drives. The technology is also applicable to capstan winches and bicycle transmissions.
Topic 27-Microelectronics Manufacturing
This project addresses the use of low-defect, high-quality silicon carbide on ultra-thin silicon-on-insulator (SOI) structures as a lattice-matched substrate for growth of GaN by atomic layer epitaxy (ALE). Recently, Spire demonstrated for the first time the fabrication of ultra-thin Si on SiO2 as thin as 140Å by the low-energy Separation by IMplantation of OXygen (SIMOX) process. SiC thin films are being fabricated by carbonizing the ultra-thin Si top layer of SIMOX wafers. The carbonization technique has produced the lowest defect density in epitaxial SiC on Si; however, due to different lattice constants, a strained layer exists at the interface which limits the usefulness of this material for device applications. Thin Si films allow rapid conversion of the entire Si layer to SiC and result in SiC in contact only with SiO2, which is amorphous and softens at the carbonization temperature. In the absence of a lattice mismatch, the source of stress is eliminated (similar to SIMOX), thus paving the way for formation of a high-quality SiC layer. Very preliminary work on the growth of SiC on ultra-thin SIMOX structures clearly demonstrated very good quality SiC as compared to those grown on thick SIMOX or bulk Si. Phase I is producing SiC films under varying material and processing conditions, and GaN is being grown by ALE on the lowest-defect material.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Fabrication of large-area, inexpensive, Si-based substrates for growth of low-defect SiC and GaN films are the basis for radiation-hard, high-temperature electronics. These substrates are essential for integration of LEDs, lasers, detectors, and a variety of other devices into silicon-microelectronic chips.
This project addresses the feasibility of using x-ray diffraction as an accurate, cost-effective method to monitor and control wafer temperature in a Rapid Thermal Processing (RTP) furnace. RTP has been identified as a key element for the next generation of semiconductor fabrication facilities, especially for the cluster tool environment. A major barrier to the further acceptance of RTP, as the processing method of choice, is the lack of an accurate, reproducible measurement of wafer temperature. This is critical to the reliable production of thin films with the required physical and chemical characteristics. The current methods used to monitor wafer temperature tend to be confounded either by wafer bowing or changes in emissivity resulting from thin film stress and growth. The objective of this project will be to design an x-ray probe for precise temperature measurement which is relatively insensitive to these effects, and is still cost effective. The feasibility of this method will be established by demonstrating that the required precision of temperature measurement can be obtained with a relatively low-power x-ray source.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: A successful demonstration would solve the number one problem restricting growth of RTP equipment, either as a stand-alone processing tool, or in the integrated cluster tool environment. This would benefit both the DoD military electronics development, within the Flexible Intelligent Semiconductor Manufacturing program, as well as commercial semiconductor manufacturers, as identified in the 1994 SIA National Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors.
Addressed is the investigation and development of a new class of plasma deposited organosilicon resists which meet these requirements: highly photosensitive organosilicon hydride network materials which may be photo-oxidatively patterned and processed without removal from a vacuum processing environment. Image development is accomplished by chlorine based RIE, leaving a robust, negative tone SiO2 like etch mask that allows pattern transfer into underlying materials in a single RIE sequence.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: This approach allows significant reduction in facilities and materials costs and the plasma deposited photosensitive films will be applicable to all phases of current semiconductor manufacturing. Micromachined devices, flat panel display industry, multichip modules, and photomask manufacture will all receive significant cost reductions.
This project explores the feasibility of a new class of diamond composite field effect, electron emitters, that can be made at a low cost into cold cathodes with high emission uniformity, low threshold fields, and low power consumption. Diamond has many unique properties that are superior to any other known materials. One such property of n-type diamond is a potential for negative electron affinity, possibly enabling its use as a cold cathode electron emitter. However, no verifiable n-type diamond has been produced and electron emission from diamond presently relies on the use of expensive p-type diamond, that must have specific crystal orientations and delicate surface treatments. This project investigates commercially available undoped diamond powder and a variety of electronically conductive matrices to fabricate simple cold cathode materials that can be placed uniformly and in patterns over large area substrates. Preliminary tests on some of these materials have shown that such diamond-based cathodes have good electron field effect properties. These composites have potential utility in many vacuum-microelectronics applications that require a low power-consuming, high transconductance field effect device.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Potential applications for diamond composite emitter include flat panel displays, microwave amplifiers, power triodes, and other similar devices.
The project demonstrates the feasibility of developing a submicron optical 3-D sensor that is capable of performing in high-throughput, high-duty-cycle industrial applications such as semiconductor package inspection. Laser confocal microscopy has been developed to meet the increasing demands of 3-D imaging, and is capable of submicron depth resolution. The deficiency of this technique is the mechanical serving of a minute depth-of-field where the target might be found. The technique is very slow, requires difficult microscope calibration, and can require frequent maintenance due to the wear of moving parts. The sensor technology to be explored here uses an innovative illumination technique to rapidly scan a broad depth-of-field electronically. This sensor's measurement resolution is an order of magnitude better than the best optical triangulation technique, the current state-of-the-art in 3-D sensor technology. This technique requires no moving parts, is minimally impacted by obscuration, and is readily reconfigurable using interchangeable lenses to suit a wide range of depth-of-field and resolution requirements. This technology is superior to both confocal microscopes and optical triangulation for rapid, high accuracy measurement.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The sensor technology will find wide application in semiconductor and integrated circuit manufacturing, precision electromechanical assembly, precision metrology (CMMs), optoelectronics, and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). The semi-conductor industry in particular has an upcoming critical need for a submicron sensor with sufficient speed to conduct in-line inspection of semiconductor packages at various stages of manufacture.
The project addresses reduction of the use and emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) during the application of photoresist onto the surface of wafers. VOCs are solvents of the active photoresist material and their emission is regulated by the Clean Air Act and by local permitting agencies. Emissions abatement and disposal increase the capital and operating costs of an IC factory. Presently, photoresist is dispersed at the center of a spinning wafer. A large excess of photoresistæup to 100 timesæis needed to achieve a uniform thickness because application is only at the center. The approach is to apply a relatively uniform layer over the entire wafer surface using ink jet printing technology. Since the deposition is distributed, less photoresist is needed to achieve final uniformity during spinning.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The direct commercial application of this technology is as a replacement for the dispensing hardware on present commercial wafer "track tools"æthe equipment which applies photoresist to silicon wafers. Not only is emission of VOCs reduced, but the reduced usage of expensive photoresist is a significant attraction for commercialization. This technology can also be applied in other areas such as photoresist dispensing on flat panel displays (FPDs) and the controlled application of viscous materials such as paints and epoxies.
Addressed are the problems associated with current microelectronic lithography systems which utilize masking technology. These problems include: the need for multiple masks required for subsequent layers of an electronic module; the difficulties associated with generating large-area masks; and the dependence on foreign suppliers for mask substrates. The only available technology which does not require masks is laser direct-write imaging which suffers from an inherently slow speed due to its bit-by-bit, serial mode of addressing. Anvik is developing a program which eliminates all of the above short comings through the development of their maskless, large area, high-throughput, high-resolution, lithography system which combines a Digital Micromirror Device (DMD) with Anvik's patterning technology. The DMD is a micro-mechanical, spatial light modulator with high parallel-processing power which replaces the conventional mask without any loss in throughput. When used in conjunction with Anvik's seamless scanning technology, it can generate any possible pattern with high resolution over an unlimited area.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The program will fill a critical need in the microelectronics manufacturing industry, and also significantly increase U.S. competitiveness in an enabling technology area.
The project is developing a new process for depositing and patterning RuO2 contacts for use in ferroelectric thin film capacitor memory devices such as non-volatile memories (NVRAMS) and ultra-high density dynamic random access memories (DRAMs). RuO2 has been shown to form a good contact interface with ferroelectric films such as PZT (PbZr1-XTiXO3); this leads to substantially lower fatigue, better I-V characteristics, and improved time-dependent breakdown properties compared to PZT devices having metal contacts such as Pt. However,the lack of convenient processing technology has impeded the implementation of RuO2 contacts in practical devices. The new process incorporates two key innovations: first, the RuO2 films will be deposited as metallorganic precursors by a spin-on process, and patterned by wet chemical methods before firing. This will enable a simpler, less damaging and less expensive process than plasma etching, which is the only current method in use for patterning RuO2. Second, the metallorganic precursor will possess organic groups which are photochemically crosslinkable. The process will allow photolithographic patterning of the conductive oxide contact without requiring the use of a separate resist, thus saving process steps. Objectives are to develop soluble precursors to RuO2 having organic substituents capable of UV crosslinking, deposit these materials on substrates by a spin-on process, demonstrate photolithographic patterning, and assess the quality of fired RuO2 contacts. This development will enable the practical fabrication of advanced ferroelectric thin film devices with superior performance compared to the current state of the art.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Commercial applications of the technology include non-volatile memories for smart cards and pagers, and gigabit-scale DRAMs for computer applications.
The project involves a critical technology feasibility study for an ultra-high precision position sensing system, intended for next generation microelectronics production. The basic system has been developed by NanoWave and experimental results are impressive. However, before a product prototype can be developed, which is suitable for rigorous commercial manufacturing use, design issues related to reliability, high speed capability, and manufacturability must be investigated in depth. The system uses scanning probe microscope (SPM) technology and some reference scale such as a synthetic grating or an atomic layer of crystal. This unique combination, together with synchronized signal detection method, is a breakthrough in the area of ultra-high precision position sensing, which has been a technology driver for high precision positioning system (XY stage control) in microelectronics manufacturing.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Commercial applications will be stepper, electron/ion beam lithography system, mask aligner and inspection system for x-ray lithography; inspection and manufacturing system of high-precision x-ray optics and other high precision machining systems; and servo-writer control systems for computer hard disk and optical disk mass memory.
Integrated Systems Inc. (ISI) is advancing the control of microelectronics manufacturing equipment by extending the control of such systems down to room temperature. Rapid Thermal Processing (RTP) is the motivating example. RTP is a state-of-the-art method for performing several important steps in semiconductor fabrication. At high temperatures (above 500oC), sensors (pyrometers) are available for temperature measurement and good process models exist, so feedback control is used very successfully. At low temperatures (below 500oC) neither sensors nor models are available, so feedback control is impossible, ISI is working to address this problem. First, a physically-based nonlinear model of the process, valid at low temperatures as well as high, is being developed. Second, an innovative non-contact temperature sensor is being modeled. Third, these models will be combined, a baseline temperature controller will be synthesized, and a closed-loop system will be simulated to demonstrate control at low temperatures.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The new sensor and controller will be installed on an advanced commercial RTP chamber. As a result the potential commercial application is great. ISI envisions producing a real-time sensor and a controller product with accompanying embedded software.
This project explores the use of advanced electromagnetic suspension and actuation technology to improve silicon wafer handling during Rapid Thermal Processing (RTP). Current wafer RTP processing incurs substantial cost from lost wafers and facility downtime due to ball bearing failure and wear. In addition to improving existing RTP equipment, manufacturers of wafer processing equipment are seeking advances in the next generation of facilities which render rolling element bearing technology totally inadequate. These advances include higher rotation rates and larger diameter wafers. Magnetic suspension and actuation technology offers a promising means for supporting and rotating a wafer in the high temperature corrosive atmosphere (fluorine, chlorine, RCI) used in RTP. Phase I combines design, analysis, prototype testing and cost/performance trade-offs to demonstrate cost and technical feasibility and to identify a promising cost-competitive conceptual design for an integrated motoring and magnetic suspension system (IMMSS) for RTP facilities which could be readily evaluated as a prototype in a Phase II or other follow-on effort.
The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Magnetic suspension and actuation technology is ultimately applicable to a wide range of material handling problems in integrated circuit manufacture which require precise positioning; the absence of stiction; the absence of wear particle generation; and exposure to vacuum, corrosive or high temperature environments. Japan is aggressively exploring this novel approach to next-generation wafer handling and processing.