Topic 1—Physics

1. Distributed Neutron Generator
First Point Scientific, Inc.
5330 Derry Ave., Suite J
Agoura Hills, CA 91301
tel: 818-707-1131; fax: 818-707-2352
e-mail: jb@firstpsi.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. John R. Bayless
President: Dr. John R. Bayless
NSF Grant No. 9660132; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project addresses the critical need for long-life neutron generators for use in nondestructive evaluation and in situ testing. A new type of solid-target, sealed neutron generator, the Distributed Neutron Generator (DNG), is proposed to meet the requirements for high neutron output over large areas, low power consumption, low cost, and long lifetime. Furthermore, the DNG can be operated dc or pulsed. No existing neutron generator offers this combination of desirable characteristics. The overall objective of the proposed project (Phases I and II) is to demonstrate the feasibility of the DNG concept. The objectives of Phase I are (1) to construct a proof-of-principle generator for operation at 125 kV, (2) to experimentally demonstrate that a uniform, high energy ion beam can be generated, and (3) to develop the conceptual design for a Phase II laboratory prototype DNG system. A large company, which is interested in future commercialization of DNG technology, will participate in Phase I.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed project will develop a new type of neutron generator with highly advanced capabilities. Discussions with potential users indicate that the market for this generator will be large. Its applications include (1) ore analysis; (2) airport luggage inspection; (3) detection of land mines, explosives, chemical warfare agents, and small quantities of nuclear material; and (4) industrial process control.

2. Optical Pattern Recognition and Phase-Encoded Biometrics Data
Technology International Incorporated of Virginia
429 West Airline Hwy., Suite S
LaPlace, LA 70068
tel: 504-652-1127; fax: 504-652-1196
Principal Investigator: Dr. Zeinab Sabri
President: Dr. Zeinab Sabri
NSF Grant No. 9660255; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project involves research on development and application of an optical data acquisition system, I/O devices, and optical data analysis and recognition. The research, built on basic concepts in optical physics, involves innovative ways to address problems in security, credit cards, identification cards, protection of computer chips, etc. Specifically, an optical security system embodying phase-encoding will be conceptualized as encryption means in conjunction with biometric measurements, with the general objective of producing an automatic, tamper-proof security system. The proposed system cannot be defeated by application of the rapidly advancing computer technology, CCD technology, or image-processing hardware and software, printers, scanners, and copiers; it can provide real-time validation and security verification of individuals; and it can be extended to verification of objects, documents, etc. In Phase I, TII will develop various concepts with the emphasis on the use of retinal scanning. A trade study will be performed to select a feasible concept for future implementation. The concept will be rapidly prototyped for a proof-of-concept experiment, for feasibility evaluation, and for providing a preliminary design and demonstration plan for Phase II, which will involve development, building, and testing of a brass-board model of the optical security system.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The commercial market is desperately in need of a simple, inexpensive scheme to stem the $2 billion fraud per year that occurs in that sector. In addition, there are ample military uses for such a system, such as controlling entry into secure or sensitive areas and the verification of parts, such as computer chips, purchased by the government. It is very likely that phase-encoded encryption schemes could solve both those problems.

3. Tunable Tailored Filters for High-Sensitivity Chemical Detection
Physical Optics Corp.
Research and Development Division
20600 Gramercy Pl., Suite 103
Torrance, CA 90501
tel: 310-320-3088; fax: 310-320-4667
Principal Investigator: Robert A. Lieberman, Ph.D.
President: Joanna Jannson, Ph.D.
NSF Grant No. 9660752; Amount: $74,994

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will demonstrate a new class of optical devices that will form the heart of a low-cost, versatile, field-usable environmental monitoring system to be developed in Phase II. Specifically, Physical Optics Corporation will fabricate and test a solid-state filter tailored to precisely match the spectral characteristics of target compound(s), either gaseous or liquid, in the near-infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum. The filter will be easy to mass produce, small, and durable, and it will be capable of having its optical spectrum modulated in a straightforward, cost-effective way. The use of such a novel device will allow the near-infrared "overtone" optical absorbance bands of many gases of environmental and industrial importance, including so-called "greenhouse-effect gases" and primary air pollutants, to be monitored remotely with rugged, compact systems either in situ or via optical fibers. These detectors will have the extremely high specificity and sensitivity of modulation/correlation spectroscopy but will not need expensive wavelength-tunable laser diodes or bulky "reference cells" filled with target compounds.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Chemical detectors based on tailored, modulatable solid-state filters will be of great commercial value in remote monitoring of environmental contaminants, chemical process control, oil exploration, mine safety, and other applications where high-sensitivity detection of target compounds must be accomplished under less-than-ideal conditions. Tailored filters can also be used for a wide variety of other applications, from instrument calibration to custom illumination.

4. Compact, Stable EUV Light Source with Lisitano Coil Excitation
Spire Corp.
One Patriots Park
Bedford, MA 01730-2396
tel: 781-275-6000; fax: 781-275-7470
email: whalverson@spirecorp.com
Principal Investigator: Ward D. Halverson, Sc.D.
President: Roger G. Little
NSF Grant No. 9661120; Amount: $74,996

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project proposes to develop a highly efficient extreme-ultraviolet (EUV) source for absolute intensity and wavelength calibration of UV spectrometers and detectors, space environment simulation, accelerated environmental testing, and EUV surface treatments. An existing UV light source, with electron cyclotron resonance (ECR) plasma heating, has already demonstrated emission at wavelengths down to 30 nm. The goal of this program is to generate powerful EUV radiation at even shorter wavelengths. The ECR-heated plasma, when driven by a "Lisitano coil" that maximizes microwave coupling, should produce multiply-charged ions with strong spectral features down to 5-10 nm. In phase I, we will test a prototype Lisitano coil for microwave coupling efficiency; operate the existing UV light source in a modified magnetic field configuration to attain lower pressure, higher temperature ECR-heated plasmas with enhanced EUV emission; measure EUV output; and design a new light source with Lisitano coil excitation that will be built, tested, and calibrated in Phase II.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The EUV light source will have much higher intensity, reliability, and reproducibility than duoplasmatrons and arcs and much lower cost than synchrotron radiation sources. In addition to UV instrument calibration, it will be valuable for accelerated environmental testing and surface treatment of medical and other products.

5. All-Digital Time-to-Digital Converter Integrated with Visible Light Photon Detectors
175 Clearbrook Rd.
Elmsford, NY 10523
tel: 914-592-1190 x7801; fax: 914-347-2239
Principal Investigator: Dr. Oleg A. Mukhanov
President: Elie K. Track
NSF Grant No. 9661166; Amount: $74,989

HYPRES proposes to develop the first semiconductor-superconductor hybrid technology time-resolved photon detection system by integrating silicon Visible Light Photon Counters (VLPCs) and superconducting high-performance timing digitizers in one cryopackage. This integration will allow full advantage to be taken of the VLPC’s extremely fast response and superb single photon detection capability. In addition, as the density of the arrays increase, the complexity, size, power dissipation, and cost of traditional room-temperature time digitizing electronics may become prohibitively high.

This system will offer unparalleled performance in many applications that require time-resolved single photon detection. HYPRES proposes to integrate the VLPC package with a novel time digitizer circuit based on a 200 ps time resolution superconducting time-to-digital converter (TDC). To provide the required sensitivity for the VLPC output signal, the TDC will use a special low-noise SQUID amplifier integrated on the same chip. Locating the amplifier with digitizer inside the cryostat of the VLPC (the VLPCs operate at 6-10K) eliminates the bandwidth limitations of low heat loss cables that would otherwise be required to bring the VLPC’s analog signal to room temperature electronics. HYPRES has already demonstrated the operation of a superconducting 14-bit TDC with time resolution of 50 ps.

The TDC design is compact, less than 3 mm x 3 mm, and extremely low-power, less than 1mW, enabling multiple channels to be implemented on a single integrated circuit. The TDC uses serial read-out, reducing considerably the number of output wires. In Phase I, we will demonstrate a single channel TDC circuit with input SQUID amplifier operating with the VLPC. In Phase II, we will develop a multichannel VLPC-timing digitizer cryomodule accessible via a VME-compatible interface.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The development of a compact, low-cost, all-digital TDC integrated with Visible Light Photon Counters is expected to benefit particle detectors that require a time-of-flight detector subsystem. The proposed device will significantly extend the performance capabilities of particle detector systems. The developed technology will also improve the performance of flourescence/phosphorescence lifetime measurement systems, military emitter direction finding, and commercial modulation domain instrumentation.

Topic 2¾Chemistry

6. Chemical Sensors Based on Dendritic Polymers for Detection of Environmental Pollutants
Dendritech, Inc.
3110 Schuette Drive
Midland, MI 48642
tel: 517-496-2016; fax: 517-496-2051
Principal Investigator: Mark E. Kaiser
President: Dr. Robert M. Nowak
NSF Grant No. 9660152; Amount: $75,000

This SBIR project is focused on development of a new class of chemical sensors for detection of a variety of volatile organic carbon (VOC) pollutants, including chlorinated hydrocarbons. The ability to accurately and reliably achieve molecular discrimination between various VOC’s will be based on a polymeric monolayer utilizing a new class of polymers called Starburstâ dendrimers. These polymers have an unparalleled uniform structure, consisting of a core molecule, repeat branching units, and a large number of reactive terminal surface groups. This project will systematically examine the relationship between the dendritic structure and chemical composition of these nanoscopic-sized spheroidal polymers and their ability to differentiate between chemical molecules with a variety of functional groups. A designed series of dendritic polymers will be synthesized in small quantities in the laboratory, using general reaction and purification techniques previously developed. These dendrimers will be covalently attached to a gold surface to form a self-assembled monolayer, and the suitability of the dendrimer to act as a chemically sensitive interface will be determined by challenging dendrimer-modified surface acoustic wave (SAW) mass balances with vapor-phase probe molecules. This will facilitate development of new sensor technology by elucidation of molecular mechanisms and response optimization.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: This technology could permit development of reliable, application-specific detectors, with commercial applicability in several key areas: worker health and safety in chemical, petrochemical, refinery, dry cleaning, and degreasing industries; environmental cleanup and monitoring in hazardous waste site remediation; industrial process control and monitoring of emissions; on-line monitoring of automobile fuel characteristics; and explosives detection and aerospace applications.

7. Mutable Molecular Surface
Michael L. Connolly
3820 Bret Harte Dr.
Redwood City, CA 94061
tel: 650-780-0321; fax: 650-780-0321
e-mail: connolly@best.com
Principal Investigator: Michael L.Connolly
President: Michael L. Connolly
NSF Grant No. 9660164; Amount: $50,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will develop computational methods for dynamically recomputing the solvent-accessible molecular surface as the molecule changes its conformation. The solvent-accessible molecular surface has been defined by Fred Richards of Yale University to be a smooth envelope surrounding a protein molecule. It had been found to be useful in studying protein-protein and drug-protein binding. Current methods for computing this surface recompute the entire surface even if just some of the atoms move. Recomputing the surface for just the region that has changed would result in a great savings in computation time and would allow a user of an interactive molecular display system to alter the protein conformation and watch the surface be recomputed in near real time. Applications include (a) protein homology model building, (b) site-specific mutagenesis in protein engineering, and (c) crystallographic structural uncertainty, where there are several possible orientations of a surface amino acid side chain.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The mutable molecular surface computation software developed during this research would be licensed, for a fee, to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, universities, and medical research institutes. Since the software would be modular, it could be integrated into commercial molecular modeling packages.

8. Horizontally Polymerized Chromatographic Stationary Phases
Separation Methods Technologies, Inc.
2311 Ogletown Road, Unit D
Newark, DE 19711
tel: 302-368-0610; fax: 302-368-0282
e-mail: hfatunmbi@separationmethods.com
Principal Investigator: Hafeez O. Fatunmbi
President: Hafeez O. Fatunmbi
NSF Grant No. 9660590; Amount: $75,000

The purpose of this proposal is to transfer technology for making novel chromatographic stationary phases from the university research laboratory to commercial manufacture by Separation Methods Technologies, Inc. The new chromatographic stationary phase has the potential to affect significantly both the performance and stability of commercial columns for high-performance liquid chromatography. The novel phase provides exceptionally low silanol activity and high hydrolic stability, two critical features that are unsatisfactory in presently available columns. The commercial viability of these phases will be evaluated in a systematic comparison to present commercial products with respect to chromatographic performance and hydrolytic stability.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The research will enable commercialization of stationary phases for use in high performance liquid chromatography that have lower silanol activity and improved hydrolytic stability compared to presently available products. These will be purchased by customers for a wide variety of applications, especially the pharmaceutical industry, for manufacturing, evaluation of product purity, and in purification itself. There is a well established market for such materials, and the market is growing.

9. Electrochemical Synthesis of Propylene Oxide Under Reductive Conditions
Eltron Research, Inc.
5660 Airport Blvd.
Boulder, CO 80301-2340
tel: 303-440-8008; fax: 303-440-8007
Principal Investigator: James H. White
President: Anthony M. Sammells
NSF Grant No. 9660636; Amount: $74,996

FONT SIZE=3>This proposal addresses the one-step direct electrochemical synthesis of propylene oxide from propylene/oxygen mixtures and a bifunctional electrocatalyst for simultaneously generating hydrogen peroxide and epoxidizing olefins. The ability to in situ electrochemically generate hydrogen peroxide allows for the precise control of its local concentration and the resultant enhancement of selectivity to propylene oxide. The proposed approach will also allow for direct removal of product through a membrane semipermeable to propylene oxide. Hydrogen peroxide electrogeneration will be catalyzed by either gold or a supported metallomacrocycle (Ni-phthalocyanine or Comeso-tetraphenylporphyrin). Propylene epoxidation will be catalyzed by Mn-meso-tetraphenylporphyrin or titanium silcalite. Successful completion of the program will result in a selective, high yield process for the epoxidation of olefins at considerably lower cost than current approaches.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The technology developed in this program will find use in the low cost synthesis of olefin epoxides using in situ electrochemically generated hydrogen peroxide. The process will be of interest to manufacturers of olefin epoxides and of oxygenated hydrocarbons.

10. CVD of Copper Alloys From Bimetallic, Single Source Precursors
Advanced Technology Materials, Inc.
7 Commerce Drive
Danbury, CT 06810
tel: 203-794-1100; fax: 203-792-8040
Principal Investigator: Thomas H. Baum
President: Eugene G. Banucci
NSF Grant No. 9660730; Amount: $75,000

Chemical vapor deposition (CVD) of copper (Cu) and copper-alloy films will be achieved via thermal decomposition of bimetallic, single source precursors. A novel class of bimetallic single source Cu(l)(b -diketonato) complexes will be synthesized, characterized, and optimized for CVD film growth of doped copper films (alloys). Both the Lewis base, which contains the second metal center, and b-diketonate ligand identity will be altered to "tailor" the precursor properties for the deposition of high-purity copper alloy films. The copper complexes will be studied to correlate structure – property relationships and utility for CVD. Using this approach, conformal, doped Cu films can be explored as high-performance interconnects in integrated circuits.

A CVD metallization process for the deposition of copper alloys will provide a mechanism for the formation of high performance integrated circuits. Using low resistivity interconnects, in tandem with low dielectric constant materials, provides a pathway to superior device performance. Further, copper alloys can dramatically improve both the electromigration and thermal stability of the submicron sized interconnects. In Phase II, collaboration with a major IC manufacturer and CVD tool vendor will be used to evaluate the commercial potential of the interconnect process.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: This Phase I research will facilitate fabrication of high performance logic and memory devices. World-wide commercialization in Phase III is expected to impact a $20B market by year end 2001. Further, this program ensures a leadership position for U.S. IC manufacturers with both military and commercial applications.

11. High Efficiency Polymer Phases for Planar Chromatography
Fenris Technology Research, Inc.
29 New Hampshire Ave., Suite 2
Portsmouth, NH 03801
tel: 603-436-7001; fax: 603-436-7024
e-mail: anna.seitz@fenristech.com
Principal Investigator: Anna W. Seitz
President: Anna W. Seitz
NSF Grant No. 9660860; Amount: $75,000

This SBIR Phase I project will evaluate the feasibility of using toughened polystyrene to prepare high efficiency stationary phases for planar chromatography. It is based on technology that Fenris Technology Research, Inc. has developed to toughen porous polystyrene and control its morphology. It is anticipated that these materials will lead to planar chromatography phases that yield both rapid and highly efficient separations. Furthermore, these materials can be used over a much wider range of conditions than currently available reversed phase materials for chromatography, e.g., high pH. The objectives of Phase I are: (1) to prepare a large number of stationary phases using a variety of polymer formulations and (2) to characterize the chromatographic properties of these phases including efficiency, retardation factor, rate of mobile phase transport, and loading capacity. The company will prepare and characterize both free standing phases and phases covalently bonded to glass substrates. Phase I feasibility will be established if the company succeeds in preparing stationary phases that measurably improve on currently available commercial reversed phase materials for planar chromatography.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The products that will result from this research program are a series of reversed phase materials for both analytical and preparative planar chromatography. By improving on current technology with respect to speed, efficiency, and range of possible chromatographic conditions, these materials will be able to replace current commercial reversed phases for planar chromatography and create new applications.

12. Low Cost Routes to Processable, Inorganic Polymers from SiO2 and A10(OH)
Tal Materials, Inc.
1375 Folkstone Ct.
Ann Arbor, MI 48105
tel: 734-763-5671; fax: 734-763-4788
Principal Investigator: David R. Treadwell
President: David R. Treadwell
NSF Grant No. 9661236; Amount: $74,987

UM researchers recently discovered methods of producing Si and Al alkoxides and Al carboxylates by reacting SiO2 , Al hydroxides/oxides with triethanolamine (TEAH3) in ethylene glycol (EGH2) or formic acid. The resulting silatrane glycol, TEASi-egH, alumatrane (TEAAl4) and Al(O2CH)3, can be used as low-cost, processable precursors to numerous aluminosilicates. Certain modified silatranes and Al carboxylates form water stable solutions suggesting the potential for water processable aluminosilicate precursors. Other derivatives offer potential for forming processable inorganic polymers with useful polymer properties. The Phase I objectives are to: (1) develop an understanding of the dissolution processes that control the rates of formation of mullite, spinel and cordierite precursors, as it pertains to scale-up, with the goal of learning to produce 1-2 kg/day of these precursors; (2) examine simple methods of modifying Al(O2CH)3, e.g., by reaction with b-hydroxy acids, to prove water soluble/stable Al carboxylate polymers can be made and scaled-up; and (3) characterize the processability and physical properties of both polymer types. Phase II objectives will be to: (1) scale-up selected precursors to 10 kg/day; (2) explore using these precursors for spinning fibers, and for binder applications for ultrafine ceramic powders; and (3) continue efforts to develop useful Al- and Si-based polymers for applications identified based on Phase I results.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: ceramic fibers: spinel, mullite, YAG; ceramic coatings for metals and plastics; ultrafine particles for plymer composites, phosphors; ceramic matrix composites.

13. Selective Electrochemical Fluorinations
Electrosynthesis Co., Inc.
72 Ward Rd.
Lancaster, NY 14086-9779
tel: 716-684-0513; fax: 716-684-0511
e-mail: gdzappi@electrosynthesis.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Guillermo D. Zappi
President: Dr. Norman L. Weinberg
NSF Grant No. 9661396; Amount: $75,000

This Phase I Project addresses one of the most challenging opportunities in modern organic synthesis – selective fluorination in mild conditions. While the applications of fluorinated drugs and specialty chemicals continue to expand, the synthetic methods for their preparation remain limited and case-specific. In most cases, specific multi-step syntheses are required, and the overall yields are poor. Electrochemistry has frequently been discussed for the fluorination of organic compounds, but practical reaction rates and yields have seldom been achieved. The Electrosynthesis Co., Inc. has now identified a unique opportunity for the development of a new synthetic approach for the synthesis of a broad range of selectively fluorinated compounds. The objective of the proposed research is to demonstrate high current densities and yields in selective fluorination reactions using custom designed soluble mediators and anodically regenerated solid phase fluorinating reagents. This will constitute a generic synthetic method for the selective substitution of fluorine into aliphatic carbon atoms, and special attention will be given to the applicability of the chemistry to larger scale operation.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: This innovative, industrially useful generic method for the synthesis of selectively fluorinated molecules will give access not only to a wide range of existing compounds at competitive prices, but also to new compounds for use in drugs, agrochemicals, and other areas, with the consequent benefits to the U.S. national interests.

14. Ozone Sensor for Environmental Monitoring
Giner, Inc.
14 Spring Street
Waltham, MA 02154-4497
tel: 781-899-7270; fax: 781-894-2762
Principal Investigator: Otto J. Prohaska
President: Anthony B. LaConti
NSF Grant No. 9661410; Amount: $74,979

This SBIR Phase I plan was prepared to evaluate the feasibility of a miniaturized ozone sensor for the resolution of ppb concentration changes in the atmosphere. The proposal is based on a recent breakthrough development at Giner, Inc., which utilizes Giner, Inc.’s established sensor technology in combination with solid-state mass production techniques to form low-cost miniaturized sensors with superior measurement capabilities. The development of this high-resolution device will require detailed understanding of sensing materials, measurement and fabrication processes, as well as possible causes for signal distortions. The proposed Phase I studies are designed to provide this information for, or to increase the confidence in, a successful Phase II development by supplying essential data for preparation of Phase II plans.

During Phase II, it is planned to integrate the ozone sensor with other miniaturized toxic gas sensors, i.e., for NO, NO2, and SO2, onto highly selective, low-cost, low-energy consuming, light weight, multiple sensor devices for environmental monitoring. Phase II product development is planned to be performed together with corporate partners who are established in the environmental and safety market, and will support the Phase III product engineering and manufacturing transfer.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Anticipated results of the proposed development project are single and multiple solid-state sensors for research, personal safety and unattended on-line toxic gas monitoring. The miniaturized electrochemical sensors will selectively monitor ozone, NO, NO2, and SO2, will be inexpensive and low-energy consuming. Commercial applications will range from indoor and outdoor air quality control to environmental compliance and risk-assessment monitoring.

15. Binding Protein Patterns on Plastic Surfaces
SurModics, Inc.
9924 West 74th Street
Eden Prairie, MN 55344-3523
tel: 612-829-2707; fax: 612-829-2743
e-mail: pguire@surmodics.com
Principal Investigator: Patrick E. Guire
President: Dale R. Olseth
NSF Grant No. 9661439; Amount: $74,671

This SBIR Phase I project is designed to demonstrate the feasibility of a generally applicable, facile, and cost-effective approach to coating of plastic materials used in specific binding assay and biosensor systems. Covalent passivation of the surface with a biomolecule stabilizing agent and patterned immobilization of biomolecules, which are critical and enduring obstacles to the commercial development of biosensor technology, will be resolved through the preparation of a photoreactive "universal binding" thin film surface. Covalent photochemical bonding of the high affinity general ligand (biotin) derivative and of the passivating/stabilizing agent will be accomplished quickly under mild reaction conditions by patterned and uniform illumination, respectively. A patterned array of X-avidin immobilized on passivated optical grade plastic (e.g., PMMA) will be obtained by dip-coating this surface with a crude or purified solution of this multi-site binding protein, then prepared for multianalyte assay use with essentially any nucleic acid probes or specific analyte binding proteins (e.g., antibodies) assay through differential loading of the individual assay dots of the array by ink-jet printing (e.g., with the desired biotinylated oligonucleotides for cystic fibrosis gene defects).

This approach presents an innovative combination of diradical photochemistry, amphiphilic self-assembling two-dimensional film formers, and high-affinity specific binding pairs to provide a cost-effective coating technology for patterned multianalyte array assay and biosensor surfaces.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: This proposed work is expected to generate in Phase I two classes of reagents for production of photoreactive surface films for plastics, for industrial and research communities. The reagents and coating technology for cost-effective production of biomolecule-compatible patterned multianalyte sensor surfaces will be developed in Phases I and II and optimized for various microassay (e.g., chip) and biosensor systems in Phase III.

16. Software for Fast and Accurate Calculations on Transition-Metal Systems
Schrodinger, Inc.
121 S.W. Morrison, Suite 1212
Portland, OR 97204
tel: 503-299-1150; fax: 503-299-4532
e-mail: info@schrodinger.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Murco N. Ringnalda
President: Dr. Murco N. Ringnalda
NSF Grant No. 9661603; Amount: $75,000

This SBIR Phase I project will advance the ability of quantum chemistry calculations to predict many important chemical, biological, and materials processes involving transition metals. Currently, quantum chemistry software is hampered in this task by a poor integration of ligand field theory and other basic concepts of inorganic chemistry. In this SBIR project, Schrodinger, Inc., will improve its electronic structure software package, Jaguar, to allow users to incorporate their chemical intuition about organometallic systems and to make automated, intelligent selections of electronic properties that are not user-specified. The software will account for the effects of ligand fields, oxidation states, formal charges on ligands, and intrinsic properties of metals, producing a high-quality trial wavefunction for ab initio or density functional theory (DFT) calculations.

In Phase II, Schrodinger, Inc. will make the technologies developed in Phase I available to non-expert users by incorporating the methods into an expert system graphical user interface. The software will allow the user full graphical control over the selection of specific electronic states of organometallic complexes. This flexibility will make electronic structure software widely useful for studies of molecular properties and excited states of systems containing transition metals.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: A quantum chemical software program with the advanced capabilities for transition metal systems described in this proposal would allow rapid progress on many problems of industrial interest, particularly studies of homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis. Consequently, a large market exists for such software. A computational breakthrough in these fields would also have a huge impact.

Topic 3¾Materials Research Resources

17. Real-Time Spectroscopic Ellipsometer for Thin Film Process Control
Containerless Research, Inc.
910 University Pl.
Evanston, IL 60201
tel: 847-467-2678; fax: 847-467-2679
e-mail: shanky@merle.acns.nwu.edu

Principal Investigator: Dr. Shankar Krishnan

President: Paul C. Nordine

NSF Grant No. 9660014; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will test a novel method for spectroscopic ellipsometry (SE) that is capable of lower cost and higher response rates than conventional SE instruments. SEs are used to measure thin film thickness, chemical composition, and defect concentrations in multilayer films. However, speed and cost limit the use of SEs for real-time thin film process control applications. The proposed research exploits the facts that a diffraction grating not only disperses incident light into a spectrum, but also provides several orders of diffraction that contain information about the polarization state of the light. These two characteristics of gratings make it possible to design a Grating Division of Amplitude Photopolarimeter (G-DOAP) for spectroscopic ellipsometry. The G-DOAP is capable of (1) high temporal resolution and (2) low-cost manufacture because it contains no moving parts and has fewer optical elements than conventional SE equipment. In Phase I, we will develop and characterize the performance of a laboratory breadboard G-DOAP. We will also investigate analytical and numerical methodologies to achieve feedback control of thin film deposition using SE data. The G-DOAP is a recent invention of Professor R.M.A. Azzam of the University of New Orleans (UNO), initially developed with NSF-DMR funding, and patented in 1995. The G-DOAP’s spectroscopic capabilities have yet to be demonstrated and are a key issue for the proposed Phase I research. The research will be performed in collaboration with UNO. If successful, it will show feasibility of low-cost, high-speed spectroscopic ellipsometry for intelligent control of thin film deposition processes.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed spectroscopic ellipsometer (SE) would impact state-of-the-art MBE, MOVPE, and MOCVD techniques by allowing growth of semiconductor materials under high-speed, real-time control, currently unavailable. Appreciable market share for the SE is also anticipated in semiconductor ex-situ characterization applications.

18. An Investigation of a Rheotaxial Growth of Diamond
F.S. Lab
156 Common St.
Belmont, MA 02178-2913
tel: 617-489-2391; fax: 617-489-0212
e-mail: phfang@aol.com
Principal Investigator: P. H. Fang
President: Josephine M. Fang
NSF Grant No. 9660155; Amount: $75,000

The objective of this research is to grow large area single crystal diamond films. In this approach, diamond will grow by a chemical vapor deposition process on a liquid substrate, replacing the conventional solid substrate. The utilities of the liquid substrate are its ideal smoothness, its amorphosity, and, therefore, an absence of grain boundaries. It also provides high mobility for carbon to facilitate an aggregation on two levels: (1) carbon atoms migrate on the liquid surface to form diamond crystallites, and (2) coalescence of the floating diamond crystallites forms a large single crystal. Thus, the present approach represents a basic alteration from the conventional solid substrate, and an opportunity to grow large area single crystal diamond is provided.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Success in growing large area single crystal diamond film will be essential to a realization of diamond electronic devices and integral circuits.

19. Nanophase-Separating Thermoplastics for Stabilized Liquid Crystal Displays
Displaytech, Inc.
2602 Clover Basin Dr.
Longmont, CO 80503
tel: 303-772-2191; fax: 303-772-2193
e-mail: thurmes@displaytech.com
Principal Investigator: William Thurmes
President: Mark A. Handschy
NSF Grant No. 9660196; Amount: $74,937

For large area direct view flat panel displays, the small gap required in FLC devices makes the use of glass substrates problematical. A more attractive approach would be to use commercially available ITO-coated flexible plastic substrates and process the FLC device in a web similar to a printing press. Unfortunately, the flow characteristics of FLC monomers make the final plastic sandwich unstable. FLC side-chain polymers, on the other hand, do work in the web process, but switch too slowly for display purposes.

We propose to make FLC gels, using low concentrations of cross-linked monomers, which have the structural integrity of the side-chain polymers, yet the fast switching time of FLC monomers. We specifically propose to use thermoplastic additives to achieve the three-dimensional lattice formation by spontaneous self-assembly.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Flat panel displays, micro displays, FLC shutters.

20. Real-Time Wiener Filter Image Processing
Benassi Enterprises, Inc.
2772 St. Johns Ave.
Highland Park, IL 60035-1450
tel: 847-926-0771; fax: 847-926-0772
e-mail: rbenassi@mcs.com
Principal Investigator: Richard J. Benassi
President: Richard J. Benassi
NSF Grant No. 9660223; Amount: $54,150

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project addresses (1) the problem of low signal-to-noise ratios in imaging systems and (2) the need for real-time image enhancement associated with electron microscopy and related fields.

The latest generation of microprocessor technology, specifically digital signal processors (DSPs), is now powerful enough to perform real-time image enhancement. The research objectives are to determine the optimum hardware architecture and the associated software algorithms, and to implement a real-time imaging instrument.

An existing SEM/TEM facility will be used to address these objectives. The anticipated result is an instrument that will be useful in the research environment and, with a more developed user interface, can be useful in many other research fields and commercial applications.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed technology has commercial applications in any field using video imaging for analysis or presentation. The project is expected to result in the creation of a research grade instrument for electron microscopy. Future commercial candidate areas are radiology, fluoroscopy, ultrasound, optical microscopy, scanning tunneling, and atomic force microscopy.

21. Advanced, Polycrystalline t’-Zirconia Ceramics for High Temperature Applications
Materials and Systems Research
1473 S. Pioneer Rd., Suite B
Salt Lake City, UT 84104
tel: 801-973-1199; fax: 801-973-4969
e-mail: jjue@materialsys.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Jan-Fong Jue
President: Dr. Dinesh K. Shetty
NSF Grant No. 9660417; Amount: $74,977

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project addresses fabrication of polycrystalline t’-zirconia ceramics for advanced applications. Polycrystalline t’-zirconia differs from regular tetragonal (t-phase) zirconia (TZP) in both fabrication procedure and properties. TZP ceramics are sintered at 1500°C and exhibit high strength and high toughness, but also exhibit low creep resistance and low temperature aging. t’-zirconias are sintered at higher temperatures and exhibit moderate strength, high toughness, high creep resistance, and no low temperature aging. Resistance to creep and low-temperature aging makes t’-zirconia ceramics superior to TZP for many low and high temperature applications. Polycrystalline t’-zirconia ceramics of a fine surface grain structure will be made by high temperature direct resistive heating above 2000°C and furnace cooling. Highly creep resistant, strong, tough, and transformation-resistant, zirconia ceramics will be fabricated in Phase I. Heating elements of t’-zirconia will be fabricated and supplied to Deltec Inc. for evaluation.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The potential commercial applications of polycrystalline t’-zirconia ceramics include (1) heating elements for furnaces; (2) refractories; (3) kiln furniture; (4) liners for chemical reactors requiring resistance to attack by water, acids, and alkalis; (5) storage heaters; (6) substrates for superconductors; and (7) structural components requiring high creep resistance.

22. Novel Passive Material to Achieve Vibration Isolation
Intelligent Automation, Inc.
2 Research Pl., Suite 202
Rockville, MD 20850
tel: 301-590-3155; fax: 301-590-9414
e-mail: lhaynes@i-a-i.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Leonard S. Haynes
President: Dr. Leonard S. Haynes
NSF Grant No. 9660466; Amount: $74,878

This proposal details a new concept in passive vibration absorbing material. The resulting new material will have vastly superior performance over a broader range of frequencies for sound absorption, vibration isolation, and impact isolation than currently available materials. Previous work performed by Poiesis Research, Inc. (subcontractor on the work herein proposed) has yielded a new sound and vibration absorbing material with several valuable properties including significant attenuation at frequencies as low as 30 hertz. That previous work has led to an understanding of how to build better materials for noise, vibration, and shock attenuation. Armed with that understanding, we are poised to make a breakthrough in the levels of passive attenuation achievable. We call this new material CH-Absorber after the inventors Drs. Cushman and Haynes. Since the material is passive, it is light, almost perfectly reliable, and low cost. Another benefit of the CH-Absorber is that the mechanism by which attenuation occurs is six degrees of freedom. Initial experiments have already been done to validate the potential of what we propose. The results are very encouraging.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Applications include isolation of delicate equipment from vibrations of the structure to which they are mounted, vibration isolation for high precision machine tools, lithography machines, scanning probe microscopes, and similar equipment. It will also be usable as a new generation of vibration dampers on equipment such as automotive vehicles and aircraft.

23. Moisture-Resistant Composite Finishes
Adherent Technologies, Inc.
9621 Camino del Sol NE
Albuquerque, NM 87111
tel: 505-346-1685; fax: 505-346-1686
e-mail: atiadmin@flash.net
Principal Investigator: Dr. Ronald E. Allred
President: Dr. Ronald E. Allred
NSF Grant No. 9660609; Amount: $74,924

Advanced composite materials are finding increased usage in a growing range of applications. The more the engineering and fabrication properties of these materials are understood, the greater is the demand for them. As composite technology is applied to ever more new and demanding areas, further improvements in performance are necessary, as are simultaneous reductions in costs. Composite materials are universally affected by humidity or water immersion due primarily to the ingress of water at the fiber/matrix interface. Moisture degradation of composite properties remains a critical technology problem for these versatile materials. This proposal outlines chemical strategies for "interfaces by design" to formulate new finish compositions that should vastly improve the performance of composite materials in high humidity or marine applications. Initial results from fiber finishes incorporating this novel chemistry suggest the possibility of advanced composites that offer not only moisture resistance, but an actual improvement of mechanical strength and fracture toughness following water exposure.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Almost all areas of composite technology can benefit from this finish chemistry, including commercial applications such as automobiles, boats, sporting goods, and construction materials. Because the finish contributes little add-on cost while vastly improving performance, it should be adopted for use on a wide range of applications, particularly those with high exposure to moisture.

24. Preparation of Ultrapure Aluminum Nitride from a Preceramic Lewis Acid-Base Adduct Synthesized in an Ambient Temperature Chloroaluminate Molten Salt
Eltron Research, Inc.
5660 Airport Blvd.
Boulder, CO 80301-2340
tel: 303-440-8008; fax: 303-440-8007
e-mail: ees@Eltronresearch.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Michael T. Carter
President: Anthony F. Sammells
NSF Grant No. 9660631; Amount: $74,995

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project addresses the bulk synthesis of aluminum nitride (AlN) precursors utilizing acid-base chemistry in an ambient temperature chloroaluminate molten salt. The molten salt is composed of a mixture of aluminum chloride (AlCl3) and trimethylphenylammonium chloride (TMPACl), which forms a liquid tetrachloroaluminate below room temperature. AlN precursors will be formed as Lewis acid-base adducts containing 1:1 ratios of Al to N. Precursor stoichiometry will be fixed by the inherent nature of the Lewis acid-base interaction between nitrogenous bases such as ammonia and hydrazine and heptachlorodialuminate, the predominant Lewis acid in acidic melts. The proposed approach differs from those that rely on formation of a polymeric precursor in that it will result in easily handled solid preceramic materials of the exact stoichiometry required in the final product. The preceramic material is prepared such that no carbide or oxide contamination is introduced into the final product.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed technology for production of bulk aluminum nitride in highly pure form will find use immediately in electronics applications, where AlN is used as a heat dissipation medium and substrate material. It also has nonelectronic applications, such as evaporation boats. Annual production of AlN was approximately 120-130 tons in 1993. A substantial driving force exists, therefore, to find alternative, cost-effective methods to produce this material.

25. Liquid Crystalline Thermoset (LCT) Adhesives for High Temperature Applications
Adherent Technologies, Inc.
9621 Camino del Sol NE
Albuquerque, NM 87111
tel: 505-346-1688; fax: 505-346-1686
e-mail: adherent@flash.net
Principal Investigator: Dr. Andrea E. Hoyt
President: Dr. Ronald E. Allred
NSF Grant No. 9660674; Amount: $74,974

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project is directed toward the development of adhesives with thermal and mechanical properties suitable for applications in the aerospace industry. The ideal requirements for these materials are rather stringent. The materials must exhibit high strength and high fracture toughness, good chemical resistance, and long-term thermal stability somewhere in the range 150-370°C. While there is a significant research effort in high temperature adhesives, currently available materials fall well short of the ideal requirements. We propose to investigate liquid crystalline thermoset (LCT) systems to be applied as adhesives suitable for use in high temperature, high performance environments. LCTs, like their liquid crystalline polymer (LCP) analogues, are expected to offer significant enhancements in thermal and mechanical properties and chemical resistance over their non-liquid crystalline counterparts. In addition, the inherent low melt viscosity of liquid crystalline materials should bring about several processing advantages in adhesive applications. The materials investigated will be generally modeled on known examples of melt-processable or thermotropic LCTs. Reactive endgroups will be chosen based on standards in the industry; some proprietary endgroups will be tested. The major product of Phase I is the data required for system optimization and extended bond testing in Phase II. These data should also provide information on structure-property relationships in LCTs and for adhesives in general.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: If this work is successful, a new type of adhesive for high temperature applications should be realized. While the application of these materials is initially focused on the aerospace industry, there is potential for use in other areas such as high-speed transportation systems and lightweight structural materials for bridges.

26. A Novel Method to Produce Ta Filaments for Use in Electrolytic Capacitors
Supercon, Inc.
830 Boston Turnpike
Shrewsbury, MA 01545
tel: 508-842-0174; fax: 508-842-0847
e-mail: wongterry@aol.com
Principal Investigator: Terence Wong
President: Dr. James Wong
NSF Grant No. 9660717; Amount: $74,925

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will develop a method of producing fine Ta filaments for use in electrolytic capacitors. Existing Ta powders used for capacitors have demonstrated increasing specific capacitance as manufacturers have improved the sodium reduction process. However, the new powders are more sensitive to capacitor production process parameters such as sintering time, temperature, and forming voltage. This forces a compromise in the final capacitor between capacitance level and negative performance criteria such as operation voltage, leakage, breakdown voltage, and equivalent series resistance. In addition, the new powders are much more expensive due to the lower production yields. The objective of this project is to develop a method to produce fine, uniform Ta filaments, using technology originally developed for superconductors, and determine the performance of these filaments in capacitors. We anticipate that the performance of the Ta filaments will meet or exceed that of commercially available powder without any of the performance drawbacks such as sensitivity to sintering temperature or forming voltage while promising higher yields and lower costs.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The Ta filaments have the ability to address a Ta powder market for electrolytic capacitors of 1 million pounds/year or $150 million/year.

27. Stable Fluorescers for Luminescent Solar Concentrators
Envirochem, Inc.
54 Bridge St.
Lexington, MA 02173
tel: 617-863-1334
Principal Investigator: David Ham
President: David Ham
NSF Grant No. 9660727; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will synthesize and test new polymer materials for application in luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs). LSCs use a large area sheet to absorb solar radiation and light-pipe fluorescence efficiently to solar photovoltaic cells on the much smaller edge area. Thus, expensive solar cells can produce several times more electric power by using inexpensive plastic or glass sheets. LSCs work well in diffuse sunlight, do not need to track the sun, dissipate excess energy, and shift light toward the red where solar cells are more efficient. LSCs have been demonstrated to provide efficient energy converters but cannot be implemented because no suitable fluorescent materials (e.g., dyes in plastics) have been identified that do not bleach for long enough times to be cost effective. Envirochem has identified specific materials that should have the performance required for LSCs to achieve competitive, levelized costs and proposes to prepare and test these novel materials.

In a Phase I project, Envirochem will prepare polymer materials and measure their absorption and fluorescence spectra and their fluorescence quantum efficiencies. Envirochem will obtain preliminary longevity data for these materials using an accelerated weathering tester. These results will be used in a preliminary economic analysis to determine the feasibility of our approach.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Remote power in developing countries is probably the earliest potential market for LSC solar electric systems. In developed countries, these systems can be used in roof panels to supplement the central electric power for residences or small-scale industries.

28. Novel Nanomagnetic Materials
NanoSystems, Inc.
83 Prokop Rd.
Oxford, CT 06478
tel: 203-881-2827; fax: 203-881-2855
e-mail: nanosystem@aol.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. John Steinbeck
President: Charles P. Beetz
NSF Grant No. 9660771; Amount: $75,000

A new magnetic materials system is proposed that would revolutionize integrated magnetic and magneto electromechanical devices. The materials system uses the shape anisotropy of nanorods to engineer the magnetic properties of bulk magnetic materials. Using the shape anisotropy, the magnetization of Supermalloy nanorods can be made to lie normal to the plane of a thin film. These vertically magnetized films can be used for a wide range of applications, such as planar integrated inductors, transformers, microwave circulators, and electromagnetic cores. The nanorods are buried in an insulating matrix that will allow metallic nanorods to be useful in applications at rf frequencies by dramatically reducing eddy current losses. By adjusting the aspect ratio of the nanorods, the coercive force of the rods may be varied by several orders of magnitude while leaving the remnant magnetization unaffected from the bulk material value. Phase I will demonstrate that Supermalloy nanorods can be made with the desired magnetic properties. Phase II will demonstrate that this novel materials system can be used to build engineered magnetic laminates with properties superior to those of bulk magnetic materials for device applications.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed magnetic materials have a wide range of applications in rf and power transformers as well as microwave circulators. Laminates of these materials could build a new generation of high-performance magnetic components.

29. High Percolation Rate of Nano-structured MnO2 Materials
Inframat Corp.
20 Washington Ave., Suite 106
North Haven, CT 06473
tel: 860-486-2358; fax: 860-486-2269
e-mail: Inframat@aol.com
Principal Investigator: T. Danny Xiao, Ph.D.
President: James C. Hsiao, Ph.D.
NSF Grant No. 9660798; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will develop a technique for synthesizing and processing high percolation rate nanostructured MnO2 materials; this is relevant to high-energy batteries and advanced catalysts. Specific emphasis is on synthesizing nanostructured MnO2 bird’s nest morphologies with controlled active site density and percolation rate, so as to optimize electrochemical and catalytic properties. A demonstrated facility to design materials in this way is relevant in several energy and environmental applications. For example, it is pertinent in the production of highly efficient filters for converting carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide, and ozone produced by internal combustion engines into innocuous chemical species. It is also important in the development of highly efficient batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles.

This proposal focuses on the molecular design of nanostructured materials and promotes a new structural concept in materials fabrication for high-performance engineering applications. To meet this objective, Inframat will conduct research on (1) chemical synthesis of high percolation rate nanostructured MnO2 bird’s nest materials, (2) optimization of processing conditions for the production of nanostructured MnO2 with tailored properties, (3) studies of nucleation and growth mechanisms for MnO2 bird’s nest structure, and (4) theoretical modeling of the fiber growth mechanisms.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed technology is designed to provide much improved materials that will significantly advance the present battery and catalysis industries. Commercial applications include (1) high energy batteries for electrical and hybrid vehicles, computer and communication devices, small appliances, military aircraft, and electrical wheelchairs; and (2) catalysts for fuel cells and pollution control devices.

30. Development of Multilayer Ceramic Capacitors through Microfabrication by Coextrusion Melt Spinning
Advanced Ceramics Research, Inc.
841 E. 47th St.
Tucson, AZ 85713
tel: 520-573-6300; fax: 520-573-2057
e-mail: d.popovich@acrtucson.com
Principal Investigator: Dragan Popovich
President: Anthony Mulligan
NSF Grant No. 9660898; Amount: $75,000

The demand for multilayer ceramic capacitors (MLCCs) having high capacitance and high volumetric efficiencies has led to increased challenges in the manufacturing of MLCCs. The preferred method for increasing the performance of MLCCs, both in the United States and Japan, is to reduce the thickness of the dielectric ceramic layers below 10 F while maintaining a high dielectric constant. Use of that method has posed some critical challenges to current MLCC fabrication methods, such as tape casting.

This Phase I proposal will focus on a totally novel approach to fabricating MLCCs having thin dielectric layers. The MLCCs will be fabricated through an adaptation of the low-cost Fibrous Monolithic processing technology, currently under development at ACR, to produce advanced structural ceramics. It is based on the melt spinning of thermoplastic/powder blends to create novel hierarchical architectures beneficial to the ceramic industry. We will incorporate BaTiO3 and Ag-based powders as the dielectric and electrode materials, respectively, to fabricate in situ MLCCs. Microstructural characterization and electrical testing of these prototype MLCCs will be performed to demonstrate the feasibility of the overall concept. Phase I success will allow future iterations in order to optimize the desired electrical properties.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The successful adaptation of the FM processing technology from advanced structural ceramics to functional MLCC materials will allow the manufacturing of the latter at a low cost with a variety of architectures and the incorporation of a selection of dielectric layer thicknesses. The optimization of this novel process will lead to higher volume MLCC production over current fabrication methods.

31. Novel Material for GMRAM
Nonvolatile Electronics, Inc.
11409 Valley View Rd.
Eden Prairie, MN 55344
tel: 612-996-1629; fax: 612-996-1600
e-mail: everitt@nve.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Brenda Everitt
President: Dr. James Daughton
NSF Grant No. 9660937; Amount: $74,983

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project consists of a proposal for development of a new material for giant magnetoresistive random access memory (GMRAM). Funding will be used for materials research and development, as well as fabrication of prototype arrays of GMRAM cells. The memory cells will operate in a manner similar to memories that employ anisotropic, magnetoresistive (AMR) material, although the proposed material will have much higher signal due to the giant magnetoresistive (GMR) effect. Prior research at NVE has identified problems with using standard GMR sandwich material for use in the AMR memory mode. GMRAM bits fabricated from standard GMR material have low write thresholds and fail upon repeated cycling and disturbs. The proposed novel material will overcome these limitations, and should result in very stable, robust memory cells. The simple cell architecture and fast read and write times should enable this type of memory to compete with commercial nonvolatile memories and personal-computer main memories. This work will help to ensure continued U.S. leadership at the cutting edge of advanced magnetic memory research and development.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: GMRAM technology has the potential to be of major commercial significance in the future as a replacement for other nonvolatile memory technologies, and may be expected to extend to main memories in personal computers. The potential market size is estimated at over $60 billion.

32. Thermal Atomic Nitrogen/Hydrogen Source for MBE Applications
PVD Products, Inc.
4R Alfred Cir.
Bedford, MA 01730
tel: 617-275-9959; fax: 617-275-3709
e-mail: jgreerpvd@aol.com
Principal Investigator: James A. Greer
President: James A. Greer
NSF Grant No. 9660948; Amount: $74,988.84

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will investigate the efficacy of a thermal source of atomic nitrogen and hydrogen for MBE applications. Both of these species are useful in the deposition of many electronic, optical, and tribological materials. Presently, plasma sources produce about 1% N1 or H1, but also yield an equal number of energetic ions, a situation that can be undesirable during the growth of materials like GaN by MBE. Furthermore, the ability to monitor the atomic gas flux would allow closed-loop feedback control, thereby greatly improving the deposition process. We plan to characterize the efficiency of our thermal source for producing both N1 and H1. We expect this source to yield up to 10% N1 and over 60% H1 with atomic fluxes at the substrate surface in excess of 1 and 5 x 1015 atoms/cm2/sec, respectively. We will incorporate this source into an MBE system to grow and then characterize high quality GaN films. Finally, we plan to conduct a study of potential techniques that might be used as an in situ monitor for N1. Our thermal N1/H1 source has many advantages over conventional plasma sources, including a higher atomic flux, lower contamination, and no ion production.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: A high flux thermal N1/H1 source will increase the growth rates of high quality MBE GaN material by about an order of magnitude. GaN will be used in a variety of electro-optic applications including blue lasers and LEDs and will create may new opportunities itself. Furthermore, it is expected that this source will be quickly incorporated into many other physical vapor deposition processes for the growth of cBN, C3N4, and/or low temperature diamond materials, to name a few. Each of these materials may itself enable new or emerging technologies and generate opportunities for many U.S. companies.

33. Evaluation of Ternary Carbide Compounds that Exhibit Unique Characteristics
Advanced Refractory Technologies, Inc.
699 Hertel Ave.
Buffalo, NY 14207
tel: 716-875-4091; fax: 716-875-0106
e-mail: tmroz@art-inc.com
Principal Investigator: Thomas Mroz
President: Keith A. Blakely
NSF Grant No. 9661025; Amount: $74,999

The ability to blend the characteristics of metals and ceramics to meet advanced materials applications is currently achieved by forming composite materials. However, these composite materials do not always provide the entire range of characteristics and, furthermore, often are prohibitively expensive.

A new composition range based in ternary carbides has been identified by Drexel University. These materials exhibit a set of characteristics that blends the ductility, shock resistance, and machinability of metals with the refractoriness, oxidation resistance, and strength of ceramics. These new compositions have been initially evaluated; however, they have not been reproduced elsewhere. To learn more about these materials and, at the same time, further evaluate structure/properties relationships, a research program based on compositional variations is suggested. We plan to evaluate the specific lattice sites within the structure as they relate to the material characteristics by exchanging specific elements with related elements. This will provide changes in atomic size and/or valence potential. We anticipate the formation of extensive solid solutions in this composition range, which will allow for determination of characteristics as they relate to changes made in atomic composition. We will obtain characterization of these materials and comparison to earlier work from the original Drexel researchers responsible for discovering these materials. Further, we will begin to evaluate and prioritize commercial opportunities for this material as they relate to the properties and characteristics obtained from sample materials.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Applications for this family of materials is expected to be wide ranging. Early analysis suggests that replacement for graphite parts will be a large market, satisfied by the improved electrical and wear performance of these materials. Other applications might include electrodes, heaters, seals and wear parts, and engine components. The total value of the markets serviced by this material may be extremely large due to the pervasive nature of the technology.

34. High Surface Area, High-Capacitance EDLC Electrodes
12173 Montague St.
Pacoima, CA 91331
tel: 818-899-0236; fax: 818-890-1946
e-mail: mail@ultramet.com
Principal Investigator: Arthur J. Fortini, Ph.D.
President: Richard B. Kaplan
NSF Grant No. 9661076; Amount: $74,982

The primary drawbacks of current electrochemical double-layer capacitors (EDLCs) are cost and power density. The EDLC electrode material that allows for the greatest specific capacitance is ruthenium oxide (RuO2), which is based on an expensive platinum group metal. Thus, the cost of such capacitors is quite high. Furthermore, because electrode surface area is the key parameter for capacitance, and because current technology only allows dispersal of the oxide electrode material to surface areas of »120 m2/g, the bulk of the oxide mass remains unused. In this Phase I project, Ultramet will develop high-capacitance electrodes that combine high surface area with the electric double-layer effect and fast, reversible faradaic processes at the electrode. This will be accomplished by infiltrating aerogels with precious metal oxides via a unique process developed at Ultramet. The net result will be an electrode with the surface area of an aerogel, but with the pseudocapacitance properties of RuO2.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The optimization of high surface area, high-capacitance electrodes will have many applications in both the civilian and military sectors. Civilian applications include electric automobiles, pulse power supplies for high-power lasers, burst power for high-power signal generation, and power conditioning for satellites. Military applications include space power conditioning, laser weaponry, electronic fuzes, safety and arming devices, and missile guidance systems.

35. High Microwave and Optical Reflectance Coatings
Millimeter Wave Technology, Inc.
1920 West Oak Circle, Suite 200
Marietta, GA 30062
tel: 770-425-9382; fax: 770-425-9844
e-mail: mwt@mindspring.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Dennis J. Kozakoff
President: Dr. Dennis J. Kozakoff
NSF Grant No. 9661141; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research project will investigate organic coatings that are both highly reflective in the microwave and in the optical frequency regime. The technical approach uses high-density barium titanate glass microspheres in a suitable matrix material. Loading with conductive micro fibers (or micro spheres) produces a radar reflective as well as an optically reflective surface. This material will have many military applications. For instance, if a pilot’s helmet or raft were coated with such a material, during search and rescue, the crew would be easy to spot from an airborne surveillance radar many miles away, long before they could be spotted visually. The optically reflective feature would make them easy to see during night rescue operations where searchlights are employed.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: These coatings can be used in the marking of other equipment, such as life vests and rafts, used by commercial boaters.

36. Scanning Wire Magnetometer for Nondestructive Evaluation of HTS Wire
Quantum Magnetics, Inc.
7740 Kenamar Ct.
San Diego, CA 92121
tel: 619-566-9200; fax: 619-566-9388
e-mail: kumar@qm.com
Principal Investigator: Sankaran Kumar
President: Andrew D. Hibbs
NSF Grant No. 9661170; Amount: $74,764.12

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I program will develop a new instrument for the nondestructive evaluation (NDE) of high-temperature superconducting (HTS) wires. A major obstacle to commercial development of HTS applications is the inability to manufacture long lengths of wire reliably. One conventional method to test long lengths of wire is to cut pieces from their ends and perform critical current measurements. This leaves most of the wire untested. The four-point resistivity method requires the attachment and subsequent removal of contacts, which risks damaging the wire and provides poor spatial resolution of defects. We will develop the Scanning Wire Magnetometer (SWIM) to scan the entire wire length’s ac magnetic susceptibility continuously, measuring critical current density noninvasively and with high spatial resolution. Operated as an eddy current instrument above the superconducting transition temperature, SWIM also evaluates the physical integrity of the wire’s silver cladding. In Phase I, quantum magnetics will demonstrate feasibility of scanning wire magnetometry using HTS wire samples provided by our collaborators, Intermagnetics General Corp. and the State University of New York at Buffalo. In Phase II, we will fabricate an automated prototype for testing at an HTS wire fabrication facility.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: This specific NDE market aims primarily to facilitate the cost-effective production of HTS wire, tape, and thin film materials, with a secondary application to low-temperature superconducting wire production. We expect a direct commercial market for the SWIM on the order of a few million dollars per year, but it has the potential to greatly accelerate the commercial development of HTS devices and thus indirectly to generate much larger markets.

37. Improved Microwave Absorbing Insulator-Conductor Composites with Tailored Frequency Response
Physical Sciences, Inc.
20 New England Business Center
Andover, MA 01810-1077
tel: 703-941-0495; fax: 703-941-5993
e-mail: read@psicorp.com
Principal Investigator: Michael E. Read
President: George E. Caledonia
NSF Grant No. 9661186; Amount: $74,987

The proposed Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project is to develop novel microwave absorbing materials that effectively absorb microwave radiation over wide ranges of frequency (typically an octave). The absorbers are based on materials that have dielectric properties that are functions of frequency in such a manner as to create strong, wideband absorption from a fixed thickness of material. The typical thicknesses are appropriate for cast, flexible sheets, and bulk forms, and compositions with higher dielectric constant suitable for paints are also possible. The microwave loss and the majority of the real part of the dielectric constant in these materials result from a strong, nonexponential dielectric relaxation associated with the micro-geometry of a tailored ceramic-conductor composite. The frequency response of the absorbers is adjustable by chemical means during the processing of the composite. Test samples of these materials will be synthesized and the favorable frequency response and tunability will be demonstrated experimentally. Potential applications include the suppression of spurious emissions and interference from consumer communications and computer equipment, and the suppression of oscillations in microwave power tubes and passive microwave strip line components.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The microwave absorbing materials being developed under the proposed SBIR have applications in microwave tubes, anechoic chambers, radar systems, and in-printed circuit-based and monolithically integrated microwave systems and signal conditioners. If very thin materials can be developed, there are additional applications in military systems.

38. Surface-Modified, Ultra-High-Strength Polyethylene Fibers and Their Composites
Poly-Med, Inc.
6309 Hwy. 187
Anderson, SC 29625
tel: 864-646-8544; fax: 864-646-8547
Principal Investigator: Shalaby W. Shalaby, Ph.D.
President: Shalaby W. Shalaby, Ph.D.
NSF Grant No. 9661214; Amount: $74,917

This project deals with the use of a novel process for the surface modification of organic polymers to chemically activate ultra-high molecular weight, high tenacity, and polyethylene fibers and to determine their effectiveness in reinforcing organic polymeric matrices and Portland cement. Phase I entails the surface activation of the fibers to provide physicochemical compatibility with typical epoxy and acrylic resin matrices as well as cement. Test specimens of the assembled composites having 1 percent to 0 percent fiber loadings will be characterized and then evaluated for basic and application-relevant properties and compared with nonreinforced controls as well as controls based on untreated fibers. Results of the Phase I study will be used to identify the most promising type (or types) of composites for further development and optimization in Phase II.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Successful development of the proposed composites is expected to provide novel high performance and, yet, cost-effective materials for use in a broad range of applications. These include those associated with structural epoxy composites (used in aircraft, automotive, and sports equipment), high-toughness dental and orthopedic acrylic composites (for prostheses), and impact-resistant cement composites (for construction of panels, rehabilitation of deteriorating bridges, and installation or repair of pavement).

39. A Force Transducer for Normal Force Measurements in Shear Characterization of Polymeric Materials
Cambridge Polymer Group
215 Fifth St.
Cambridge, MA 02474
tel: 617-497-2200; fax: 617-497-0444
e-mail: Steve@campoly.com
Principal Investigator: Stephen H. Spiegelberg
President: Stephen H. Spiegelberg
NSF Grant No. 9661335; Amount: $69,604

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I program will develop an affordable instrument for measuring normal forces in polymeric materials subjected to simple shearing flows. Rheological characterization, or the flow behavior of a material, provides essential information both about the chemical structure of a polymeric material and about the desirable processing conditions. A polymeric material subjected to a simple shear flow will exert a force in the direction normal to the flow direction, which is a direct measurement of the elasticity of the material. Only two companies produce a rheometer capable of measuring quantitative normal forces, and these retail for close to $100,000. Cambridge Polymer Group proposes to use affordable OEM force transducer technology to construct a normal force device for integration with existing shear rheometers without normal force capacity, making use of the precision motors and controllers in these units. A second stand-alone rheometer will be constructed with its own drive motor for those without a shear rheometer. The application of the technology to on-line measurements in a process flow line will be examined. It is anticipated that the add-on unit will retail for < $10,000.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: There is a large installed base of customers that have shear rheometers without normal force capability. Cambridge Polymer Group’s add-on feature will significantly enhance the information provided by these instruments for an affordable price, while the stand-alone unit will provide small research labs an affordable alternative to the high-cost commercial units.

40. Novel Functionalized Polymer-Trivalent Lanthanide Metal Ion Complexes for Advanced Electroluminescent Devices
Molecular Technologies Inc.
270 Littleton Rd., #29
Westford, MA 01886
tel: 978-392-1304; fax: 978-392-7985
Principal Investigator: Dr. K.G. Chittibabu
President: Dr. Susan Thomson
NSF Grant No. 9661470; Amount: $73,857

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project is to synthesize and develop novel polymeric materials and their trivalent lanthanide complexes and process them as thin films employing layer-by-layer deposition technique for advanced electroluminescent devices. Organic material-based electroluminescent devices have recently attracted much interest, due to their potential applications as flat panel displays. Significant achievements have been made, including low driving voltages, excellent brightness, and full color displays. The crystallization of the small electroluminescent/charge-reporting molecules, degradation of the charge-injecting contacts due to the production of heat, and oxidative degradation are the key problems associated with such devices.

Employing high-mobility electron and hole-transporting polymers, cross-linking them by complexation with highly fluorescent, lanthanide metal ions during the device fabrication is expected to minimize the crystallization and degradation, and will make the electroluminescent devices quite stable. The synthesis and characterization of the ligand functionalized polymers, and the complexation of the lanthanide ions with these polymers employing layer-by-layer deposition technique, will be addressed. Experiments to evaluate the performance on the novel polymer/lanthanide complex-based electroluminescent devices will be carried out. Stable and high-performance electroluminescent devices are expected.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The approach of utilizing novel layer-by-layer cross-linking of the luminescent electron and hole-transporting polymers using highly fluorescent lanthanide metal ions will minimize the degradation of the electroluminescent devices and will enhance the electroluminescence efficiency of such devices. White light can be achieved by using the proper choice of electron and hole-transporting polymers. The successful development of the functionalized polymer-metal complexes will result in more practical organic materials for the electroluminescence-based flat panel display applications.

41. Nano-Engineered Materials for High Frequency Switching Power Supplies
Nanomaterials Research Corp.
2849 East Elvira Rd.
Tucson, AZ 85706-7126
tel: 303-702-1672; fax: 303-702-1682
e-mail: staff@nrcorp.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Shahid Pirzada
President: Tapesh Yadav
NSF Grant No. 9661477; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will investigate the synthesis and processing of nano-engineered materials for switching power supplies operating above 5 MHz. Conventional materials have excessive eddy current losses at frequencies above 1 to 5 MHz levels, making them unsuitable for higher frequency applications. Monodisperse, nano-engineered materials offer breakthrough potential in enabling very high frequency (1 GHz) operation while maintaining unavoidable eddy losses to an acceptable level. If successful, this would help launch miniaturized switching power supplies. During Phase I, Nanomaterials Research Corp. will establish the proof-of-concept that commercially useful, nano-engineered materials for switching power supply applications can be produced. Phase II effort will seek to optimize the process and produce prototype ferrite components. Phase III will commercialize the technology.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Proposed research would provide the material-related breakthrough eagerly sought by high-frequency power supplies market. Potential specific customers include the electrical, electronic, and communication industries. The technology will also be timely for the anticipated market trend toward miniaturization of multilayer chip inductors for SMD applications.

42. Net Shape Fabrication Technology for Fiber Reinforced Composites Densified by Pressureless Sintering
Ceramic Composites, Inc.
1110 Benfield Blvd.
Millersville, MD 21108
tel: 410-224-3710; fax: 410-224-4678
Principal Investigator: Dr. Mark Patterson
President: Dr. Larry Fehrenbacher
NSF Grant No. 9661562; Amount: $74,955.16

The proposed Phase I research aims to demonstrate the fabrication of dense, strong, and tough CLMCs through the in situ alignment, seeding, and growth of acicular b-Si3N4 particles in Si3N4 reinforcing fibers. These green-state fibers will be incorporated into a a-Si3N4 green-state laminate matrix fabricated by a tape casting and stacking procedure.

The key advantage of this processing technology is the ability to pressureless sinter the CLMC material to full density, thereby significantly reducing the cost and enabling net-shape components to be fabricated. Since the toughening fibers are not yet dense when incorporated into the matrix laminates, the composite structure can be fully densified via pressureless sintering because the fiber and matrix phases will undergo simultaneous densification. This unique materials system, although pressureless sintered, will exhibit many of the characteristics of fiber-reinforced composites sintered via pressure-assisted densification—namely, high density, strength, and toughness achieved through crack bridging and fiber pullout.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The Phase I research will demonstrate b-Si3N4 fiber-toughened laminates, thereby establishing a method of fabricating net-shape components (via pressureless sintering) that will exhibit high density and high toughness through mechanisms such as fiber pullout. Fiber-reinforced laminates will be used to fabricate components for turbine engine applications such as combustors, exhaust nozzles, shrouds, flaps and seals. It is anticipated that the successful development of the b-Si3N4 fiber-toughened composite material will provide significant cost savings for the fabrication of ceramic composites. The economic advantages will be dependent upon the ability to fabricate net-shape composite structures and the ability to attain fully densified fiber reinforced composites via pressureless sintering, thereby eliminating the need for expensive densification techniques such as hot pressing and HIPing.

43. Low-Cost Manufacture of Refractive Index Gradient (GRIN) Lens
Chemat Technology, Inc.
19365 Business Center Dr., Suites 8 and 9
Northridge, CA 91324
tel: 818-727-9786; fax: 818-727-9477
e-mail: chemat@aol.com
Principal Investigator: Haixing Zheng
President: Haixing Zheng
NSF Grant No. 9661615; Amount: $75,000

Optical materials that contain a distributed refractive index and are used in lens design are called gradient-index (GRIN) materials, which have wide applications in optical systems. In this proposed research, we plan to integrate the supercritical drying technique for the fabrication of axial GRIN glasses via the layering of sol-gel solutions, since this technique has been proven to be low cost and fast process. In addition, new glass compositions will be tested in order to achieve good chemical durability.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The principal application of this AGRIN lens is in various optical systems. The use of AGRIN lenses can reduce one-third of lenses. The proposed sol-gel layering technique is expected to be a universal and promising approach to making low-cost and designable axial GRIN lenses, which definitely will greatly extend and expand the application of axial GRIN lenses in optical systems.

44. Graphite to Diamond Transformation by Gas Cluster Ion Beam Transient Processing
Epion Corp.
4R Alfred Cir.
Bedford, MA 01730
tel: 781-275-3703; fax: 781-275-3709
Principal Investigator: Allen R. Kirkpatrick
President: Allen R. Kirkpatrick
NSF Grant No. 9661626; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will investigate the use of gas cluster ion beams to produce surface modification effects that have not previously been possible by any existing ion beam or direct energy beam method. Cluster ions have large total energy and very high mass and momentum in combination with low energy per individual atom. Impact of a gas cluster ion upon a solid surface involves a number of exceptional effects, including generation of high momentary temperature pressure transients within an extremely shallow surface region at the impact site. It is believed that conditions can be produced within a graphite surface by means of gas cluster ion bombardment at room temperature, which will cause transformation of the graphite surface to diamond. The capability to produce carbon-to-diamond transformations will form the basis of a procedure for room temperature deposition of diamond coatings onto surfaces of virtually any material.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The planned investigation will illustrate the unique potential of transient processing by gas cluster ions. The technology will become the basis for a low-temperature method for growth of diamond coatings onto virtually any material. A very broad range of applications in a worldwide market awaits such coatings.

45. Composite Lead Material for Power Electronic Devices
Technical Research Associates, Inc.
2257 S. 1100 E.
Salt Lake City, UT 84106-2379
tel: 801-485-4994; fax: 801-485-4997
e-mail: jweeks@xmission.com
Principal Investigator: Joseph K. Weeks
President: Charles D. Baker
NSF Grant No. 9661683; Amount: $75,000

As electronic device structures and materials continue to be improved, increasingly greater amounts of electrical power can be switched and controlled by smaller devices. There is an increasing need for lead materials that can be directly bonded to the electronic devices and other ceramic materials. While copper/graphite composite materials can be produced that match the coefficient of expansion of silicon and other ceramics, these composites cannot be formed or bent during packaging of the electronic device.

The objective of this proposal is to demonstrate the feasibility of producing a composite electrical lead material that has a controlled expansion section for bonding to the electronic device and a ductile region that can be bent and formed. The lead should have electrical conductivity 70 percent to 80 percent of copper and thermal conductivity equivalent to copper. Bonding to ceramic materials will be demonstrated in Phase I.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Power electronic devices continue to increase in importance as electric controls replace hydraulics. These leads will be useful in motor controls, high power, high frequency transistors, etc.

46. Instrumentation for Controlled Fabrication and Characterization of Nanostructures: Assembly of 2-D Membrane Protein Crystals
Ultrathin Film Technology Ltd.
128 Walnut Ct.
Highland Park, NJ 08904
tel: 908-418-0159; fax: 908-418-0159
e-mail: mojtabai@rutchem.rutgers.edu
Principal Investigator: Fatemeh Mojtabai
President: Fatemeh Mojtabai
NSF Grant No. 9661765; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I program will develop a technology that will allow the growth of crystals and other ordered micro- and nano-structures on a liquid in a fast and controlled fashion. The technology will be integrated with real-time digital imaging laser fluorescence microscopy to allow for in situ characterization of structure formation throughout the fabrication process. The use of a robotics film transfer system facilitates preparation of specimens for use in atomic resolution measurements such as electron- and scanning probe microscopies. These modifications will substantially improve the existing state-of-the-art technology. The experimental program in Phase I addresses a new, simple, and fast process for fabrication of ordered two-dimensional crystals of membrane-spanning proteins. Unlike the conventional techniques, this new process allows for variation of the experimental parameters to facilitate fabrication of crystals with both long- and short-range orientation order, suitable for high-resolution crystallographic analysis. In addition, the process is orders of magnitude faster than conventional techniques, and maintains the native asymmetry of the membrane protein. The success of the program will provide, for the first time, a general approach for crystallizing membrane proteins. This may lead to new discoveries of significant biotechnological importance, since structural information at atomic resolution is indispensable for elucidation of the mechanism of action of key membrane proteins, and thereby for understanding the nature of disease and for developing more effective drugs.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The unique performance characteristics of the technology provide many present and potential applications, which range from fields such as microelectronics to biotechnology. In biotechnology, the program has potential for developing more effective drugs, or screening drugs. Other applications include fabrication of technologically useful tubular microstructures that can be used as microvials for controlled delivery of drugs, and for immobilization of DNA/RNA on new materials for use in genetic screening.

47. Development of Calcium Phosphate Microcarriers as Suspendable, Mitogenic Substrates for Mammalian Cell-Culture Applications
CaP Biotechnology, Inc.
6010 Wright St.
Arvada, CO 80004
tel: 303-277-1152; fax: 303-403-0273
Principal Investigator: L. Brian Starling
President: James E. Stephan
NSF Grant No. 9660306 (9796096)
Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will develop a method for producing a novel form of a calcium phosphate (CaP) ceramic microcarrier for use in anchorage-dependent mammalian cell-culturing applications. The developed microcarrier will be biomimetic in substance and will be fabricated in the form of a hollow microsphere in the size range of 1.0 to 3.0 mm, with wall thicknesses that result in a sintered density in the range of ~ 1.02 to 1.04 gms/cc. The CaP microcarrier beads must be sintered to function as a suspendable microcarrier for anchorage-dependent cell cultures. The proper mixture of ceramic hydroxylapatite, tricalcium phosphate, and porosity phases in the microstructure provides the mitogenic and nontoxic property of the CaP substrate as unique features for mammalian cell-culturing applications. Specialized fabrication methods will be explored for developing hollow microspheres. The use of mitogenic CaP substrates is described as offering several advantages for mammalian cell-culturing applications. As a result of this program, the availability of mitogenic CaP substrates in a suspendable form offers great potential for revolutionizing the production of high-volume cell-cultured products of significant commercial value.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Suspendable microcarriers for anchorage-dependent mammalian cell cultures will be used in large quantities for the production of cell-derived pharmaceuticals in bioreactors. This product addresses the rapidly expanding markets of monoclonal antibodies and genetically engineered bioproducts. This form of CaP substrate affords the opportunity of growing multi-cell thick layers of cells that maintain their phenotype over extended time periods for harvesting high-volume biological products.

48. Thermophotovoltaic Devices Based on II3V2 Compounds
APTX, Inc.
P.O. Box 19344
Boulder, CO 80308
tel: 303-442-6760; fax: 303-442-4960
e-mail: acatalano@mho.net
Principal Investigator: Dr. Anthony W. Catalano
President: Dr. Anthony W. Catalano
NSF Grant No. 9660767 (9796116)
Amount: $74,514.55

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I program will prove the feasibility of polycrystalline, thin-film heterojunction infrared photovoltaic devices based on the II3V2 class of semiconducting compounds. Though these materials have not been extensively investigated, they possess numerous properties that make them well suited for many electro-optic applications, potentially rivaling III-V materials in importance. The devices developed in this study are intended to be used in broadband thermophotovoltaic (TPV) converters for a variety of commercial applications. This work will develop the deposition processes, characterize the materials, and prepare, test, and characterize the appropriate II3V2 devices. Organometallic chemical vapor deposition (OMCVD) will be used to deposit the material. Because these compounds possess essentially the same crystal structure, and prior investigations have shown little minority carrier loss due to grain boundary recombination, we feel that polycrystalline devices have a high probability of success. Moreover, the high light flux densities encountered in the TPV application should help overcome recombination losses via this mechanism. Several different device geometries will be examined.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed technology is essential to producing low-cost thermophotovoltaic (TPV) converters. Such devices will lower the cost of TPV systems to the extent they will be competitive with other forms of power generation. The potential size of the market for these products is extremely large.

Topic 4¾Mathematical Sciences

49. Discrete Mathematics Software Solution to Surface and Volume Reconstruction and Simplification
Raindrop Geomagic, Inc.
2004 South Wright St., Suite 109
Urbana, IL 61801
tel: 217-244-9411; fax: 217-244-5991
e-mail: pfu@prairienet.org
Principal Investigator: Dr. Roman Waupotitsch
President: Ping Fu
NSF Grant No. 9660504; Amount: $75,000

The main objective of this Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project is the development of proof-of-concept geometric mathematical software tools to allow for the incremental reconstruction and control of surfaces and volumes generated from arbitrary point set data. The tools will incorporate novel methods for geometric modeling based on a combination of concepts from combinatorial topology and computational geometry.

Current methods of surface reconstruction have found limited use due to a number of factors, including slow data processing, the introduction of approximation errors, and the requirement that data sets be well behaved. Raindrop Geomagic, Inc., proposes to provide an elegant and compact solution to automatic surface and volume reconstruction and model simplification that is free of these limitations. Raindrop Geomagic, Inc., will rely on the proven experience of its project team to implement a proposed solution based on our mathematical technology that is more general, more efficient, and more rational than any previous approaches.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The ability to accurately and automatically reconstruct or model the surface and volume of objects defined by an unstructured set of points has the potential to have a fundamental impact on a number of major economic sectors, including the CAD/CAM, animation, and biological and medical modeling industries.

50. An Automated Adaptive Cartesian/Prism Grid Flow Simulation Methodology for Arbitrary Moving-Boundary Problems
CFD Research Corp.
215 Wynn Drive
Huntsville, AL 35805
tel: 256-726-4825; fax: 256-726-4806
e-mail: zjw@cfdrc.com
Principal Investigator: Z. J. Wang
President: Ashok K. Singhal
NSF Grant No. 9660943; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project proposes a new scientific-computation methodology for arbitrary moving-boundary problems. In the immediate vicinity of boundaries, adaptive prism grids will be used in order to exploit their ability to provide surface-conformal spatial discretization, enabling accurate and efficient computational resolution of viscous and thermal boundary layers. These grids will move and deform with the boundaries around which they are built. Away from boundaries, a stationary, adaptive Octree-based Cartesian grid will be used to exploit its efficiency and flexibility. The Cartesian grid will be overlapped with the moving and deforming prism grids. Both types of grid will be adapted according to the physics of the unsteady flow field. For the coupling between the two grids, both conservative (expensive) and nonconservative (efficient) interfacing algorithms will be developed and demonstrated in the Phase I study. A second-order flow solver based on a recently developed all-speed flux splitting method capable of handling dynamic grids will be implemented, enabling highly resolved solution of both incompressible and compressible flows. The unsteady flow fields will be displayed as they develop, through an on-line visualization capability. The overall system seamlessly integrates grid generation, flow solver, grid adaptation, and post-processing to obtain maximum solution accuracy, efficiency, and user friendliness.

In Phase I, the above methodology will be implemented and demonstrated in two dimensions. Extension to three dimensions will be made in Phase II. The commercial implementation of this methodology will be carried out in Phase III.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The accurate modeling of flow phenomena involving moving boundaries is the key to a deeper understanding, to improvement of performance, and to the cost-effective, rapid investigation of new designs. If successfully demonstrated in Phase I, the above methodology will, for the first time, provide a reliable, computationally efficient design and analysis tool that will have an immediate, far-reaching scientific and economic impact on many distinct industries, such as materials processing, aerospace engineering, and bio-engineering.

51. Statistical Analysis and Software for Long Memory Processes
MathSoft, Inc., Data Analysis Products Div.
1700 Westlake Ave. N, Suite 500
Seattle, WA 98109
tel: 206-283-8802 x248; fax: 206-283-6210
e-mail: andrew@statsci.com
Principal Investigator: Andrew G. Bruce
President: Chuck Digate
NSF Grant No. 9661424; Amount: $74,993

Time series commonly encountered in geophysics, oceanography, astronomy, electrical engineering, economics, physiology, and other disciplines exhibit the properties of a long memory process. The essence of such a process is that correlation between random variables does not approach zero rapidly as the separation in time between the variables increases. Use of standard time series methodology with long memory time series can lead to incorrect statistical analysis; for example, confidence intervals for the mean can be too optimistic by orders of magnitude. Long memory time series are fundamental to science, and a complete statistical methodology for handling these series will make a major contribution to scientific progress. We propose to develop this methodology using FARIMA (fractional autoregressive, integrated, moving average) processes, a class of processes that expands the standard ARIMA processes to include a long memory component. Our Phase I research will extend existing FARIMA modeling methodology in the following areas: (1) model selection; (2) robust parameter estimation; (3) estimation for time series with missing values; and (4) assessment of assumptions behind FARIMA modeling by use of the wavelet variance. We also propose to develop a practitioner’s casebook illustrating and guiding the use of FARIMA models in science and engineering.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Our research will lead to a software toolkit offering a complete statistical methodology for FARIMA modeling. The toolkit will be marketed as an S-Plus module and licensed to other commercial applications. Based on the practitioner’s casebook, we will market instructional material both as books and hypermedia.

52. An Efficient Data Structure for R-set Solids
Knowledge Based Systems, Inc.
One KBSI Pl., 1408 University Dr. East
College Station, TX 77840
tel: 409-260-5274; fax: 409-260-1965
e-mail: jhwang@kbsi.com
Principal Investigator: Jyh-Chen Hwang, Ph.D.
President: Richard J. Mayer, Ph.D.
NSF Grant No. 9661483; Amount: $74,961.70

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will develop an efficient data structure for r-set solids that can then serve as the core to develop a compact, embeddable, three-dimensional geometric engine for applications such as two-dimensional to three-dimensional legacy engineering data conversion, feature interpretation, geometric reasoning, simulation-based design, and medical systems modeling. This research will contribute to the science and engineering base in the representation of nonmanifold solids. It will also provide a much-needed toolkit for applications requiring embedded nonmanifold solid model representation, manipulation, and reasoning.

Traditional manifold boundary representations cannot represent nonmanifold solids that result naturally from some regularized union or difference operations between two manifold solids. Manifold solids are not closed under fundamental solid modeling operations; r-set solids are. Recent research in sufficient topological information requirements for r-set solids provides concrete design requirements for r-set boundary representations. Advances in combinatorial analysis provide techniques to systematically identify an efficient data structure based on the design requirements.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Many CAD/CAE/CAM and medical imaging three-dimensional applications in industry and academic research need a compact, embeddable, three-dimensional, nonmanifold geometry engine that current commercial solid modeling systems are not designed for. The final product of this research targets that market.

53. Development of an Accurate and Efficient Radiative Transfer Model in a Body-fitted Coordinate System
Engineering Sciences, Inc.
1900 Golf Rd., Suite D
Huntsville, AL 35802-2922
tel: 205-883-6233; fax: 205-883-6267
e-mail: liu@esi-al.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Jiwen Liu
President: Dr. Yen-Sen Chen
NSF Grant No. 9661586; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project proposes to develop an accurate and efficient radiative transfer model suitable for any complicated geometry in a body-fitted coordinate (BFC) system. Radiative heat transfer is the dominant heat transfer mode in boilers, furnaces, rocket engines, and other high-temperature combustion systems. Due to different mathematical characteristics, entirely coupled and simultaneous solution of the radiative transfer equation (RTE) and the governing equations for fluid transport has been very difficult for complicated problems. In this proposal, radiative heat transfer will be simulated by the even parity formulation (EPF) of RTE in combination with the discrete ordinates method (DOM). Unlike the conventional RTE, the EPF of the DOM is a second-order differential equation. A central difference scheme and an upwind scheme will be utilized to discretize the discrete ordinates equations spatially, and performance from these two schemes will be studied. To investigate the accuracy of the present radiation model in a BFC system, several benchmark problems with irregular geometries will be considered and the solutions from the present model will be compared with other available solutions. Due to the same mathematical structure between the EPF and the governing equations for describing the fluid dynamics, the present radiation model is expected to be very accurate and efficient for problems with complicated geometries.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed radiative transfer model has the same mathematical structure as the fluid transport equations, and they are entirely compatible with each other numerically. This will facilitate simultaneous solution of the RTE and other governing equations in a combustion system. If the present model is successfully proven in Phase I, it will be extended to three-dimensions in Phase II. Furthermore, it will be implemented into a commercial computational fluid dynamics (CFD) code due to its tremendous advantages.

54. An Accurate and Efficient Reconstruction Algorithm for Fast Volumetric X-Ray CT Scanner
ImagingTech, Inc.
1030 Ridge Rd.
Waukesha, WI 53186
tel: 414-521-2991; fax: 414-521-1148
e-mail: hui.hu@imagingtechinc.com
Principal Investigator: Hui Hu
President: Hui Hu
NSF Grant No. 9661717; Amount: $69,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I program will study the problem of reconstructing a three-dimensional object from its projections acquired with a large area detector and cone-shaped X-ray beams. This problem is fundamental to the volumetric CT scanner development and has not yet been successfully solved. Based on the concept of function decomposition developed by the principal investigator, a "hybrid-type" reconstruction algorithm for the circle-and-line scanning orbit, consisting of a circular scan and a linear scan, was proposed. In this program, the remaining problems associated with this algorithm will be studied. To be specific, the numerical accuracy and computational efficiency of this algorithm will be further improved by selecting the optimal theoretical formulation and numerical implementation. Furthermore, the algorithm will be extended to handle the object that is taller than the detector. This situation routinely occurs in practice. It will be demonstrated that this hybrid-type algorithm will combine the strengths and eliminate the weaknesses of existing algorithms and therefore will become the preferable algorithm for cone beam scanner development.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The successful development of this algorithm will accelerate the commercialization of the fast volumetric CT scanner. With drastic improvement in throughput and volume scanning capability, application of this technology will generate fundamental impacts in the fields of medicine, manufacturing, material science, and engineering.

Topic 6¾Atmospheric Sciences

55. Tandem Ebert-Fastie Double Monochromator and Calibration Transfer Spectroradiometer for UV Surface Radiation Monitoring
Research Support Instruments, Inc.
318 Clubhouse Lane
Hunt Valley, MD 21031
tel: 303-449-0557; fax: 303-449-0465
e-mail: dheath@csn.org
Principal Investigator: Donald F. Heath
President: George C. Caledonia
NSF Grant No. 9660722; Amount: $74,989

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project proposes to characterize and evaluate a 125 mm focal length tandem Ebert-Fastie double monochromator in combination with a calibration transfer spectroradiometer that uses ultra-stable nitrated silicon photodiodes in combination with ultra-stable narrow band "hardened" (i.e., insensitive to environmental stresses of high temperature, humidity, and aging effects) ion-assisted deposition filters. RSI’s Boulder laboratory has recently characterized an improved version of the proposed double monochromator and has measured in-band and out-of-band of these filters from 317 nm to 1020 nm for NASA and NRL space instruments. This instrument is proposed as a next generation, moderate cost, UV surface radiation monitoring instrument. The determination of the transmittance stability of some current cosine receptors is also proposed.

The proposed double monochromator and calibration transfer standard spectroradiometer have potential uses as a field UV surface radiation and ozone monitoring instrument or in the laboratory and industry where it could be used in establishing a common radiometric scale for spectral radiance and irradiance calibrations for space instruments and precision laboratory spectroradiometric measurements.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Research Support Instruments is a small company that is noted for its capability to produce low-cost custom scientific instruments. Since 1976, RSI has provided space hardware to over fifty different government agencies, universities, research centers, and private companies. It has produced components as well as complete systems for space instruments, airborne instrumentation, ground-based and laboratory instruments, and underwater instruments. In addition to its capability to produce a line of standard products, RSI has the capability for environmental testing and optical instrument calibration and characterization, design, and manufacturing.

56. Modular Approach to Scientific Radar Design
Geospace Research, Inc.
550 North Continental Blvd., Suite 110
El Segundo, CA 90245
tel: 310-322-1160; fax: 310-322-2596
e-mail: djuth@netcom.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Frank T. Djuth
President: Frank T. Djuth
NSF Grant No. 9661180; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project is aimed at the development of solid-state transmit/receive modules that are optimized for remote sensing of the Earth’s atmosphere, ionosphere, and magnetosphere. Such units would pave the way for a new generation of UHF phased-array radars having greatly improved system performance and flexibility. Moreover, the projected system costs are significantly less than those of traditional radars. The proposed investigation pays particular attention to the development of a new solid-state power amplifier, complementary antenna designs, and an improved low-temperature transmit/receive switch. In Phase I, the historic shift away from high-power tube amplifiers to distributed solid-state units is to be critically examined. This design approach appears to be feasible because of the rapid development of commercial power transistors. This favorable situation is further enhanced by several associated solid-state device modifications and architectural changes to be implemented as part of this project. Because of the need to match antenna capabilities to the flexibility and wideband nature of the transmitter design, a selection of innovative antenna designs will be incorporated into the module arrangement. The proposed units can be configured to rapidly track dynamic geophysical events from the zenith to low (30°) elevation angles. Because the system architecture is by definition modular, it is well suited for radar interferometry and can be incrementally expanded to sizes characteristic of a powerful incoherent scatter radar. A radar having very high sensitivity (e.g., 50 MWm2/K) would require ~4000-5000 modules. In the proposed program, emphasis is placed on designing a module that can take advantage of low-cost automated manufacturing techniques.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Potential commercial applications include incoherent scatter radar development, radar tracking and imaging of airborne "hard targets," meteorological aids, radar wind profiling in the stratosphere and troposphere, high-power ground penetrating radars (hydrological studies, detection of hazardous waste, oil/gas reserves), pagers, cellular telephone systems, and military communications.

57. Novel, Low-Cost Atmospheric Humidity Sensor
PMD Scientific, Inc.
105F West Dudleytown Rd.
Bloomfield, CT 06002
tel: 860-242-8177; fax: 860-242-7812
e-mail: pmdsci@worldnet.att.net
Principal Investigator: Martin E. Cobern
President: Igor A. Abramovich
NSF Grant No. 9661286; Amount: $74,950

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project is aimed at the development of novel, low-cost, compact, wide-range humidity sensors. They will be applicable to a variety of atmospheric and environmental studies, and should find many industrial and commercial uses. The Phase I proposal is intended to complete the feasibility study of these sensors and to prepare prototypes for field testing.

These sensors employ a unique molecular electronic technology, originally developed by PMD and successfully applied to a number of applications, particularly for geophysical sensors. In this application, a polymer-metal compound is used to adsorb and dissociate water molecules, thereby creating a conductivity path through the polymer film. This change in conductivity is measured and used to determine the water vapor concentration over the entire RH range. Since no molecular water is retained in the sensor, it is impervious to changes caused by freezing. The sensors will have excellent repeatability and linearity and ultralow hysteresis. They will be rugged and contamination- and condensate-resistant. They will be produced by standard thin-film technology and will be extremely rugged and inexpensive to manufacture.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: These sensors will be ideal for use in various branches of atmospheric and environmental sciences to provide wide-range, three-dimensional monitoring. Their low cost, small size, and high performance also make them extremely attractive for all types of industrial and commercial applications.

58. Portable NO2 Monitor Based on Photoacoustic Detection
Polestar Technologies, Inc.
Suite 28B, 220 Reservoir St.
Needham Heights, MA 02194-3133
tel: 617-449-2284; fax: 617-449-1072
e-mail: polestar@ix.netcom.com
Principal Investigator: Ronald H. Micheels, Ph.D.
President: Karen K. Carpenter
NSF Grant No. 9661340; Amount: $74,477

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will develop a novel portable and low-cost NO2 gas monitor for air quality testing and leak detection applications. The monitor is based on photoacoustic detection and incorporates recent advances in electro-optic technology to provide a practical, high-sensitivity, portable NO2 detection device. The proposed NO2 gas monitor will have major advantages over commercially available portable NO2 monitors in detection sensitivity, response time, maintenance, and chemical interferences. Atmospheric NO2 monitoring is of great importance in urban areas where NO2 produced from fossil fuel combustion routinely results in serious human health hazards. The proposed program will build a prototype instrument and subject it to critical tests to evaluate its performance for trace atmospheric NO2 monitoring. The detection sensitivity of the portable NO2 monitor is expected to exceed 50 ppb for atmospheric NO2.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed high-sensitivity portable NO2 monitor will find commercial applications in (1) air quality monitoring in urban areas that have air pollution problems and (2) leak detection and industrial hygiene in chemical process plants that use or produce NO2 in their operations.

Topic 7¾Earth Sciences Resources

59. Sensitive Semiconductor Optical Detector for Bore Hole Logging
Radiation Monitoring Devices, Inc.
44 Hunt St.
Watertown, MA 02172
tel: 617-926-1167; fax: 617-926-9743
e-mail: 73633@compuserve.com
Principal Investigator: Kanai Shah, M.S.
President: Gerald Entine, Ph.D.
NSF Grant No. 9660438; Amount: $75,000

Nuclear bore hole logging is an important technique for both geophysical research and commercial oil exploration. One of the key factors limiting the more widespread use of this technique is the type of detectors used. Semiconductor photodetectors offer significant advantages over photomultiplier tubes used in this application. These include more compact design, low power requirements, increased ruggedness, and insensitivity to magnetic fields. Because of these advantages, we have begun investigation of using lead iodide (PbI2) photodetectors coupled to scintillators as gamma ray sensors in well logging.

Lead iodide is a promising detector material because its wide bandgap (Eg=2.3 eV) allows low noise operation at room temperature as well as under elevated temperature conditions. We have recently produced lead iodide detectors with exceptionally low leakage current even at temperatures as high as 150°C. In addition, successful low noise operation of PbI2 detectors at temperatures as high as 100°C has already been achieved in our laboratories. These detectors also have very good optical quantum efficiency and low power requirements. Thus, lead iodide photodetectors coupled to scintillators such as Cs1(Na) and Nal(Tl) are promising g-ray spectrometers for well logging. Such spectrometers would provide high sensitivity, high temperature operation, and would have additional advantages of being compact, and having low bias requirements. The goal of the proposed Phase I project is to demonstrate the feasibility of this promising concept by performing in-depth characterization of these photodetectors.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: In addition to the market for detectors for commercial and research bore hole instrumentation, a better and more sensitive semiconductor detector would be useful in numerous industrial applications for process control and nondestructive testing. In addition, the detector would find use in health physics and scientific research.

60. High-Intensity Microfocus X-Ray Fluorescence Using Monolithic Capillary Optics
X-Ray Optical Systems, Inc.
30 Corporate Circle
Albany, NY 12203
tel: 518-464-3334; fax: 518-464-3335
e-mail: qxino@xos.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Qi-Fan Xino
President: David M. Gibson
NSF Grant No. 9660528; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will demonstrate the feasibility of using a monolithic capillary optic to significantly enhance the capability of microfocus x-ray fluorescence (MXRF) instrumentation. X-ray fluorescence is extremely useful because of its ability to nondestructively perform elemental analysis on essentially any sample with high sensitivity. In commercial MXRF instruments, spatial resolution is typically achieved by pinhole collimation, at the expense of greatly reduced flux and detection limits. Multifiber polycapillary X-ray optics have demonstrated the capability to collect and focus X-rays; however, the spot size is typically 0.5 mm or larger. Focusing monolithic (one-piece) multichannel capillary X-ray optics have just been developed. By collecting a large solid angle from laboratory X-ray sources and focusing to < 40 mm they should provide a quantum leap in performance, potentially increasing X-ray intensity by more than two orders of magnitude while decreasing the spot size compared to available MXRF systems. This would improve detection limits, spatial resolution, working distance, and reduce measurement time.

In the Phase I project, a prototype focusing monolithic optic will be designed, fabricated, and characterized. In the Phase II project, an improved optic would be integrated into a laboratory prototype MXRF system.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Improved microfocus x-ray fluorescence would be immediately useful in multiple disciplines, including geochemistry, mineralogy, environmental monitoring and remediation, biology, and advanced materials. Improved detection limits, spatial resolution, working distance, and measurement time would spur the sales of capillary optics and complete MXRF systems. The team has successfully commercialized earlier generations of X-ray and neutron optics.

61. Total Organic Carbon Analysis for On-Site Monitoring
Eltron Research, Inc.
5660 Airport Blvd.
Boulder, CO 80301-2340
tel: 303-440-8008; fax: 303-440-8007
e-mail: ees@eltronresearch.com
Principal Investigator: Michael T. Carter
President: Anthony F. Sammells
NSF Grant No. 9660634; Amount: $74,998

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project is directed toward the development of a total organic carbon (TOC) analyzer suitable for long term on-site monitoring. The analytical technique relies on the quantitative oxidation of dissolved and suspended organics to CO2 by the photocatalytic action of titanium dioxide (TiO2). The rapid equilibrium of the resulting CO2 with carbonate species allows the CO2 to be detected by a conductivity measurement. The presence of preexisting conducting inorganic carbon species and dissolved ionic species will be accounted for using an additional conductivity measurement before the TiO2 catalyzed photooxidation. The sensing strategy will thus require a differential conductivity measurement. The benefit to this analytical approach is the lack of consumables. The analyzer’s size will be minimized by integrating the fluid-handling and conductivity electrodes into a silicon wafer. This will be accomplished using a microlithography created flow system and TiO2 reaction chamber. The size of the flow system and reactor will be on the order of 1" by 3". The flow system’s small dimensions and therefore small fluid volumes will drastically reduce the power requirements, allowing the entire device to be contained in a portable unit.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: This investigation will result in the development of sensors permitting the rapid on-site determination of total organic carbon. This technology will provide for real-time monitoring in effluent streams from waste treatment sites, power generation facilities, and chemical processing plants.

62. A Fiber-Optic Analyzer Selective for Aromatic Hydrocarbons
Cepra, Inc.
215 Haworth Pl.
Somerset, NJ 08873-4794
tel: 732-563-1871; fax: 732-545-0120
Principal Investigator: Madhavan Vasudevan
President: Madhavan Vasudevan
NSF Grant No. 9660740; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will test a new method for detecting aromatic hydrocarbons, with particular application to monitor subsurface concentrations of these compounds in both vapor (vadose zone) and liquid phases. Bioremediation has emerged as the method of choice to treat these contaminants. This is an opportunistic process, wherein the different aromatic compounds are degraded sequentially at varied rates. Current methods can be used to monitor the total hydrocarbon concentrations in situ but they cannot be used to differentiate between the individual aromatic compounds. In addition, the sensitivity of current techniques (low parts per million range) is inadequate to meet existing regulatory limits. Hence, new methods are required that improve sensitivity (parts per billion range) and selectivity for individual species. The proposed sensor will be designed to provide parts per billion sensitivity, for four important aromatic species, independently. The four species to be detected will be benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene and the xylenes (all isomers) (or BTEX compounds). This sensor will operate by detecting changes in the refractive index of a substitute cladding on a fiber-optic cable. This is a cost-effective method that has been established in the literature. However, the earlier substitute claddings could not differentiate between the individual BTEX compounds. The substitute cladding used here will be a polymer that will be sensitized to selectively bind individual BTEX compounds, by a chemical method that does not change other material properties, thus imparting selectivity to an otherwise inert polymer.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: In the U.S. alone, more than 1.5 million sites exist that are contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons and could benefit from the use of this technology. Additional environmental sensing applications can be developed rapidly using the design methodology outlined in the research proposal.

63. Novel Method for Detecting Single Copy Genes
One Cell System, Inc.
100 Inman St.
Cambridge, MA 02139
tel: 617-868-2399; fax: 617-492-7921
e-mail: microdrop@aol.com
Principal Investigator: Jan Trnovsky
President: Patricia McGrath
NSF Grant No. 9661065; Amount: $75,000

The proposed Phase I Small Business Innovation Research proposal explores development of a novel, ultrasensitive in situ hybridization format for detecting single copy genes in whole cells or nuclei encapsulated in agarose microdrops. A major goal of this research is to identify genes of interest present in a small fraction of the cell population without using target amplification. For single copy gene detection, the proposed technology will compete primarily with methods based on target amplification, such as PCR. Although sensitive, these methods require release of target nucleic acids because purified templates are necessary for amplifications, making them unsuitable for cell-associated nucleic acid detection. This method will utilize novel chemiluminescent substrates for horseradish peroxidase in combination with a cooled CCD camera for detecting low light levels. Because no isolation of DNA is needed for in situ hybridizations, high signal densities are expected to permit detection of low DNA copy numbers at different cellular locations. The proposed method can be used for identifying genes transferred to cellular genomes by in vitro (transfection, gene therapies) or in vivo (viral infections, transposition) methods and determining the percentage of cells containing transferred genes.

Development of high sensitivity assay formats for detecting minute amounts of DNA for genomics research and molecular cytometics will contribute to development of economically important materials.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The ability to detect single copy genes without amplification would represent a significant advance. The commercial potential of this technology for drug discovery, genomics, diagnostics and pharmaceutical development is expected to exceed $10 million.

Topic 8¾Oceanographic Measurement, Sampling, and Reporting Systems

64. Artificial Intelligence-Based Acoustic Emission Monitoring for Bit Wear During Deep Drilling
AAC International
54 Mechanic St.
Lebanon, NH 03766-1521
tel: 603-448-6177; fax: 603-448-2868
e-mail: woodwall03@aol.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Xiaoqing Sun, P.E.
President: Dr. Xiaoqing Sun, P.E.
NSF Grant No. 9660288; Amount: $74,972

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will address the feasibility of the development of an intelligent measurement-while-drilling (MWD) device for downhole monitoring of bit wear and warning of impending bit failure, including both bearing failure and worn bit. The operating principle of the MWD device uses artificial intelligence (AI) based acoustic emission (AE) technologies. This development will considerably reduce the cost in the current deep drilling operation and may eventually facilitate the development of "smart drilling systems" and unmanned drilling processes.

In the Phase I study, a field drilling experiment will be conducted. AE signals generated at the bit-rock interface will be monitored in different stages of bit wear during drilling processes. First, the AE signals will be studied with regard to frequency bandwidth, amplitude or dynamic range, and duration for further instrumentation development. The feasibility will then be demonstrated by (1) development of suitable instrumentation for AE signal monitoring, (2) observation of recognizable features in AE signals from different stages of bit wear, and (3) using suitable pattern recognition (AI) algorithm to identify the degree of bit-wear, formation change, and impending bit failure by the AE features observed.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: It is anticipated that a new device will be developed using AI-based AE technology, after the Phase I and Phase II studies. The device will be capable of sensing the degree of bit wear and formation change and of warning of impending bit failure. The device may significantly reduce the operating cost in deep ocean and land drilling. The concept developed in this research may be conveniently used in smart drilling systems and unmanned drilling processes.

65. FishMASS: Fish Monitoring Acoustic Sensing System
RD Instruments
9855 Businesspark Ave.
San Diego, CA 92131
tel: 619-693-1178; fax: 619-695-1459
e-mail: lgordon@rdinst.com
Principal Investigator: Lee Gordon
President: Fran Rowe
NSF Grant No. 9660393; Amount: $75,000

FishMASS represents an opportunity to develop an improved commercial acoustic sensing system for long-term fish monitoring in the open ocean, estuaries, rivers, lakes, and streams. Designed on top of Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) technology, FishMASS will collect a wider range of information about fish than other existing acoustic systems. FishMASS will incorporate much of the capability of existing dual-beam and split-beam sonars (i.e., individual target-strength measurement) without compromising an ADCP’s normal capabilities. In addition, FishMASS will add the ability to measure target velocity and target backscatter spectrum (over one octave in frequency), and it will use BroadBand signal processing to improve discrimination of single and multiple targets It will be designed for long-term monitoring (i.e., battery operation, internal data storage, and substantial internal data reduction), but it could easily be adapted for use on ships. In addition to final, reduced data, FishMASS will provide raw and intermediate data products to facilitate algorithm development by users.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: FishMASS primary commercial application will be in fisheries research institutions. People will use FishMASS for research and to assess fish abundance. FishMASS will supplement and potentially replace much of the effort involved in surveying fish from ships. In time, industrial/commercial organizations will use FishMASS to both manage their fisheries resources and comply with government fisheries regulations. There is a large worldwide market for products like FishMASS.

66. A Novel, Automated High Temperature Combustion Organic Carbon Analyzer
MQ Scientific
P.O. Box 2435
Pullman, WA 99165-2435
tel: 509-332-5956; fax: 509-332-5966
e-mail: jqian@mail.wsu.edu
Principal Investigator: Jianguo Qian
President: Kenneth Mopper
NSF Grant No. 9660731; Amount: $74,687.50

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I proposal describes a new type of TOC/DOC analyzer that will have significant advantages over existing instruments. These advantages include the following: greater selectivity, narrower peaks (shorter sample throughput times [less than 1 min/sample]), higher sensitivity, lower detection limit, lower system blank, lower gas consumption, easier maintenance, lower backpressure, and longer column lifetime.

Total and dissolved organic carbon (TOC/DOC) are important components of the global carbon cycle, and accurate measurements of these pools are needed for oceanic models, as well as for food web and climatic studies. However, accurate measurement of DOC in seawater has been a problem for three decades. Most shipboard TOC analyses are currently being performed by manual injection. Several commercial instruments exist, but, while they generally function well at high TOC and low salt levels, their performance is generally too unstable for routine work at sea. Thus, the development of an automated TOC analyzer for high-precision, routine seawater analysis is urgently needed. We propose to couple a closed, loop-type sample autoinjector to a two-stage, small-bore open tubular quartz combustion column. In addition, we will examine the feasibility of a new detection system that reduces CO2 formed during the combustion step to methane, followed by flame ionization detection. This new TOC/DOC analyzer will avoid the problems of existing instruments and will facilitate field applications and near-continuous sample stream monitoring.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Potential nonmarine applications include estimation of BOD and COD in municipal sewage effluents, industrial wastes, dump-site drainage, agricultural runoff, and eutrophicated systems. Other applications are monitoring organics in process water (i.e., power plant cooling and boiler feed water), high purity water-generating systems, drinking water, contaminated groundwater, sterilization water used in biotech processes, semiconductor reclaim water, and a variety of regulatory/pollution-monitoring operations.

67. Advanced Coring System with Real-Time Monitoring
Maurer Engineering, Inc.
2916 West T.C. Jester
Houston, TX 77018
tel: 713-683-8227; fax: 713-683-6418
e-mail: mei@maureng.com
Principal Investigator: William J. McDonald
President: William C. Maurer
NSF Grant No. 9660746; Amount: $74,991

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I program will design and test key components of an advanced coring system and has significant applications in geologic investigation, fossil fuel exploration, and environmental remediation. The research addresses two major shortcomings of current technology: (1) the absence of real-time monitoring of the core length in the barrel, and (2) the lack of complete closure of the barrel opening to prevent core loss. While partial or complete core loss is generally not a problem in competent formations, it is a problem of some import in unconsolidated and highly fractured formations. A review of U.S. and Canadian coring activities indicates that partial core loss is experienced in approximately 20 percent of wells cored, representing considerable costs.

Our approach involves combining acoustic measurement technology with a high-speed, microprocessor-based data acquisition system and mud-pulse telemetry unit. The acoustic sensors will be deployed along the inner core barrel. Time-of-flight measurements will be taken and used to determine the height of the core. The microprocessor will transmit the status of the coring operation to the surface by controlling the position of a valve located above the core barrel to modulate standpipe pressure using a pulse-width modulation scheme. The bottom of the core barrel will be fitted with a spring-loaded valve that fully closes to prevent core loss. The valve is actuated by momentarily increasing the mud flow rate.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed technology will be compatible with conventional and wireline-retrievable coring systems to maximize its marketability within the $20 million U.S./Canadian annual coring services market. Conversations with a major coring service company indicate a high level of technical and commercial interest.

68. Genetic Improvement of Penaeus Monodon
Aquatic Farms
1164 Bishop St., Suite 124
Honolulu, HI 96813
tel: 808-239-2929; fax: 808-259-8049
e-mail: shleser@aloha.net
Principal Investigator: Robert Shleser
President: Andrew M. Kuljis
NSF Grant No. 9661609; Amount: $74,860

This Small Business Innovative Research Phase I project focuses on genetic improvement of the black tiger shrimp, Penaeus monodon. This species represents 65 percent of the world production of farmed shrimp valued at more than $3 billion per year. Virtually no work has been done to selectively breed this shrimp for performance in a farming environment. Selection for economically important traits will improve profitability. The research objectives are to produce genetically identifiable Specific Pathogen Free P. monodon stocks that can be selectively bred for improved farming performance. The ability to identify members of full-sibling families to establish and maintain pedigree records over generations is essential to the development of a selective breeding program. We previously demonstrated that the use of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) amplification of introns in conserved nuclear genes using universal PCR primers is an effective method to differentiate individuals of closely related populations of marine shrimp. This method will be used to evaluate captive populations of P. monodon to identify family lines for the breeding program.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The annual market for broodstock is estimated to be about $1 million per year in Asia alone. There is also a market for postlarvae. Success in this research will establish a basis for a business to supply these markets. The ultimate goal is to establish a business that will export genetically improved tiger shrimp broodstock and postlarvae produced in Hawaii to the shrimp-producing countries throughout the world.

Topic 9¾Polar Science

69. Fine Particles as a Means of Extinguishing Fires
Energy & Environmental Research Corporation
Box 189
Whitehouse, MJ 08888
tel:908-534-5833; fax:908-534-9018
Principal Investigator: Dr. Richard K. Lyon
Vice President: Wayne Plizga
NSF Grant No. 9660274; Amount: $75,000

As fire extinguishing agents, particles smaller than 100 microns have a number of important advantages. The larger particles commonly used in dry powder extinguisher absorb relatively little heat as they pass through a flame and extinguish fires chiefly by absorbing heat from the flames surroundings. Small particles, however, can come to flame temperature. This allows small particles to directly remove heat from the flame by vaporizing and/or by acting as radiators. They can inhibit flame propagation by providing surface area for free radical recombination. Small particles of CaBr2 may be particularly effective since they will oxidize to CaO and Br2. The CaO will cool the flame by acting as a radiator and the Br2 will inhibit free radical reactions via the same mechanism that makes halons effective fire extinguishing agents.

The use of small particles has not been practical in the past because they can not be given enough momentum to carry them to the flame. In this proposal a research program is described which will demonstrate a solution to this problem.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: With the banning of halons, polar operations and many other activities face severe fire protection problems. This research will demonstrate an inexpensive means of meeting the needs of this large market.

Topic 11¾Molecular and Cellular Biosciences

70. Novel Chemical Synthesis of RNA Oligonucleotides
Dharmacon Research Inc.
3200 Valmnot Rd., #5
Boulder, CO 80301
tel: 303-415-9880; fax: 303-415-9879
Principal Investigator: Stephen A. Scaringe
President: Stephen A. Scaringe
NSF Grant No. 9660058; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will evaluate the quality and utility of RNA oligonucleotides synthesized using a novel chemical synthesis scheme. The growing interest in RNA structural components, ribozymes, and other RNA functions has generated a need for reliable methods of synthesizing small RNA oligonucleotides (<50 nucleotides). Although RNA synthesis can be accomplished for some applications via either biochemical methods, e.g., transcription, or chemically, e.g., 5’-dimethoxytrityl-2’-silyl chemistry, there is a definite need for improved RNA synthesis methods. Only chemists and other knowledgeable specialists appear to have significant success with 5’-dimethoxytrityl-2’-silyl chemistry. However, RNA synthesis would be more powerful if readily accessible to biologists.

Final processing of synthesized RNA must be done under mild, sterile conditions with minimal handling. Our final processing is accomplished under mild aqueous conditions, pH 3, 55°C for 10 minutes. The purpose of this study is twofold: (1) establish the general utility of this chemistry by synthesizing a variety of RNA oligonucleotides to be evaluated by several collaborators, (2) confirm the RNA quality by using a broad spectrum of chemical and biochemical assays.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The success of this chemistry would satisfy the market in the research community for ready access to RNA oligonucleotides.

71. Investigation of Novel Genetic Resource for Rootworm Resistance in Corn
Sun Dance Genetics
8 Pilton Place
Durham, NC 27705
tel: 919-490-5380; fax: 919-660-7293
e-mail: eubanks@acpub.duke.edu
Principal Investigator: M.W. Eubanks, Ph.D.
President: M.W. Eubanks, Ph.D.
NSF Grant No. 9660146; Amount: $58,951

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will investigate transfer of rootworm resistance to corn via novel germplasm. Corn Rootworm, Diabrotica spp., is the most expensive insect pest of corn. Combined yield loss and pesticide treatment costs exceed $1 billion annually. Larvae hatch from eggs deposited in soil and feed primarily on corn roots. Root damage from larval feeding causes lodging, affects water uptake by the plant, and frequently causes up to 50 percent reduction in grain yield.

Tripsacum dactyloides, a wild relative of Zea mays, is resistant to corn rootworm larvae. However, plant breeders have not been able to utilize resistance from Tripsacum effectively because corn-Tripsacum hybrids are male sterile and almost completely female sterile. This problem can now be circumvented by a hybrid between eastern Gamagrass and diploid perennial teosinte (Tripsacum dactyloides X Zea diploperennis), that is fully fertile and cross fertile with corn. Developed by the principal investigator and referred to as Zea indiana, this hybrid is a genetic improvement. Preliminary bioassays testing corn lines pollinated by Zea indiana indicate: (1) rootworm resistance is transferred to corn via this novel hybrid; (2) the effect is a combination of antibiosis and tolerance; (3) there is a gene for resistance that segregates in accordance with Mendelian ratios.

Statistical analysis in bioassays to verify resistance inheritance and DNA analysis to characterize molecular markers associated with resistance will provide necessary data to document feasibility of this novel genetic bridge to confer rootworm resistance to corn. Results will further elucidate the mode of action and mechanism for inheritance of rootworm resistance.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: If results confirm preliminary findings, a new approach to utilize genes from the wild relatives of corn for improvement of commercial corn lines will be confirmed. The introduction of a high level of resistance to corn rootworm, a major pest of corn, will have significant commercial potential in reducing the need for chemical pesticides and increasing corn production. This approach promises to be broadly effective, economically advantageous to farmers, and environmentally safe.

72. Custom DNA-Based Diagnostics
P.E. AG Gen
2411 South 1070 West, Suite B
Salt Lake City, UT 84119
tel: 801-975-1188; fax: 801-975-1244
e-mail: waltonmf@pebio.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Mark Walton
President: Dr. Mark Walton
NSF Grant No. 9660232; Amount: $74,449

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will test a low-cost approach to developing DNA-based diagnostic tests. Molecular diagnostics are now used in medicine to detect genetic disorders, cancers, and infectious diseases. However, high costs of development associated with expensive gene discovery and gene sequencing efforts preclude many lower-value applications. In particular, custom uses in agriculture, food processing, and environmental biology are economically unfeasible. The approach outlined here alleviates this problem. It circumvents the need for gene discovery and extensive DNA sequencing, and instead, uses DNA marker technologies as a rapid and inexpensive means to find unique base pair sequences that are either linked to, or diagnostic for, a trait or genotype of interest. Polymorphic DNA fragments genetically linked to desirable genes are partially sequenced to identify underlying base pair variation. In turn, that variation is used to design a diagnostic test employing the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) technique and sequence specific primers that will amplify the diagnostic DNA sequence if it is present in a test sample. The Phase I effort is designed to test the feasibility of the concept. It will do so by developing two such tests; one designed to measure the purity of hybrid seed, and a second designed to screen cattle for a trait affecting meat quality.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: If successful, the proposed approach will broaden the use of FNA-based diagnostics in agriculture, food processing, environmental biology, and related fields. Specifically, these molecular tools hold promise for use in (1) plant and animal breeding to improve the effectiveness with which desirable traits are combined and moved through breeding programs; (2) quality testing of agricultural and food products to ensure genetic identity and safety; and (3) biodiversity conservation to help protect and restore populations of threatened and endangered species.

Topic 12¾Environmental Biology Resources

73. Biodegradation of the Gasoline Oxygenate Methyl tert-Butyl Ether (MTBE
Envirogen, Inc.
4100 Quakerbridge Rd.
Lawrenceville, NJ 08648;
tel: 609-936-9300; fax: 609-936-9221
Principal Investigator: Michael J. R. Shannon, Ph.D.
President: Rob Hillas
NSF Grant No. 9661329; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I
project involves the characterization of microorganisms capable of degrading the gasoline oxygenate methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE), and development of an in situ bioremediation process for treatment of MTBE-contaminated soils and aquifers.

MTBE has been used since 1979 as a high-octane additive to reduce the more toxic aromatic additives that have previously been used in gasoline. Almost 18 billion pounds of MTBE were produced in the United States in 1995, and it accounts for up to 11 percent of the reformulated gasoline used by consumers. Its widespread use has resulted in its accidental discharge and the subsequent contamination of aquifers and soils. The U.S. Geological Society has estimated that MTBE is the second most common water pollutant in urban ground waters.

Few studies have been done to evaluate the biodegradation and fate of MTBE. The proposed research will investigate MTBE degradation by an MTBE-degrading propane-oxidizing bacterial strain M. vaccae JOB5 and three MTBE-degrading strains recently isolated by Envirogen. The study will determine rates and mechanisms of degradation and systematically characterize the conditions needed for in situ biostimulation using model aquifers.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The cost of remediating leaking underground storage tanks has been estimated to be greater than $1.8 billion if we must rely on current technologies. The in situ technology developed during this project will be incorporated into Envirogen’s existing remediation technologies to develop an economically feasible system for degrading MTBE. The technology will be widely applicable at both government and private sites.

74. Phytoremediation of Surface and Ground Waters Using Sequential Rhizosphere Thin Film and Periphyton Filters
Azurea, Inc.
P.O. Box 561178
Rockledge, FL 32956-1178
tel: 407-631-0610; fax: 407-631-3169
e-mail: azureainc@aol.com
Principal Investigator: Thomas A. DeBusk
President: Thomas A. DeBusk
NSF Grant No. 9661361; Amount: $74,603

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project describes a study plan to develop sequential rhizosphere thin film systems (RTF) and periphyton filters (PF) for removal of excess nutrients and trace elements from surface waters. We hypothesize that the combination of high loading capacity and high contaminant tolerance of a wetland macrophyte (hydrocotyle umbellata) with the higher affinity of periphyton for nutrients and trace elements will provide key components of a sequential process train that will effectively and economically treat large and variable volumes of water. Our goal is to design and test a phytoremediation technology to remove trace elements from water to levels typical of natural ambient surface waters. Such treated waters would meet all permit stipulations for release to surface waters. We propose to optimize system design to take advantage of suspended particulate retention and pH mediated precipitation to enhance performance above that expected on the basis of bioaccumulation-binding mechanisms alone. Our Phase I study will determine the highest water concentrations of P, Cu, Pb, and As tolerated by the plants, the lowest routinely achievable contaminant concentrations in effluent water under reasonable contaminant inputs, and contaminant concentrations in biomass and associated solids. This effort will both characterize performance of the RTF and PF processes and define acceptable strategies for handling harvested biomass. We expect that successful development of this phytoremediation technology will provide a cost-effective, rugged, and broadly useful capability to remove trace element contaminants from moderately contaminated surface waters and stormwater that come from various sources (e.g., agricultural or urban runoff).

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Successful completion of Phase I and II research efforts will result in, for the first time, an operationally simple, reliable, and relatively low-maintenance technology to remove specific element contaminants from surface and ground waters. We will not only demonstrate the feasibility of our proposed phytoremediation process; our liaison with a patent-holder of periphyton harvesting and processing technologies permits us to quickly and cost-effectively scale up our Phase I findings. The sequential RTF-PF is a useful technology for government agencies (e.g., DOD, DOE, EPA). Private sector customers could employ them to treat effluent streams characterized by high or variable volumes and moderate metal contamination (~500 - 1000 m g/L). This system may also be useful for reclamation/recycling efforts for metals.

75. Regulation of Moisture and Thermal Microenvironments to Improve Mycoherbicides
Triangle Research and Development Corp.
P.O. Box 12686
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709
tel: 919-832-5959 x209; fax: 919-832-5988
e-mail: TRDC@aol.com
Principal Investigator: Yvonne G. Bryant, Ph.D.
President: David P. Colvin, Ph.D.
NSF Grant No. 9661632; Amount: $74,982

This Small Business Innovations Research Phase I program will investigate the unique combination of microencapsulation techniques and materials with biological herbicides (mycoherbicides) to offer a safe, host-specific, affordable alternative to chemical herbicides. The project will study ways to meet the critical environmental requirements of plant pathogenic fungi used as mycoherbicides and thus to make mycoherbicides practical and commercially viable for widespread agricultural use.

A major limitation of mycoherbicides has been the need for fastidious moisture and temperature ranges in order for them to be effective in the field. This project will address the temperature and moisture requirements (both vital to the effectiveness of mycoherbicides) by extending (simulating) dew periods and regulating temperature on the plant surface. Novel and innovative encapsulation techniques will combine water and/or nutrient solutions with microencapsulated phase change materials (microPCMs)—developed by Triangle R&D on multiple SBIR programs from 1984 to 1996—in a form that can be successfully applied in the field. We will do the following: select a fungal pathogen/weed pathosystem as a model system; evaluate the compatibility of microencapsulated materials with the fungal pathogen and target weeds; design and fabricate water microcapsules to provide range of moisture coverage periods; design and fabricate microPCMs to provide the optimum temperature range(s); and evaluate microencapsulated materials alone and combined to improve the weed control efficacy of the mycoherbicide.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Many promising mycoherbicides have been abandoned because of their seeming incompatibility with environmental conditions in the field. If successful, the proposed work could significantly improve existing mycoherbicides, renew the development of previously abandoned mycoherbicides, and create broad applications in agriculture and environmental systems. This would lead the way to capturing a portion of the herbicide industry, which currently has annual sales in excess of $7 billion.

Topic 13¾Biological Instrumentation and Resources

76. Use of Carbon Disulfide to Generate Peptide Sequencing Ladders for Analysis by Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization Time-of-Flight MS
640 Essex St.
S. Hamilton, MA 01982
tel: 508-468-5192
e-mail: getarr@tiac.net
Principal Investigator: George E. Tarr
President: George E. Tarr
NSF Grant No. 9660710; Amount: $65,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will explore the feasibility of peptide and protein sequencing coupled to MALDI-TOF MS using a novel methodology resembling the Edman chemistry. Preliminary experiments suggest that the several problems arising from the attempts by others to adapt the conventional Edman degradation to produce truncation sets ("ladders") for mass spectral analysis will be circumvented by this alternative chemistry based on carbon disulfide. Issues of generality with respect to amino acid residues and to the physical/chemical characteristics of different peptides will be addressed. Reaction conditions, control, consistency (repeatability, predictability), and adequate basis for later automation will be established and optimized.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Kits enabling this chemistry would be desirable to researchers using peptide maps and sequence information to identify novel proteins, confirm sequences predicted from the DNA, locate sites of post-translational or experimental modifications, analyze bioactive peptides, tie spots observed on two-dimensional gels to information in DNA databases ("proteome" research), and provide quality control of recombinant proteins. An automated instrument from Phase II would compete well with conventional Edman sequencers.

77. Computerized Algal Identification System (CAIS
PhycoTech, Inc.
620 Broad St., Suite 100
St. Joseph, MI 49085
tel: 616-983-3654; fax: 616-983-3653
e-mail: phycotech@parrett.net
Principal Investigator: Ann St. Amand
President: Ann St. Amand
NSF Grant No. 9660769 (9796116); $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will implement a novel Computerized Algal Identification System (CAIS) to automatically identify, measure, and enumerate algal taxa. Algae are sensitive indicators of stress in our national waters, yet algal data is difficult and expensive to obtain. Producing reliable data requires experienced technicians to spend hours per sample with results varying widely due to differences in methodology and training. Our approach unites an experienced algal ecologist with experts in image analysis to build a system initially capable of differentiating eleven genera. CAIS will incorporate automated microscopy and image analysis to analyze cell shape, color (pigment), texture (cell content), and size. Permanently mounted samples provide physical archives, solve orientation problems, and retain characteristics necessary for identification and enumeration. Digital image and data archives enable process monitoring, strict classification accountability, and interactive expert evaluation.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: CAIS will significantly reduce processing time over current methods and ultimately increase laboratory capacities while decreasing measurement costs, overcoming existing cost barriers to algal monitoring. CAIS is versatile and extensible to other taxonomic groups as well. Universities, government agencies, municipalities, and consulting firms comprise a market conservatively estimated to generate over two million samples annually.

78. A Novel Flat Panel Detector for X-ray Diffraction
Radiation Monitoring Devices, Inc.
44 Hunt St.
Watertown, MA 02172
tel: 617-926-1167; fax: 617-926-9743
e-mail: msquillante@rmdinc.com
Principal Investigator: Michael Squillante, Ph.D.
President: Gerald Entine, Ph.D.
NSF Grant No. 9660842; Amount: $75,000

Macromolecular crystallography is a very important technique for determining structures of complex biological systems such as proteins, nucleic acids, and viruses. Due to such research on atomic level, the understanding of important biological processes such as enzyme catalysis, viral infection, immune response, hereditary information encoding, and photosynthesis has increased considerably.

Macromolecular crystallography in a typical laboratory setting is performed using a rotating-anode X-ray source and an imaging X-ray detector to record the diffraction pattern from various biological samples such as proteins and viruses. Important requirements for the X-ray detectors used in such experiments include large area (>10 cm x 10 cm), high resolution (100-200 m m), wide dynamic range (104), high sensitivity, and low cost. Low cost is another requirement for the X-ray diffraction detectors in laboratory use. None of the existing detectors satisfies all requirements, and the existing detectors have serious limitations in terms of permanence, size, or cost.

To address this situation, we propose to develop a solid state, large area, high resolution imaging detector by combining the semiconductor film (lead iodide, PbI2) technology being developed at RMD with the large format amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) readout technology that has been developed by our collaborator, Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. Argonne National Laboratory will also collaborate in the proposed effort and be involved in developing low noise electronics for the detector as well as in conducting macromolecular diffraction studies.

The goal of the Phase I project is to demonstrate the feasibility of the proposed approach.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: X-ray diffraction, nondestructive testing, mammography, radiology, X-ray astronomy, and environmental studies.

79. CdZnTe Thin-Film Detector on TFT-Arrays: A New Digital Detector Technology for Macromolecular Crystallography
Spire Corp.
One Patriots Park
Bedford, MA 01730-2396
tel: 781-275-6000; fax: 781-275-7470
e-mail: spire@spirecorp.com
Principal Investigator: Rengarajan Sudharsanan, Ph.D.
President: Roger G. Little
NSF Grant No. 9661140; Amount: $74,752

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project proposes to develop a self-scanned, large-area, flat-panel, X-ray detector technology more efficient, lower-cost, and larger area than CCD-based X-ray detectors. The proposed detector will employ a continuous photoconductive CdZnTe layer as a direct X-ray converter; this detector will be monolithically integrated to large-area, active-matrix, thin-film transistor pixellated arrays for readout. CdZnTe offers direct detection, better detection efficiency, higher signal-to-noise ratio, and larger dynamic range than CCD-based X-ray detectors.

In Phase I, we propose to demonstrate the feasibility of this detector technology by fabricating and testing a detector array that employs CdZnTe thin films deposited on TFT arrays. CdZnTe thin film will be deposited by thermal evaporation. A 4 x 4 array will be designed, fabricated, and tested to determine CdZnTe suitability for X-ray detection. In Phase II, we will fabricate larger arrays and perform imaging to demonstrate the feasibility of this detector technology for macromolecular crystallography.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed X-ray detector technology will replace CCD-based detector systems in X-ray diffraction studies of biological samples because of direct detection, high detection efficiency, and low cost. In addition, these detectors will be useful for X-ray imaging in industrial and medical applications. Medical applications include digital mammography and diagnostic X-ray radiology.

Topic 14¾Decision Analysis, Risk Analysis,
and Management Science Resources

80. Design of a Spatial Decision Support System for the School District Planning Problem
ISERA Group, Inc.
5370 Hollister Ave., Suite #5
Santa Barbara, CA 93111
tel: 805-967-3820; fax: 805-681-7328
Principal Investigator: David Lemberg
President: Dr. Richard L. Church
NSF Grant No. 9660670; Amount: $74,862

In an era of decreasing funding for school construction and increasing student enrollment, school district administrators are faced with many complex and sensitive decisions. As an example, in California alone, it is estimated that school capacity falls short of need by $12 billion. The school district planning problem (SDPP) may be defined as how to manipulate school district site capacities and attendance boundaries to optimally manage school district resources over the long term. The problem becomes further complex as district administrators must deal with the political feasibility of alternative solutions, evaluating parameters such as cost, travel distance, student disruption, class sizes, class scheduling, diversity, contiguity, etc. Each school district has a set of objectives, constraints, and priorities unique to the community. To assist school districts with this complex problem, we propose to develop a comprehensive Decision Support System (DSS) for the generation of alternative feasible solutions to the SDPP. The DSS will provide a platform for decision makers and interested parties (teachers, parents, students, and community members) to collectively formulate parameters and models, generate alternatives, and evaluate potential solutions. To complement such functionality, the proposed DSS will support protocols for communication or integration with existing geographic information systems (GIS), computer-aided design systems (CAD), and student information systems (SIS).

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Successful completion of the Phase I and Phase II development efforts will lead to the implementation of a DSS for school district facility planning and enrollment management. The system will allow a group of school district decision makers to generate locally feasible long-range alternatives for district enrollment and site management, provide large cost savings in construction and/or building leasing costs, and reduce the frequency and severity of politically unpopular boundary shifts.

81. Ground Truthing Approach to Risk Assessment and Communication under Uncertainty
DecisionFX, Inc.
310 Country Lane
Bosque Farms, NM 87068
tel: 505-869-4111
e-mail: DrBobK@aol.com
Principal Investigator: Robert G. Knowlton, Jr., Ph.D., P.E.
President: Robert G. Knowlton, Jr., Ph.D., P.E.
NSF Grant No. 9661182; $74,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project focuses on the development of improved methods and a related software system for assessing and communicating environmental health risks, as well as estimating potential financial burdens associated with such risks. The suggested methods will allow risk assessors and risk managers to efficiently evaluate the accumulated risks at contaminated industrial and waste management sites affected by parameter uncertainty and variability, while making the best objective use of site contaminant data. The software system will facilitate objective analysis of costs associated with remedial actions that might be undertaken to remove contamination, and the associated financial risks and liabilities imposed by the environmental contamination. A particularly timely application of the proposed approach is to the numerous Brownfield sites located throughout the United States. Many of the graphical constructs suggested for the software system will greatly simplify the communication of risk issues to site stakeholders. The methods proposed incorporate both established concepts and recently researched technologies; however, our research represents a novel attempt to combine all of these complementary concepts into an easy-to-use package.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The technologies developed under this research can be applied to streamline waste site investigations and remediation projects in both government and private sectors. Entities standing to benefit from the tools include commercial and industrial businesses whose sites fall under the purview of CERCLA, RCRA, and other environmental regulations and drivers. In addition, these software tools would greatly aid the legal, financial, industrial, insurance, and real estate communities in determining liabilities and financial risks associated with the purchase or redevelopment of contaminated properties.

82. A Geographic Information System (GIS) Based Community Transit Information System (CTIS
GIS/Trans, Ltd.
675 Massachusetts Ave., 14th Fl.
Cambridge, MA 02139
tel: 617-354-2771; fax: 617-354-8979
e-mail: jsutton@gistrans.com
Principal Investigator: John Sutton, Ph.D.
President: Simon Lewis
NSF Grant No. 9661397; Amount: $73,688.25

This Small Business Invovation Research Phase I proposal will research and develop the user requirements for a modular design for a Community Transit Information System (CTIS) using off-the-shelf GIS technology. The innovation in this project stems from the proposed modular design of the system components and the integration of these with off-the-shelf GIS.

While existing transit information system products are designed for single modes, such as mass transit, they generally have poor graphics and spatial intelligence for routing or trip planning. None are presently GIS based, a major weakness given the emergence of use and power of this technology. The project will research the necessary GIS spatial intelligence for a comprehensive CTIS, and analyze the network integration and multimodal network representation problems that have constrained product development to date in this field. The project will review current user needs by conducting an information systems analysis of a range of community transit services (e.g., rideshare, shuttle bus, dial-a-ride, paratransit). Following the identification of the system components, these will be modeled to produce a concept design and functional specification. The data modeling will employ established software engineering methodologies and techniques. It is anticipated that the design will include recommendations on how to tie the transit-related attributes to multiple network representations and display these on maps for travel information or trip planning purposes. The research will investigate the feasibility of designing a system that can work with real-time data and provide the needed routing and schedule information on-line. Linkage to technologies such as GPS and AVL, and the potential for access to the CTIS on the Internet, will also be researched.

The proposed design is a timely response to the Transportation Demand Management program supported by the USDOT to combat traffic congestion and environmental pollution. The technology will assist planners and users to meet transportation mobility needs in a more efficient and environmentally conscious manner.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed product will be useful to all public transportation providers, including transit agencies, MPOs, local governments, cities, and towns. It will be compatible with leading GIS vendor products in order to take advantage of the spatial analysis tools and network analysis programs that these provide. It will also be compatible with industry standard database technology. Another feature of our approach is the integration with our existing GIS and transportation products, so that users will be able to select their specific requirements from a suite of programs.

83. Coherence-Based Commercialization Strategy Decision Aid
Foresight Science & Technology, Inc.
1200 West Sims Way, Suite 201
P.O. Box 2048
Port Townsend, WA 98368
tel: 360-385-9560; fax: 360-385-9598
e-mail: phil@foresnt.com
Principal Investigator: Phyllis Leah Speser
President: Phyllis Leah Speser
NSF Grant No. 9661544; Amount: $74,995.18

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project builds a software engine providing decision support for the development of commercialization strategies.

Commercialization strategy formulation can be viewed as a problem that involves a set of elements that mutually constrain each other. Coherence is a philosophical method for maximizing a set of positive and negative constraints. As a coherence problem, commercialization strategy formulation requires discovering those strategies that best:

  1. fit or cohere within a pattern involving
    (a.) the technology being commercialized;
    (b.) the internal company environment;
    (c.) the external environment (especially the market); and,
    (d.) the commercializing firm’s goal(s); and
  2. leverage elements in the internal and external environments of the company and the technology to attain company goals by exploiting opportunities and neutralizing or avoiding threats.

To build our tool, we will specify the elements in the knowledge domain based on relevant social scientific literature. Research by Paul Thagard established that coherence can be computed via connectionist networks (neural nets). We will adapt Thagard’s code for this project.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: A decision aid for commercialization in SBIR, federal labs, universities, and major corporations. An analytical tool to allow investors to assess the commercialization strategies of companies with technology developments.

84. Decision Support for Managing Performance Risk (DSMPR
Modus Operandi, Inc.
122 4th Ave.
Indialantic, FL 32903
tel: 407-984-3370; fax: 407-728-3957
e-mail: jeffh@modusoperandi.com
Principal Investigator: Jeffrey Heimberger
President: Peter Dyson
NSF Grant No. 9661631; Amount: $75,000

The current state of statistical practice in software engineering is immature because researchers and practitioners have a limited knowledge of statistics. Compounding this problem is that the applicability of methods is not always systematically demonstrated and that methods are not usually presented in a context that is familiar to engineers and managers. In addition, an increasingly large sector of economic activity in the government is software development and maintenance. As a result, legislative requirements and budget constraints are pressuring programs to adopt more quantitative management techniques when developing software.

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I program addresses these problems by developing an
innovative methodology and supporting tool called
Decision Support for Managing Performance Risk (DSMPR) for software projects. DSMPR will demonstrate the value of applying statistical and decision analysis techniques to a well-defined software management problem and provide a methodology that describes the techniques should be applied in the software management process.

DSMPR will accomplish its tasks by integrating selected techniques from Forecasting and Multi-Attribute Utility Theory into a methodology and tool for software project management. The result will be a dramatic improvement in the quality of insight provided to software managers for decision making.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: DSMPR has a strong commercial potential for satisfying the needs of a broad and largely untapped market. DSMPR will help software project managers to (1) assess the significance of differences between plans and actual performance, (2) quantify the performance risk represented by the deviations, and (3) assist in making tradeoffs in planning corrective actions. By providing such project management and decision-support capabilities, DSMPR will have a broad applicability to both commercial and government industry sectors where large software projects are common. These sectors include telecommunications, transportation, and distribution.

85. Finding Value in Patent Portfolios Using Co-citation Analysis
Mogee Research & Analysis Associates
11701 Bowman Green Dr.
Reston, VA 20190
tel: 703-478-2827; fax: 703-478-3253
e-mail: info@mogee.com
Principal Investigator: Mary Ellen Mogee
President: Mary Ellen Mogee
NSF Grant No. 9661754; Amount: $74,710

In this project, Mogee Research and Analysis Associates will apply co-citation analysis techniques developed in the field of bibliometrics to patent data in an effort to identify patents closely related in terms of subject matter that may represent valuable licensing packages. Co-citation analysis techniques will be used to cluster the U.S. patents assigned to two companies in two different technologies based on citations they have received from U.S. patent examiners, European patent office examiners, and patent applicants. The resulting patent clusters will be evaluated by licensing professionals to assess how the clustered patents relate to one another technologically and how valuable the clusters would be as licensing packages. The co-citation clusters will also be compared to clusters generated using other standard search methods such as word searching and classification searching. The goal of this research is to develop a tool that patent licensing professionals can use to group patents into valuable licensing packages more quickly, cheaply, and accurately than current methods are able to do.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The primary commercial application of this research would be a software tool that could be licensed to companies or other organizations with large patent portfolios or to technology licensing companies. This tool would help them identify potentially valuable clusters of patents within their patent portfolios and help them identify potential licensing partners.