NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation

FORM B - PROPOSAL SUMMARY


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 04 E2.04-9798
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Onboard Propulsion
PROPOSAL TITLE: Silicon Digital Propulsion System

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
PHYSICAL OPTICS CORPORATION
20600 Gramercy Place, Building 100
Torrance, CA 90501-1821
(310)320-3088

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Michael Gertsenshteyn
sutama@poc.com
20600 Gramercy Place, Building 100
Torrance, CA 90501-1821
(310)320-3088

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (LIMIT 200 WORDS)
To address the NASA need for innovative, advanced, high-precision micropropulsion technologies to increase the operational capabilities and reduce the cost of Earth Science under-10-kg spacecraft for long-life missions, Physical Optics Corporation (POC) proposes to develop a new Silicon Digital Propulsion (SIDIP) system. SIDIP will be inexpensive and power efficient, with minimal mass, and will deliver digitally controlled, high-precision attitude control and in-space maneuvering through micropulses of regulated duration and frequency. The SIDIP system is based on two key innovations: development of a novel, MEMS-based periodic structure of subminiature microthrusters; and unique implementation of the microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology that POC has developed for processing Si wafers for precise micromachining of the hundreds (or more) of subminiature field emission electric microthrusters on a 1 in. x 1 in. Si microthruster plate (MTP). SIDIP will remarkably increase the precision of in-space maneuvering, and improve attitude and orbit control. NASA Earth Science missions will benefit from SIDIP, especially for miniatusre satellites in a cluster or constellation. In Phase I POC will optimize the SIDIP system geometry, develop technology for micromachining silicon MTPs, and demonstrate technologies for fabricating pyrimids and oxidizing matrix channels. In Phase II POC will demonstrate an engineering prototype SIDIP.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 100 WORDS)
POC's Silicon Digital Propulsion system will have a wide range of NASA Earth Science applications. It will support many drag-free Earth Observation Missions, which require ultraprecise attitude control, and will, for example, maintain submicron accuracy in relative position of separated elements of a large-array optical telescope. SIDIP technology will also find wide application in satellite electrical potential control and mass spectrometry.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 100 WORDS)
In addition to nanosat control, the SIDIP system will have applications in ion lithography, and in ion sources for nanofabrication; protein mass spectrometry; and nuclear research. POC's initial market research indicates that the SIDIP system will have a particularly high commercial potential as an innovative technology for large-format field-emission devices; for large plasma TV screens, especially, it will reduce manufacturing cost, operating voltage, and power consumption, and will increase the brightness and resolution of the screens.