NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:Science Instruments for Conducting Solar System Exploration
PROPOSAL TITLE:Powder Handling Device for X-ray Diffraction Analysis with Minimal Sample Preparation

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
PO Box 730
Mountain View ,CA 94042 - 0730
(650) 799 - 2118

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Philippe C Sarrazin
PO Box 730
Mountain View, CA  94042 -0730
(650) 799 - 2118

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
This project consists in developing a Vibrating Powder Handling System for planetary X-Ray Diffraction instruments. The principle of this novel sample handling technique relies on vibrations generated in a sample holder to create movements in the powdered sample. The major benefit over conventional sample handling techniques is the possibility to characterize materials with grain-sizes up to two orders of magnitude larger, with no degradation in the data quality. It allows existing planetary sample-preparation systems such as rock crushers and drills to be used in place of fine-grinding mills normally required for quality XRD analysis. A secondary benefit is that it offers a simple means of loading and removal of samples, with potentially no moving parts. This research will answer a critical need for sample handling devices for conducting definitive mineralogical analyses in the Solar System. The Phase 2 effort will focus on addressing key technical issues in the development of a miniature Vibrating Powder Handling System. This work will lead to a brassboard prototype that can be remotely operated and interfaced to a planetary XRD instrument.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The proposed system will enable planetary X-ray diffraction instruments to produce high quality data without complex sample preparation. It will be imbedded in a host instrument and will provide means of sample loading and sample removal. The reduced constraints on sample preparation and compact size of the system will allow fitting XRD capabilities on a broader range of landed platforms. The technology could serve a variety of other types of in-situ planetary instruments requiring delivery of powdered material. It will also help in the implementation of remote XRD capabilities in terrestrial laboratories for the study of returned samples.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The proposed technique will find a range of applications in industrial and research laboratories as a means to automatically load powdered samples in XRD instruments for analysis or process control (cements, inks, pharmaceuticals, ceramics, etc.), or to characterize materials that cannot be ground to fine-grained size (explosives, pharmaceuticals). It will also be essential to XRD instruments for field or remote analyses of hazardous substances, geological materials, etc. The system could be produced as a stand-alone unit fitted to commercial instruments or as part of a complete system that takes full advantage of its unique capabilities.

Form Printed on 08-01-05 13:52