NASA SBIR 2006 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:Astrobiology and Atmospheric Instruments for Planetary Exploration
PROPOSAL TITLE:Miniature X-ray Source for Planetary Exploration Instruments

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
1280 Theresa Avenue
Campbell, CA 95008-6833
(408) 379-5335

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Robert J Espinosa
1280 Theresa Avenue
Campbell, CA  95008-6833
(408) 379-5335

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT ( Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
The objective of the proposed work is to develop a design model for a CNT cold cathode, low power, passively cooled, and grounded-anode X-ray tube that is compatible with a miniature XRD system designed for future space exploration.

We propose to develop a miniature X-ray source for instruments for in situ measurements on planetary surfaces.This X-ray source will integrate an X-ray emitting vacuum tube and both low and high-voltage power supply into a compact and lightweight unit. This X-ray source will enable further miniaturized X-ray instruments to be deployed for surface and subsurface exploration of the solar system. The basis of this innovation is in the application of state of the art materials to produce a low power passively cooled grounded-anode X-ray tube.

These objectives will be achieved with an X-ray source that combines the advantage of easy thermal management and simple control electronics. The concept relies on the use of state of the art ceramic materials that combines very good electrical insulation properties with good thermal conductivity. This source will allow using the grounded cathode geometry for simple and compact electronics, and rely on the heatsink properties of the ceramic electrical insulator for heat dissipation to the ground. The most promising material is for this application is Aluminum Nitride (AlN).

Objective specifications for the source to be developed are as follows:

Accelerating voltage, ???.....25 kV
Electron Beam current, ??.....200 micro Amps
X-ray spot size??????.........50 microns, Max.
X-ray Tube Dimensions, (lxd)?.45 mm x 15 mm
X-ray tube mass??????......... grams
Power conditioner volume??.... cc
Power conditioner mass???..... grams

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS ( Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
X-ray diffraction is widely used for in situ analysis of crystalline structures for identification and analysis of minerals and organic crystals both on the surface and subsurface of earth and distant planets and moons. The compactness needed for the hand held instruments is readily transferable to mounting on small rovers and landers for unmanned missions or left behind to monitor changes induced by changing environments. The cold CNT cathodes are also much better suited to the rigors of space travel and landings because the emitter can be hard mounted directly to the device structure so they are resistant to high levels of shock and vibration and nearly immune to changes induced by extreme temperatures.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS ( Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Development of the miniature, focused beam, x-ray source will immediately extend the utilization of hand held and portable x-ray fluorescence and diffraction instruments because of smaller size and greater efficiency. They will find uses in imaging applications that require small focal spots and higher intensity for in situ locating flaws in small assemblies on factory floors. The cold CNT cathode and metal ceramic construction of the tube adds a degree of ruggedness and environmental tolerance that will enable them to be used for in situ identification of hazardous compounds in industrial spills. The small size will allow deployment in confined spaces to monitor quality or identify contaminants.

NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.

Biomolecular Sensors
In-situ Resource Utilization
Manned-Manuvering Units
Portable Data Acquisition or Analysis Tools
Sensor Webs/Distributed Sensors
Testing Facilities
Waste Processing and Reclamation

Form Printed on 09-08-06 18:19