NASA SBIR 2006 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:Active Microwave
PROPOSAL TITLE:Nanocomposite Textiles as Lightweight, Low-Volume Deployable Antenna Systems

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Nanosonic Inc
1485 South Main Street
Blacksburg, VA 24060-5556
(540) 953-1785

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Brad   Davis
1485 South Main Street
Blacksburg, VA  24060-5556
(540) 953-1785

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT ( Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
This Phase I SBIR program will result in the application and characterization of highly conductive, inexpensive, nanostructured textiles and composites for ultra lightweight, low-volume antenna applications. Metal RubberTM is a highly successful product for NanoSonic and has tested well for microwave applications; it has now been extended to similar textile based conductive materials. In this effort, these materials would be characterized and assembled into composites. In Phase II and beyond, the materials would be used to construct antennas with applications intended as deployable, conformal antenna systems for NASA platforms. Although this mesh material could be easily incorporated into reflector design, primary emphasis will be on the construction of mesh patch antennas in the L-band. This is convenient for ease of construction but would also serve the NASA by extending the application of larger aperture radar. Additionally, these materials would easily be extended into lower bands for terrestrial and higher bands for spaceborne applications. In order to design the antennas, NanoSonic will work with a major research university that is a world leader in computational electromagnetics. Additionally, NanoSonic will work with a major NASA prime contractor that has direct ties to multiple NASA platforms.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS ( Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The construction of low-mass, compressible materials for large deployable antennas from Metal RubberTM and related textile materials would provide multiple advantages for many NASA platforms. These materials behave as metals, particularly in the microwave region which will provide a great advantage to the multiple radar mapping missions NASA has planned. Unlike metals however, this material is lightweight, and mechanically robust. If deformed by impact, stretching or bending, it will recover to its original shape and perform as designed. Hence, these materials, particularly the textile materials, will afford a smaller payload in both volume and weight, resulting in a significant mission cost savings in both fuel and launch vehicle size. As a lightweight, impact resistant microwave metal, it can be used as traditional as well as photonic waveguides, antenna patches, and transmission line structures. This will provide ideal material for human shielding and wearable microwave antennas. Additionally, conformal antennas can be made lighter weight with greater survivability for impact and abrasion resistance. Platforms will include astronauts, and all vehicles ranging from unmanned air and space vehicles to manned platforms such as the ISS.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS ( Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The materials developed and applied in this program may be used to form a variety of high performance microwave materials and devices integrated directly into lightweight polymer structural components. Such low-cost processing will allow the manufacturing of cost-competitive aerospace, electronic, optoelectronic, sensor and actuator materials, devices and integrated function structures. Conformal or free-standing, flexible RF antennas are of importance for both military and commercial applications. Lightweight antennas, low profile antennas have numerous applications for mobile and particularly the space-based communication industry. Mesh antennas would find widespread application in the automobile industry as well. Additionally, these antennas would address DoD and law enforcement needs for communication and surveillance with reduced probability of detection. In commercial use, such antennas could be integrated into vehicle or building structures.

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.

Autonomous Control and Monitoring
Large Antennas and Telescopes
Optical & Photonic Materials
Telemetry, Tracking and Control

Form Printed on 09-08-06 18:19