NASA SBIR 2008 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 08-1 X4.04-9057
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Composite Structures - NDE/Structures Health Monitoring
PROPOSAL TITLE: SAW passive wireless sensor-RFID tags with enhanced range

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Applied Sensor Research & Development Corporation
1195 Baltimore-Annapolis Blvd., Unit #2
Arnold, MD 21012 - 1815
(410) 544-4664

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Jacqueline Hines
1195 Baltimore-Annapolis Blvd., Unit #2
Arnold, MD 21012 - 1815
(410) 544-4664

Expected Technology Readiness Level (TRL) upon completion of contract: 4

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
This proposal describes the development of passive wireless surface acoustic wave (SAW) RFID sensor-tags with enhanced range for remote monitoring of large groups of conventional sensors. Passive wireless sensing tags using SAW technology have been demonstrated by Robert Brocato at Sandia National Labs and others. These sensor-tags consist of a SAW device with an antenna attached to one port and sensor(s) and reference impedance(s) connected to the other ports. RF signals are reflected off of the surface wave device, and their reflection characteristics are modified by changes in the impedance of the attached sensor(s). This proposal describes development of novel passive wireless SAW sensor tags that combine radio frequency identification (RFID) coding with dispersive and low-loss SAW transducers and reflectors. The proposed devices utilize RFID reflective delay line coding techniques to produce devices capable of data densities over 32 bits, enabling production of large codesets. Variations in the reflected RFID code are used to identify the device and to provide a measure of the attached sensor(s), along with any internal sensing function(s). The use of dispersive low-loss transducers and reflectors provides increased processing gain and over 10 times the range of conventional SAW RFID tags. The proposed sensor devices also operate in a manner that is inherently immune to RF backscatter signals, further enhancing S/N. Successful completion of the proposed Phase I activities will establish the technical feasibility of these sensor-tags, will evaluate their performance in the laboratory when used with at least two external sensor devices, and will provide performance projections for use with other sensors. At the end of Phase I, devices will be at TRL 4. Phase II will result in development of multiple uniquely identifiable passive sensor-tags and interrogation systems operable to wirelessly monitor sensors of interest to specific NASA programs (TRL6).

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Throughout NASA programs and facilities, sensors and data acquisition systems that require a reduced wire infrastructure are needed. Exploration systems such as the Ares V launch vehicle require development of lightweight structure technology, and structural health monitoring of these systems is needed to reduce risk and extend operational lifetimes. Acoustic Emission (AE) sensors have been widely used in testing of composite and other materials, and can provide indications of growing defects as well as incipient failure. The proposed sensors will allow widespread distributed wireless monitoring of AE sensors for structural health monitoring. The high S/N ratio of these devices makes them ideal for use in metal environments. Diagnosis of aircraft aging and damage, detection of incipient failures in cryotanks, evaluation of the structural integrity of bonded assemblies, and inspection of numerous composite and metallic structures are all significant NASA applications. Ground operations would benefit from the capability to detect corrosion and deterioration in concrete and other structures. AE sensors and others may be useful in this application as well. Finally, non-NDE applications such as distributed wireless measurement of temperature throughout inflatable habitats, wireless evaluation of engine plume characteristics, and wireless monitoring of temperature and pressure on the skin of exploration vehicles during descent will also be enabled by these devices.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Distributed wireless monitoring of sensors using passive SAW sensor-tags will have widespread non-NASA commercial applications. AE sensors have been shown to be capable of real-time detection of cracks, delamination, and other growing failure mechanisms in concrete, metal, composites, and other materials. Given the current state of the nation's aging infrastructure, this technology will be widely used to monitor the condition of bridges, tunnels, and pavements. Combination of the proposed sensor-tags with novel AE sensor technologies such as sensors based on flexible piezoelectric materials will provide low cost solutions to this extensive monitoring problem. Development of intelligent wireless infrastructure monitoring networks utilizing such passive wireless sensors combined with data correlation and interpretation would be capable of providing infrastructure owners with automated information on structural conditions, including likely causative factors for detected fault conditions. This information would be useful to the owners in effectively prioritizing limited maintenance and repair resources. Other commercial applications will likely include monitoring of commercial airframes for aging and deterioration, inventorying and tracking high value industrial assets (even in extreme environments), and distributed sensing systems for environmental applications such as landfills. ASR&D has received inquiries from potential customers related to each of these applications.

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.

Launch and Flight Vehicle
Sensor Webs/Distributed Sensors
Structural Modeling and Tools

Form Generated on 11-24-08 11:56