NASA SBIR 2009 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 09-2 X2.04-8356
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Spacecraft Fire Protection
PROPOSAL TITLE: A Quantum Cascade Laser-Based CO Sensor for Fire Warning

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Maxion Technologies, Inc.
20 New England Business Center
Andover, MA 01810 - 1077
(978) 689-0003

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
John L. Bradshaw
5000 College Avenue, Suite 3121
College Park, MD 20740 - 3817
(301) 405-8426

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 4
End: 6

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Maxion Technologies, Inc. (Maxion) proposes to develop and field test a Carbon Monoxide (CO)-sensor prototype for post fire cleanup and CO detection. The sensor will have the dynamic range required to detect and monitor CO from approximately 1 to 500 ppmv with a resolution to 1 ppmv. Maxion will grow, fabricate and test a Quantum Cascade Laser (QCL) at a unique single-mode wavelength ideal for CO detection. Maxion will team with Physical Sciences Inc. (PSI) to integrate the QCL into PSI's Wavelength Modulation Spectroscopy (WMS) platform.

The WMS sensor board, previously developed for near-IR lasers, will be redesigned to accommodate QCL lasers. The QCL will be specially designed and fabricated for minimum power consumption. In Phase 1 the QCL was incorporated into the WMS platform and tested on a breadboard level. The breadboard sensor demonstrated the necessary dynamic range and easily surpassed the required minimum sensitivity. A Phase II prototype design was made based on the Phase I results for which dynamic range, sensitivity, SWaP, and operation with a high degree of reliability, minimal maintenance, and self-calibration under varying humidity and ambient pressures are primary design features. The sensor prototype will be tested in a relevant environment with controlled burns at a NASA test facility. Upon successful completion of all field tests, the TRL will be 6 at the end of Phase II.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The proposed Carbon Monoxide (CO) sensor prototype design is targeted for monitoring the post-fire cleanup atmosphere of a crew cabin. The sensor also has sufficient sensitivity for monitoring the presence of CO at low levels. As such, the sensor has applications for upper atmospheric studies and environmental monitoring. More generally, the adaptation of PSI's control electronics package to include the Quantum Cascade laser technology allows for the further development of this package for detection of other trace gases using different QC Lasers to detect other chemical species of interest in other NASA programs. Further development of this technology for sniffer and hand held sensor applications are enabled as well.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The work reported herein represents the successful adaptation of PSI's wavelength modulation spectroscopy (WMS) system to incorporate the QC laser technology. This is the first step toward a successful Phase 3 implementation. First, the QC lasers for CO sensing are offered for sale by Maxion along with QC lasers for chemical sensing of other molecular species. Secondly, the incorporation of the QC lasers into PSI's WMS-board-based detection system will allow for more rapid commercialization of the combined technologies (the WMS board with the QCL source and other components) as it leverages the already well recognized potential of the QC lasers for chemical sensing. The combination of an integrated PC-board based sensing system and the commercial availability of the QC lasers will allow commercial users to more quickly develop the QC-WMS technique to chemical sensing applications of significant commercial interest. Faster commercial development for niche applications will promote volume pricing leading to accelerated adoption of the technology in higher volume applications.

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING (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.)
Spaceport Infrastructure and Safety
Testing Facilities

Form Generated on 08-06-10 17:29