NASA SBIR 2012 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 12-1 S3.03-8710
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Propulsion Systems
PROPOSAL TITLE: Re-generable Field Emission Cathodes

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Aerophysics, Inc.
2521 7 Mile Point Rd
Allouez, MI 49805 - 6969
(906) 370-2376

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Jason Michael Makela
1402 East Sharon Avenue, Suite 205
Houghton, MI 49931 - 1659
(906) 487-1854

CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Lyon B King
2521 7 Mile Point Rd
Allouez, MI 49805 - 6969
(906) 370-2376

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 4
End: 5

Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
Propulsion Systems is a Technology Available (TAV) subtopic that includes NASA Intellectual Property (IP). Do you plan to use the NASA IP under the award?

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
A significant challenge in scaling micro-propulsion devices up to 100s of Watts as well as scaling macro devices down to sub-kiloWatt level is the lack of a compatible neutralizer technology in the meso scale. Sub-kiloWatt EP systems require cathode technology that can produce sufficient current while consuming little or no gas or power. The most promising technology for meso-scale neutralizers is field emission. In field emission, electrons are extracted directly from a cold bulk solid material by an intense applied electric field at the solid-vacuum interface with no gas flow and no heating required. While many methods have been proposed to incorporate field-emission neutralizers in EP systems, the inherent fragility of the technology – specifically the reliance on solid structures with nanometer-radius tips – ensures that device failure due to tip degradation will be a near certainty for any application depending on field emission cathodes. The goal of research proposed here is to develop arrays of field-emission neutralizers for use in sub-1-kW EP that eliminate tip degradation not through attempts to minimize tip wear, but instead by incorporating self-assembling nanostructures that can repeatedly re-generate damaged emitter tips in space and fully restore the functionality of a damaged or degraded device.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Proposed technology could be used for any function requiring electron emission in space. Potential applications include spacecraft neutralizers, space weather diagnostic sensors, electrodynamic tethers, and sub-1-kW electric propulsion systems for space science missions.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Electron field emitters are use in numerous applications including electron microscopes, flat panel displays, and microwave generators.

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.)
Maneuvering/Stationkeeping/Attitude Control Devices
Spacecraft Main Engine

Form Generated on 03-28-13 15:21