NASA 1996 SBIR Phase I

PROPOSAL NUMBER : 96-1 13.01-3800

PROJECT TITLE : A Miniature Turbomolecular Pump


Recent advances in microelectronics and sensor technologies have lead to the development of miniaturized mass spectrometers small enough to hold in one hand. Prototypes exist for units of matchbook size. In contrast, the vacuum pumps which support these systems remain large, heavy and power hungry. Creare proposes to develop a miniature turbomolecular vacuum pump to support portable, battery-powered analytical equipment. This vacuum pump would have a tip diameter of approximately 3 cm, a volume of less than 150 cubic centimeters, and an input power of less than six watts in the high vacuum range. The vacuum pump will support both interplanetary probes and atmospheric sampling instruments on balloons and high-altitude unmanned aircraft.

In Phase I, Creare will select bearings for the turbomolecular pump, design and fabricate a miniature high speed (<180,000 rpm) permanent magnet motor, and develop techniques for fabricating highly precise blades for the turbopump. The output of Phase I will be a detailed design and key test results establishing the feasibility of the pump to be built in Phase II. In Phase II, Creare will fabricate a prototype of the turbopump and measure its pumping speed and power requirements.

The miniature turbomolecular pump will enable a whole new class of portable mass spectrometers for measurements of trace contaminants in air and groundwater. Mass spectrometers are more sensitive and can detect a larger range of contaminants than the sensors in use for these applications today. The availability of these instruments, formerly restricted to laboratory use, in field applications will revolutionize the field of contamination monitoring. Tighter regulations on emissions of pollutants from industrial sites is creating a growing demand for a broad-spectrum chemical sensor. Miniature turbopumps are also in great demand by the armed forces for use in chemical and biological warfare sensors. Creare will work closely in this project with In-Situ, Inc., a worldwide leader in the development of analytical instrumentation, to develop miniature mass spectrometers based on this technology.
Jerry L. Martin
Creare Incorporated
P.O. Box 71, Etna Road
Hanover, NH 03755
Creare Incorporated
P.O. Box 7l, Etna Road
Hanover, NH 03755