SBIR-STTR Award

Nanoengineered Hybrid Gas Sensors for Spacesuit Monitoring
Profile last edited on: 9/11/2021

Program
STTR
Agency
NASA | JSC
Total Award Amount
$1,624,935
Award Phase
2
Principal Investigator
Ratan Debnath
Activity Indicator

Company Information

N5 Sensors Inc

9610 Medical Center Drive Suite 200
Rockville, MD 20850
   (301) 337-8314
   info@n5sensors.com
   www.n5sensors.com
Multiple Locations:   
Congressional District:   08
County:   Montgomery

Phase I

Phase I year
2015
Phase I Amount
$120,387
Extravehicular Mobility Units (EVU) are the necessary to perform elaborate, dynamic tasks in the biologically harsh conditions of space from International Space Station (ISS) external repairs to human exploration of planetary bodies. The EVUs have stringent requirements on physical and chemical nature of the equipment/components/processes, to ensure safety and health of the individual require proper functioning of its life-support systems. Monitoring the Portable Life Support System (PLSS) of the EVU in real time is to ensure the safety of the astronaut and success of the mission.N5 Sensors will demonstrate an ultra-small form factor, highly reliable, rugged, low-power sensor architecture that is ideally suited for monitoring trace chemicals in spacecraft environment. This will be accomplished by our patent-pending innovation in photo-enabled sensing utilizing a hybrid chemiresistor architecture, which combines the selective adsorption properties of multicomponent (metal-oxide and metal) photocatalytic nanoclusters together with the sensitive transduction capability of sub-micron semiconductor gallium nitride (GaN) photoconductors. For the phase I project we will demonstrate oxygen, carbon dioxide, and ammonia sensor elements on a single chip. Innovative GaN photoconductor design will enable high-sensitivity, low power consumption, and self-calibration for the sensor current drift. The multicomponent nanocluster layer design enables room-temperature sensing with high selectivity, resulting in significant power saving and enhanced reliability. The fabrication of the sensors will be done using traditional photolithography and plasma etching. The nanocluster functionalization layer will be deposited using sputtering methods. The sensor testing will be carried out to determine sensing range, sensitivity, selective, and response/recovery times.

Potential NASA Commercial Applications:
(Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words) In addition to EVUs monitoring the proposed single-chip multianalyte sensors are ideally suited for in-flight monitoring of the trace chemical constituents, which is essential for crew health, safety, and systems operation. These sensors are low-power, rugged, and radiation-hard, making them ideally suited for integrated spacecraft monitoring networks. Due to their robustness these sensors can be also used for measuring trace gases such as CO, CO2, O2, NH3, CH4, and H2O for planetary environmental monitoring.

Potential NON-NASA Commercial Applications:
(Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words) Measuring individual exposure in real-time can revolutionize air quality monitoring in communities everywhere. Such information would allow citizens to take preventive measures to reduce their exposures to air toxics, which would tremendously impact their health and quality of life. Mobile devices such as smart-phones and tablets represent a powerful infrastructure which could be leveraged to develop personal air monitors. However, traditional sensor technologies (such as electrochemical and photo-ionization detectors), commonly used for industrial safety monitoring, are big, power-hungry, and has limited sensitivity and life-time. Monitoring of NOx, SOx, H2S, O3, for individual pollutant monitoring. Monitoring the BTEX family around fracking sites and other affects industrial progess would provide hard data about the environmental effect industry has on the environment. Portable gas detection instruments have been used since the early days of mining (canaries, Davy's lamp). Today, almost all major industrial operations use gas detectors for safety of the personnel and infrastructure. The North American market for multi-gas portable industrial detectors are over $ 230 M (2016 - CAGR 7.2%, over 264,291 units sold, with average price~ $1K), with Oil and Gas, and Petrochemical and Chemicals industries being the most dominant users. World-wide hand-held detector market is over ~ $2 B.

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.) Chemical/Environmental (see also Biological Health/Life Support) Essential Life Resources (Oxygen, Water, Nutrients)

Phase II

Phase II year
2016 (last award dollars: 2019)
Phase II Amount
$1,504,548
Extravehicular Mobility Units (EVU) are the necessary to perform elaborate, dynamic tasks in the biologically harsh conditions of space and they have stringent requirements on physical and chemical nature of the equipment/components/processes, to ensure safety and health of the individual require proper functioning of its life-support systems. Monitoring the Portable Life Support System (PLSS) of the EVU in real time ensures the safety of the astronaut and success of the mission. In Phase I, N5 Sensors has demonstrated and manufactured an ultra-small form factor, highly reliable, rugged, low-power sensor architecture for carbon dioxide (CO2) and ammonia (NH3) that is ideally suited for monitoring trace chemicals in spacesuite environment in presence of humidity and oxygen. N5 will perform additional design refinements in Phase II and implement on-chip components for enhanced analytical and operational reliability. Additionally, a complete detector system will be designed, integrated with various electronic components and tested to determine system level performance and reliability. Subsequent design refinements will be done.

Potential NASA Commercial Applications:
(Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words) The proposed single-chip multi-analyte sensors are ideally suited for environmental monitoring and fire protection for space craft autonomy (E-nose, lick and stick integrated monitor), in-flight monitoring system of the trace chemical constituents, which is essential for crew health, safety, and systems operation as well as cell-all program to enhance the performance of the system using a large array of sensors. These sensors are low-power, rugged, and radiation-hard, making them ideally suited for integrated spacecraft monitoring networks.



Potential NON-NASA Commercial Applications:
:

(Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words) Such ultra-small chemical sensors can be used for mobile devices based multianalyte detectors for industrial monitoring of trace gases (CO2, NH3, etc.), and also for smartphone based environmental pollution exposure monitors for asthma patients. They can be integrated with on-demand ventilation control systems for measuring indoor air quality in buildings.

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.) Characterization Chemical/Environmental (see also Biological Health/Life Support) Detectors (see also Sensors) Health Monitoring & Sensing (see also Sensors) Manufacturing Methods Materials (Insulator, Semiconductor, Substrate) Microfabrication (and smaller; see also Electronics; Mechanical Systems; Photonics) Models & Simulations (see also Testing & Evaluation) Nanomaterials Prototyping