Smart Polymer Impact Detection Coating System

Period of Performance: 05/09/2006 - 11/09/2006


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Physical Optics Corp.
1845 West 205th Street Array
Torrance, CA 90501
Principal Investigator


To address the Navy need for smart coating technology to detect and measure impact/thermal damage, Physical Optics Corporation (POC) proposes to develop a smart Polymer Impact Detection Coating (PIDEC) system. This proposed system is based on nonlinear optical polymer designed to change its optical properties on mechanical/thermal impact, and on detection via a portable interrogation subsystem. The PIDEC system will directly detect impact and thermal damage without the need for complex nondestructive evaluation equipment. Its hand-held compact probe can integrate hard-to-inspect areas. The smart coating can be applied to aircraft components by means of existing painting techniques and proven coating technologies. The coating is transparent to radio waves, so its application on an aircraft does not interfere with aircraft radar systems. In Phase I POC will demonstrate the feasibility of this system by developing a procedure for fabricating the smart coating and by demonstrating its use by applying and testing it on a proof-of-concept breadboard. In Phase II POC plans to develop an optimized PIDEC prototype and demonstrate its operation in a relevant operational environment.BENEFITS: Military applications of the PIDEC detection system will include a wide range of smart coatings for the aerospace industry, where structural damage monitoring is crucial. The PIDEC can also be useful to the Army to monitor structural damage in military vehicles. Commercial applications include commercial jets. In addition, the PIDEC detection system will find applications in monitoring structural damage detection in a wide range of industries.