SBIR Phase I: Monolithic Ceramic Pressure Sensors for High Temperatures

Period of Performance: 01/01/2012 - 12/31/2012


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

InRedox LLC
Principal Investigator, Firm POC


This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project targets development and commercialization of pressure sensors capable of operating at temperatures greater than 650°C for application in gas turbines; aircraft engines and internal combustion engines; in downstream measurements in oil & gas drilling and geo-thermal explorations and in other performance-driven process control systems involving harsh operating conditions. Availability of reliable and inexpensive microsensors for such environments is hindered by the challenge of micromachining refractory materials, such as silicon carbide, diamond or ceramics. As a result, upper operating temperature of the current sensors is limited to ~650°C. This project will employ a novel micromachining process to create monolithic ceramic pressure transducers that can operate at temperatures as high as 850-900°C. The proposed technology is also expected to support a broad dynamic range and have low manufacturing cost. The objectives of Phase Iinclude design and fabrication of preliminary prototypes, demonstration of their high temperature operation, as well as selecting design and packaging options for Phase II development. The expected Phase I results include demonstration of the proposed microstructures, initial performance data and analysis of the feasibility of the proposed approach to meet the market needs at acceptable cost. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is derived from a new family of products: low-cost pressure sensors for high temperature, harsh environment applications, such as combustion engines, aircraft and industrial turbines, geothermal installations, oil wells and industrial processes. The proposed technology will help enable "intelligent engines" by providing process control in conditions unavailable with existing sensors. Deploying this technology is expected to increase reliability, improve fuel efficiency and reduce the emissions of engines and turbines, resulting in overall reduction of operating cost and better resource utilization. In the long term, the project will also enhance scientific and technological understanding in the MEMS industry by developing a new technologyplatform that supports a wide range of designs and enables new products. Expanding the materials and process library in the rapidly growing MEMS industry will help deliver critical and value adding functionalities to end users. Societal impacts include reduced pollution, increased fuel efficiency and increased product reliability enabled by intelligent process control using proposed sensors. Combining advanced performance with low manufacturing cost positions this technology for rapid commercialization.