A Novel, Low Cost and Handheld Microwave Sensor for the Detection and Evaluation of Incipient Composite Heat Damage

Period of Performance: 01/01/2014 - 12/31/2014


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Alphasense, Inc.
510 Philadelphia Pike Array
Wilmington, DE 19809
Principal Investigator


Due to their high specific strength and light weight properties, polymer matrix composites (PMCs) are increasingly used in a wide variety of military and civilian aircrafts. The mechanical strength of PMCs can be dramatically compromised when such materials are exposed to various heat sources during operation and maintenance. It has been shown that PMCs can lose up to 80% of their mechanical strength when exposed to aggressive environment without causing any defective signs, which can be either visually examined or detected with conventional non-destructive evaluation (NDE) technique. In this SBIR project, AlphaSense aimed at developing a novel handheld NDE sensor to detect and quantify incipient heat damages in composite airframe structures. In Phase I, we have successfully proven the feasibility. Phase II will focus on sensor performance improvement, identification of potential confounding factors and elimination techniques, and field- deployable sensor prototype implementation and testing.