Ultra Lightweight Metal Rubber™ Flight Control Sensors and Arrays

Period of Performance: 03/30/2008 - 07/14/2010


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Nanosonic, Inc.
158 Wheatland Drive Array
Pembroke, VA 24136
Principal Investigator


ABSTRACT: This Air Force Phase II SBIR program would apply thin film Metal Rubber sensor skin arrays to the quantitative measurement of distributed flow on Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) control surface test articles. During the Phase I program, NanoSonic designed and synthesized electrically conductive, low areal mass density, and low modulus thin film transducer materials, and demonstrated their use for the calibrated measurement of skin friction through both water flow and wind tunnel tests. Metal Rubber is a self-assembled nanocomposite material containing alternate layers of specialized polymers and functionalized metal nanoclusters. Phase I research further demonstrated the ability to form two-dimensional sensor skin arrays of such materials, and to acquire, multiplex and store data from the array elements in near real-time. During the Phase II program, the mechanical and electrical transduction properties of the sensor materials would be optimized, improved data acquisition electronics would be implemented, the transduction response of modified sensor materials would be calibrated, and sensor elements and arrays would be used to analyze MAV components through water and air flow testing in industry, university and government research laboratory facilities. The Phase II program has the support of a primary manufacturer of advanced unmanned and manned air vehicle platforms. BENEFIT: Conformal, low areal mass density, and low modulus Metal Rubber skin friction sensors and sensor arrays have applications in the measurement of flow-induced shear stress on advanced wind tunnel models, and in the flight control instrumentation of MAVs and NAVs where weight and frequency response are of critical importance. Related applications include use as similar air data sensors on larger unmanned and manned aircraft and lighter-than-air vehicles, and on the control surfaces of small hydrocraft. Metal Rubber itself has applications in flexible electronics, as low weight flexible electrical interconnects for deployable RF and PV arrays, as EMI shielding for defense platforms and commercial electronic systems, and as an environmentally-friendly replacement for conventional lead-based eutectic solders."