Low-cost Multi-sensors as Embedded Gauges for In-situ Non-Destructive Evaluation (NDE) of Rocket Motor Serviceability

Period of Performance: 07/03/2003 - 01/03/2004


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Sporian Microsystems, Inc.
515 Courtney Way Suite B
Lafayette, CO 80026
Principal Investigator


The objective of this SBIR proposal is to: design and develop a low cost, micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS), multi-sensor "suite" capable of measuring/monitoring temperature, humidity, acceleration, as well as changes in mechanical properties such as strain within rocket motor systems. Work will concentrate on trying to answer the questions of: what are the performance requirements of the application, what is the design compatibility with existing rocket motor test/monitoring infrastructure, what are the optimum designs for each sensor type with an emphasis on device integration, and what packaging solutions/configuration will best allow for integration and sensor function while minimizing final unit power and cost. The technical approach is to utilize an in development 3-sensor module technology configuration that uses combined optical and mechanical MEMS sensing techniques, which allows for the associated packaging to satisfy each sensor type's unique packaging requirements. Work tasks will include studying: sensor and communications requirements and design feasibility, packaging and integration, analytical and numerical modeling, calibration, cost and manufacturability, and in Phase 1 option, proof of principle experiments sample fabrication. The work will be performed through a partnership between Sporian Microsystems and Lockheed Martin Tactical Systems-Eagan (LMTS). To date, the Army has not had a low-cost, multi-sensor, capable of measuring/monitoring temperature, humidity, acceleration, as well as changes in mechanical properties within a rocket motor. The intent of work in this proposal is to use data from these sensors to evaluate the serviceability of a weapon system. Currently, the service life of various solid rocket motor systems are assessed and/or extended by conducting a surveillance/type-life program, which is costly and time-consuming. The sensor proposed in this proposal could greatly reduce these outlays. In addition to this application a low cost, low power environmental sensing/monitoring device would be highly useful in a wider range of commercial applications. Incorporation of such sensors could revolutionize maintenance so that there were no production losses due to broken equipment nor would maintenance be done on a conservative schedule. Long and short term storage of sensitive equipment, manufacturing process control, status monitoring in automotive applications, food/perishables health monitoring could also benefit from such technology. This sensor technology is particularly applicable to non-accessible or expensive-to-reach systems and provides a method to manage production needs and maintenance costs in a resource (budget, manpower, facilities) constrained environment.