ABSTRACTS—Phase I (Continued)
Topic 15¾Advanced Scientific Computing

86. An Improved Method for High-Speed Solutions of Stiff Problems in Real Time
EAI Simulation Associates, Inc.
187 Monmouth Pkwy.
West Long Branch, NJ 07764
tel: 908-229-8985 x32; fax: 908-229-1329
e-mail: George@eaisai.com
Principal Investigator: George Hannauer
President: Ghandikota V. Aryama
NSF Grant No. 9660755; Amount: $67,428.22

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project develops and evaluates a promising new integration algorithm for solving stiff problems in real time. Such problems occur frequently in aerospace, chemical, nuclear, electric power, and automotive applications.

In such applications, a common design technique is to combine a computer model of part of the system under evaluation (usually consisting of ordinary differential equations) with actual system hardware. Such "hardware in the loop" applications require real-time operation; the simulation of one second of system operation may take no more than one second of computer time.

Some models contains very fast subsystems (e.g., a "tight" controller in a mechanical system or a small parasitic impedance in an electrical system). Such large eigenvalues (high frequencies, short time constants) require a very short computational step for stability. If the computer can’t solve the entire set of system equations in this short time, real-time operation is impossible.

The proposed integration algorithm, called the LIMP (Linearized IMPlicit) method, allows much larger steps to be taken for a given system, enabling real-time solution of many previously "intractable" problems.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Potential commercial applications include the design of aircraft, missiles, chemical reactors, power generators, and automobiles.

87. Algebraic Multigrid (AMG) Software
Front Range Scientific Computations, Inc.
1005 Gillaspie Dr.
Boulder, CO 80303-6544
tel: 303-494-6232; fax: 303-494-5713
e-mail: jruge@newton.colorado.edu
Principal Investigator: Dr. John W. Ruge
President: Dr. Steve McCormick
NSF Grant No. 9661198; $72,733.56

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project tests and develops robust algebraic multigrid software for solving unstructured-mesh problems. The software is designed to run in both serial and parallel environments and efficiently incorporates local refinement strategies in the solution process. Many commercial and government codes, including those in hydrodynamics, heat conduction, and multigroup thermal radiation transport, require solution of second-order elliptic partial differential equations, and often employ unstructured discretizations to resolve complex geometries and to facilitate adaptive refinement. A common solution strategy is to set up an outer iteration (e.g., Newton’s or Newton-like methods, preconditioned conjugate gradient, implicit time-stepping) in which each step requires the solution of discretized second-order elliptic partial differential equations. Current solution methods are limited, with convergence degrading with problem size, time steps, and highly resolved local refinement levels, so that solution of realistic problems is prohibitively expensive. To counter these difficulties, algebraic multigrid (AMG) uses the principles of standard multigrid methods, but with an automated preprocessing phase in which the various multigrid components are constructed. This leads to a very efficient and robust solution method for such problems. It is ideally suited for unstructured grids since all of the processing is based on the matrices, thus eliminating the usual multigrid requirement that the user supply coarser discretization levels, which would be prohibitive or impossible for most unstructured mesh applications. In Phase I, the emphasis will be on testing existing AMG codes on problems of interest, determining efficient ways to incorporate local refinement strategies in the solution process, and extending multigrid parallel implementation strategies to AMG.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Robust algebraic multigrid software that is easily combined with existing codes has the potential to greatly enhance the range of problems (in size and complexity) that can be efficiently solved. Unstructured meshes are used widely in codes for both the public and private sectors in many applications, and these codes would benefit greatly from the availability of robust AMG solvers.

88. Advanced Scientific Parallel Debugger
1400 Central Ave. SE, Suite 2000
Albuquerque, NM 87106-4811
tel: 505-842-0074; fax: 505-842-5699
Principal Investigator: Anthony J. Giancola
President: Michael H. Frese, Proprietor
NSF Grant No. 9661722; Amount: $74,983

Users of high performance parallel computers are themselves developers: their own codes are always works in progress. The primary commercial application codes for these computers are thus tools for software development. To date, these tools have not been designed with an eye to the requirements of the high performance computing user, but rather have been ported from workstations, where their targets are much more limited in scale. The most important of these tools, and to date the most inadequate, are the symbolic debuggers.

Experience in the superconductor development environment on both CTWSS and UNICOS has shown that the most essential feature for an effective debugger to have—in addition to the standard ones of process control and variable evaluation—is the ability to save the target’s state for later restoration. Macro processing is another required capability; it allows the user to record complex sequences of debugging commands for easy reuse. Also essential is acceptance of an incomplete set of symbol table information to enable the maximum possible function on optimized code.

No existing debugger for the high performance parallel computing environment has these features;
NumerEx plans to develop one specifically for that

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: This project will develop software technology for debuggers. NumerEx intends to market this technology to one or more parallel computer hardware vendors for incorporation into proprietary debuggers for bundled and unbundled sale with systems and to retain the rights to market a workstation version.

Topic 16¾Computers and Computation Research Resources

89. Intranet V&V Tool
Architecture Technology Corp.
P.O. Box 24344
Minneapolis, MN 55424
tel: 612-935-2035 x104; fax: 612-829-5871
e-mail: jbonney@atcorp.com
Principal Investigator: Jordan C. Bonney
President: Kenneth J. Thurber
NSF Grant No. 9660309 (97-96096)
Amount: $74,743

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will determine the feasibility of significantly improving the process of validation and verification (V&V) for large-scale, software systems, a process that traditionally has required excessive amounts of paper documentation for specifications, architectural descriptions, etc. Lead times associated with the distribution of physical documentation result in the review of outdated documents and a longer V&V cycle. There has been a slow trend toward using World Wide Web technology for cataloging system documentation, but Web pages and links are manually generated, which leads to omissions. More important, a comprehensive view of the project cannot be gleaned from the Web pages because key elements of the system are not maintained in a Web-usable format.

The objective of the proposed research is the development of a prototype Web-based V&V tool that takes formal system requirements, specifications, and a project-specific intranet, generates a comprehensive Web of project-specific information, and periodically updates the Web to reflect changes. The research focuses on automatic Web generation and the incorporation of system-design parameters in the generation process.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The commercial product of the research, a software-based V&V tool, would be marketed to corporate and independent V&V groups through our existing distribution channels.

90. Algorithms and Software for Multiresolution Analysis of Triangular Meshes
Manifold Graphics, Inc.
2125 1st Ave., #1902
Seattle, WA 98121
tel: 206-860-8513
e-mail: certain@cs.washington.edu
Principal Investigator: Andrew Certain
President: Werner Stuetzle
NSF Grant No. 9661288; $74,474.68

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will investigate methods for multiresolution analysis of triangular meshes. Complex meshes are rapidly becoming commonplace. They require large amounts of storage, however, and are slow to transmit. Additionally, they often contain more faces than can be interactively displayed on current hardware.

Multiresolution methods provide a theoretically sound, unified way to deal with complex meshes; however, many of the algorithms employed thus far do not exhibit the performance necessary for commercial applications. The goal of the project is to perform the experimental and theoretical research needed to overcome this problem.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: This research has the potential to lead to a standard for the representation and transmission of complex meshes.

91. Genetic Algorithms for Software Test Data Generation
Reliable Software Technologies Corp.
21515 Ridgetop Cir., Suite 250
Sterling, VA 20166
tel: 703-404-9293; fax: 703-404-9295
e-mail: gem@rstcorp.com
Principal Investigator: Gary E. McGraw, Ph.D.
President: Jeffery E. Payne
NSF Grant No. 9661393; Amount: $74,755.44

In software testing, it is often desirable to find test inputs that exercise specific program features. To find these inputs by hand is extremely time-consuming, especially when the software is complex. Therefore, numerous attempts have been made to automate the process.

Random test data generation consists of generating test inputs at random. But when the desired inputs must satisfy complex constraints, a random approach is unlikely to succeed.

Symbolic test data generation executes parts of the software symbolically, constructing an algebraic description of the constraints that an input must satisfy in order to exercise the desired feature. But this method falters when certain programming constructs are encountered.

Dynamic test data generation reduces the test generation problem to a simpler problem of function minimization, and thus it seems to present a promising approach to the problem of finding test inputs that satisfy complex constraints. We will investigate the use of genetic algorithms to perform this function minimization, in place of the simple gradient-descent method that is currently used. We will also investigate the application of dynamic software analysis to the problem of deciding which program execution path will allow the constraints to be satisfied most easily.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The potential benefactors of the research include the following industries: aviation, defense, nuclear, telecommunications, medical, pharmaceutical, transportation, and personal computer software.

92. An Approach to Measuring and Assessing Dependability for Critical Software
SoHar, Inc.
8421 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 201
Beverly Hills, CA 90211-3204
tel: 323-653-4718 x104; fax: 323-653-3624
e-mail: tang@sohar.com
Principal Investigator: Dong Tang
President: Myron Hecht
NSF Grant No. 9661512; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project investigates the feasibility of an approach that combines the operational profile, rare conditions, importance sampling, stress testing, and measurement-based dependability evaluation in the late testing phase or early operational phase, to quantify dependability for critical software that requires very high reliability failure rate (<10-6) and availability (>0.999999). Traditional software testing methods combined with reliability growth models cannot measure and assess dependability for software with such high requirements. The approach proposed for this research applies importance sampling, a statistical method to reduce sampling size while keeping estimates obtained from the sample unbiased at a high level of confidence, to the operational profile to guide testing critical operations or components of the software to accelerate the occurrence of rare conditions. It then transforms the failure rates measured in the testing to those that occur in the normal operation by the likelihood ratio function of the importance sampling theory, and finally evaluates reliability and availability for the tested software system based on the transformed failure rates using measurement-based dependability modeling techniques. When the acceleration factor (likelihood ratio) is large (over 100), which is typical because the occurrence probability of rare conditions in the normal operation is much lower than in the importance sampling testing, it is possible to quantify a very high reliability or availability in a test of reasonable duration. It is anticipated that upon completion of this research, a detailed methodology and a high-level design of tools for implementing the proposed approach will be available.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Real-time commercial production systems that use software to monitor, control, and manage safety-critical equipment and physical processes (e.g., aircraft, nuclear and chemical plants) and similar critical systems developed by government agencies (e.g., space shuttle and air traffic control systems) require high reliability, availability, and safety. The approach and tools addressed in this research can be applied to the software in these systems to quantify dependability and to provide feedback to the design. The approach can also contribute significantly to enhancing the quality of the systems by applying its stress testing methods to the software.

Topic 17¾Networking and Communication Research and Infrastructure

93. High Coding Gain, High Rate Turbo Product Codes (TPCs)
Efficient Channel Coding, Inc.
33900 Curtis Blvd., Suite 200
Eastlake, OH 44095
tel: 216-918-9626; fax: 216-918-9624
e-mail: BillT1@aol.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. William Thesling III
President: Dr. William Thesling III
NSF Grant No. 9660149; Amount: $74,391

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project proposes to study the feasibility of producing, in hardware, a class of forward error-correcting codes that are vastly superior to any currently available. These Turbo Product Codes (TPCs) are ideally suited to communications systems where large coding gain is required, but only a limited overhead is acceptable.

The best TPC evaluated to date offers a code rate of 4/5 and a coding gain of 6.8 dB at a Bit Error Rate of 10-6, which is less than 1.7 dB from the Shannon limit. To achieve this exceptional performance, we have applied three innovative decoding algorithms that exhibit an extreme reduction in complexity over existing techniques. The result is a simple, near-optimal decoder that enables the construction of a high-speed "turbo-like" codec on a chip.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The resulting codec chip is applicable to a large number of digital communications systems. However, we plan to emphasize insertion into emerging systems that have not yet been fully standardized. This includes RF links for Wireless Local Area Networks in the license-free industrial, scientific, and medical bands and infrared laser wireless systems for various applications. The codes also have applications in the next-generation satellite communications systems.

94. Fast Flow Control in High Speed Communications Networks
Intelligent Automation, Inc.
2 Research Pl., Suite 202
Rockville, MD 20850
tel: 301-590-3155; fax: 301-590-9414
e-mail: ckwan@i-a-i.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. C. M. Kwan
President: Dr. Leonard S. Haynes
NSF Grant No. 9660335; $74,636

In many networks, even if the traffic is routed optimally, there are situations where the total traffic into the network is much larger than the network can handle. If no control strategies are present to limit the traffic into the network, queue sizes at bottleneck links will grow and packet delays will increase that may violate some maximum delay specifications for voice and video signals.

This Small Business Innovation Research proposal describes a new approach to flow control in high speed communication networks that can significantly reduce the packet delays. The flow control problem is first treated as a fluid-flow dynamic system with time delay. Based on the model, we propose a flow controller that can generate some predictive information about the future queue length in the system. This predictive information is crucial to the success of the flow control scheme since it guarantees that the time delay of packets will not go unstable. Thus the maximum time delay performance criterion can be assured. In addition, the new flow control method can also maintain certain throughput of the system, which is very important in applications such as video distribution. A new type of neural network called Fuzzy CMAC (Cerebellar Model Arithmetic Computer) is also proposed to predict the total information delay and the channel disturbance. The outputs of the Fuzzy CMAC will be passed to the flow controller to enhance the performance even further.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The new flow control method can guarantee the maximum packet delay criterion and can also maintain a desired minimum throughput of the system, which is very important in applications such as video distribution. Another advantage is that the controller is very easy to implement. We expect that the proposed algorithm will find many applications in broadband ISDN and ATM networks.

95. Digital I/Q Converter for Wide-Band Digital Beamforming
175 Clearbrook Rd.
Elmsford, NY 10523
tel: 914-592-1190; fax: 914-347-2239
e-mail: steve.kaplan@hypres.com
Principal Investigator: Steven B. Kaplan
President: Elie K. Track
NSF Grant No. 9660720; Amount: $74,976

HYPRES proposes to develop a multichip superconducting digital beamforming (DBF) system for ground station communications with satellites. DBF leads to a significant improvement in communication systems performance by enhancing the reception of signals from a number of specific directions. The increase in performance will lower the power required of satellite transmitters, thereby reducing payload weight. Our novel digital communications technology enables beamforming for wide-band and spread-spectrum communications signals, which cannot be performed by present narrow-band systems. The reliance on digital rather than analog components ensures higher signal fidelity and signal-to-noise. For this Phase I project, HYPRES will develop a Digital In-Phase and Quadrature Converter (DIQC) for our beamforming system. The digital IQ circuit will avoid the imbalances in gain, phase, and time delay experienced by conventional communications and radar systems. The digital signal processing elements for the DIQC circuits will utilize Rapid Single Flux Quantum (RSFQ) multipliers, accumulators, and other arithmetic logic circuits. These circuits have already been successfully demonstrated at HYPRES at multi-gigahertz frequencies. The multichip DBF system developed in Phase II will subsequently be commercialized in wide-band digital beamforming communications and radar systems, with bandwidths up to 2.5 GHz at carrier frequencies up to 20 GHz.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Applications include wide-band narrow-beam satellite communication links, secure communication systems, and multifunctional conformal antenna arrays for surveillance, intercept, and tracking. The digital signal processing functions developed in this program will benefit any application limited by processing speed, such as commercial spectrum analyzer and digitizer instruments, as well as digital electronic warfare systems.

96. Terabit/sec, Ultra-Broadband Free-Space Optical Interconnect
8 Skyline Dr.
Hawthorne, NY 10532
tel: 914-345-9555; fax: 914-345-9558
e-mail: kane@reveo.com
Principal Investigator: Steven J. Kane
President: Dr. Sadeg M. Faris
NSF Grant No. 9661015; Amount: $74,721

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will investigate a novel Tbit/sec, all-optical crossbar interconnect. The full potential of all-fiber networks has not been fully exploited owing to the lack of high-bit-rate switches and interconnects; state-of-the-art electronic crossbars cannot accommodate bit rates higher than several hundred Mbit/sec. Commercially available all-optical interconnects (capable of handling high bit rates) exhibit slow reconfiguration speeds, are not easily scaled to route large numbers of input signals, and are often fragile and sensitive to environmental disturbances.

Reveo has invented a unique polarization-based all-optical interconnect that overcomes the limitations of existing technology, and features Tbit/sec capacity, fast (microsecond to nanosecond) reconfiguration speed, ultra-broad spectral bandwidth, low insertion loss, low crosstalk, robust all-solid-state construction, low power consumption, and simple scaleability. This crossbar interconnect utilizes powerful network architectures, including BeneÓ, shuffle-exchange, omega, PM2I, and Reveo’s PM2K design. Our unique hardware arrangement will allow for the development and commercialization of crossbar switches that can be operated in any wavelength regime.

Phase I research will focus on proof of concept and characterization of a small crossbar device. In Phase II, we will develop materials for the interconnect optics and we will develop larger (8x8) switches. Phase III will focus on commercialization and manufacturing of this novel technology.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed technology will have immediate applications in telecommunications, networking, and back-plane interconnections, as this crossbar interconnect will be compatible with the existing telecommunications infrastructure. It has been estimated that the market for optical interconnects will continue to grow at an annual rate of 29 percent per year through 1998, and 23 percent per year from 1998-2003 (Laser Focus World, 1994).

97. Energy/Delay Efficient Protocols for Wireless Access
Boston Communications Networks
1106 Commonwealth Ave.
Boston, MA 02215
tel: 617-264-7597; fax: 617-277-2434
e-mail: redi@bcn.bu/edu
Principal Investigator: Jason Redi
President: Imrich Chlamtac
NSF Grant No. 9661732; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will introduce novel energy-saving protocols that are critical for the successful wide-range commercial deployment of wireless tag networks. Many applications are emerging in which communication between low speed, very low cost tags (wireless nodes) and base stations designates energy conservation as a critical system parameter. These applications include warehouse identification tags, hospital ID tags, smart tags, and intelligent ID cards, to name only a few. Tags are small devices with radio or infrared reception/transmission and processing capabilities integrated into a device the size of an ID card or smaller and designed for the lowest possible cost. Cost minimization and network size prohibit the replacement of batteries that need to last for as long as the object needs to be identified, from weeks to several years. The design of wireless access protocols for tag networks requires, therefore, that transmission of data that is often delay-sensitive occur under critical energy conservation and cost constraints. As classical access protocols do not meet these requirements, this project will introduce and evaluate several novel classes of protocols designated for these emerging low speed, low cost networks. The market potential for these systems is estimated at billions of dollars per year, underscoring the importance of this work.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The $1 billion RFID market is rapidly expanding. It currently includes applications in agriculture, marketing, inventory control, manufacturing, and security. The development of access protocols that maximize battery life is crucial to the success of the U.S. RFID industry.

Topic 18¾Microelectronic Information Processing System (MIPS)

98. An Ultra-Fast Signal Integrity Analyzer for Multi-Layer Electronic Packages and Boards
1469 River Rd., Suite 6
Binghamton, NY 13901
tel: 607-648-4020; fax: 607-648-4020
Principal Investigator: Raymond Y. Chen
President: Jiayuan Fang
NSF Grant No. 9660681; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will determine scientific, technical, and commercial merit and feasibility of developing an ultra-fast signal integrity analyzer for multi-layer integrated-circuit chip packages and printed circuit boards. Ever increasing integrated-circuit transition speed and packaging density have posed severe challenges to electronic packaging design. Accurate signal integrity analysis necessitates electromagnetic field simulations to be performed together with circuit simulations. Existing general-purpose commercial electromagnetic tools are unable to provide timely and cost-effective solutions for practical electronic packages. This project will investigate a novel method that would be orders of magnitude faster than conventional general-purpose tools in performing electromagnetic simulation in electronic packages. With the new technique, three-dimensional electromagnetic fields in multi-layer electronic packages are decomposed into several most significant modes, and each mode of field is solved with special fast algorithms. The proposed signal integrity analyzer integrates the fast electromagnetic field solver with transmission line and circuit solvers so that interactions between packages and IC chips are automatically taken into account. Applicability of the technique and feasibility of the proposed signal integrity analyzer for real-world packaging structures are to be investigated in this project.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: We anticipate that the technique described in this proposal can dramatically reduce the electromagnetic field simulation time and lead to commercial signal integrity tools that can provide timely and cost-effective means for the evaluation and design of electronic packages and printed circuit boards. Such signal integrity tools are crucial for emerging high-speed electronic systems, and should have significant and immediate impacts once they are commercially available.

99. A Two-Part Nonvolatile RAM
108 Millstone, Lakeview Terr.
Princeton, NJ 08540
tel: 609-683-9136
Principal Investigator: Zhi Quan Chen
President: Steven Sherman
NSF Grant No. 9661144; $72,785

The goal of this proposal is to produce a two-part nonvolatile RAM. This memory device would be fabricated as two separate components that would then be electrically connected together. A "circuit component," consisting of MOS technology similar to DRAM, without storage capacitors, would incorporate address selection and data input/output. A second "storage medium" component would house ferroelectric capacitors, which would actually store information. By producing these two parts separately, we can avoid adverse mutual effects that occur during the fabrication process and optimize the characteristics of both parts.

A novel approach to micro-mechanical joining is used to connect each capacitor in the storage medium component to a corresponding MOS drain electrode in the circuitry component. The storage medium component is simply an unpatterned ferroelectric film deposited on a common, metallic ground plane. The ferroelectric storage capacitors are defined by the other electrode on the circuitry component. Because of this simple structure, no alignment is necessary, making for simpler connection of the two parts.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: This nonvolatile RAM has immediate advantages over other nonvolatile memories: true random access (bit-by-bit reading and writing); simple construction, leading to low cost and rugged design (no moving parts); and its packagability as a "smart card" holding as much data as a CD.

Also, it could compete against DRAMs. Because of the device’s nonvolatility, computers would experience no data loss on power loss, no boot-up time, and no need for a hard disk.

100. Improved Wavetable and FM Sound Synthesis
Clear Signal Research
3713 Mead St.
Fort Collins, CO 80526
tel: 970-204-9510
e-mail: jprater@frii.com
Principal Investigator: Jim S. Prater
President: Jim S. Prater
NSF Grant No. 9661162; Amount: $48,902.37

Electronic sound synthesis has become a very large market, with application in PC sound cards and electronic musical instruments. Significant opportunities exist at the low end of these markets for synthesis methods (implemented in chip form) with higher sound quality and low cost. High-end systems, implemented either in VLSI or as software running on a DSP chip, also present opportunities for synthesis solutions that give the user better dynamic sound quality. Clear Signal Research proposes improved sound synthesis technology based on novel filtering and synthesis methods to address both low-end and high-end market opportunities. For high-end applications, we propose an improved synthesis technique using time-varying parameters in a wavetable. This will provide significant improvements in musical dynamics. For low-end applications, we propose post-processing methods to remove the "electronic" character of FM sound synthesis, at minimal cost.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Commercial applications include sound synthesis chips for PC sound cards and PC motherboard audio systems, and synthesis chips and DSP code for keyboard synthesizers. Extensions of these algorithms may have applications in music post-processing, especially for guitar signal processors.

101. A CMOS-Based MEMS Fabrication Service
Tanner Research, Inc.
180 N. Vinedo Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91107
tel: 818-792-3000; fax: 818-792-0300
e-mail: michael.emerling@tanner.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Michael Emerling
President: John Tanner, Ph.D.
NSF Grant No. 9661256; Amount: $75,000

We propose to develop a MicroElectroMechanical System (MEMS) fabrication service that will be self-supporting after Phase I. We will use a MEMS technology demonstrated successfully by several laboratories. The process begins with a CMOS chip, available from many vendors, and applies a relatively simple mask-less post-processing etch to produce pits, cantilever beams, and membranes. Researchers have used this technology to demonstrate a variety of MEMS devices.

This MEMS process leverages existing CMOS fabrication to create MEMS devices integrated monolithically with CMOS circuitry. The single post-processing step requires no photolithography and no expensive equipment. The entire incremental cost to add this capability to our fabrication facility is included in the Phase I cost proposal.

Despite the low cost, only designers with access to a processing laboratory can implement their designs. Our service will dramatically expand access to MEMS implementation. Our service will be geared toward providing processing of prototype quantities at an affordable price. We expect to process four MOSIS packaged tiny chips for a charge of $500. We also expect to provide volume processing of wafers for less than $1,000.

During Phase I, we will work with researchers experienced with this process to develop preliminary design rules, guidelines, and examples, and we will distribute this data to the MEMS community and solicit initial designs. We will install the fabrication equipment, and perform the processing of the initial run, returning parts to researchers for testing. Phase II will enhance the service to include advanced MEMS packaging.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed MEMS fabrication service will enable the research and development to keep our nation in the forefront of the commercialization of MEMS. The service will support commercialization by providing cost-effective prototype fabrication and volume manufacturing.

102. Boundary Scan and BIST Insertion into VHDL Designs with COTS Components
Alternative System Concepts, Inc.
22 Haverhill Rd., P.O. Box 128
Windham, NH 03087
tel: 603-437-2234; fax: 603-437-2722
e-mail: cbs@ascinc.com
Principal Investigator: Casper B. Stoel
President: Carl A. Karrfalt
NSF Grant No. 9661504; Amount: $74,996

The ever-shrinking time to market in the electronics industry created an increasing need for commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) components. COTS components are readily available, less expensive, and increase efficiency of the design process, but negatively impact testability. Alternative System Concepts (ASC) proposes to develop a methodology for enhancing testability of boards and systems implemented using COTS devices, and to provide the supporting tools. Our methodology will improve controllability and observability in such board testing through (1) implementation of board-level JTAG boundary scan, (2) borrowing boundary scan included on some chips to test surrounding COTS components without boundary scan, and (3) integrating other test and diagnostic techniques such as board-level built-in self-test (BIST) and IDDQ test using the 1149.1 standard boundary scan serial interface. We will expand the VBIT ™ test insertion VHDL technology developed by ASC under an earlier U.S. Army SBIR contract. Industry standards (VHDL and Boundary Scan) support interoperability with major EDA frameworks. During Phase I, a prototype tool set will be developed for higher level (board, Multi-Chip Module, etc.) boundary scan and BIST insertion into VHDL designs. In Phase II, tool set features and capabilities will be expanded., and product commercialization will begin.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed test insertion methodology provides a solution to pressing problems faced by designers whose design requirements include high testability and use of untestable COTS components. The new tool set will lower cost and save time in the design phase through use of commercial parts without the attendant compromises in testability.

Topic 19¾Information, Robotics, and Intelligent Systems Resources

103. Stereo-Based Pursuit and Obstacle Avoidance for Mobile Robots
Metrica, Inc. TRAClabs
1012 Hercules
Houston, TX 77058
tel: 281-461-9525; fax: 281-461-9550
e-mail: Korten@Metricanet.com
Principal Investigator: David M. Kortenkamp, Ph.D.
President: Bruce H. Dunson, Ph.D.
NSF Grant No. 9660183; Amount: $74,927

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will develop a stereo vision system that can perform pursuit and obstacle avoidance functions for a mobile robot. Visual sensing has long been a significant obstacle to deploying truly autonomous mobile robots. Existing vision systems are either too slow or too expensive. Metrica, Inc., has, over the last several years, developed real-time, active stereo vision software that promises to overcome these problems. Our innovative method concentrates system resources in cubic volumes of space that we call proximity spaces. Within the bounds of this space an array of stereo and motion measurements are made in order to determine which regions of the space are occupied by surface material, and what the spatial and temporal disparities are within those regions. Under a NASA SBIR contract we are developing inexpensive hardware that will run our algorithms at frame rate. In this proposal, we will look at extending our approach to pursuit and obstacle avoidance for mobile robots. This will improve the flexibility and safety of current robotic systems and increase the range of tasks to which robots can be applied. This product will have wide applications in the emerging service robotics industry.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Hazardous waste inspection and clean-up; service robotics (e.g., delivery, security, warehousing); research robots; entertainment.

104. Handwriting-Based Interface for Mathematical Notation
Communication Intelligence Corp.
275 Shoreline Dr., Suite 520
Redwood Shores, CA 94065-1413
tel: 650-802-7756; fax: 650-802-7777
e-mail: garst@cic.com
Principal Investigator: Peter Garst
President: Guido DiGregorio
NSF Grant No. 9660269; $74,837

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will determine the feasibility of developing a natural and easy system for input and editing of mathematical notation on a computer. Computer interfaces have made great progress in most areas, but communication of mathematical notation to computers remains unnatural and slow. CIC believes that handwritten input of mathematical notation will be efficient and natural to users. The proposed Phase I work includes collection of handwritten mathematical data; research into algorithms for recognizing and editing mathematical notation; and investigation into how to effectively integrate these capabilities into a natural user interface.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The market for natural and efficient input of mathematical notation is potentially very large. This technology would allow the development of a range of innovative products catering to students and professionals in many technical, business, and educational fields. Examples of such products include handheld calculators that accept symbolic problems as easily as numeric ones; word processors easier to use than pencil and paper for input of mathematical notation; and easy communication of mathematical notation over computer networks. CIC is in a strong position to pursue commercialization. Its licensees include major computer companies such as IBM, NEC, AT&T/NCR, and many others.

105. Precise Magnetic Tracking of Robotic/Virtual Reality Services
Quantum Magnetics, Inc.
7740 Kenamar Ct.
San Diego, CA 92121
tel: 914-945-3506; fax: 914-945-4421
e-mail: robm@watson.ibm.com
Principal Investigator: Robert Matthews
President: Andrew D. Hibbs
NSF Grant No. 9660797; Amount: $74,622.23

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will develop a novel magnetic sensing technique that can be used in a variety of robotic and virtual reality operations to sense local positional accuracy to a very high degree of precision. By fixing an array of inexpensive magneto-resistive sensors to a nearby reference surface and attaching small transmit coils to the moving parts, robotic (or human) actions can be very accurately tracked, monitored, and stored for future review. The position and orientation of each transmit coil with respect to the reference surface can be independently measured, with an expected positional accuracy of about one millimeter and rotational accuracy of better than one degree. The Phase I effort would be directed toward building a prototype system to further define the operational parameters and expected performance of such a system.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Commercial applications include robotic control, virtual reality, telepresence (i.e., the combination of robotics and virtual reality), monitoring human performance (e.g., head, hand movements), and training. In the military, training systems and man-in the-loop targeting applications would benefit from such a low-cost, robust capability. With further development, detecting and tracking of larger objects such as concealed weapons (law enforcement need), cars/trucks (intelligent vehicle/highway system applications), and airplanes over hundreds of meters will be possible.

106. Multi-Viewpoint Clustering Analysis for Validation of Knowledge-Based Systems
Pragati Synergetic Research, Inc.
145 Stonelake Ct.
Yorktown, VA 23693
tel: 804-865-7080; fax: 804-766-8892
e-mail: mm@infi.net
Principal Investigator: Mala Mehrotra
President: Mala Mehrotra
NSF Grant No. 9660988; Amount: $74,890.37

The ability to develop and maintain large, reliable, complex knowledge-based systems in a cost-effective manner is still a challenging problem. A viable tool to structure knowledge-based systems before they become operational will enhance their reliability and maintainability. In this project, we propose to develop a semi-automated tool, based on the Multi-Viewpoint Clustering (MVP-CA) methodology, which will allow us to discover significant underlying structures of such complex systems from multiple points of view. By presenting different perspectives of the system, one can gain significant insight into different interrelationships across the exposed structures. In Phase I, we would like to study the feasibility of automating the analysis process in the MVP-CA software and design an interactive interface for useful information exchange between the user and the system. Such information will prove an invaluable aid for many software life cycle activities such as verification, validation, testing, and maintenance of a knowledge-based system.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The MVP-CA tool will be of great use to software developers and maintainers. We expect it to be integrated as a value-added product into software development environments to support the following activities: verification, validation, testing, maintenance reengineering, and migration of knowledge-based systems software to object-oriented platforms.

107. Intelligent Agents Using Situation Assessment
Accurate Automation Corp.
7001 Shallowford Rd.
Chattanooga, TN 37415
tel: 423-894-4646; fax: 423-894-4645
e-mail: ajmaren@accurate-automation.com, akita@accurate-automation.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Alianna J. Maren/
Richard M. Akita
President: Robert M. Pap
NSF Grant No. 9661194; Amount: $75,000

In this Phase I effort, and with the follow-on Phase II, Accurate Automation will prototype and demonstrate key technology components for an Intelligent Agent Using Situation Assessment. This system will automatically provide pilots with high fidelity, near real-time information that will help them in their decision making under stress. In Phase I, we will lay the foundation. We will identify demonstration scenarios based on real accidents, construct emulations of these scenarios, and identify the "schemes" that pilots consistently use when doing selected piloting tasks. We will identify the key components of a pilot cognitive model, and develop an IA architecture. We will identify the key necessary learning methods for constructing user models and take the first steps for their development. We will demonstrate performance.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The AAC will put immediate commercialization of technologies developed under this Phase I and a follow-on Phase II program to work with the Navy for Real-Time Retargeting (RTR), for which initial funding has already been obtained. Additional commercialization is expected for commercial, military, and general aviation systems. In addition, the IA technologies can be extended to assist in the operation of power plants, chemical refineries, television stations, etc.

108. AIDE: The Data Analyst’s Assistant
ACSIOM Labs, Inc.
611 Belchertown Rd., P.O. Box 44
Amherst, MA 01004-0044
tel: 413-545-6311; fax: 413-545-1789
e-mail: lenherr@acsiom.org
Principal Investigator: Fred K. Lenherr
President: W. Richards Adrion
NSF Grant No. 9661209; Amount: $74,920

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I
project will assess the commercial potential of the AIDE assistant for data analysis. Currently, analysts in government, corporations, and universities rely on software that has changed little in decades. Exploratory data analysis—that is, finding hidden structure in large datasets—is painfully slow, because conventional statistical packages require users to specify every operation. Moreover, conventional packages lack the intelligence to interpret the results of operations. In contrast, our AIDE package can interpret intermediate results, so when, for example, it discovers clusters in data, it autonomously examines each for internal structure and then combines these local analyses into a summary of the entire dataset. AIDE is designed to conduct thousands of statistical operations under the strategic guidance of analysts. The analyst steers the exploration of a dataset instead of specifying every operation; AIDE is an assistant instead of a fancy calculator.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: It is difficult to assess the market for AIDE because it is an unprecedented development in data analysis software. An industry expert, Eric Thompson of Praxis, Inc., estimates that three million statistics packages are installed in the United States. If even a fraction of the users of these packages switched to AIDE, the commercial impact would be very significant. Potentially, AIDE could revolutionize exploratory data analysis and save countless hours and dollars. Because data in electronic form is becoming available at an unprecedented rate, major corporations are mounting efforts in "knowledge discovery" and "data mining." But as far as we can tell from the published literature, all these efforts look for particular kinds of structure in specific kinds of data. AIDE is currently the only general-purpose software assistant for data analysts.

109. Alternative Keyboard for Typists with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)
McAlindon Enterprises, Inc.
3913 Bibb Lane
Orlando, FL 32817
tel: 407-673-6733; fax: 407-673-6735
e-mail: pete@thor.irdg.com
Principal Investigator: Peter J. McAlindon, Ph.D.
President: Peter J. McAlindon, Ph.D.
NSF Grant No. 9661259; Amount: $66,028

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project is proposing a new approach to typing for typists with carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). A new alphanumeric input device is proposed to address the ergonomic and efficiency needs of the physically disabled user. The device uses a pair of devices, each comprised of an inverted bowl upon which the hands comfortably rest. Its typing methodology entails creating a keystroke via a combination of positions of the two bowls. This combination of positions is called chording. Phase I evaluation will investigate the ergonomic, biomechanical, and typing performances of the new device. Such an evaluation will establish how effective the device may be in providing an alternative means of typing to those with physical disability of the upper extremity. Primary elements of evaluation include character layout, motor skill requirements, physical and workload evaluation, and memory requirements.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The device’s potential for commercial success is enormous. The device’s greatest commercial application lies in its ability to respond to any user’s needs. Outside of the disability realm, the device can be reduced in size without losing any of its functionality. Portable computers could be made smaller, for example. Another useful application of the device, because of its self-containment, is in hostile environments. The device can be completely sealed and still be fully functional; it can even be used under water.

110. Interactive Telerobotic Video on the World Wide Web
Perceptual Robotics, Inc.
1840 Oak Ave.
Evanston, IL 60201
tel: 847-475-0512; fax: 847-866-1808
e-mail: pri-cooper@nwu.edu
Principal Investigator: Paul R. Cooper
President: Paul R. Cooper
NSF Grant No. 9661472; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will prototype InterCam, a system for providing interactive, telerobotically controlled, live video on the World Wide Web. The InterCam system will be based on an operational research system (LabCam; at http://vision.cs.uchicago.edu) developed earlier by the project principles.

To establish commercial viability, we must determine whether the system can be developed on a cost-effective hardware/software infrastructure, and we must develop important additional functionality. We plan to develop the new system on an Intel/Windows NT platform, and to re-engineer the timesharing functionality at the heart of the software as a multithreaded distributed operating system, exploiting the multiprocessing functionality and platform transparency of Java. We also plan to develop new shareable control methods, and explore the plausibility of incorporating basic computer vision capabilities into the system.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: It is hard to overstate the potential impact of this technology. Inquiries from potential customers have helped us identify a number of different concrete application areas: teleconferencing ("look where you want to look"); security; remote process monitoring accessible from anywhere, affordably; Internet publishing; and product and real-estate marketing (the "virtual showroom or open-house").

111. Optoelectronic Label Verification System
Physical Optics Corp.
Engineering and Products Div.
20600 Gramercy Pl., Suite 103
Torrance, CA 90501
tel: 310-320-3088; fax: 310-320-4667
Principal Investigator: Andrew Kostrzewski, Ph.D.
President: Joanna Jannson, Ph.D.
NSF Grant No. 9661475; Amount: $74,995

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will develop a unique anticounterfeiting method based on optical correlation techniques that will ensure extremely high confidence because of its large number of degrees of freedom. The key features of Physical Optics Corporation’s proposed system is its use of high-density phase encoded labels with 1030 code possibilities. The research and development proposed here is an extension of existing optical correlation technology for label verification. This application is challenging because labels may be presented to the verification system with unpredictable scale, shift, and rotation. The key to the success of our project is in the development of scale, translation, and rotation invariant phase codes together with a flexible reading/processing head that will allow unrestricted placement of labels during the verification process. Scanning or replicating our phase label is impossible because of the high optical density of the phase information. An additional feature of the proposed phase-encoded labeling is its compatibility with a variety of substrates, including thin foil and plastic in both reflection and transmission modes of operation. The production cost of such labels will be in the range of a few cents per label.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed development will be a new tool to fight counterfeit crime. It can be applied to many security applications, such as limited access security, ID cards, credit card verification, product label verification systems, and medical record cards.

112. High Performance Three-Dimensional Mouse and Head Tracker
Dynaflow, Inc.
7210 Pindell School Rd.
Fulton, MD 20759
tel: 301-604-3688; fax: 301-604-3689
e-mail: info@dynaflow-inc.com
Principal Investigator: Daniel F. DeMenthon
President: Georges L. Chahine
NSF Grant No. 9661576; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I program will test a novel instrument for tracking the hand and the head of a subject; it has particular application to user-system interfaces for interactive three-dimensional graphics and virtual reality.

Dynaflow, Inc., proposes a novel optical tracker using infrared light emitting diodes (LEDs) mounted on the hand and head of the user and a fixed camera equipped with a position-sensing diode (PSD). The system will modulate each LED at a distinct characteristic frequency from several kHz to several hundred kHz. The contributions from the LEDs to the PSD signal will all be measured simultaneously and separated by digital filters, each tuned to extract the contribution of a single LED. Sunlight and incandescent light sources do not produce components in the kHz range and will be rejected by high pass filters. This design will obtain accurate translation and rotation measurements at high rate, and with a low phase lag during rapid hand or head motion.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed technology will result in the development of optical tracking systems that perform reliably in unconstrained lighting environments, while providing high update rates and high responsiveness. Potential commercial applications include three-dimensional mouse systems and head mounted display trackers for the interactive three-dimensional graphics market, the simulator market, and the entertainment market.

Topic 20¾Engineering Systems-Power Systems Resources

113. Power Electronic Interface to Connect a Micro-SMES System to Inverters for the Power Quality Market
Superconductivity, Inc.
(now American Superconductor Corp.)
2114 Eagle Dr.
Middleton, WI 53562
tel: 608-828-9109; fax: 608-831-4609
e-mail: ekostecki@amsuper.com
Principal Investigator: Eric L. Kostecki
President: Greg Yurek
NSF Grant No. 9660113; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project’s technical objective is to develop a power electronic interface module to connect an energy source to an inverter system parallel connected to the utility system. Specifically, this design effort will focus on such an interface module for connecting a superconducting energy storage (Micro-SMES) system to an inverter system.

Higher magnet currents are needed to increase the power output level of Micro-SMES systems. Design objectives include the evaluation of different topologies and determination of the optimal solution. The ultimate power rating shall be in the 5 to 10 MW range.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: One of the largest growing national and global areas for Micro-SMES systems is the power quality market. Power quality problems can be addressed in a range of customer locations or on the electric utility system. A Micro-SMES system with a new interface module offers a unique solution to these problems because (1) it has the ability to connect to a variety of inverters, (2) paralleling devices increases the power rating, and (3) this higher power rating combined with the parallel-connected inverters permits the development of applications at the utility distribution system voltage level.

114. Automated Optimal Robot Trajectory Planner
Analytical Mechanics Associates, Inc.
17 Research Dr.
Hampton, VA 23666
tel: 757-865-0944; fax: 757-865-1881
e-mail: renji@ama-inc.com
Principal Investigator: Renjith R. Kumar
President: Renjith R. Kumar
NSF Grant No. 9660214; Amount: $74,995

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project evaluates feasibility of creating a generic, user-friendly optimal robotic trajectory planning software, which is robust, fully automated, and capable of multi-degree-of-freedom optimization with path constraints. Currently, no commercial software exists that can solve generic robot optimization problems in a turnkey fashion. A differential inclusions technique recently developed at AMA is ideally suited to solve the robot trajectory optimization problem because the controls appear linearly. Proving concept feasibility implies:
(1) Construction of a generalized symbolic algorithm that creates the equations of motion of multi-degree-of-freedom manipulators from user-provided mass and geometry data; (2) Representation of above equations in the differential inclusion format; (3) Evaluation of analytical partial derivatives of the resulting hodograph, boundary, and path constraints with respect to the generalized states; (4) Evaluation of convergence robustness of the differential inclusion approach for the entire class of open-chain manipulators and comparison to classical variational and collocation techniques; and (5) Obtaining optimal solutions for high-DOF manipulators via a special dense-sparse discretization approach developed at AMA.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Commercial applications include performance enhancement of manufacturing processes such as spot welding, painting, and assembly, where minimizing time and energy requirements map into millions of dollars saved in direct manufacturing costs.

115. Ultra-Miniature Transformer and Inductor Design and Manufacture
BH Electronics, Inc.
12219 Wood Lake Dr.
Burnsville, MN 55337
tel: 612-894-9590; fax: 612-894-9380
e-mail: jdecramer@bhelectronics.com
Principal Investigator: John E. DeCramer
President: Richard H. Jackson
NSF Grant No. 9660219; Amount: $74,954

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project addresses the development of automated manufacturing for high frequency (5 MHz to 1 GHz) transformers and inductors. Current manufacturing processes are labor intensive. Magnetic core and wire diameters are very small (2.5 mm and 0.075 mm), making machine assembly impractical. The proposed approach uses automated techniques similar to semiconductor manufacturing to deposit, etch, and coat patterned layers of magnetic, conductive, and insulating materials. This automation will significantly reduce labor content, further reduce device size, and enable economic production in the United States rather than offshore.

Research objectives include completion of electrical and mechanical transformer design and fabrication of prototypes. Fundamental phenomena underlying device operation and electrical performance will be evaluated. The principal investigator has expert knowledge in high frequency transformer design and will be supported by a consultant having expert knowledge in semiconductor manufacture. Prototype fabrication will occur at the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Technology-Microtechnology Laboratory and electrical performance will be determined at BH Electronics’ Engineering Laboratory.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Commercial applications include high frequency transformers and inductors for data and video transmissions, hybrid circuits, and related circuitry. Beyond existing markets, this new approach will enable development of miniature products in data and personal communications.

116. High Efficiency Diamond Micro Cathode for Electron Field Emission
Materials & Electrochemical Research (MER) Corp.
7960 South Kolb Rd.
Tucson, AZ 85706
tel: 520-574-1980; fax: 520-574-1983
e-mail: mercorp@opusl.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Chenyu Pan
President: Dr. J.C. Withers
NSF Grant No. 9660272; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will develop a novel and high efficiency diamond micro-cathode and micro-cathode array by synthesizing and depositing nanocrystalline diamond thin films on conductive micro-fiber ends through a unique chemical vapor deposition (CVD) process. Diamond has recently emerged as a promising electron field emission cathode due to its unsurpassed electron field emission properties of low voltage and room temperature operation, operation robustness, simple design, and reproducibility. However, the present diamond cathodes are microcrystalline diamond thin films deposited on macro-substrate (mm to cm size) by a conventional diamond CVD process. Several drawbacks have recently been identified with these microcrystalline diamond cathodes. For example, only one to ten percent or less of the diamond cathode surface is active and contributes nearly all the current produced, resulting in an overall low emission efficiency. The distribution of the minority-populated active emission sites is also random and uncontrolled. The electron emission from each individual emission site cannot be independently controlled either. These drawbacks are expected to be overcome by the development of this novel nanocrystalline diamond micro-cathode by the demonstration of significantly improved field emission efficiency, very high current density at low operation field, and controlled emission performance and emission pattern.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The successful completion of the Phase I program will result in the development of a new generation diamond field emission cathode. The significantly improved efficiency, high available current density at low field, flexibility in emission control and emission pattern, operation robustness, and simple fabrication are expected to benefit a large variety of vacuum-electronic applications, ranging from flat panel displays, TV and computer screens, and aircraft vision displays to high energy accelerator physics. Because of the high efficiency of the new diamond cathodes, their cost will also be substantially lower than that of the present diamond cathodes.

117. Thin Film Circulators for Microwave/MMW Integrated Circuits
ElectroMagnetic Applications, Inc.
300 Commercial St., Suite 805
Boston, MA 02109
tel: 617-720-3968; fax: 617-720-3968
e-mail: HHOW@NEU.EDU
Principal Investigator: Hoton How
President: Hoton How
NSF Grant No. 9660427; Amount: $74,995

We propose innovative design of planar microwave and millimeter wave (MMW) circulators compatible with integrated circuits. Traditionally, ferrite circulators are made using bulk materials in which holes need to be drilled to a very small tolerance in the dielectric substrates, and, hence, the fabrication costs are high. In addition, the need for permanent magnets further impedes the development of circulator designs toward monolithic microwave/MMW circuits. In Phase I we will identify potential circuit geometries for designing practical planar microwave/MMW circulators and complete proof-of-concept experiments. A commercialization path will be outlined. In Phase II we will design, fabricate, and test a prototype thin-film circulator. Self-biasing circulators employing hexagonal ferrite films will be developed in phase II. We will explore major cost and applicability issues associated with commercialization of our circulator designs. This research and development will seek to provide low-cost production of circulators that will facilitate their commercialization so that high-performance circulators can find direct commercial applicability in the radar and communication industries.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The results of the novel and innovative program outlined in this proposal will enhance U.S. competitiveness by advancing the state of the art in knowledge and understanding of microwave/MMW integrated-circuit circulators.

118. Recurrent Adaptive Critics for Nonlinear Systems Control
Accurate Automation Corp.
7001 Shallowford Rd.
Chattanooga, TN 37415
tel: 423-894-4646; fax: 423-894-4645
e-mail: ccox@accurate-automation.com, kmathia@accurate-automation.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Karl Mathia/Chadwick J. Cox
President: Robert M. Pap
NSF Grant No. 9660604; Amount: $75,000

We will develop a practical methodology for applying to real-world engineering applications new nonlinear adaptive critic principles that incorporate recurrent neural networks. We have recently developed a powerful new theory that guarantees stable adaptive critic control systems. This theory describes certain properties that the subsystems of the adaptive critic algorithm (action, model, critic) and their associated learning algorithms must have to ensure stable control. Recurrent neural networks are a powerful tool that can be applied to realize these properties. We will apply our theory to the development of a theoretical and experimental basis for understanding adaptive critics with recurrent neural network subsystems. Our algorithm will learn "on-line" to control a highly nonlinear system, with stability guaranteed and optimal performance guaranteed in the limit.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Our adaptive critic will be developed with a specific application to aircraft, so the most obvious commercialization is to the aircraft industry. Our adaptive critic algorithm is very general, so it will also have applications in any industry requiring good nonlinear controls. Examples of these industries are the chemical industry, the automobile industry, and the photocopier industry. Phase I will result in a prototype of a commercializable software system. In Phase II, we will develop special-purpose hardware for sale.

119. A Neural Network Approach for Active Noise Control in a Three-Dimensional Enclosure
NeuroDyne, Inc.
One Kendall Sq.
Cambridge, MA 02139
tel: 540-955-9912; fax: 540-955-9917
e-mail: sofge@ai.mit.edu
Principal Investigator: Donald A. Sofge
President: Theresa W. Long
NSF Grant No. 9660605; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will develop and test a new approach to active interior noise control in a three-dimensional enclosure. The new thrust in the proposed research is a digital adaptive system that makes use of both analyses and directly measured data from a three-dimensional enclosure to carry out active noise control by using smart materials located on flexible boundaries of the enclosure. The system is intended to track the changes in the acoustic information due to movement, changes in open apertures, etc., and carry out on-line minimization to realize the desired acoustic performance. Unlike most methods that assume that the acoustic field inside the enclosure can be modeled by using standing waves, the proposed method is designed to accommodate diffuse sound fields in the enclosure. Furthermore, the noise is not assumed to be harmonic, and nonperiodic sound fields are to be considered. The neural network-based filter proposed herein can make use of analytical and experimental data to assign initial weights that are to be adapted to carry out (locally) on-line minimization of sound pressure in the enclosure.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Noise reduction in aircraft is a subject of serious commercial concern in the industry. The techniques developed in this effort will be widely applicable to noise reduction in rotorcraft cabins of commercial helicopters, and may be adapted for use in commercial airline cockpits, as well as in factory settings and other vibration-critical manufacturing environments.

120. Novel Crystal Growth Process for AgGaS2
181 Legrand Ave.
Northvale, NJ 07647
tel: 201-767-1910; fax: 201-767-9644
e-mail: INRAD@aol.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Ilya Tsveybak
President: Warren Ruderman
NSF Grant No. 9660638; Amount: $74,900

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will develop a new crystal growth process for AgGaS2 single crystals. The excellent nonlinear and optical transmission properties of AgGaS2 make it a unique material for an optical parametric oscillator that can be pumped by a 1.06mm laser to provide laser radiation continuously tunable from 2.5 to 10mm. The very promising potential for AgGaS2 crystals for this application has not yet been realized because commercially available crystals are too costly, take too long to produce, and are limited in size.

A new crystal growth process for AgGaS2 will be developed that will overcome these limitations.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: An infrared laser source continuously tunable from 2.5 to 10 mm will play an important role in environmental monitoring for chemical species, in spectroscopy, in microelectronics manufacturing, and in optical spectrometers.

121. Single Crystals for High Temperature, High Power Electronics
Nanomaterials Research Corp.
2620 Trade Center Ave.
Longmont, CO 80503
tel: 303-702-1672; fax: 303-702-1682
e-mail: staff@nrcorp.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Shahid Pirzada
President: Tapesh Yadav
NSF Grant No. 9660642; Amount: $75,000

Silicon carbide has a unique combination of electrical and thermophysical properties, which make it very attractive to use in high temperature, high power, and high frequency electronics applications. The availability of single crystal silicon carbide wafers of the required quality at a reasonable cost will fully realize the benefits of these devices in many areas of high temperature, high power microelectronics. This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project focuses on developing a novel process to produce single crystal silicon carbide. Nanomaterials Research Corporation (NRC) will, during Phase I, demonstrate the proof-of-concept. Phase II will optimize the technology, while Phase III will commercialize it.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The potential applications of the proposed research include automotive, aerospace, chemical refining, nuclear power, and energy production.

122. Nanomagnetic Memory Device
NanoSystems, Inc.
83 Prokop Rd.
Oxford, CT 06478
tel: 203-881-2827; fax: 203-881-2855
e-mail: nanosystem@aol.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. John Steinbeck
President: Charles P. Beetz
NSF Grant No. 9660782; Amount: $75,000

A novel nanomagnetic memory device is proposed that has performance characteristics similar to those of SRAM. Nanomagnetic structures are used to store data and to nondestructively read data out of the device using a fluxgate mechanism. The memory cells are passive devices that do not require transistors to be integrated at each memory cell and are built using proven semiconductor thin film techniques. Arrays of the nanomagnetic memory devices can be made at areal data storage densities comparable to hard disk drives. The thin film processes used to build the device coupled with the passive nature of the memory cells may make true three-dimensional integration of the devices possible both as three-dimensional memory arrays and as memory arrays integrated on top of logic circuits. The Phase I program will demonstrate that nanomagnetic memory arrays can be built at areal data storage densities of 100 Mbit/cm2. The Phase II program will be used to build a complete 1K, 100 Mbit/cm2 memory device.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Nanomagnetic memory technology could revolutionize the way memory subsystems are incorporated into electronic systems. The most exciting possibility is for full "systems on a chip" to become cost effective from the preservation of the silicon real estate afforded by the technology.

123. Point Sensor for Remote Off-Gas Monitoring
PXL, Inc.
1-H Deer Park Dr.
Monmouth Junction, NJ 08852
tel: 908-329-0505; fax: 908-329-8334
e-mail: pxl@superlink.net
Principal Investigator: Dr. Edward J. Miller
President: Dr. Ada Suckewer
NSF Grant No. 9660819; Amount: $74,996

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will focus on the development of point sensor for high sensitivity, in situ, remote trace gas analysis. We expect the proposed technology to provide a two-to-three orders of magnitude increase in sensitivity over existing hear infrared technologies and allow the development of diode-based, portable instruments for high sensitivity (ppm-ppb range) point monitoring of trace gases. This technology also allows for the development of versatile sensors suitable for the detection of chemical/biological agents in both gas and liquid media for a broad scope of applications in science and industry.

In Phase I we will design and test a proprietary sensor component and will develop and experimentally confirm a numerical model that simulates the proposed system. Using the confirmed model, numerical simulations will be conducted to develop the instrument’s optimized design and to predict its performance.

In Phase II we will develop a point sensor based on the proposed technology for the remote monitoring of ammonia in off-gas waste streams in real time.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed sensor will particularly benefit industrial process control, underground pipeline and tank leak detection, and geological exploration for oil and natural gas. It will also find applications in clinical/medical diagnostics, environmental monitoring, detection of chemical and biological warfare agents, and other personal safety devices. The broad scope of applications indicates a large potential market for this technology.

124. Multiport Wavelength Division Multiplexing Cross-Connect for All-Optic Networks
Aurora Associates
3350 Scott Blvd., Bldg. 20
Santa Clara, CA 95054-3106
tel: 408-748-2960; fax: 408-748-2962
e-mail: AurorAssoc@aol.com
Principal Investigator: I. C. Chang
President: Phoebe Chang
NSF Grant No. 9660113; Amount: $75,000

The objective of the proposed SBIR Phase I project is to develop a polarization independent (PI) wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) cross-connect for all-optical communication networks. At the core of the WDM cross-connect is a multiport wavelength routing switch using acousto-optic tunable filters (AOTFs). The salient features of the multiport AOTF switch (MAOS) are that it (1) is a single device with multiple input and output optical ports and a single RF input; (2) has low drive power, narrow passband and low sidelobes; (3) is capable of simultaneously and independently switching optical signals at different wavelengths; and (4) is scaleable to a large number of ports and wavelengths. During Phase I, a feasibility model of the PI MAOS will be built and demonstrated. The system performance and limitations of the N x N WDM cross-connect using the MAOS as the building block will be analyzed.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Applications of the MAOS include the following: dynamic gain equalizer for WDM amplifiers, add and drop multiplexers, and multiport wavelength routing cross-connect for wideband fiber-optic communication. The low power fiber pigtailed AOTF will also find use as a rugged fieldable spectrometer for process control, environmental monitoring, and medical diagnosis.

125. Enhanced Photorefractive Quantum Wells for Compensated Laser Ultrasonic Receivers Using Real-Time Holography
Lasson Technologies
1331 Avenida de Cortez
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
tel: 310-459-0101; fax: 310-459-0101
e-mail: lassontec@aol.com
Principal Investigator: Marvin Klein
President: Marvin Klein
NSF Grant No. 9660966; Amount: $74,468

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project addresses enhanced photorefractive multiple quantum wells for laser ultrasonic receivers. Laser-based ultrasound is a promising nondestructive evaluation technique that can provide remote measurements of parts that are at high temperatures or in hostile environments. It can also be used for parts that are moving rapidly or that require scanning of large areas. Most current receivers for laser-based ultrasound are based on various types of interferometers. One promising type of interferometer uses real-time holography in a photorefractive material to combine a signal beam that interrogates a vibrating surface with a reference beam for coherent detection. In this configuration, the real-time hologram acts as an adaptive beamsplitter to overlap the wavefronts of the distorted signal beam and the plane-wave reference beam. In spite of their promise, none of the interferometric receivers have performed near their theoretical capability, due to limitations in the performance of the photorefractive material. In this program, we propose to design, grow, and characterize photorefractive multiple quantum wells with optimized parameters for use as a real-time adaptive beamsplitter in a homodyne interferometer. The goals are a low-cost laser ultrasonic receiver with improved signal-to-noise performance and the capability of operating at low light levels.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Laser-based ultrasound has applications in a wide range of industrial markets. It offers the capability to improve the inspection rate of existing scanning systems, and it will enable the inspection of many parts that cannot be tested with other techniques. It is particularly promising as an in-process diagnostic for 100 percent inspection of mass-produced parts.

126. Polymer Diode Arrays and Image Sensing Arrays: Large Area, Flexible Photon Sensors with High Photosensitivity
6780 Cortona Dr.
Santa Barbara, CA 93117
tel: 805-562-9293 x118; fax: 805-562-9144
e-mail: uniax@uniax.com
Principal Investigator: Gang Yu
President: Dr. Alan J. Heeger
NSF Grant No. 9660975; Amount: $74,932

There is considerable interest in large area, high sensitivity image sensors. Although linear diode arrays and small area, monochromatic and full-color CCD matrices have been developed (for use in scanners,video cameras, etc.), there are special opportunities for large area, flexible image sensors for use in military applications and in office automation. An example is a flexible or foldable thin-image sensor of book size to be used to directly and rapidly read images (without scanning) from papers or from a computer or TV screen into memory. The stored image could then be copied to another piece of paper or even sent by fax to a remote site. Polymer diode photodetector devices provide a novel and attractive approach to such large area, high sensitivity image sensors. Over the past six years UNIAX has invested resources and R&D effort with the objective of developing photonic and electronic devices based on semiconducting organic polymers. The proposed research will focus both on identifying materials appropriate for the spectral ranges of interest (such as full-color capability) and on optimizing device parameters. Device operating life and environmental stability are other parameters to be characterized.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed work will focus on a true dual-use technology. There is a strategic need for large area linear diode arrays and image sensors for military applications, such as strategic threat warning, and target identification and tracking in aerial reconnaissance vehicles. These uses are balanced by a number of applications in the office automation and consumer electronics markets, as well as in astrophysics/space technology and in medical applications.

127. A Web-Based Automatic Database for an Electric Power System OASIS
The Web Foundry
P.O. Box 450
Dryden, NY 13053
tel: 719-637-8050; fax: 719-637-8050
e-mail: pmcconnell@web-foundry.com
Principal Investigator: Peter W. McConnell
President: Peter W. McConnell
NSF Grant No. 9661109; Amount: $52,500

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project is designed to prove the feasibility of real-time World Wide Web displays based on Internet transfer of polled data, automated data sanitizing and database loading, and dynamic creation of Web displays. The specific commercial opportunity has been created by a recent Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) order requiring all U.S. electric power transmission network providers to make transmission line availability and pricing data publicly available as Open Access Same-Time Information Systems (OASIS).

Research objectives include the development of an inexpensive database that can be queried via a Web browser and that can be integrated with a network provider’s existing resources; a standard data format for shipping OASIS input data via the Internet; and an automated sanitizing and loading process for transferred data. Research will involve determining a feasible database solution; defining a standard format for data transfer and loading; investigating sanitizing processes and transfer/loading mechanisms; and developing a prototype database/Web display interface.

Anticipated benefits include the ability to use the Internet and standard Web browsers for display of real-time data. Limited research has been accomplished in this area, particularly with regard to use in commercial applications using diverse hosting platforms.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed technology is designed to be compatible with the growing specifications of information to be provided by transmission system owners as a result of the restructuring of the electric power industry. Research results will enable development of a commercial OASIS.

128. Next-Generation Speed Ferroelectric Liquid Crystal-VLSI Spatial Light Modulators
Displaytech, Inc.
2200 Central Ave.
Boulder, CO 80301
tel: 303-449-8933; fax: 303-449-8934
e-mail: mikeo@displaytech.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Michael J. O’Callaghan
President: Mark A. Handschy
NSF Grant No. 9661235; Amount: $74,073

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project aims to develop next-generation analog and digital Ferroelectric Liquid Crystal (FLC)-VLSI spatial light modulators (SLMs) that surpass the speed of present generation SLMs by nearly an order of magnitude. In addition to their commercial use as miniature displays, current generation FLC-VLSI SLMs are enabling the development of long-awaited, commercially viable, optical image processing systems whose computing speed outstrips that of purely electronic processors. When used as part of a computing subsystem, present generation SLMs can tax the data bandwidth capabilities of inexpensive general purpose digital computers. Our intent is to greatly extend the performance of analog and digital FLC-VLSI SLMs to match or surpass the data throughput rates of current high performance digital systems. Our plan is to achieve this goal by drawing on, and extending, combined advances in both VLSI design and FLC performance.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed high-speed SLMs can be used in biometric applications such as fingerprint and face recognition, high-speed image processing, volumetric three-dimensional displays, industrial machine vision, and improved sequential color miniature displays.

129. Enhancement of the EPRI-Operator Training Simulator for the Restructured Electric Utility
Decision Systems International
3060 Peachtree Rd., Suite 1462
Atlanta, GA 30305
tel: 404-504-3652; fax: 404-504-3651
e-mail: adebs@dsipower.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Atif S. Debs
President: Dr. Atif S. Debs
NSF Grant No. 9661263; Amount: $74,985

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will complete the research needed to introduce some basic new functionalities to the EPRI-Operator Training Simulator (EPRI-OTS) to meet the needs of deregulated (re-structured) electric utilities. A key element here is to upgrade the EPRI-OTS to become an effective tool for training the ISO (independent system operator) dispatchers for system operation. ISO engineers and management staff will be able to use the enhanced product for operation planning and other studies.

The main objective of this work will be to integrate new models and programs into the EPRI-OTS that will include (1) a novel multi-area optimal power flow, (2) a simultaneous transfer capability coordination program, and (3) a program for measuring and evaluating ancillary services. Other objectives relate to testing and evaluation of these programs and the preparation of a Phase II plan.

The result of the Phase I research will be a demonstrable product that will clearly differentiate itself in the arena of Operator Training Simulators for the deregulated electric utility.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The research will lead to widespread implementation at most major electric utilities. Our estimate is that over 100 U.S. and 50 international utilities, as well as over 100 energy marketers, will need the results of this research and development.

130. High-Pressure MOCVD Growth of GaN and InGaN
Spire Corp.
One Patriots Park
Bedford, MA 01730-2396
tel: 781-275-6000; fax: 781-275-7470
e-mail: email@spirecorp.com
Principal Investigator: Stanley M. Vernon
President: Roger G. Little
NSF Grant No. 9661323; Amount: $74,899

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will develop an innovative, high-pressure metalorganic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) reaction chamber for improved growth of Group-III nitrides. Growth at pressures above one atmosphere will increase cracking efficiency of ammonia, limit material desorption, lower the density of nitrogen vacancies, and lead to better crystal quality by permitting higher temperature growth.

Phase I will demonstrate growth of GaN using a high-pressure MOCVD reaction chamber, operating up to ten-atmospheres pressure. The chamber will be a vertical, inverted-flow design to minimize convection.

MOCVD growth of the first GaN laser diode at Nichia used a configuration that simulates high pressure with a "push" flow orthogonal to the growth stream. At Spire, high-pressure MOCVD has been successfully employed for InP growth using substantially less phosphine than normally required. In fact, InP with specular surfaces and good crystal quality has been deposited at three atmospheres with a V:III ratio of 1:1, the lowest ratio ever reported for the successful growth of InP.

Phase II will develop growth parameters for GaN, InGaN, and AlGaN device structures. Process optimization will include use of nitrogen in the carrier gas to better confine heat to the wafer surface by reducing thermal conductivity.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The market potential for GaN is tremendous, especially in optical storage (blue lasers and LEDs) and high-temperature electronics. Products made from this material system are already in large demand. If successful, high-pressure MOCVD may be the process of choice for GaN growth. Spire will offer high-pressure reactors to device manufacturers, while we use this technology to expand our optoelectronics epitaxial service business to include structures for shorter-wavelength devices.

131. Micro Relay Switches
Aura Systems, Inc.
2335 Alaska Ave.
El Segundo, CA 90245
tel: 310-643-5300; fax: 310-536-9159
Principal Investigator: Hilary B. Cherry
President: Jerry Papazian
NSF Grant No. 9661471; Amount: $75,000

Aura Systems will develop a MEMS device for fast switching of high-frequency signals such as RF. The mechanical switching will achieve virtually no parasitic leakages when the switch is off. The device will utilize a piezo electric actuator that was originally developed for a display application.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Fast RF switching devices for microwave communications.

132. New, Reconfigurable MEMS Based Grating for Optical Sensors InterScience, Inc.
105 Jordan Rd.
Troy, NY 12180
tel: 518-283-7500; fax: 518-283-7502
e-mail: JC309@CSC.albany.edu
Principal Investigator: Dr. James Castracane
President: Dr. James T. Woo
NSF Grant No. 9661476; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will establish the feasibility of producing a micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) based, reconfigurable optical grating. This new device will form the heart of the next generation of compact spectroscopic instruments. Fundamental research into the operation of such MEMS devices is required to optimize their operation and enable widespread applications. Specifically, this Phase I effort will focus on perfecting a MEMS grating array whose ruling spacing can be reconfigured in real time to allow for rapid, full spectral analysis of several passbands critical for accurate laboratory and field-ready sensor systems. Objectives include production and packaging of several prototype micro-gratings and measurement of switching performance, optical efficiency, and spectral resolution. Exploiting the expertise that InterScience has developed in both electro-optic technology and the MEMS field, we intend to establish the operation of such a MEMS grating and develop a design for its integration into a compact, optical domain spectroscopic system. This Phase I project will combine material, mechanical, and optical research and development and pave the way for full implementation in Phase II and, ultimately, commercialization.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Commercial applications of the proposed research involve bringing fundamentally new spectroscopic instruments to market in areas such as atmospheric analysis, remote surveillance, and compact pressure and chemical sensing. In addition, there exist medical applications for this new instrument, which include rapid, microanalytic immunoassays and multispectral fluorescence measurements in innovative cardiac treatment modalities. Initial discussions with interested companies in the compact sensor industry are already in progress.

133. Microfabrication of Planar Accelerating Structures for High-Frequency Electron Linear Accelerators
DULY Research, Inc.
1912 MacArthur St.
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275-1111
tel: 310-548-7123; fax: 310-548-6094
e-mail: duly@technologist.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. David U.L. Yu
President: David U.L. Yu
NSF Grant No. 9661539; Amount: $74,962

A planar structure has been proposed for acceleration of a flat electron beam in a high-frequency linear electron accelerator. The proposed structure, different from the conventional cylindrically symmetric disk-loaded structure, can be mass produced with modern microfabrication techniques using deep-etch X-ray lithography. Phase I will study the physics issues and fabrication techniques of the planar accelerating structure (PAS), and the feasibility of their application to future linear colliders and compact commercial linear accelerators operating at high frequencies. The PAS can be designed with a nearly constant axial electric field in the central region of the cavity through which the beam passes. Such a structure would reduce wakefields and accommodate a high-current beam while maintaining a low current density. The PAS can also be used to accelerate electrons emitted by an asymmetric photoinjection gun, possibly eliminating the need for an expensive damping ring to control emittances. Asymmetric RF quadrupole beam focusing in a PAS-based linac is also possible. Precision microfabrication techniques are especially suitable for repeatable production of small, high-aspect-ratio structures with tight tolerances. These techniques would replace tedious machining and brazing manufacturing processes for very small and intricate structures and would substantially reduce their manufacturing cost.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed asymmetric planar accelerating structure (PAS) is a revolutionary design applicable to a new generation of commercial linear accelerators and linear colliders. Microfabrication of PAS using lithography techniques will save production cost and increase precision in manufacturing tolerances. Microfabricated, PAS-based linacs can be used as compact medical and industrial accelerators. They can also be used as compact injectors to microfabricated free electron lasers to produce coherent, tunable radiations.

134. Electrostatic-Surge Protection Tape
Oryx Technology Corp.
1100 Auburn St.
Fremont, CA 94538
tel: 510-492-2080; fax: 510-492-2089
Principal Investigator: Gerald Behling
President: Phillip Micciche
NSF Grant No. 9661574; Amount: $75,000

Electrostatic discharge (ESD) is a transient over-voltage event that poses a serious threat to integrated circuits (ICs), rendering them irreparably damaged due to the associated over-current flow through the circuit. The standard means of contending with over-voltage threats is to place a surge suppressor in parallel to the IC. These suppressor types include diodes and varistors. A need exists for a new generation suppressor concept that exhibits far lower leakage current and capacitance than existing devices. Oryx Technology has successfully developed such a material in the form of a conductor-filled, polymer matrix, thick-film ink that can be applied to the fabrication of small, discrete device structures. The goal of this research is to transfer materials design "know-how" about the formulation and use of these inks into the development of extruded, thermoplastic matrix composite tapes that can be used for widespread, innovative, and cost-effective over-voltage surge suppression applications. These applications will include direct mounting of such tapes onto printed circuit boards as well as the creation of on-leadframe and in-IC package placement.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Use in all electronic equipment that has to be protected against static discharge.

135. Real-Time Spectrogram Inversion for Ultrashort Laser Pulse Measurement
Southwest Sciences, Inc.
1570 Pacheco St., Suite E-11
Santa Fe, NM 87505-3987
tel: 505-984-1322; fax: 505-988-9230
e-mail: sws@rt66.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Daniel J. Kane
President: Alan C. Stanton
NSF Grant No. 9661596; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will develop an algorithm for the real-time inversion of spectrograms for ultrashort laser pulse measurement. Ultrafast laser systems have a large number of applications in biochemistry, chemistry, physics, and electrical engineering. These systems generate laser pulses with durations of 10 picoseconds or less and are used to explore kinetics in proteins, examine carrier relaxation in semiconductors, or image through turbid media. Ultrafast diagnostic systems can be used to develop highly advanced semiconductors, electronic circuitry, and even biomedical products and test them for commercial applications. Furthermore, new applications requiring shaped ultrashort pulses—in both intensity and phase—such as coherent control of chemical reactions are beginning to be developed. The continued development of these applications will require fast, high quality, and easy-to-use ultrafast laser pulse diagnostics. Frequency-resolved optical gating (FROG) has been proven to be a reliable and effective ultrashort laser pulse diagnostic, but requires an iterative algorithm to obtain the ultrashort pulse’s characteristics (intensity and phase). Current inversion algorithms are slow. We propose the development of a new inversion algorithm that will obtain the intensity and phase of an ultrashort pulse from the FROG device’s output in real time, facilitating the development of a real-time oscilloscope for ultrashort laser pulses.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Immediate commercial applications are directed toward use as a diagnostic for existing ultrafast laser systems, few of which are currently available. Other commercial applications for the algorithm include scanning transmission electron microscopy.

136.Terahertz Time-Domain Spectrometer
Clark-MXR, Inc.
P.O. Box 339
Dexter, MI 48130
tel: 734-426-1391; fax: 734-426-6288
e-mail: ecanto@cmxr.com
Principal Investigator: Edesly Canto-Said
President: Philippe Bado
NSF Grant No. 9661638; Amount: $75,000

The goal of this program is to develop a compact, reliable, THz time-domain spectrometer. This instrument will be used to provide comprehensive far-infrared absorption measurement. Our THz time-domain spectrometer will use a compact femtosecond laser gated to a coherent receiver. This approach offers superb signal-to-noise ratios (108:1 in power). The coverage of our spectrometer will extend continuously over a wide spectral range, from 0.1 to greater than 6 THz, permitting the simultaneous detection of many species. Our THz source generates a well-collimated, low-divergence beam for which the receiver has a corresponding small acceptance angle. Thus, the proposed technique combined with mathematical techniques commonly used in tomography should provide three-dimensional data. Our program goals will be reached in collaboration with the inventor of THz-TDS, Professor D. Grischkowsky (Oklahoma State University).

THz time-domain spectroscopy is conceptually a very general technique. However, until now, the complexity of the required femtosecond source has severely limited the diffusion of this spectroscopic technique. This SBIR program addresses that issue. During Phase I, we will demonstrate a prototype THz spectrometer operating with one of our compact femtosecond sources. In our Phase II, we will develop a field-portable Terahertz time-domain spectrometer.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Applications include noncontact measurement of water vapor, noncontact measurement of doping levels in semiconductor wafers, detection of concealed explosives, noncontact monitoring of flame emission and flame temperature, etc.

137. In Situ, Fiber-Optic Magnetic Field Sensor Array for Real-Time Process Control in Physical-Vapor Deposition Cluster Modules
Intelligent Fiber Optic Systems (IFOS)
1778 Fordham Way
Mountain View, CA 94040-3662
tel: 650-967-4107; fax: 650-967-8630
e-mail: rjb@intelfos.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Richard J. Black
President: Dr. Behzad Moslehi
NSF Grant No. 9661691; Amount: $74,966

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project proposed by Intelligent Fiber Optics Systems (IFOS) involves development of a novel magnetic field sensor for in situ process sensing. The system responds to the need for new techniques for real-time process control in semiconductor fabrication. In Phase I, using an innovative combination of technologies including fiber optics and magnetic coatings, IFOS proposes to create a room-temperature benchtop testbed comprising a magnetic orientation electromagnet and a portion of a semiconductor substrate chuck in conjunction with a magnetic sensor. During Phase I, IFOS will (1) establish details of the sensor specifications, and design and model the sensor probes and system, (2) fabricate fiber sensor probe substrates and coated by magnetic material, (3) construct a feasibility prototype testbed, (4) test and evaluate the prototype, and (5) deliver a final report and submit a Phase II proposal. This first-time incorporation of magnetic sensors in plasma physical-vapor deposition (PVD) is expected to offer improved process control for thin film head fabrication with higher sensitivity and reliability than conventional approaches.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The design is electrically passive, in-line, multiplexible, low cost, and mass producible with applications that include in situ process sensing and use by the aerospace industry and power utilities. These features make the proposed sensors marketable and can attract non-federal and private sector commercialization funding. IFOS has already established collaborative relationships with government and industrial laboratories needing such sensors.

138. Millimeter Wave Imaging System Using Evanescent Wave Coupling Antenna
WaveBand Corp.
376 Van Ness Ave., Suite 1105
Torrance, CA 90501
tel: 310-212-7808; fax: 310-212-7726
e-mail: manasson@aol.com
Principal Investigator: Vladimir Manasson
President: Ryszard Gajewski
NSF Grant No. 9661743; Amount: $74,980

This proposal addresses a central problem of millimeter wave (MMW) imaging. MMW imaging is becoming an attractive option for remote sensing because millimeter waves can penetrate adverse weather or other atmospheric obscurants while retaining reasonable spatial resolution.

While a major goal of MMW imaging developers is to create an MMW equivalent of an IR staring array, the difficulties associated with providing the necessary MMW detector performance at an affordable price are immense. Use of a single, high quality MMW detector with a rapidly scanning, low-cost antenna can make MMW imaging systems more readily achievable.

The WaveBand antenna concept uses an evanescent wave grating coupler to form a two-dimensional scanning antenna that can work at very high frame rates. The proposed research will demonstrate a proof of concept while advancing the understanding of the underlying physical phenomena. Phase II will result in fabrication of a prototype low-cost MMW radiometric imaging system.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: MMW imaging systems are being considered for autonomous landing guidance for aircraft; automotive traffic monitoring, fire detection; concealed weapons detection; and other surveillance functions.

Topic 21¾Design, Manufacture, and Industrial Innovation Resources

139. CVD-SiC-Coated Ceramic-Bearing Elements of High Damage and Wear Resistance
Materials and Systems Research, Inc.
1473 S. Pioneer Rd., Suite B
Salt Lake City, UT 84104
tel: 801-973-1199; fax: 801-973-4969
e-mail: jjue@materialsys.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Jan-Fong Jue
President: Dr. Dinesh K. Shetty
NSF Grant No. 9660007; Amount: $74,890

Hybrid bearings incorporating hot-isostatically-pressed (HIPed) or sintered and HIPed Si3N4 elements (balls or rollers) have demonstrated excellent performance in the machine tool and chemical processing industries, in vacuum pumps, in vapor deposition and molecular beam epitaxy equipment, and in centrifuges and high-speed testing equipment. Despite this demonstrated performance, the total worldwide market for Si3N4 bearing elements is discouragingly small (~ $25 million in 1995). The single most important factor limiting the use of Si3N4 elements is cost. The research recommended in this Small Business Innovation Reseach proposal aims to develop alternate ceramic-bearing elements that can deliver the performance of Si3N4 at significantly reduced costs. The premise of the proposed research is that bearing surfaces of SiC deposited by hemical-vapor deposition (CVD), and toughened by designed residual surface compression, will have the required microstructural homogeneity and surface toughness to deliver rolling-contact fatigue and wear resistance comparable to Si3N4 at lower cost. The cost of the SiC bearing elements will be lower than that of Si3N4 because of the lower cost of the powders, processing, and surface finishing. SiC elements are also expected to show improved performance in severe environments due to their superior corrosion and oxidation resistance as compared to Si3N4. Specific objectives of Phase I are to (1) optimize the magnitude of the residual surface compression in SiC coatings by tailoring the thermal expansion of pressureless-sintered SiC-TiC substrates, (2) establish optimum CVD conditions to avoid deleterious coating substructures, and (3) demonstrate life and wear resistance of SiC in RCF tests comparable to current bearing-grade Si3N4. Phase II will address further lowering of the cost of manufacture of substrates and designing economical methods for SiC coating of balls in fluidized bed CVD reactors.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: CVD-SiC-coated balls and rollers will be used as bearing elements in hybrid ceramic bearings. Hybrid ceramic bearings, in turn, will be used in the machine tool industry where the low density of the ceramic elements can lower the centrifugal thrust forces; in the chemical process industry to take advantage of the corrosion resistance of the SiC elements; and in moderate temperature applications. Cam followers in the automobile industry is another potential area to exploit the CVD-SiC-coated rolling elements.

140. An Economical Process for Manufacture of Nano-Sized Inorganic Powders Based on Microemulsion-Mediated Synthesis
CeraMem Corp.
12 Clematis Ave.
Waltham, MA 02154
tel: 781-899-4495; fax: 781-899-6478
Principal Investigator: Richard J. Higgins
President: Robert L. Goldsmith
NSF Grant No. 9660026; Amount: $75,000

"Nano-sized" inorganic particles are of great interest for both scientific and technological reasons. Appreciable basic research during the past fifteen years has resulted in demonstration of many methods for creation of nano-sized particles and detailed characterization of their novel properties, generally through study of very small quantities of material. The majority of synthetic techniques for nanoparticle production have rather limited potential for practical scale-up to large-scale manufacturing due to one or more of the following characteristics: high capital cost of equipment, intrinsically low production rates, need for exotic/expensive precursor materials, limited applicability to a wide variety of chemical compositions, and inadequate control over nanoparticle chemical and physical homogeneity.

One nanoparticle synthesis method that does not suffer from these limitations involves use of water-in-oil microemulsions as "nano-reactors," a technique that has been used at a bench-scale to prepare nanoparticles in a large range of chemical compositions using inexpensive equipment and precursors. The major obstacle to scaling up such fabrication methods for industrial manufacture of nanopowders is a need to separate and recycle most of the microemulsion components for re-use. The purpose of this project is to demonstrate the feasibility of a novel processing scheme that allows for economical synthesis of nanoparticles via microemulsion synthesis and that can be scaled readily to industrial-scale production.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Development of a practical process for large-scale production of nanoparticles that is also flexible in producing particles of a wide variety of chemical compositions and sizes would greatly enhance the technological application of such materials in a myriad of application areas such as catalysis, structural materials, and microelectronic, photonic, and optical devices.

141. Municipal Waste Fuels for NOx Control
Energy and Environmental Research Corp.
18 Mason
Irvine, CA 92618
tel: 949-859-8851; fax: 949-859-3194
e-mail: rseeker@eercorp.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. William Randall Seeker
President: Dr. Thomas J. Tyson
NSF Grant No. 9660085; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project is a feasibility study of utilizing waste fuels for effective NOx control. For many years, municipal solid waste (MSW) has been typically landfilled or combusted with emission of toxic compounds. The problem of MSW utilization is twofold: a huge waste stream and the loss of the fuel energy content. Another environmental problem faced by the power generation industry involves controlling flue gas emissions from coal-fired boilers. Specifically, the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments mandate a 2 million ton per year decrease in nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions. An innovative technology for utilizing MSW as a means of NOx control would provide solutions to the environmental problems of waste disposal and NOx emissions. Furthermore, the net cost of waste fuel is low, and thus such a technology would have great economic benefits. This proposal suggests firing carbonized refuse derived fuels, specially prepared from MSW by the EnerTech process, in a very effective manner by utilizing innovative advanced reburning (AR) techniques that are under development at EER. Based on kinetic modeling and experimental studies with natural gas, EER has recently developed novel concepts to improve the conventional reburning process to about 90+% NOx control. The integration of these AR technologies with waste fuel will offer utilities a low-cost option for effective control of NOx emissions.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Synergistic utilization of waste fuels in advanced reburning technologies will solve the problem of MSW disposal, provide 80-90% NOx control, and minimize net cost of power generation due to the low capital cost of reburning and the low operating cost of waste fuels. Estimated costs of AR technologies with the waste as a reburning fuel are lower by a factor of 2-3 than the cost of Selective Catalytic Reduction, a commercially available technology with a comparable level of NOx control.

142. Dynamic, Real-Time Man-Machine Interface for Manual Welding
IMPACT Engineering, Inc.
500 E. Biddle St.
Jackson, MI 49203-1828
tel: 517-789-0098; fax: 517-789-1038
e-mail: spi@bizserve.com
Principal Investigator: Stephen P. Ivkovich
President: Stephen P. Ivkovich
NSF Grant No. 9660138; Amount: $74,887

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will investigate and experimentally demonstrate the feasibility of a novel approach to real-time process monitoring and MMI (man-machine interface) feedback for manual welding. Our approach uses direct and indirect (hidden) process information to improve the stability and repeatability of the manual welding process. Manual welding is the dominant form of welding in the United States and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. Major industries sectors rely on quality manual welding processes. Improving process quality in manual welding will positively impact the quality of American industry. Manual welding suffers from operator-dependent variations in process control and repeatability. The objective of our research is to improve the manual welding process, so that operator variations can be minimized and welding defects can be identified and repaired "in process." We anticipate that we can reduce the reliance on the operator, improve operator training, and provide operators with real-time information on performance and process improvements. Our research will provide experimental results that quantify performance feasibility for representative welding candidate operations. We believe our approach can reduce welding re-work, improve quality, and reduce weld inspection and testing requirements, thus reducing total welding operation costs.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Our proposed technology offers the potential to improve the quality and reliability of MIG and TIG manual welding applications within the automotive, aerospace, heavy manufacturing, ship-building, oil, petrochemical, process, power generation, and machinery manufacturing industry sectors.

143. A New Active Vibration Control Method for Precision Machines
Signal Separation Technologies
4020 Iva Lane
Annandale, VA 22003;
tel: 703-978-4976; fax: 703-978-4973
e-mail: sigsep@ix.netcom.com
Principal Investigator: Felix Rosenthal
President: Felix Rosenthal
NSF Grant No. 9660326; Amount: $75,000

Effective control of vibrations is critical for front-end semiconductor manufacturing equipment, where micron precision is required. Typical operations take minutes to complete. Therefore, this control is required at sub-Hertz frequencies, where local seismic activity and disturbances in the manufacturing plant often cause vibrations of the supporting floor. Presently available vibration isolation tables are not effective below 1 Hz.

Current active vibration controllers use variations of the classical LMS algorithm, which is severely limited when applied to multi-channel feed-forward control. It cannot accurately account for the inevitable redundancies encountered in measured vibrations, and it cannot properly update actuator to error sensor transfer functions without use of an auxiliary probe signal which degrades performance. A true multi-channel active feed-forward vibration controller is needed that minimizes the total positional error of manufacturing equipment being controlled.

SST’s tested and patented SFR-SVD Method specifically solves these problems. The proposed project investigates the application of the SFR-SVD Method to providing effective vibration isolation at micron resolution and sub-Hertz frequencies. SST’s goal is the reduction of vibration by at least 20 dB from 0.1 Hz to 100 Hz.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed research will be used to increase the yield of integrated circuits by successfully controlling sub-Hertz vibrations in manufacturing facilities of the $300 billion semiconductor industry. A successful result of this project will also reduce the cost of semiconductor foundry buildings. SST expects in Phases II and III to address this market either directly through the end users (semiconductor manufacturers) or through one or more companies specializing in vibration control.

144. Ballistics Matching Using Three-Dimensional Images of Cartridge Cases
Intelligent Automation, Inc.
2 Research Pl., Suite 202
Rockville, MD 20850
tel: 301-590-3155; fax: 301-590-9414
e-mail: 1haynes@i-a-i.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Leonard S. Haynes
President: Dr. Leonard S. Haynes
NSF Grant No. 9660332; Amount: $74,818

The scratches, or striations, made on a bullet when a gun is fired create a unique signature that can be matched with other bullets fired from the same gun. Law enforcement agencies, both in the United States and abroad, are currently using digitized data from bullet striations captured via the RotoScan machine developed by Intelligent Automation, Inc (IAI). The resulting two-dimensional data and the associated matching algorithms have a 10 percent false match rate. Despite this shortfall, the RotoScan machine still eliminates 90 percent of the work that was previously done by manual examination by firearms examiners. While this increased efficiency is very useful, the poor false match rate makes the concept of a national database for ballistics data infeasible. Every query would yield tens of thousands of matches. The poor false match rate is not primarily a function of inadequate software. The striations on bullets are not unique, and conditions such as temperature of the gun barrel and amount of charge in the shell can cause significant differences in bullets fired from the same gun.

This proposal details an approach to capturing three-dimensional striation data, and includes examples of data already captured using these methods. Three-dimensional striation data will make a national database for striation data feasible and provide a fundamental new tool for law enforcement.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The commercial potential for better approaches to ballistics analysis is proven by the fact that IAI has sold over $1,000,000 worth of RotoScan units in the first twelve months since the first prototype was completed. This includes units to Russia, South Africa, Greece, and Japan, as well as to the FBI and many state crime labs in the United States. We estimate the world market for RotoScan units to be approximately 1,000 units in the next few years, with a significantly greater potential market for a three-dimensional system.

145. Efficient Removal of Aerosols from Process Gas Streams by Vapor Condensation and Growth
Measurement Technologies, Inc.
240 South Ridge
Idaho Falls, ID 83402
tel: 208-523-5211
e-mail: wjo@inel.gov
Principal Investigator: William J. Carmack
NSF Grant No. 9660489; Amount: $75,000

A technique for the collection and removal of highly dispersed aerosols from high temperature, high velocity gas flows is described and experimental verification proposed. Using heterogeneous condensation, material is deposited on particles in a flowing gas stream. The particle diameter is increased to a size controlled by the amount of material deposited on the surface of the particle. The method has the potential for significant secondary waste stream reduction in treatment of hazardous waste, mixed hazardous radioactive waste, and industrial waste offgas systems. The technology may also be applied to enhanced clean room filtration systems and powder processing.

This aerosol research focuses on the study of the basic parameters governing the mechanisms dominating the transport of vapor material to particle surfaces in flowing gas streams. It is proposed that the basic parameters be established for the physical vapor deposition of simple organic compounds on submicron particles of sodium chloride. This study will establish the feasibility of physically coating aerosol particles with vapor. If successful, this study will establish the basic groundwork for applying the technique to applications with high commercial value. An example of an application is the in-flight coating of plasma-generated titanium oxide with an organic compound such as dimethicone. This application is presently accomplished by an inferior process of spray coating bulk batches of titanium oxide, resulting in inconsistent particle-size distribution and overall product quality.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: If successful, the physical vapor deposition of vapor on aerosol particle surfaces has many commercial applications in addition to powder processing, such as high-temperature filtration efficiency enhancement and clean room efficiency enhancement.

146. Acoustic Beamforming for Process Monitoring
TPL, Inc.
6808 Academy Pkwy. East, Suite A2
Albuquerque, NM 97109-4465
tel: 505-344-6744; 505-345-8155
e-mail: dcutler@indirect.com
Principal Investigator: David W. Cutler
President: H. M. Stoller
NSF Grant No. 9660548; Amount: $74,993

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will investigate the collection and analysis of sound generated by in situ process equipment as a diagnostic for process state. The proposed technique will combine acoustic beamforming for isolation and monitoring of specific sound generation sites and analysis of sound signatures for determination of equipment operational parameters.

As demonstrated by the success of predictive maintenance, sound and vibration generated by equipment is a reliable indication of equipment state. However, where current predictive maintenance instruments have focused on particular equipment types (e.g., rotating machines), the proposed technique will allow focused monitoring of system elements not typically accessed (such as piping) and high-level, supervisory monitoring of overall process state without extensive hardware installation. Inclusion of valves and piping will permit automated detection and localization of system malfunctions such as leaks, turbulence, and steam hammering that are not treatable with traditional process monitoring equipment.

TPL proposes development of this technique in a low-cost, easily customizable instrument that will be equally applicable to installation in new manufacturing plants and to nonintrusive retrofit of existing plants. Resulting analyses would be directly usable by the highly integrated process monitoring and control systems currently being developed.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed process monitoring system will provide a powerful new source of information directly compatible with the billion dollar predictive maintenance market. Low-cost installation, simple operation, and small personnel requirements, as well as its capability to access nontraditional process variables, wil make the system a valuable addition to the process monitoring and predictive maintenance fields.

147. Synthesis of New Conjugated Polymers for Stimulated Emission of Light
6780 Cortona Dr.
Santa Barbara, CA 93117
tel: 805-562-9293 x113; fax: 805-562-9144
e-mail: uniax@uniax.com
Principal Investigator: Qibing Pei
President: James H. Long, Jr.
NSF Grant No. 9660570; Amount: $74,932

Recently, stimulated emission from polymer light-emitting materials and devices has been of considerable interest. Based on new results demonstrating both polymer LEDs in microcavity geometries and photo-pumped stimulated emission using luminescent conjugated polymers, attention has now focused on efforts to realize electrically pumped polymer laser diodes. These efforts are hindered, however, by the fact that the luminescent conjugated polymers that have been the subject of the most intense investigation lack either sufficiently high photoluminescent efficiency or carrier mobility (or both). In other candidate polymers, self-absorption, photo-induced absorption, or electro-induced absorption at wavelengths in the emission region prevents any stimulated emission. In this Phase I proposal, we outline the synthesis of a series of luminescent conjugated polymers as candidates for evaluation against well-defined criteria. The polymers will be processed into high-quality thin films for use in the fabrication of polymer light-emitting devices or the investigation of photo-pumped stimulated emission.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: If the project is successful, the advent of a completely new technology could be enabled. Optoelectronic devices based on "plastic" semiconductors promise efficient, low-cost devices that mimic the function of inorganic semiconductors but enjoy the benefits of being made of plastic: easy processing and mechanical flexibility and durability. The market for the compact coherent light sources that UNIAX proposes to develop is very large and growing.

148. Advanced Foamed Abrasive Polishing Application
Advanced Ceramics Research, Inc.
841 E. 47th St.
Tucson, AZ 85713
tel: 520-792-2616; fax: 520-792-2635
e-mail: acr@rtd.com
Principal Investigator: Andrew Gluck
President: Anthony Mulligan
NSF Grant No. 9660765; Amount: $75,000

Each year the personal computer industry in the United States polishes millions of nickel-phosphorus coated hard memory disks. Accordingly, each year we use more than 20 million dollars’ worth of polishing consumables. Similar volumes are used by Japan and Malaysia. Currently, the lion’s share of the polishing consumables market is owned by the Japanese, who export free abrasive slurries and soft polish pads to an international market. The Japanese support a technology that is inherently flawed, however, and they will be unable to produce parts to support future disk industry specifications.

Therefore, this Small Business Innovation Research program will focus on a totally new approach to ultra-fine polishing. The initial products that Advanced Ceramics Research desires to bring to market are high-performance foamed stones engineered for the specific requirements of flat surface polishing. Technically, this Phase I proposal will investigate an entirely new approach to nickel-phosphorus polishing by developing a fixed abrasive polish stone, and coolant, fabricated entirely with U.S. products. Optimization will be accomplished by comparison with the existing Japanese technology of soft polishing; we will also address the desires of industry for an increase in memory densities from 1 gigabit per square inch to 3 gigabits per square inch with a target price of $0.10 per megabyte, and pseudo contact recording for read/write heads.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Success of this Phase I will offer a technology that enables the electronic industry to entirely change the way it thinks about polishing. Such a radical change holds tremendous potential for stimulating the U.S. economy. We will be transformed from users of an outdated technology supported and controlled by Japanese business, to developers and exporters of an economically strategic and vital industrial process borne of U.S. ingenuity and raw materials.

149. Extrusion Freeforming of Super-finishing Polymer Composite Platens
Advanced Ceramics Research, Inc.
841 E. 47th St.
Tucson, AZ 85713
tel: 520-792-2616; fax: 520-792-2635
Principal Investigator: John Lombardi, Ph.D.
President: Anthony Mulligan
NSF Grant No. 9660802; Amount: $75,000

In this proposed Small Business Innovation Research program, novel, high-efficiency superfinishing polishing platens will be developed using extrusion solid freeforming technology. The proposed platens will be composed of engineering thermoplastics reinforced with chopped carbon fibers and/or diamond abrasives. The platens will also have varying amounts of microchanneling throughout their structures to collect polishing swarf more efficiently than conventional polishing platens.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed superfinishing platens represent a major innovation ultraprecision polishing technology, which is vital to the advancement of the U.S. electronics industry.

150. Low-Cost Forming of Superalloys
Nanomaterials Research Corp.
2620 Trade Center Ave.
Longmont, CO 80503
tel: 303-702-1672; fax: 303-702-1682
e-mail: staff@nrcorp.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Mark Yang
President: Tapesh Yadav
NSF Grant No. 9660844; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will investigate low-cost processing of superalloys. Materials such as superalloys have commercially desirable properties for extreme environment applications. Unfortunately, these materials are often unaffordable, primarily because of the inherent difficulty of forming and shaping them into useful components. Nanomaterials Research Corporation (NRC) proposes a technology that can overcome this problem and reduce processing costs several fold. During Phase I, NRC will establish the proof-of-concept that superalloys can be readily processed into useful shapes. Phase II effort will seek to optimize the technology and produce prototypes of commercial interest. Phase III will commercialize the technology.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed technology will enable widespread use of superalloys in the following industries: structural (advanced tools), transportation (engine components), energy (magnetohydrodynamic components), stress-prone high-temperature parts (armaments, nozzles, combustion chambers), and corrosion-prone health care components (implants).

151. A Low-Cost Process for Toughened Ceramics
TDA Research, Inc.
12345 West 52nd Ave.
Wheat Ridge, CO 80033
tel: 303-940-2319; fax: 303-422-7763
e-mail: siboldj@tda.com
Principal Investigator: Mr. Jack Sibold
President: Michael Karpuk
NSF Grant No. 9660960; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will develop a low-cost process for toughening alumina ceramics. Alumina ceramics are used in wear, corrosion, and electrical insulation applications in virtually all industries and markets. Unfortunately, the market size remains limited because of the brittleness of these ceramics. While tough ceramics are available, their costs are six to fifty times that of alumina. This severely limits their market acceptance. Therefore, what is needed is a low-cost process for high-toughness alumina ceramics.

TDA Research has developed a low-cost, water-based ceramic precursor that can be used to toughen conventional aluminas. TDA proposes to infiltrate porous commercial alumina preforms with the precursor to develop a platelet-toughened alumina. The only new processing step that this would require is an infiltration step prior to final firing in a commercial ceramic production line.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The increase in toughness of low-cost alumina ceramics will expand the application base and markets for technical ceramics.

152. New Method to Minimize the Evaporation of Volatile Colorant
MO-SCI Corp.
4000 Enterprise Dr., P.O. Box 2
Rolla, MO 65402
tel: 573-364-2338; fax: 573-364-9589
e-mail: MOSCICO@rollanet.org
Principal Investigator: Yiyong He
President: Delbert E. Day
NSF Grant No. 9661043; Amount: $74,936

The purpose of the work described herein is to determine the feasibility of developing a new method to minimize the evaporation of volatile colorants during the glass-melting process. This is a proposal for the development of a nonconventional method that consists of extremely rapid melting (few seconds) and spheridization of colorant-rich glass spheres that will be added to the molten glass. By introducing these colorants in a pre-melted glassy form, we expect to reduce the degree of volatilization that these materials currently demonstrate.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The processing techniques developed in this work will constitute a revolutionary advance in colored-glass manufacturing. The process for producing colorant-rich glass spheres will allow the introduction of colorants in the form of a new raw material that offers less volatilization and higher retention in the finished glass product. The glass manufacturer will benefit from lower raw material costs, greater process stability, and significant environmental improvements as a direct result of this process.

153. A Computational Model for Electromagnetic Processing of Materials
Innovative Research, Inc.
2520 Broadway St. NE, Suite 200
Minneapolis, MN 55413
tel: 612-378-0320; fax: 612-378-0535
e-mail: winstead@inres.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Charles H. Winstead
President: Dr. Suhas V. Patankar
NSF Grant No. 9661064; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will develop and experimentally validate a comprehensive computational model for electromagnetically coupled metallurgical processes. The model incorporates an efficient approach for predicting the interaction among electromagnetic, fluid dynamic, and heat transfer subsystems, and will be applicable to several commercial processes, such as continuous casting, induction heating, and magnetic stirring.

The objectives of the Phase I effort are to demonstrate the feasibility of the unified approach by developing a two-dimensional model that solves for AC magnetic fields, turbulent fluid dynamics, conjugate heat transfer, and phase change. It will be capable of modeling processes that involve deformation and containment of free-surfaces, metal solidification, and particle transport. Phase I provides a foundation for later extension to three dimensions and additional electromagnetic configurations, making it applicable to many industrial processes.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed computational model will provide guidance for many material manufacturing processes involving electromagnetic fields. Currently, these processes include induction furnaces, electromagnetic casting, and refining, stirring, shaping, pumping, and braking systems. It will be essential in the scale-up and optimization of laboratory processes, eliminating the prohibitively expensive trial-and-error approach currently employed, thereby reducing manufacturing costs and producing higher quality materials.

154. Target Tracking and Identification Using a Holographic Correlation Filter
Accuwave Corp.
1651 19th St.
Santa Monica, CA 90404-3809
tel: 310-449-5540; fax: 310-449-5539
Principal Investigator: Koichi Sayano
President: Neven Karlovac
NSF Grant No. 9661084; Amount: $75,000

An optical correlator for tracking and identifying objects in a cluttered or noisy field will be demonstrated. Filter algorithms for improved signal to noise and reduced rotation dependence will be developed and tested in the optical correlator system with multiple in-class and out-of-class objects.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Commercial applications include manufacturing process control, automated inspection, image analysis, and surveillance.

155. Aluminum Nitride Cold Cathodes for Field Emission Displays
Spire Corp.
One Patriots Park
Bedford, MA 01730-2396
tel: 781-275-6000; fax: 781-275-7470
e-mail: email@spirecorp.com
Principal Investigator: Nader M. Kalkhoran
President: Roger G. Little
NSF Grant No. 9661089; Amount: $74,985

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project proposes to demonstrate large area cold cathode arrays for field emission displays based on GaN/AlxGa1-xN/AlN grown using Spire’s unique low-temperature plasma-assisted chemical vapor deposition and surface texturing facility. With a bandgap of 6.2eV, AlN may exhibit negative electron affinity, and thus electrons emanating from the high conductivity GaN contact will readily pass through the graded AlxGa1-xN region and be emitted into vacuum at low applied voltages. GaN stripes deposited on glass or another substrate will form row electrodes, while ITO stripes above the phosphor on the faceplate will serve as column electrodes. Due to the expected negative electron affinity of AlN, no grid may be required. This new cathode material can alleviate the present high voltage problems associated with high work function metal "microtip" cathodes, as well as the lack of n-type conductivity in thin film diamond cathodes.

The proposed GaN/AlN cold cathode will mate effectively with Spire’s cathodoluminescent phosphor development program, allowing Spire to manufacture flat panel displays under controlled conditions with in-house cathode and phosphor components. Spire has recently developed several fully adherent thin film cathodoluminiscent phosphors based on ion implanted ZnS, ZnSiO4, GaN, SrS, and, recently, ZnGa2O4. In Phase II, the GaN/AlxGa1-xN/AlN cold cathodes will be optimized and used for lighting pixels on faceplates coated with these types of cathodoluminiscence phosphors, allowing an operating flat panel display to be demonstrated.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Efficient cold cathode field emitters will find extensive commercial use in flat panel displays. They can also be used in new subminiature vacuum tubes for ultra-high-frequency applications, such as in communication systems.

156. A Noninvasive Viscometer for Materials Analysis and Process Control
Quantum Magnetics, Inc.
7740 Kenamar Ct.
San Diego, CA 92121
tel: 619-566-9200; fax: 619-566-9388
e-mail: Geoff@qm.com
Principal Investigator: Geoffrey Barrall
President: Andrew D. Hibbs
NSF Grant No. 9661122; Amount: $74,921.77

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I
program will demonstrate the technical feasibility of magnetic resonance (MR) viscometry and develop specifications for an economically viable prototype MR viscometer to be fabricated in Phase II. Many manufacturing and processing technologies are critically dependent on the flow or rheological properties of fluids, suspensions, slurries, or melts. For example, the steady-state shear-dependent viscosity of thermopolymers is often indicative of key properties such as molecular weight and molecular weight distribution. Viscometric measurement of molecular weight distribution requires measuring shear viscosity over two or three decades in shear rate with at least five points per decade. Current in-line and on-line viscometers are not capable of making the required measurements quickly enough to allow real-time process control. The proposed MR viscometer will measure shear viscosity over two decades in shear rate within one minute (about thirty times faster than the present commercial state of the art). It will be noninvasive, capable of investigating particulate-filled systems (which can clog present viscometers), and amenable to large flow streams. The MR viscometer will further be capable of simultaneously measuring other important properties such as diffusion coefficients, of which present viscometers are completely incapable.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: A low-cost, in-line system to measure viscosity over several decades in shear rate will find wide application in industries that process melts, slurries, and emulsions. Target markets include thermoplastics, resins, petroleum derivatives, heterogeneous food products, coal, paper, and waste disposal management. The overall process control market is in excess of $1 billion annually, of which our market of opportunity is approximately $100 million per year.

157. Recycling Painted Automotive Thermoplastics
American Commodities, Inc.
2945 Davison Rd.
Flint, MI 48506
tel: 810-767-3800; fax: 810-953-9219
Principal Investigator: Ralph L. Wisner
President: Mark Lieberman
NSF Grant No. 9661155; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will test a new process for recycling painted automotive thermoplastic parts. Approximately 350 million pounds per year are currently used to produce automotive bumpers, facias, etc., in North America. Of that amount, 20 to 25 percent is generated in producing the part (post-industrial). American Commodities, Inc., has been helping the industry recycle approximately 10 percent of the post-industrial material, and a joint relationship with 350 dismantlers is beginning to recycle a portion (1 percent) of the post-consumer material. The basic problem in recycling these products is residual paint particles in the recycled material. The proposed new process focuses on (1) segregating the individual plastics, (2) debonding the paint chemically and removing it, (3) recovering the thermoplastics, and (4) ensuring that the recycled plastics meet the critical application needs of the end user. A research team of industrial and academic experts has joined American Commodities in this project. The goal is to deliver recycled material with properties very near virgin material at a cost that is lower than the virgin price.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: A process that will deliver recycled material with properties very similar to virgin material is expected to significantly increase the recycling of post-industrial material to nearly 80 percent and post-consumer material to at least 20 percent (in excess of 100 million pounds per year). If we had a 50 percent market share, our current business would increase several fold. Recycling 100 million pounds instead of allowing it to be landfilled would represent one-third of all material currently being landfilled.

158. One-Step Manufacturing Process for Low-Cost SiC-SiC Composites
Materials and Electrochemical Research (MER) Corp.
7960 South Kolb Rd.
Tucson, AZ 85706
tel: 520-574-1980; fax: 520-574-1983
e-mail: mercorp@opus1.com
Principal Investigator: Witold Kowbel
President: Dr. R.O. Loutfy
NSF Grant No. 9661185; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will investigate a low-cost process to produce SiC-SiC composites. SiC-SiC composites exhibit excellent mechanical, thermal, and corrosion properties. Their applications for aerospace and energy-related areas are greatly hindered, however, by a high manufacturing cost, lack of oxidation-stable interfaces, and selectively poor creep resistance of the SiC fibers. This proposed effort offers a unique way to produce pure b-SiC/b-SiC composites via a direct chemical vapor reaction (CVR) of low-cost C-C composites. CVR-derived fibers are expected to exhibit excellent creep resistance, while an in situ generated porous SiC interface is expected to provide good fiber pull-out and good environmental stability.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Lowering the cost of S-C SiC composites not only will expand applications in aerospace industries, but also provide opportunities in civilian industries such as automotive, burners, combusters, process equipment, heat recovery equipment, and separation/filtration.

159. Laser Engineered Net Shaping for Injection Mold Tooling Applications
Optomec Design Co.
2701-D Pan American, NE
Albuquerque, NM 87107
tel: 505-761-8250; fax: 505-761-6638
e-mail: dkeicher@optomec.com
Principal Investigator: David M. Keicher
President: Thomas A. Swann
NSF Grant No. 9661204; Amount: $74,407

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project is an extension of current rapid prototyping technology. Rapid prototyping systems allow manufacturers to reduce design cycle time by producing prototype plastic parts directly from computer-generated designs. A related emerging technology, the Laser Engineered Net Shaping (LENSä) process initially developed at Sandia National Laboratories and being commercialized by Optomec, has demonstrated the ability to produce near-net-shape functional parts directly from computer-generated designs. The opportunity exists for commercialization of this technology beyond the military defense applications for which it was developed. The objective of the project was to determine the feasibility of applying this technology for rapid tooling of injection molds. To determine feasibility during Phase I, Optomec designed a mold for a simple geometry, produced the mold using the LENSä, and then used the mold to actually produce a quantity of plastic parts.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The tooling industry within the United States is estimated to be a $100 billion industry. This technology has significant applications for commercial utilization within this industry due to its potential of saving time and cost in the preparation of tooling hardware.

160. A System for High-Speed Metal Machining
Aesop, Inc.
19 Harvey Rd. #9
Bedford, NH 03110
tel: 603-644-3664; fax: 603-644-3668
Principal Investigator: Dr. Kevin L. Wasson
President: Dr. Alexander Slocum
NSF Grant No. 9661445; Amount: $74,012

Machine tool spindles are key components in systems used to high-speed machine aluminum, titanium, steel, and other metals. State-of-the-art spindles used to mill aluminum are currently under development and are expected to achieve speeds of 50,000 rpm and cutting powers of 50 kW. We propose to develop an innovative new high-speed machining method that will more than double the speed capability to 100,000 rpm and double the cutting power to 100 kW. The production cost of this new system will be comparable to the cost of a high-end machine tool spindle that has half of the speed and power capabilities of the proposed method.

If successful, the proposed method will substantially increase the removal rates of aluminum, titanium, steel, and other metals. Improved removal rates will increase productivity and advance the ability of the United States to competitively manufacture important components such as aircraft frames and automotive dies.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Commercial applications for this technology include the production of commercial aircraft and automotive components. The new spindle technology could be directly integrated into commercial high-speed machining centers.

161. A Meshless Topology Optimization Design and Analysis Tool
Altair Computing, Inc.
1757 Maplelawn Dr.
Troy, MI 48084-4004
tel: 248-614-2400; fax: 248-614-2411
e-mail: dkm@altair.com
Principal Investigator: Dhiren K. Marjadi, Ph.D.
President: James Scapa
NSF Grant No. 9661604; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I program will develop and test an innovative software tool that will merge the tasks of design and structural analysis into one truly concurrent task. The proposed technology has the potential to dramatically reduce the design cycle time by reducing the iterative process of analytical validation into one single concurrent design and CAE step. In the proposed method, Altair Computing will combine the technologies of topology optimization with the emerging h-p adaptive meshless (Clouds) method of structural analysis. For given package space and loads and boundary conditions, this method will compute structures that are optimum in terms of topology as well as size and shape. The error prediction feature of the H-P adaptive method will hold the modeling and computational errors within user-prescribed bounds, thus significantly reducing design iterations, the most costly and time-consuming portions of the design process. The Phase I research will demonstrate the feasibility of merging the two technologies with analysis formulation efforts focused on linear static analysis using two-dimensional structures. Phase II will include design for more practical three-dimensional solids and shells.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The software tool proposed will cut design time and decrease product design cost while increasing accuracy of design. The anticipated ease of use will mean that not only CAE experts but designers as well will be capable of applying the technology. This will have particular impact on the automotive and aerospace industries, which account for 50 percent of all mechanical software applications and face significant pressures to reduce product cycle times while producing better designs.