Zero-Power Bathythermograph Sensors

The Zero Power Ballast Control (ZPBC) is a technology that relies on microbial energy harvesting developments to enable unsupervised underwater sensing with subsequent surfacing and reporting capabilities. With an ultimate goal of producing simple, small, power- efficient data harvesting nodes with varia-ble buoyancy, the device will be able to monitor ocean temperatures with a stay time ranging from weeks to months and eventually years, providing a longer term than other mechanisms such as the Expendable Bathythermograph (XBT).

Stand-Off Detection of Explosives and Hazardous Chemicals

NRL has developed a Photo-Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectroscopy (PT-IRIS) technology for standoff detection of explosives, illicit drugs, chemical warfare agents, and biological warfare agents. PT-IRIS has been demonstrated for standoff or proximity detection of explosives. This approach employs quantum cascade lasers (QCLs) to illuminate a sample surface with one or more wavelengths, which are selectively absorbed by analytes of interest.

Toxin Detecting Bacteriophage Nanoparticles

NRL has developed phage-like nanoparticles with the ability to detect toxins. The nanoparticles are produced in E. coli and can display many antibodies on its relatively large head. Toxin recognition is made possible with surface modification through either genetic engineering or direct chemical conjugation allowing for the display of llama antibodies. The multiple copies of antibodies per particle increases the detection sensitivity through increased avidity.

Chemical Sensing with Silicon Nanowires in a Vertical Array with a Porous Electrode

NRL has developed through research funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, a gas sensor composed of an array of vertical nanowires topped by a porous electrode. The sensor responds when a substance of interest absorbs on the nanowires, changing their electrical conductivity. The combination of a vertical orientation and a porous top electrode allows for simultaneous exposure and response from huge numbers of individual nanowires. Because of these attributes, the sensor provides a very high signal/noise and short response time.

Fiber-Optic Environmental Radiation Dosimeter

NRL has patented an all-optical, fiber-optic-coupled remote radiation sensor using NRL’s luminescent, copper-doped quartz material. The key to the technology is the doped quartz material that produces a luminescence signal that is directly proportional to the radiation dose. Individual sensors have an estimated cost of $50 and a lifespan of decades. The sensor is less than 7 mm in diameter by 10 cm in length and is fiber-optic-coupled to a photodetector that is remotely located away from the potential radiation source.

Pseudo-Monolithic Spatial Heterodyne Spectrometer Interferometer

NRL has demonstrated a passive, broadband (8.4 to 11.2 µm), LWIR spectrometer with a resolving power of ~500 that has no moving parts, is immune to scene changes and has high throughput. It uses a compression assembly spatial heterodyne spectrsocopy (SHS) interferometer (C-SHS) which employs precision spacers that result in a robust, self-aligning, economical assembly, and enables easy replacement of optical components.

MIME Chemical Vapor Microsensors

NRL has developed a technology for detecting chemical vapors using low power, low cost, tunable microsensors. This technology is based on metal nanoparticles encapsulated by a single layer of organic molecules. When configured as a film of nanoparticles connected to a small bias current, exposure to a vapor causes conductance changes in the film. The conductance path through the film involves electron tunneling across the somewhat insulating monolayer junctions between nanoparticle conducting cores – referred to as a nanometer-scale metal-insulator-metal ensemble (MIME). Tuning these MIME sensors to a particular vapor is accomplished by designing the structure of the organic molecule in the encapsulating shell to interact with that particular vapor.

Multi-Core Fiber Curvature Sensor

NRL has developed high accuracy, fiber optic curvature sensor technology allowing for 3D shape sensing. The novel shape sensing technology is based on measuring the differential strain between fiber Bragg grating sensors formed in a multicore fiber (MCF). The NRL fiber optic curvature sensor takes advantage of a novel interrogation technique that overcomes many problems prevalent with other methods such as lead sensitivity and environmental sensitivity of the measurement accuracy.

Thick Silicon Drift Detector (Hard X-Ray Spectroscopy)

NRL has developed a method to produce a thicker (2-5mm) silicon drift detector (SDD) with significantly improved hard x-ray spectroscopy performance over current semiconductors (300µm). The NRL method uses gray tone lithography in combination with reactive ion etching (RIE) and deep reactive ion etching (DRIE) which allows for trenches with different depths to be etched into the semiconductor.

Vertical Cell Edge Junction Magnetoelectric Device Family

NRL has developed and demonstrated a new topology for reducing the size of spintronic devices. The device operation is based on the novel concept that the magnetization at the edge of a patterned ferromagnetic thin film element remains substantially parallel to the average magnetization of the element. This enables a near order of magnitude reduction of the device footprint.


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