SITIS Archives - Topic Details
Program:  SBIR
Topic Num:  DTRA102-006 (DTRA)
Title:  Unpowered, reconfigurable micro-nanoscale materials/material systems for sensory applications
Research & Technical Areas:  Materials/Processes, Sensors, Electronics

Acquisition Program:  
 The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals, their country of origin, and what tasks each would accomplish in the statement of work in accordance with section 3.5.b.(7) of the solicitation.
  Objective:  Develop a prototype sub-millimeter material or material system that responds specifically to a threat stimulus (e.g. chemical, biological, radiological), without the need for an active power source. The response should be instantaneous and readily detectable upon remote electromagnetic (EM) interrogation and must operate in a wide spectrum of environmental conditions (e.g., humidity and temperature) experienced by the Warfighter. An example for consideration is a microelectromechanical/nanoelectromechanical system (MEMS/NEMS)-style device that actuates/activates upon becoming triggered to complete the circuit or deploy a micro-antenna for passive radio frequency identification (RFID) circuit that can be remotely interrogated.
  Description:  Fabrication of MEMS/NEMS devices is quite developed and highly sophisticated; however, fabrication of “smart” material/material systems remains a challenge. The problem at these smaller size scales is portable power to sustain device functionality; power densities of current energy sources prevent the dramatic miniaturization of the overall system. As an alternative, there is a need to develop classes of materials that can respond to a stimulus without any active power sources attached or integrated into the device. Significant research has been conducted to address the development of smart materials which have properties that experience significant, controlled-manner changes upon exposure to an external stimulus; these materials can be inorganic and/or organic, but must meet the criteria listed in the objective. References 1 and 2 are example proof-of-concepts that are analogous to aspects of the desired system, albeit limited in scope/implementation and applicable to aqueous systems.

  PHASE I: Phase I will culminate in the demonstration of a proof-of-concept millimeter-scale system that is specifically sensitive to one class of threat (chemical, biological or radiological), with characterization of the system response under various environmental and threat concentration conditions.
  PHASE II: Phase II will involve the development of a family of multiple sub-millimeter scale systems that are specifically sensitive to multiple classes of threat (chemical, biological, or radiological). The systems must have the ability to be remotely interrogated to ascertain status of the sensing element, and a method should exist to differentiate the condition state of each sensor in situations where multiple sensors are implemented.

  PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Leveraging MEMS/NEMS fabrication strategies enables inexpensive, mass-producible devices that should have strong commercial potential. Inexpensive, incongruous Tag, Track, and Locate (TTL) systems that are reactive to a particular situation, such as food quality, would be of interest to commercial sector applications. Development of new smart materials/material systems for this topic will enable the creation of new, unpowered devices beyond sensor applications, particularly autonomous commercial systems.

  References:   1. M. S. Maynor, T. L. Nelson, C. O’Sullivan, J. J. Lavigne, “A Food Freshness Sensor Using the Multistate Response from Analyte-Induced Aggregation of a Cross-Reactive Poly(thiophene),” Organic Letters 9, 3217-3220, 2007. 2. S. M. Zakir Hossain, R. E. Luckham, M. J. McFadden, J. D. Brennan, “Reagentless Bidirectional Lateral Flow Bioactive Paper Sensors for Detection of Pesticides in Beverage and Food Samples,” Anal. Chem. 81, 9055-9064, 2009. 3. G. Che, S. A. Miller, E. R. Fisher, C. R. Martin, “An Electrochemically Driven Actuator Based on a Nanostructured Carbon Material,” Anal. Chem. 71, 3187-3191, 1999. 4. J. Gao, J.-M. Sansiñena, H.-L. Wang, “Chemical Vapor Driven Polyaniline Sensor/Actuators,” Proc. of the International Conference on Science and Technology of Synthetic Metals, 135-136, 809-810, 2003. 5. S.-J. Lee, D. Y. Lee, Y.-S. Song, N-I Cho, “Chemically Driven Polyacrylonitrile Fibers as a Linear Actuator,” Diffusion and Defect Data Part B, Solid Sate Phenomena 124-126, 1197-1200, 2007. 6. T. G. Leong, C. L. Randall, B. R. Benson, N. Bassik, G. M. Stern, D. H. Gracias, “Tetherless Thermobiochemically Actuated Microgrippers,” Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci.U.S.A. 106, 703-708, 2009. 7. J. M. G. Swann, A. J. Ryan, “Chemical Actuation in Responsive Hydrogels,” Polymer International 58, 285-289, 2009. 8. J. S. Randhawa, M. D. Keung, P. Tyagi, D. H. Gracias, “Reversible Actuation of Microstructures by Surface-Chemical Modification of Thin-Film Bilayers,” Adv. Mater. DOI: 10.1002/adma.200902337, 2009.

Keywords:  submillimeter, microelectromechanical system (MEMS), nanoelectromechanical system (NEMS), passive sensor

Questions and Answers:
Q: Would Harvest Vibration or Piezoelectric technology be considered for this application?
A: Vibration harvesting coupled with piezoelectric technology would be a better fit for the sister topic DTRA102-002.

Record: of