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DOD/ARMY DOD SBIR 2013.3 4

DoD 2013.3 SBIR Solicitation

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Agency: Department of Defense
Branch: Army
Program/Year: SBIR / 2013
Solicitation Number: 2013.3
Release Date: July 26, 2013
Open Date: August 26, 2013
Close Date: September 25, 2013
A13-097: Nanofluidic Sequencing of Polypeptides
Description: OBJECTIVE: Design, fabrication, and demonstration of an electrophoretic capillary nanofluidic integrated sensor platform effective for sequencing polypeptides. The goal is to rapidly determine the amino acid sequence of a large polypeptide in a non-destructive manner. DESCRIPTION: Standard methods of proteomics, such as mass spectrometry and SDS-PAGE, involve an extensive amount of sample preparation that is usually performed in a well-equipped laboratory. Such methods are very difficult to move to field environments. Also, standard methods of proteomics involve fragmenting a protein into small peptides before analysis. Following analysis of the smaller peptides, the researcher is required to reassemble the data to determine the amino acid sequence of the original large protein. There is a need in the DoD for rapid non-destructive methods of protein analysis that have the potential for use in the field. Nanofluidic analysis has emerged as a method to address this important problem. Recently, methods have been developed to rapidly separate long-strand polymers according to length. The separation mechanism utilizes confinement-induced forces to separate the polymers into different size fractions. Researchers have examined interfaces between regions of vastly different configuration entropy, where small fragments can become trapped in favorable regions, but the larger fragments cannot completely enter due to the large size. Researchers have also examined mechanical and/or field-induced dielectrophoretic trapping due to the surface roughness within nanopores and selective binding of proteins and nucleic acids to silica particles. Nanofluidics holds the promise for rapid, inexpensive, non-destructive analysis of biopolymers. In particular, nanofluidics may address rapid, non-destructive determination of the amino acid sequence of a large polypeptide. A better understanding of the transport behavior of long and short biopolymer strands in nanochannels is required. Better reporter mechanisms are also needed. PHASE I: Examine the transport behavior of large polypeptide strands in fused silica nanochannels with the application of electrical fields of different strengths. Examine mechanical and/or field-induced dielectrophoretic trapping due to the surface roughness within the nanochannels. Examine areas within the nanofluidic channels with induced interfaces between regions of vastly different configuration entropy. Examine methods for utilizing polypeptide transport in nanochannels as a method for the non-destructive determination of the amino acid sequence. Examine methods of amino acid reporting, including optical and electrical methods. PHASE II: During Phase II, the offeror should build and test a functioning nanofluidic proteomics platform. The research and development work should include an assessment of the prototype"s ability to analyze large polypeptides and report the amino acid sequence. The nanofluidic proteomics system should allow for stand-alone operation with fluidic and electrophoretic control that is self-sustained to facilitate a transparent operation by the user, with the ultimate goal of developing a system that can be used in a field environment. The ultimate goal of the effort is to develop a system that is the size of a smart-phone that can operate on available battery power. Analysis time will depend on the size of the polypeptide strand under analysis. Target analysis time should be approximately 30 minutes. PHASE III: Further research and development during Phase III efforts will be directed towards refining a final deployable design, incorporating design modifications based on results from tests conducted during Phase II, and improving engineering/form-factors, equipment hardening, and manufacturability designs to meet U.S. Army CONOPS and end-user requirements to include the Joint Chemical and Biological Defense Program (CBDP). Specifically improved nanofluidic analysis will have relevance to scientific studies on biological materials and structures, to the detection and identification of biological threats, to medical diagnostics of biological induced diseases, to the monitoring of commercial consumables for biological contamination, just to name a few possibilities.
A13-098: Thermal Infrared Detection of Aerosolized Bacterial Spores
Description: OBJECTIVE: Develop a software package designed for detecting and tracking biological aerosols using a thermal infrared camera. DESCRIPTION: In outdoor environments, biological aerosols exhibit a Mie scattering component within the infrared signature of the aerosol. The Mie scattering component is primarily due to the reflectance of the cold sky by the aerosol particles. The Mie scatter component is broadband extending into both the long-wave and mid-wave infrared regions. To a thermal infrared camera, the presence of the aerosol appears as an area of the thermal scene that appears slightly colder than surrounding areas. Aerosol plumes can also be identified and tracked due to the motion of the plumes. The goal of this effort is to develop software that can be used with existing thermal infrared cameras for the detection and tracking of biological aerosols. This system will be used to provide early warning to the soldier-in-the-field of an attack by a biological warfare agent in an aerosolized form. Uncooled long-wave-infrared cameras offer advantages in battlefield environments. Uncooled IR sensors operating from 8 to 12 microns can easily operate in bright sunlight or total darkness. They use the naturally radiated IR scene energy to create high resolution images and are not dependent on artificial light sources. Their long wave-length of operation also provides good weather penetration. Enemy vehicles and soldiers can easily camouflage themselves in the visible, but have difficultly hiding their thermal emissions from an IR imager. As thermal infrared cameras become readily available on the battlefield, there is a desire to provide them with additional operational capabilities. PHASE I: Examine the feasibility of detecting and tracking biological aerosols using a thermal infrared camera. Aerosol plume detection using thermal infrared cameras is possible due to an atmospheric effect called Mie scattering. Down-welling radiation from the atmosphere is scattered off aerosol particles, causing an aerosol plume to appear as a cold object against the surrounding background. A thermal camera with the appropriate software should be able detect and track biological aerosol clouds from a standoff distance of up to 5 km or better. Detection sensitivity should be 50,000 ACPLA or better for a plume size of 200 meters or larger with a probability of detection of at least 80%. A preliminary design of a software package that can detect biological aerosols from the scene of an infrared camera should be developed. A performance model of the system should be developed to predict the utility of the proposed system. Data acquisition and signal processing of the proposed system should be examined and modeled. PHASE II: Develop a software package that can be used with existing thermal infrared cameras for the detection and tracking of biological aerosols. Advance the system design (with software package) and build/optimize for field usage. The final system should be able detect and track biological aerosol clouds from a standoff distance of up to 5 km. The system should function autonomously and be capable of real-time detection and tracking of aerosol clouds. The software package should be implemented, tested, and demonstrated using a thermal infrared camera platform. PHASE III: Further research and development during Phase III efforts will be directed toward refining and implementing the new design software to meet U.S. Army CONOPS and end-user requirements to include the Joint Chemical and Biological Defense Program (CBDP). The software package should be implemented and tested on a variety of thermal infrared platforms that are of interest to the DoD. The offeror should also consider the system design to include aerosolized chemical agent detection, thus expanding its overall standoff detection capabilities. The new design software will have broad impact across several avenues of defense applications. The fundamental mathematical and computational methods developed in this program will also have an impact. There are environmental applications for a robust standoff biological aerosol sensor. A thermal infrared camera that can be used for detecting biological aerosols will significantly reduce the logistics burden on the Joint Services by reducing the number of sensors in the field. Also, first responders such as Civil Support Teams and Fire Departments have a critical need for a rugged, inexpensive sensor that can be transported to the field to test for possible contamination by CBW agents.
A13-099: Secondary Processing Development and Prototyping of Cast Single-Piece Vehicle
Description: OBJECTIVE: Develop and prototype highly scalable processes to fabricate single-piece underbody structures to achieve a combination of high strength and high toughness. DESCRIPTION: The Army is interested in the production of large single-piece underbody structures for combat vehicles. The structure must possess an outstanding combination of strength and toughness for it to survive battlefield threats. In general single-piece structures are produced by casting and followed by subsequent secondary processing to achieve the desired mechanical properties in the structure. It has been demonstrated that a cast steel material after appropriate post-cast secondary processing exhibits a combination of strength and toughness as high as 180 ksi tensile yield strength, 230 ksi ultimate tensile strength, 12% tensile elongation, and 30 ft-lb Charpy V Notch (CVN) toughness at -40 degrees F[1,2]. Unfortunately such remarkable mechanical properties are achievable only in relatively small cast structures. Suitable scalable secondary processing techniques are not currently available which could be applied to large single-piece cast structures to achieve the aforementioned mechanical properties. The challenge here is to establish scalable secondary processes for very large single-piece structure to achieve the required combination of strength and toughness. Additional challenge is to achieve uniformity of the properties throughout the entire large single-piece structure including through thicknesses. Army is inviting proposals to develop and prototype highly scalable processes to fabricate large single-piece underbody structures with a combination of high strength and high toughness throughout the entire structure and thickness. The process must be scalable and be able to integrate relatively smoothly to very large scale fabrication or production under the standard manufacturing practices without needing nonconventional manufacturing equipments or processes beyond what are currently used. Army is seeking proposals that address novel processing techniques, such as innovative casting, robust post-cast processing, or other equally innovative and robust processes, that can be easily integrated with the existing manufacturing bases to enable smooth transition to large scale processing of large single-piece structure. PHASE I: Design processes to produce plates having nominal dimension of 4 ft wide x 4 ft long x 3 in thick. Demonstrate that the designed structure is able to achieve the Phase I threshold properties of 180 ksi tensile yield strength, 230 ksi ultimate tensile strength, 12% tensile elongation, and 30 ft-lb Charpy V Notch (CVN) toughness at -40 degrees F. Two (2) 4 ft width x 4 ft length x 3 in thickness plates meeting the aforementioned threshold properties shall be produced. Verification and validation of the uniformity of the properties throughout the entire structure is critical and one (1) of the two (2) identically processed plates shall be destructively evaluated accordingly following the ASTM standards [3-5]. Uniformity of the properties throughout the entire plate including the thickness must be evaluated. For example, it may be evaluated in x, y, and z reference orientations within every 1 ft x 1 ft spacing in the x and y reference orientation at two positions in the z-direction: one at the mid-point of the plate and the other half-way between the mid-point and the surface. The plate not destructively tested shall be delivered to U.S. Army Research Laboratory for blast tests. The secondary process design preferably be suitable not only for processing simple structures but also for processing complex shape large structures. Additionally, the secondary process design must be sufficiently adaptable such that it can be directly integrated into the existing conventional manufacturing infrastructures or foundry processes without needing nonconventional manufacturing equipments or processes beyond what are currently available and used commercially. Numerical methodologies in process model and simulation are highly desirable in demonstrating the Phase I secondary process predictability. PHASE II: The Phase II program will be to scale up and optimize the process to produce larger plates and subsequently to an entire single-piece vehicle underbody tub (i.e., lower hull and underbelly). Two (2) plates having nominal dimension of 6 ft wide x 10 ft long x 3 in thick shall be fabricated and achieved the same threshold properties of the Phase I. Verification and validation of the uniformity of the properties throughout the entire structure and through the thickness is critical and one (1) of the two (2) identically processed plates shall be destructively evaluated accordingly following the ASTM standards [3-5]. Uniformity of the properties throughout the entire plate and thickness must be evaluated. For example, it may be sampled at every 2 ft in the x-y plane. The plate not destructively tested shall be delivered to U.S. Army Research Laboratory for blast tests. Following successful validation of the plate properties, one (1) full single-piece vehicle tub (i.e., lower hull and underbelly) having nominal dimension of 12 ft wide x 30 ft long x 5 ft high and thickness between 2 in and 3 in shall be fabricated and delivered to U.S. Army Research Laboratory for blast tests. The process shall be validated to be sufficiently predictable, adaptable, flexible, and robust such that it can be directly integrated into the existing conventional manufacturing infrastructures or foundry processes without needing nonconventional manufacturing equipments or processes beyond what are currently available and used commercially. Numerical methodologies of Phase II processes shall be developed and the model and simulation shall be demonstrated to be highly predictable. PHASE III: The manufacturing technology shall be transitioned to civil and military sector applications. . Successful Phase II validation facilitates immediate single-piece vehicle hull and cap fabrication, and integration of demonstrated technology. The manufacturing technology and force protection capability information will be transitioned to both Tank Automotive Research and Development (TARDEC) and Tank Automotive Command (TACOM) for immediate implementation and integration into existing and future platform design and engineering efforts. Deliverables and technical data packages (TDPs) resulting from this SBIR will support a variety of Army PEOs and PMs in Army major acquisition programs. The manufacturing technology to civilian application enable very-large-scale complex-shape cast structural part in ship hulls, transportation vessels, and energy infrastructures where unnecessary joining are critical design requirements.