An Automated Sample Handling Workcell for the SNS Liquids Reflectometer

Award Information
Agency: Department of Energy
Branch: N/A
Contract: DE-FG02-05ER86260
Agency Tracking Number: 78887T05-I
Amount: $99,968.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: STTR
Awards Year: 2005
Solicitation Year: 2005
Solicitation Topic Code: 23a
Solicitation Number: DE-FG01-O4ER04-33
Small Business Information
Square One Systems Design
615 East Hansen Street, P.O. Box 2772, Jaskson, WY, 83001
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Robert Viola
 (307) 739-0946
Business Contact
 Robert Viola
Title: Mr.
Phone: (307) 739-0946
Research Institution
 Oak Ridge National Laboratory
 John F Ankner
 Experimental Facilities Division
Building 8600
Oak Ridge, TN, 37831
 (865) 576-5122
 Federally funded R&D center (FFRDC)
78887 When completed, the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) will provide unprecedented opportunities for performing groundbreaking neutron science. Two reflectometers are planned for the SNS, one optimized for the measurement of liquid surfaces and the other for the measurement of magnetic materials. The SNS¿s high neutron flux will allow these instruments to collect complete data sets in minutes rather than hours. However, this same high flux will preclude users from entering the experimental area while the beam is on. Thus, to take full advantage of the SNS¿s power, special remote handling technologies must be developed. This project will develop an automated sample handling workcell, optimized for use with the liquid surface reflectometer. This novel robotic system will allow a sample to be introduced into the experimental area via a radiation-safe load port, check the sample¿s identity, mate it with a size-specific carrier, transfer it into an environmentally controlled experimental chamber, and accurately locate it on the reflectometer¿s goniostat. The flexible workcell also will have the capability to handle and precisely dispense liquids. Phase I will include mechanism design, creation of a complimentary controls architecture, and identification of appropriate sensor technologies. Bench-top testing of carrier prototypes and sensors will be performed. Phase I will culminate in a numerical simulation of the workcell in operation, with a goal of conclusively establishing the concept¿s feasibility. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits as described by the awardee: The Automated Sample Handling Workcell should significantly increase the efficiency of SNS reflectometer experiments. Because of the inherent versatility of the robotic design, variations of the device should find application in other SNS experiments as well as at other high flux neutron sources now on the drawing board. Outside physics research, the system would be well suited for handling complex tasks in radioactive or other harsh environments. Specific examples might include the containerization of vitrified nuclear waste, required as part of the DOE Yucca Mountain project, and the demilitarization of obsolete nuclear weapons.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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