SBIR Phase I: Novel microscale composite fabrication process for low cost inertial sensors

Award Information
National Science Foundation
Award Year:
Phase I
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
MET Tech, Inc.
317 Varick Street, Jersey City, NJ, 07302-3403
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Catherine Rice
(201) 200-9772
Business Contact:
Catherine Rice
(201) 200-9772
Research Institution:

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will develop a robust, facile, and economical process to fabricate microscale electrode assemblies for Molecular Electronic Technology (MET) inertial sensors. These devices sensitively detect motion based on an electrochemical sensing mechanism. Currently, platinum or platinum alloys are used as electrode materials. However, the high cost of platinum is a major cost driver for MET sensors. The new electrode assemblies will comprise a composite structure of glassy carbon electrodes and silicon carbide nitride insulating layers to isolate the electrodes within the multi-layer structure. The proposed process utilizes polymer precursors for both these materials which will be cast in successive layers and fired under proper conditions to create the desired structures. In Phase I, an experimental parametric study will be performed to demonstrate feasibility for the process, partnering with Professor Prakash at The Ohio State University. Phase II will be devoted to fabrication, testing and optimization of electrode assemblies and development of plans for large scale production. Successful completion of the program will result in substantial cost savings for existing MET seismic sensor products, and will enable development of new low cost sensors for automotive navigation and other markets. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is significant in several aspects. The low-cost electrode assembly to be developed can improve the profitability of MET sensor products across the board. MET Tech's initial product offering is a seismic sensor for oil and gas exploration, with a served available market of $100M/year. The availability of high performance, low cost inertial sensors can also enable new functionality in consumer electronic devices, such as inertial navigation capability in cell phones. Market sectors affected include energy, transportation, civilian and military navigation, and consumer electronics. From a broader technological and scientific perspective, this project will establish the ability to co-fire glassy carbon with an insulating material for the first time, which should enable new classes of composite structures and devices at the micro- and possibly at the nanoscale. Such electrode assemblies could have applications in other systems operating in harsh conditions such as high temperature fuel cells, space applications, corrosive environments in chemical processing, as well as in medical applications since glassy carbon is biocompatible. The program will also foster collaboration between academic and industrial researchers and train students and post-docs in practical applications of microfabrication technology, and create new high-technology jobs.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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