Carbon Aerogels - Hot Catchers for Exotic Isotopes and/or Molecular Species

Award Information
Agency: Department of Energy
Branch: N/A
Contract: DE-FG02-10ER85950
Agency Tracking Number: 95071
Amount: $1,000,000.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2011
Solicitation Year: 2011
Solicitation Topic Code: 45 f
Solicitation Number: DE-FOA-0000508
Small Business Information
2531 W. 237th Street, Suite 127, Torrance, CA, 90505-5245
DUNS: 114060861
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Uma Sampathkumaran
 () -
Business Contact
 Kisholov Goswami
Title: Dr.
Phone: () -
Research Institution
Short-lived isotopes are expected to play a key role in unraveling the mysteries of nuclear physics, nuclear astrophysics, and fundamental interactions at low energies. This SBIR proposal offers high-temperature-capable solid catcher materials for use in the pre-Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) to improve yields of rare isotopes as atomic or single-species molecular vapors. The applicant will develop carbon aerogels with a nanoporous microstructure to facilitate trapping radioactive isotopes for the efficient release of single-species molecular vapors. The project will focus on developing an efficient and fast-release hot solid catcher material combined with ion sources to harvest unused rare isotope beams. The feasibility of fabricating monoliths of undoped and doped carbon aerogels with tunable densities, high surface area, and high porosity after supercritical drying and pyrolysis at 800 C in an inert environment was demonstrated. We also established that the monoliths remained intact and retained porosity even after vacuum-assisted heating to 1500 C, the temperature required for hot catcher applications in a beam-line. In Phase II we will refine the carbon aerogel processing protocols to yield monoliths with desirable pore sizes and morphology and targeted material densities. Our industrial subcontractor and potential commercialization partner will perform vacuum-assisted heating cycles of selected carbon aerogel samples at temperatures from 1000 C to 2000 C. Our collaborator(s) will assist in evaluating the release efficiency of solid carbon catchers in the beam-line to improve yields of rare isotopes of C15O and C15O2. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: Our approach uses aerogel nanotechnology. The carbon aerogel microstructure would serve as a fast-release catcher for rare isotopes with lifetimes ranging from a few milliseconds to a few minutes. Such isotopes are useful in understanding the origins of the universe. Rare isotopes also have contributions in nuclear medicine suited to both diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. Secondary markets include specialty thermal insulation, adsorptive media, and capacitors for energy storage.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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