SBIR Phase I: Sensor for Hazardous Static Voltage

Award Information
National Science Foundation
Award Year:
Phase I
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Chameleon Optics, Inc.
511 East Third Street, Suite 311, Bethlehem, PA, 18015-2072
Hubzone Owned:
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Paul Martin
(610) 865-3620
Business Contact:
Paul Martin
(610) 865-3620
Research Institution:

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will investigate the synthesis of electrochromic materials to fabricate a sensor for hazardous static voltage. This device will visibly warn of the build-up of dangerous static charge on a surface. In prior work, we have developed electrochromic materials to produce flexible electrochromic films that change reversibly from neutral gray to clear upon the application of a low voltage (1.5 volts). However, this application requires electrochromic pigments with bright colors and an ion-conductive dielectric that can tolerate a potential of up to 100 kV. In this project, brilliant primary-color electrochromic metal ferrocyanide nano-pigments will be synthesized, and the existing ion conductive dielectric will be substantially reformulated to tolerate extremely high electric potentials. These materials will be incorporated into a static charge sensor which will be useful in a wide range of industries. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project arises from the significant hazards associated with static electricity. The first application for this sensor is the aircraft industry, where an uncontrolled static discharge can result in catastrophic loss of facilities, vehicles and personnel. However, the market opportunities for the sensor are much broader, encompassing virtually any facility that synthesizes, manipulates, stores, or transports non-conductive materials. Of particular note are facilities which handle flammable vapors or dusts, such as oil refiners or grain mills. Flammable vapors account for about 70% of all explosive atmosphere detonations, with the most severe costing dozens of lives and causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. Furthermore, there are on average 12 explosions resulting annually from flammable dusts, resulting in two fatalities and millions of dollars of damage per year. Timely warning of dangerous static charge could help prevent these accidents. Less dramatically but still of economic importance, this sensor would improve yield in other industries adversely affected by static discharge, such as integrated circuit fabricators. Based on data from the U.S. Business Census, there are about 386,000 firms operating 538,000 establishments with a total of 13 million employees that could benefit from the device to be developed.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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