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News Archive 2001 - 2010

$800,000 Naval Grant Funds Microsystems Research

January 16, 2007

The Office of Naval Research has awarded a 12-month, $800,000 grant to researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington’s Automation & Robotics Research Institute (ARRI) to investigate methods leading to the design and manufacture of sensor arrays for health monitoring of rocket motors and other equipment, and packaging microelectromechanical (MEMS) arrays on canards and fins for the steering of projectiles. Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering Dan Popa is the principal investigator on the project.

Long-term degradation of rocket motors can lead to unexpected disasters, environmental contamination or operational malfunction. In order to prevent such events, sensors can be deployed inside the rocket for long-term monitoring of composite fuel out-gassing. Researchers at ARRI will focus on two health monitoring sensors: a microspectrometer for in situ analysis of the chemical composition inside a rocket motor, and a crack detector based on piezoelectric ceramic patches.

The second thrust of the project involves using small MEMS arrays for flight control surfaces such as fins, elevators and flaps. Novel materials will be used to fabricate MEMS arrays that will replace conventional steering actuators and survive operation in harsh environments.

Co-investigators of the project, titled Embedded Microsensor and Microactuator Arrays for Harsh Environments, include Professor of Electrical Engineering and ARRI Director Harry Stephanou, Assistant Professor of Material Science and Engineering Shashank Priya, Senior Members of ARRI Technical Staff Jeongsik Sin, Ph.D.; Mason Graff, Ph.D.; and Woo Ho Lee, Ph.D., Professor of Electrical Engineering Frank Lewis, and Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering J.-C. Chiao.