IC2 Successfully Concludes NASA Phase II Contract – MEMS Skin Friction Sensor

May 14th, 2015

IC², a pioneer in the development of micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) based sensors for aerodynamics and aeroacoustics today announced the successful completion of a Phase II SBIR contract from NASA.  The technology developed under this contract offers the unique capability to make non-intrusive, direct, simultaneous mean and fluctuating shear stress measurement for subsonic and transonic test applications.  The silicon-micromachined, instrumentation-grade sensor enables skin friction measurement with high bandwidth, high resolution, and minimal sensitivity to pressure.  The NASA-funded Phase II effort helped to transition a proof-of-concept device into a robust, high-performance measurement system with demonstrated and proven functionality in an operational environment.   The sensor system holds promise to transform existing flow control techniques and enable more efficient aerodynamic designs.

We are pleased to have successfully concluded this Phase II effort for NASA, leading us one major step closer to a commercially available skin-friction sensing system.

Prior to the development of this technology, shear-stress and skin-friction sensors relied on indirect measurement approaches, requiring estimation of shear-stress from a known-correlation to another measured value.  This leads to increased uncertainty and requires repeated calibration in each test environment.  The results from these other systems are often qualitative at best.  To overcome these problems of existing sensors, the technology developed under this contract instead uses a direct sensing approach, converting shear-stress directly into a sensor response, drastically reducing measurement uncertainty. The sensor is housed in a robust and compact package with miniature interface electronics  that enable flush sensor mounting conformal with test surfaces to minimize flow disturbance.   The sensor performance exceeds available products on the market and sets the standard for quantitative skin friction measurements. The Phase II work was carried out in conjunction with the University of Florida.

The progress achieved during this effort led to a separate follow-on Phase III contract that successfully delivered 6 functional prototype sensors systems to NASA Langley Research Center for wind-tunnel testing in March. IC² is now working towards a modified design suitable for volume production.

About IC²

The Interdisciplinary Consulting Corporation (IC²) is a technology leader in miniaturized sensors and sensing systems for aerospace applications. IC² was founded in 2001 to develop high-performance, technologically disruptive instrumentation systems that enable the measurement, modeling, and control of various physical properties. IC² is currently developing products in the areas of MEMS-based instrumentation, flow control, acoustics and smart materials.  Since inception, IC² has performed significant R&D in MEMS-based microphones, shear-stress sensors, and acoustic arrays, as well as active flow control and smart materials. Key personnel at IC² have significant relevant experience in piezoelectric, piezoresistive, capacitive, thermal and optical transducers, adaptive acoustic engine liners for noise reduction, active flow control, and diagnostic and prognostic system health monitoring. Development efforts span from the component level (e.g. transducers) up to full systems (e.g. sensor systems such as acoustic arrays with signal processing HW/SW).

IC²’s sensors and systems are designed from the ground up to meet the challenging environments of the aerospace industry.  Current and upcoming products include high-temperature, harsh environment sensors for aerospace propulsion systems that monitor engine health and low-profile ultra-miniaturized sensors for aeroacoustic noise and skin-friction measurements that enable quieter and more fuel-efficient aircraft.

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