Semiconductor pressure sensors have limitations when used in hot environments. One of the most debilitating limitations is their susceptibility to electromagnetic interference. A new self-calibrated interfermetric intensity-based (SCIIB) sensor developed at the Virginia Tech Photonic Laboratory (VTPI) is immune to electromagnetic interference. It also resists chemical corrosion and withstands temperature above 482C—the temperature limit of sensors used in jet engines, power plants, and other hot environments. Sensors placed in a jet engine are expected to monitor sound pressure waves and warn the pilot about potential engine problems. The sensors are made using the fibers of a single crystal sapphire. The U.S. Department of Energy awarded VTPI's partner, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, with funding to collaborate on the project and commercialize the sensors. Oak Ridge National Lab has a sapphire material processing and fabrication facility. For information call (540) 231-4363.
NASA and Boeing developed a huge, carbon composite cryogenic fuel tank for deep space missions, and started testing it last month. The 18-ft cryotank will enable heavy-lift launch vehicles to send both humans and robots into deep space.
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