IC2 Wins Phase 2 Contract from NASA – Optical MEMS 5-Hole Probe for 3D Flow Sensing

by | Mar 16, 2018 | Announcements, Employee News

Concept sketch for IC2's five-hole probe technologyIC2 announced today that the company has been selected for a Phase 2 NASA SBIR contract to continue development of a Fast Response, Fiber-Optic Micromachined Five-Hole Probe for Three-Dimensional Flow Measurements in Harsh Environments.  IC2 recently completed a Phase 1 effort to establish and demonstrate feasibility of the concept. The pending 24-month Phase 2 contract, valued at roughly $750k, will enable continued development of the technology to achieve a fully-functional five‐channel prototype sensor system.

Multi-hole pressure probes (including five-hole probes) are a key part of an arsenal of measurement tools that are critical for the design and validation of vehicles with improved aerodynamic performance.  These multi-hole probes enable the measurement of three-dimensional flow velocity vectors in addition to static and dynamic pressures.

The long-term goal of the proposed research is to produce a MEMS optical probe capable of significantly improved performance compared to available sensors, by enabling faster response time, higher bandwidth transduction and increased angular measurement range while simultaneously reducing sensor power requirements. The proposed technology offers these benefits in a compact, high-temperature capable package, extending past successes in fiber-optic, micromachined pressure sensing technology.

Historically, multi-hole probes were designed using conventional pressure sensors located at some distance from the measurement point and connected via long pressure ports. The distance enables usage of physically larger pressure sensors without overly disturbing the flow, however the long tubing limits the bandwidth and slows down the entire measurement process.

To overcome these limitations, IC2 is developing a fiber-optic, micromachined transducer that meets or exceeds dynamic performance requirements (high bandwidth, low settling time, fast response time, high dynamic range, increased angular resolution) while improving the operational temperature range, reducing the probe size, and lowering the power requirements. The optical transduction method, when used with a microfabricated, integrated array of pressure sensitive diaphragms, combines the benefits of both traditional and micromachined multi-hole probes without introducing the drawbacks of either approach.

The Phase 2 work will be carried out in partnership with the University of Florida.

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