North Carolina State University

WolfTracks

North Carolina State University, 2010 - $9,400

Remotely-operated vehicles (ROVs) utilize vision-based systems—cameras—for providing user feedback. But vision-based systems are inherently limited underwater simply by the distance that light can travel; light backscatters in water, creating hot spots and otherwise noisy images. The alternative solution for many of these problems is sonar, which provides clear 3D images of the seafloor, allowing ROV operators much more detailed and larger maps. However, sonar can be prohibitively expensive, costing up to ten times more than cameras.
 
The WolfTracks team is developing a mid-range solution between cameras and sonar. WolfTracks uses Light Detection and Radiation (LiDAR), a laser-based system, to map the underwater terrain in real-time. Wolftracks will cost less and have a larger scanning distance and lower power output than traditional low-end sonar solutions, dramatically expanding the range of uses and expanding the market for scanning, mapping, search and rescue, and other applications.

R2I at CCI: North Carolina State University

CCI Phase I: Center for Molecular Spintronics

This Phase I CCI will explore promising molecular materials for spintronics: diamagnetic metal complexes of phthalocyanines, bistable paramagnetic molecules, and semiconducting oligomers. The highly integrated research program will include synthesis and characterization, detailed surface structure and bonding studies, spin injection and transport measurements, and computational modeling. The initial goals of the interdisciplinary team of researchers are to elucidate the structure-spintronic property relationships of paramagnetic complexes and also to study how the electronic structure and magneto-electronic structures of these molecules are influenced by integration into solid state environments.

The Center for Molecular Spintronics will develop new coursework in the emerging field of molecular spintronics. Students and postdoctoral researchers trained in this interdisciplinary (chemistry, physics, materials science) environment will be prepared to be scientific leaders in this field. The Center for Molecular Spintronics will partner with the local and regional companies to ensure that this science can be incorporated into the next generation of molecular electronics and nanotechnology innovations.

Precision Wire Saw Machining of Advanced Engineering Materials

North Carolina State University, 2000 - $18,000

This E-Team studied the wire machining technologies for advanced engineering materials. The traditional inner diamond saw blade for slicing the single crystal silicon ingot to thin wafers has reached its technical limits. The free-abrasive wire saw machining process has been developed to address the needs to slice large size, twelve-inch or bigger in diameter, silicon wafers. One of the recent developments in wire saw wafer slicing technology is the thin, fixed-abrasive diamond wire. This new type of wire has not only improved the material removal rate in wire saw machining but also expanded the type of work-material from silicon to ceramics, composites, eastomers, and other non-electrically conductive ceramic materials. Three new wire saw machining configurations, 2-axis wire contour sawing, 4-axis wire contour sawing, and cylindrical wire sawing, were proposed. Similar to the wire EDM process for electrically conductive materials, these new wire saw machining methods can provide a flexible and cost-effective method to machine non-electrically conductive materials to complicated shapes.

Development of an Eddy Current Door Closer

North Carolina State University, 2003 - $15,000

Conventional door closing devices use springs and hydraulic dampeners to create restoring and damping forces that maintain the desired closed-door profile. But these devices have several problems: potential hydraulic fluid leakage, reduced performance due to dust and temperature, and limited life cycles due to friction between the piston and frame case. To solve these problems, this E-Team developed an eddy current door closer to replace conventional hydraulic door closers.

The eddy current door closer is constructed from passive electromechanical components and uses permanent magnets in conjunction with a rotating copper disk to generate braking torques similar to standard door closing devices. This results in decreased maintenance requirements and environmental concerns due to absence of hydraulic fluid, low cost , and easily adjustable damping force.

The E-Team included two PhD students with backgrounds in mechatronics, electromechanical systems, robust control, and structural vibrations. A faculty advisor with expertise in mechanical engineering supported the students, along with an industry expert.

A BST (barium strontium titanate) Based Narrow Band Tunable Antenna For Improving Wireless Communication

North Carolina State University, 2004 - $18,000

Improving call quality and network coverage of cellular phone systems in an economically viable way is the one of the major concerns of service providers today. The quality of current wireless communication systems could be significantly improved by the use of a narrow band tunable antenna in cell phone handsets to increase network coverage, reduce the cost of materials used for manufacturing cell phones, and improve battery life. The Barium Strontium Titanate (BST) Antenna E-Team developed a low-cost method of fabricating a voltage tunable BST-based antenna.

Over the past three years, the Materials Science and Engineering Department at North Carolina State University has developed a thin film voltage controlled capacitor (varactor) using BST. The BST Antenna E-Team adapted the BST thin film technology to produce high quality integral varactors, which can be used to manufacture narrow band tunable antennas.

The BST-based antenna will help service providers increase their revenues and enable better wireless service for end-users, allowing them to differentiate their products in a highly competitive market.

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