Navy Technology Transfer Navy Technology Transfer

Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology

Additive Manufacturing Using pH and Potential Controlled Powder Solidification

Naval Postgraduate School

This technology from Naval Postgraduate School is an additive manufacturing process for forming shaped bodies, referred to as chemically-driven powder consolidation. The method includes contacting metal particles with an acidic or basic liquid at a pH and potential at which dissolution of metal from the particles and reduction of soluble metal-containing ions to metal on surfaces of the particles can co-occur, such that the metal powder agglomerates to form a body. The process has an application in manufacturing lead or lead alloy electrodes for use in lead-acid batteries, and in particular, rechargeable batteries for use in military, automotive, industrial, and telecommunications industries. It provides an alternative method for electrode manufacture which avoids the challenges arising during machining and conventional electroplating, while also lowering manufacturing costs and improving electrode performance.

Adhesion Improvement via Laser Nanostructuring

Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division

The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division has developed a patent-pending technology and methods to increase the adhesive properties of a surface through laser nanostructuring or texturing. Ultrashort pulse lasers are used to athermally convert the target surface into a plasma state for restructuring on the target surface. The nanostructuring adjusts the interfacing material’s characteristics, such as the surface area or the chemical interaction properties. This new process has the potential to replace mechanical abrasion, etching, or chemical bonding agents in a variety of applications including, but not limited to, the medical field, removal of coatings, application of longer lasting coatings, and energy storage.

Amorphous Bubble Bonding

Naval Surface Warfare Center, Corona Division

The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Corona Division has developed amorphous bubble bonding (ABB), a technique to efficiently and effectively produce foams and cellular materials with a range of densities, strengths, and stiffnesses. Such materials are used in a wide variety of lightweight structural, energy absorption, and insulation applications in aero-space, automotive, and other industries. Silicate glass bonded by the ABB process exceeds 10MPa/m3 energy absorbing capacity, outperforming AISi foams and all other cellular solids except end grain balsa. The ABB technique produces tailored material performance through fine control over physical material characteristics such as cell size, wall thickness, and internal cell pressure.

Apparatus and Methods for Forming Hollow Spheres

Naval Surface Warfare Center, Corona Division

Naval Surface Warfare Center, Corona Division seeks partners to license and commercialize this device and process to manufacture high-strength and stiffness cellular materials. The patented foams made from amorphous hollow spheres combine to make cellular structures of high strength and stiffness. These structures are built from millions of microscopic glass (or metallic-glass) bubbles—about the diameter of a human hair—into new super-strong, super-light, shock absorbing, and buoyant constructs. Test results show that the cellular material made from these spheres dissipated more mechanical energy for a given volume than any other cellular material on the planet (14.8 megajoules per cubic meter). Navy researchers have continued their work on this material with a focus on devices for scalable production and their related processes. This technology accommodates high-melting point materials including ceramics and composites, and a modular nozzle assembly wherein the relative position of the gas and liquid material outlets may be controllably adjusted in any dimension.

Atmospheric Plasma Tool

Fleet Readiness Center Southwest

Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) has devised a means by which atmospheric plasma technology can be used to improve the structural adhesive bonding process. Plasma is ionized gas, and has been called a fourth state of matter behind the more familiar solids, liquids and gases. FRCSW has found that low-temperature low-pressure atmospheric plasma can be used to effectively prepare composite and metallic materials for effective bonding between parts. This patent-pending technology eliminates the use of hazardous materials chemicals while cleaning the part ten times more quickly. This innovation has allowed FRCSW to reduce turnaround time on parts, improve efficiency, decrease costs and ultimately provide a better product in support of the warfighter.

Chromate Free Conversion Coating and Surface Etching Solution

Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Division Newport

These chromate free developments are cost-effective and have outperformed commercial alternatives in salt spray tests. The environmentally friendly titanate based coating and etching solutions eliminate toxic hexavalent chromium to comply with mandates from the Department of Defense, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and environmental agencies in other countries.

Cost Effective Space Survivable Organic Composites and Films

Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake

Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake has developed a highly efficient route to polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxanes modified monomers that can be used to create a wide variety of organic polymer films and composite structures. Testing on the international space station proved this technology dramatically increases the lifetime of an organic film in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). Commercial or alternative application areas include: lightweight composite structures for LEO; coatings to protect photovoltaics or electronics; flexible and tough kapton equivalent films; modifying or decreasing the flammability of polymers; adjusting the hydrophobicity of polymer surfaces; preparing nano-structured polymer tougheners; burn modifiers for polymeric materials; and hybrid polymeric materials.

Fabrication of Three-Dimensional Micro-Assemblies by Laser Origami

Naval Research Laboratory

The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has developed a method to generate self-folding three-dimensional structures on low-temperature substrates through the controlled out-of-plane folding of arbitrary two-dimensional designs using laser direct-write techniques. The invention uses a single laser tool to print two-dimensional patterns, deposit an actuating layer, and provide controlled activation of each actuation layer to trigger the folding of single or arrayed microassemblies. NRL is looking to incorporate the technology in the realm of aerospace engineering, military production, and antennas, such as those found in cell phones. Laser origami has the potential to be applied to the production of electronic and optical components for highly integrated electro-optic systems or artificial electromagnetic materials over large areas using roll-to-roll processes. The benefits of the technology include its flexibility (can fabricate and fold optical structures at arbitrary angles); it is selectable (each micro-structure in the pattern is pre-programmed with the information required for building itself, and can be actuated independently of the rest, or all simultaneously); and it is scalable (it can process large area and multiscale structure of dissimilar models).

Galfenol -- A New Smart Material

Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division

Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division seeks to commercialize, through patent licensing, a new magnetostrictive smart material with excellent characteristics for use in sensors, actuators, energy harvesting applications, and active structural supports. Galfenol (iron-gallium) is ductile, thermally stable over a wide temperature range, and can be machined and welded with common metalworking equipment. The material offers a high tensile strength that can be used structurally under tension or compression. Galfenol offers full magnetostriction at low applied magnetic fields.

High Energy Storage Capacitor

Naval Research Laboratory

The Naval Research Laboratory has developed a method of electroless deposition of conformal ultrathin (<20 nm) metal oxides on the high-surface-area walls of commercial carbon nanofoam papers, typically 0.1–0.3 mm thick. The resulting ultrathin metal oxides rapidly take up and release electrons and ions, thereby storing energy at 300–600 Farads per gram of oxide, while the carbon nanofoam paper serves as a three-dimensional current collector and defines a pre-selected porous electrode architecture. The high surface-to-volume ratio of oxide-painted carbon nanofoam enables footprint-normalized capacitances of 1–10 F·cm-2 addressable within tens of seconds, a time scale of relevance for hybrid electric vehicles. Pairing MnOx–carbon nanofoam with FeOx–carbon nanofoam yields an energy-storage device with an extended operating voltage in mild aqueous electrolytes (~2 V) that provides technologically relevant energy and power density while also being low cost, safe to operate, and environmentally benign. Applications for this technology include hybrid-electric systems, bridge and/or backup power, and energy recovery.

High Performance Trivalent Chromium Pre-Treatment (TCP)

Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division

Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division has developed and filed a patent application on a new TCP composition and process that enables 50 percent greater salt fog resistance and broader applications with greater consistency—including 2xxx series alloys for aerospace applications under MIL-DTL-81706—as compared to the Navy’s original TCP. The technology has been demonstrated at the 2-liter scale for unpainted (bare) corrosion resistance. Paint adhesion and painted corrosion testing are planned with the ability to scale up to larger volumes, likely 10 gallons. Further field testing, scale-up, and optimization work are needed for commercial use. In addition to coating bulk metals, high-performance TCP also holds promise for coating aluminum powders that are used in corrosion-resistant paints and primers, such as the Navy’s aluminum-rich primers. In this application, high-performance TCP may offer economic advantages by reducing processing costs and decreasing the volume of TCP in waste streams, as compared to current products and practices. The application of high-performance TCP on metallic powder is in the proof-of-concept phase.

High Value Silicon Carbide from Agricultural Waste

Naval Research Laboratory

Research scientists at the Naval Research Laboratory have shown that using high temperatures or microwaves many agricultural wastes can be transformed into high value silicon carbide (SiC) consisting of nanostructures and nanorods in various polytypes. Billions of pounds of agricultural waste are generated every year worldwide. Rice and wheat husks, corn stalks, cobs, sorghum leaves, peanut shells and other residues are considered to have no value and are plowed into fields or incinerated. Normal incineration temperatures create environmental problems by releasing ash, carbon dioxide, and nanoparticles into the air. However, these agricultural wastes have significantly high silica content in a molecular state in close proximity to hydrocarbons. Silicon carbide is used for electronic and structural devices due to its high breakdown voltage, chemical inertness, high thermal conductivity, dimensional stability, wide band gap, high radiation resistance, thermal shock resistance, and mechanical hardness. Scientists are engaged in transforming these silicon carbide nanomaterials into transparent windows and domes for applications as armor, hypersonic missiles, and thermal control of thin disc lases. Potential uses of SiC for chemical sensing, optical metamaterials, structural composites and nanoscale electronic devices are also being investigated at NRL as well as applications which promise enhancements in infrared spectroscopy.

Material Test Fixtures

Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Division Newport

Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Division Newport has developed a suite of patented advanced and versatile test fixtures for characterizing the mechanical properties of a wide variety of materials, including fabrics, composites, elastomers, metals and biological tissues. These fixtures enable more accurate determination of strength and stiffness properties for materials subjected to combined stress states such as biaxial tension and shear – important factors for materials such as those used in inflatable structures and unavailable from other measurement systems. The experimental results from the fixtures provide key inputs to structural behavior models so that prototype concepts can be developed and optimized in the virtual space, enhancing the fidelity of numerical structural models used as efficient alternatives to expensive full-scale physical structural tests. Both the Navy and the Army have used the base fixture to successfully test fabrics used in air-inflatable composite structures.

Modular Functional Peptides for the Intercellular Delivery of Nanoparticles

Naval Research Laboratory

The Naval Research Laboratory has developed a chemical means of providing custom functionalization of both semiconductor core/shell quantum dots and gold nanoparticles. A series of modular ligands have been synthesized that provide multiple functionalities to the nanoparticles, as desired, including water solubility, tight anchoring to the nanoparticle surface and access to a variety of different terminal functional groups for subsequent (bio) modification and covalent attachment. Among the unique characteristics are the ability to remain stable, aggregate free and/or luminescent in a wide pH range and high salt concentrations over extended periods of time. This improves the shelf life and utility of custom nanoparticles and conjugates based upon this chemistry for biosensing and bioimaging applications.

PEEK™-Like Phthalonitriles: Base Resin Manufacturing

Naval Research Laboratory

The Naval Research Laboratory has developed a new class of PEEK™-like phthalonitrile (PN) resins, when in the melt-state, are easily processed and cured, and produce high temperature thermosets. The PN base resins are synthesized in a two-step, one-pot reaction in quantitative yields and require no further purification (n < 1). A simple workup, along with utilizing cost effective starting materials, make manufacturing these new PN resins competitive to other thermoset base resins. The resin formulations are indefinitely stable under ambient conditions and can be prepared either as a powder or to a specified viscosity (and gel time) for use in existing commercial resin processes. An example of such phthalonitrile-based products are polymer matrix composites (PMC) which exhibit high thermal and oxidative stability approaching 500 °C (930 °F) in air, have low water absorption, retain structural integrity in a fire environment, and show thermal properties that exceed Navy expectations for composite ship and aircraft applications.

PEEK™-Like Phthalonitriles: Melt-Processable, High Temperature Polymers

Naval Research Laboratory

The Naval Research Laboratory has developed a new class of PEEK™-like phthalonitrile (PN) resins for use in a variety of applications due to their ease of processability when in a melt-state followed by curing to produce high-temperature, high-char polymeric thermosets. The PN resins, where n < 1, were initially designed to fabricate polymer matrix composites (PMC) by cost effective manufacturing methods such as resin transfer molding, a type of out of autoclave processing. The resin formulations are indefinitely stable under ambient conditions and can be prepared to various viscosities and gel times for use in all commercial resin processes. Phthalonitrile-based PMCs exhibit high thermal and oxidative stability approaching 500 °C (930 °F) in air, have low water absorption, retain structural integrity in a fire environment, and show thermal properties that exceed Navy expectations for composite ship and aircraft applications.

Perchlorate-Free Flares

Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division

Pyrotechnics are used in a variety of applications including fireworks and colored signal flares. Currently available fireworks and signal flares use perchlorate oxidizers to produce their desired colors. Residual perchlorates from pyrotechnic devices may leach into groundwater and cause widespread contamination that requires remediation. Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division has reformulated pyrotechnic compositions for red, yellow, and green to remove perchlorate ingredients, while maintaining or improving performance. Compositions have been developed, prototyped, and tested with documented results.

Ships, Jets, and Tanks Made from Plastic—Lighter and Stronger than Steel

Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake

Scientists at Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake (NAWCWD) have created a remarkable new resin that could be used to make futuristic ships and jets that are as light as plastic and as strong as steel. Plastics and composites are being used more and more in place of steel to reduce weight, which is the key cost component. For example, in 2009 Boeing conducted the maiden flight of its Boeing 787 airliner, nicknamed the Dreamliner, which is the first airliner to use 50% composite materials making the aircraft 20% more fuel efficient. While revolutionary, the Boeing 787 is designed as a long-haul, wide-body twin-engine jet with a maximum speed of approximately 600 mph or 0.78 Mach. However, for Department of Defense military applications such as supersonic jets and missiles, speeds are much greater and engine and exhaust systems much hotter. For example, Boeing military jets now exceed Mach 2.5 and high-speed missile exhaust temperatures now exceed 1,500 °C. New, lighter, and stronger composites are needed. NAWCWD answered the call by developing a new thermally stable liquid cyanate ester. This high-performance resin is easily transformed into military prototypes of the future by simple injection molding processes. By easily combining inexpensive off-the-shelf carbon fibers into the mix, scientists can easily make an unlimited number of high-strength, temperature-resistant, weapons and systems of the future that are as light as plastic and as strong or stronger than steel. Jets, ships, tanks, vehicles, helmets, and body armor can also be produced. The applications are endless.

Siloxane-Based Nonskid and Topside Coatings

Naval Research Laboratory

The Naval Research Laboratory has developed a novel siloxane-based nonskid and topside coatings for Navy surface ships. The siloxane nonskid is a two-component (2K) system with a 4:1 mix ratio (by volume) that is applied via roll or spray to generate a rough profile. The topside coating is a single-component (1K) system that does not require the mixing of components and is applied via spray, brush, or roll. Both coatings are being qualified to MIL-Specification requirements. Advantages of this technology include enhanced performance, longer service life, reduced corrosion compared to currently qualified nonskid and topside coatings, and reduction in maintenance costs for the Navy. Application areas for this technology include maritime ship and structures, oil rigs, process plants, pleasure watercraft, helicopter landing zones, public walkways, ramps and stairwells, and railcars.

Smart Skin

Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division

Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division has developed Smart Skin, an impact detection and remediation system that utilizes a sensing device that detects damage events related to a structure, vehicle, or other object. Damage events may include impact from a ballistic object, tampering with an object, a physical impact, or other events that may affect structural integrity or cause failure. The sensing device is in communication with a measurement system to determine impact location, severity, and outcomes. A processing system is configured to use the impact data to determine a direction of the initiation point of a ballistic causing the damage event.

Thermal-Electric Barriers -- A New Energy Storage Solution

Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division

Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division seeks to commercialize, through patent licensing and a cooperative research and development agreement, a novel thermal-power generator that uses a combination of a reactive heat source and advanced thermoelectric materials to convert heat into electricity. The unit is a stand-alone, scalable power source that provides power on an as-needed basis. The lightweight, man-portable system contains a power conditioning subsystem to provide a constant voltage or a constant current to external loads.

Three-Dimensional Zinc Electrode Architectures for HighPerformance Batteries

Naval Research Laboratory

Zinc-based batteries offer a safe, inexpensive alternative to fire-prone lithium-based batteries, yet have been historically limited by poor rechargeability. The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has eradicated this centuries-old roadblock by developing a three-dimensional (3D) zinc (Zn) “sponge” electrode architecture comprising interpenetrating networks of Zn scaffolding and void space. The design characteristics of NRL’s 3D Zn sponge yield superior electrochemical properties when cycled in alkaline electrolytes compared to conventional Zn powder-composite electrodes. The longstanding problem of dendrite formation upon cycling is solved by distributing current more homogeneously in 3D throughout the electrode volume, while the void structure constrains dissolution/precipitation processes within the electrode. This breakthrough transforms the future capabilities and performance of the entire family of Zn-based alkaline batteries. By swapping in NRL’s 3D Zn sponge for traditional powdered or foil Zn anodes, NRL has demonstrated fully rechargeable nickel-zinc prototype cells that challenge lithium-ion performance, but which use aqueous-based cell chemistry that is inherently safer than the nonaqueous liquids used in lithium batteries. Applications for this technology include primary (disposable) batteries, secondary (rechargeable) batteries, and 3D solid-state batteries.