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NYIT, X-wave Innovations Team Up to Develop RFID Technology for NASA

Fang Li, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the New York Institute of Technology, is partnering with the firm to develop an embedded sensor system capable of measuring temperature, pressure and strain levels on various rocket propulsion engine components.
By Rich Handley

The passive system can function in harsh environments that might destroy conventional electronics, according to the company. The RF interrogation solution remotely collects data from multiple sensors, then converts that information into values of temperature, pressure and strain. "The maintenance-free sensor system can operate for long periods," Li said in a prepared statement, "providing valuable data about the structural health and operation conditions of the engine components."

Li, together with two mechanical engineering graduate students at NYIT, will model, design and develop passive SAW sensors for performing temperature, strain and pressure measurements. Sensors are currently being fabricated in the NYIT-Old Westbury campus's Class 10,000 clean room. According to the company, the clean room—part of the school's materials science and nanotechnology laboratory—houses a sputtering machine and microscopy tools that allow researchers to nano-engineer unique composite materials and create microchips, sensors, and implantable and wearable medical devices.

"Our mission is to provide high-quality education and support faculty research and student learning in high-tech focus areas," said Nada Marie Anid, Ph.D., the dean of NYIT's School of Engineering and Computing Sciences, in the prepared statement. "This prestigious NASA grant is a perfect example of collaboration between our faculty and industry on important technological advances. It offers a tremendous growth opportunity for both Professor Li and her students in mechanical and aerospace engineering."

Earlier this year, NASA announced its selection of 399 research and technology proposals from 277 American small businesses and 44 research institutions that will enable the agency's future missions into deep space, along with advancements in aviation and science. Selected proposals will support the development of technologies in the areas of aeronautics, science, human exploration and operations, and space technology.

For the Phase I program, Li and XII will prototype an embedded sensor system. The results will provide initial validation that the proposed technology can provide the required measurements. During Phase II, Li, her students and XII plan to build the SAW-RFID system and demonstrate its capability to measure temperature, pressure and strain levels under harsh environments.

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