Missouri State University Receive $6.2m Grant to Develop Carbon Nanotube-Based Satellite Components

Dr. Ryan Giedd, executive director of Missouri State University’s Roy Blunt Jordan Valley Innovation Center (JVIC), and JVIC corporate partners Nantero Inc. (Woburn, Mass.) and Carbon Nanotechnologies Inc. (Houston, Texas) have been awarded a $6.2 million grant from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to develop carbon-based satellite components – high-speed processing and control elements, specifically – that will be able to withstand the damaging threats of space, primarily electro-magnetic pulses, solar flares and cosmic radiation. This ONR grant is the largest research (non-construction) grant ever awarded to Missouri State University.

“Nantero scientists have reminded us that because of the interference effects due to cosmic radiation and the resultant shielding, many satellites orbiting the Earth do not have as much computing power as the personal computers found in most offices,” says Giedd, who is also a professor in the university’s physics, astronomy and materials science department. He will serve as principal investigator and chief technical contact for the grant.

“We want to improve space-based computing power and upgrade electronic storage capabilities by developing new, revolutionary carbon-based devices that are not sensitive to this harmful radiation,” Giedd says.

Missouri State and Nantero Inc. have developed expertise in solution phase chemistry, carbon nanotube growth, integration and device fabrication for computer memory and logic devices that meet these requirements. Malfunction of current state-of-the-art electronic devices leads to failure of extremely complex and expensive spacecraft and space systems.

The firms are in the process of developing a new class of memory devices (NRAM™) and logic devices (Nanologic™) that incorporate single-walled carbon nanotubes. They offer significant improvements over current technology, specifically meeting or exceeding all of the needed specifications for space vehicles because of their fundamental electromechanical operation, while providing increased speeds and component densities, non-volatile operation and higher orders of device and system integration.

Research on this collaborative, groundbreaking project will begin in late March or early April, about the time of the grand opening of the first phase of the new multi-million-dollar JVIC headquarters in downtown Springfield. JVIC’s focus is on applied research in biomaterials, carbon-based nanoeletronics, advanced nanotechnologies, genomics/proteomics, bio-systems software engineering and bio-medical instrument development.

“This is a new state-of-the-art technology that has never been developed or implemented anywhere in the world,” Giedd says of the ONR project. “We’re very excited for this opportunity.”

The majority of the research will be conducted in the facility’s new clean rooms and robotics laboratories, Giedd says. The JVIC building will also be home to the university’s Center for Applied Science and Engineering and the Center for Biomedical and Life Sciences.

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