The work is an extension of Sadeghi's previous research aimed at developing electronic sensors to measure the temperature inside critical bearings in communications satellites.
"This is a major issue for aerospace applications, including bearings in satellite attitude control wheels to keep the satellites in position," Sadeghi said.
The wheels are supported by two bearings. If mission controllers knew the bearings were going bad on a specific unit, they could turn it off and switch to a backup.
"What happens, however, is that you don't get any indication of a bearing's imminent failure, and all of a sudden the gyro stops, causing the satellite to shoot out of orbit," Sadeghi said. "It can take a lot of effort and fuel to try to bring it back to the proper orbit, and many times these efforts fail."
The Purdue researchers received a grant from the U.S. Air Force in 2006 to extend the work for high-temperature applications in jet engines.
"Current sensor technology can withstand temperatures of up to about 210 degrees Celsius, and the military wants to extend that to about 300 degrees Celsius," Sadeghi said. "At the same time, we will need to further miniaturize the size."
The new MEMS sensors provide early detection of impending failure by directly monitoring the temperature of engine bearings, whereas conventional sensors work indirectly by monitoring the temperature of engine oil, yielding less specific data.
The MEMS devices will not require batteries and will transmit temperature data wirelessly.
"This type of system uses a method we call telemetry because the devices transmit signals without wires, and we power the circuitry remotely, eliminating the need for batteries, which do not perform well in high temperatures," Peroulis said.
|Contact: Emil Venere|