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Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Tech Transfer

Thermal Protection Systems Nondestructive Evaluation Tool

Completed Technology Project

Project Description

Thermal Protection Systems Nondestructive Evaluation Tool
Based on the successful feasibility demonstration in Phase I, Physical Optics Corporation (POC) proposes to continue the development of a novel Thermal Protection System Nondestructive Evaluation Tool (THRON), which addresses NASA's need for evaluation of lightweight rigid and/or flexible ablative materials, and provides noncontact, one-sided in situ operation for accurate detection, identification, and precise spatial localization and measurements of internal and surface defects/voids, and evaluation of bondlines and in-depth integrity of such materials and also large-area multilayer thermal protection system (TPS) structures with complex geometries. THRON is based on POC-patented X-ray Compton imaging tomography and POC-patented apodized coded aperture X-ray imaging optics, substantially modified and optimized to meet NASA's requirements. The THRON Phase I prototype demonstrated excellent potential for detection and spatial localization of defects/voids with dimensions <6 mm by 6 mm by 6 mm, and bondline defects <12 mm by 12 mm by 200 μm in TPS material and structures. At the end of Phase II, POC will perform a technology readiness level (TRL)-6 demonstration of THRON in POC's X-ray lab and/or at NASA facilities, and will deliver to NASA a working engineering model of an effective NDE tool. More »

Anticipated Benefits

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Primary U.S. Work Locations and Key Partners

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