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Technology Transfer for Defense is a cross-campus effort of the Precourt Institute for Energy

Nano Ceramic Additive Manufacturing of IR Sensor Domes

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PI: Prof. Wendy Gu

Department: Mechanical Engineering

Sponsor: United States Navy (USN) ONR NEPTUNE Program

Additive manufacturing is a transformative technology of naval relevance. It has potential for rapid prototyping, on-site fabrication and repair, and the reduction of lead time and supply chain issues for complex parts. Ceramics are critical structural and electronic materials, but challenging to manufacture, due to their high melting temperature, low propensity for sintering, and mechanical brittleness. Here, we propose a particle ink-laser melting (PILM) additive manufacturing system to rapidly fabricate rugged ceramic IR sensor domes for use on aircraft or other vehicles. This addresses current military challenges of producing structural and optical materials that can withstand hypersonic flight conditions. The PILM method is superior to other additive manufacturing techniques (e.g. inkjet deposition of ceramic colloids, laser powder bed fusion), which generally require extensive sintering (>12 hours, >1000°C) following 3D printing. PILM minimizes the need for these post-processing steps by using nanoscale ceramic particles as the feedstock material. The high surface area of nanoscale particles results in lower melting temperature and high propensity for sintering. The optical performance of the IR domes will be evaluated using transmittance and reflectance spectroscopy, and the elastic modulus and hardness will be evaluated using nanoindentation.

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