Efforts are underway to develop microfabricated flow controllers and pressure regulators that contain as few discrete components as feasible and that are cheaper, more robust, and orders of magnitude smaller than are currently commercially available devices that have similar capabilities. The developmental devices are designed to interact with electronic sensing and control circuits that include microprocessors that, in turn, communicate with host computers of digital feedback control systems. An example of the prototype devices constructed thus far is a hybrid device that includes a flow sensor, a valve containing a TiNi-alloy microribbon shape-memory actuator, and a temperature sensor, with wire-bonded leads for connection to electronic circuits. Windows™-based software for interaction between host computers and the microprocessors associated with these devices has been written. Contemplated further development efforts would be devoted to advancing from the concept of a flow controller on a ceramic substrate to that of a flow controller on an assembly of two or more semiconductor chips. In principle, fabrication on a semiconductor chip could be accomplished without need to assemble discrete components.

This work was done by A. David Johnson of TiNi Alloy Co. for Kennedy Space Center.

In accordance with Public Law 96-517, the contractor has elected to retain title to this invention. Inquiries concerning rights for its commercial use should be addressed to

A. David Johnson, Ph.D.
TiNi Alloy Co.
1619 Neptune Dr.
San Leandro, CA 94577
Tel. No.: (510) 483-9676
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Refer to KSC-12104, volume and number of this NASA Tech Briefs issue, and the page number.


NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the October, 2002 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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