National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

Sensor Development Corporation

January 31, 2014

Company Info:

Sensor Development Corporation, a company located in Cleveland, Ohio, is a technology driven company working on being the major supplier of a versatile gas phase detection systems for mold and mold based toxins, explosives and nuisance gases. Significant markets include the food supply chain, human health and human safety. As a winner of the Adopt-A-City program Sensor Development was entitled to 40 hours with a NASA Glenn Subject Matter Expert (SME).

The single focus of Sensor Development Corp. is to develop highly sensitive and selective nanocrystalline tin-oxide sensors to detect minute amounts of gaseous volatile organic compounds. These gases include mold gases from toxin producing molds that infect stored cereal grains and pheromones from highly destructive insects.
Credit: Sensor Development Corp.

“We’re are that tipping point, where we want to tip this [product] in to the marketplace and NASA will help us tremendously.”  –
Nicholas J. Smilanich, President, Sensor Development Corp.

Challenge:

Sensor Development Corporation designs, develops and manufactures high sensitivity devices for detecting the mold that produces aflatoxin. This device can be installed in a bin and provides a real-time monitoring for early recognition of molds allowing action to be taken to prevent the spread of the mold. The detector is low cost and does not need skilled personnel to operate. Its use does not require a physical sampling, which can lead to as much as 90% of the error associated with other test methods.

The current sensor system design requires operation of the sensor element at higher temperatures. The challenge with the design is to provide a circuit board and sensor element package which will provide reliable operation for extended periods of time while minimizing power consumption. The approaches previously used by Sensor Development Corporation were considered limited in their commercial viability.

Solution:

NASA Sensor Engineers worked with Sensor Development engineers on packaging the sensor element and circuit board to provide reliable operation for extended periods of time while minimizing power consumption. NASA’s aerogel tape was used to insulate the circuit board from the sensor that was producing high temperatures. NASA specialists in the Sensors Section, offered several potential approaches to solving the packaging challenge referring both to publicly available information on existing commercial systems, as well as methods based on unique NASA Glenn Research Center capabilities.

Benefits:

As a result of the support from NASA Glenn Research Center, Sensor Development Corporation is ready to begin the final development of a sensor system that will provide real-time monitoring for early detection of molds before a wide spread outbreak.  This product would support the detection of mold and mold based toxins, explosives and nuisance gases in a wide variety of important markets. NASA has helped Sensor Development make significant progress.