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Our "Hallmarks of Success" stories feature successful technologies developed through Langleys collaborations with other government partners, small and large businesses, and other research institutions. They serve as role models for other partnerships to develop new innovations through the Technology Gateway.

NASA Langley Airborne Instrument Uses SBIR Technology

As NASA studies the atmosphere surrounding our planet, its researchers are also working to improve the tools they use to take more accurate measurements and collect better data.


Engineers at Langley Research Center who develop laser instruments for atmospheric studies are trying to improve one of their instruments. It’s a High Spectral Resolution Lidar (HSRL) used for measuring cloud and aerosol properties that are relevant to climate research, air quality studies, and satellite validation.


“The HSRL acquires measurements from the Langley B-200 aircraft and has flown to a variety of locations including the Caribbean Islands, Mexico, Alaska, and Canada. The airborne HSRL has been used extensively to validate the measurements made by NASA’s CALIPSO satellite-based lidar and is an early prototype for the next-generation spaceborne lidar to be flown on the ACE mission,” says Chris Hostetler, Langley Principle Investigator.


Through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program at Langley, the engineers partnered with AdvR, Incorporated of Bozeman, Montana to develop compact, lightweight, electro-optic components for lidar-based remote sensing instruments.

AdvR recently developed an optical waveguide circuit that integrates several key functions into rugged, compact single module for the laser transmitter in Langley’s HSRL. A waveguide is a physical structure that guides electromagnetic waves in the optical spectrum. The AdvR module has been successfully integrated into a next generation seed laser system, which provides the precise wavelength stability required for HSRL measurements.


According to Anthony Cook, HSRL Lead Engineer, “ the AdvR technology is unique in that it combines two optical functions in one compact, robust chip that precisely locks the laser to the required wavelength. Precise locking of the laser and filter wavelengths is critical to the accuracy of the geophysical products that we derive from the acquired data.”

AdvR�s Seed Laser developed for HSRL

AdvR’s Seed Laser developed for HSRL

HRSL personnel are now using the AdvR technology in lab tests to verify full system operation.  The first official flight operation of one of the AdvR-developed systems will be in 2010 on the B-200.


Although the primary customer for this technology is Langley’s HSRL it has other potential applications for NASA, as well as for the commercial marketplace. Some of the NASA-related applications are in NASA’s other lidar remote sensing programs, such as in altimetry and DIAL lidar at NASA/GSFC, where compact, low cost, stabilized single-frequency lasers are required.


One of the commercial applications of this technology has been for the development of lasers used in the bioscience field. AdvR partnered with PicoQuant of Berlin, Germany, a leader in the field of diode lasers and fluorescence systems, to develop a new laser source that uses a component of the original SBIR concept as a module for the laser.


“The SBIR programs have been very beneficial to this technology development, as it was through these programs that the initial fusion of our waveguide technology with opto-electronic packaging was developed,” according to Shirley McNeil, Senior Laser Systems Engineer at AdvR.


The commercially available PicoQuant laser is used for a variety of applications, such as time resolved fluorescence spectroscopy and microscopy, powerful techniques used by medical and bioscience researchers for conducting time correlated studies at molecular levels to more fully characterize different processes in the body.

PicoQuant’s pulsed laser incorporates AdvR’s technology

PicoQuant’s pulsed laser incorporates AdvR’s technology


McNeil also sees other applications for AdvR SBIR-developed technology.


“There are additional commercial applications such as for the RGB display and telecom markets, and we are actively seeking industrial partners to utilize our component level products.”


“FPF-44” polyimide foam is not only “NASA’s Commercial Invention of the Year�,” it is also a NASA “Hallmark of Success” story. Researchers at Langley teamed with a small firm to develop the foam, which is now being used by the Navy as insulation on ships.

Collier Research

With funding from SBIR awards and other contracts, Collier Research has teamed with Langley and several other NASA Centers to help design and develop all the components of the next generation spacecraft.

Ballistic Recovery Systems, Inc. (BRS)

Ballistic Recovery Systems, Inc. (BRS)

Through a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) partnership, BRS developed a parachute technology concept for NASA's Small Aircraft Transportation System program. Now, a fully operational system, the parachute is FAA certified for certain Cirrus aircraft, and to date, more than 200 lives have been saved.  +Watch Video | +Download Video


Led by Langley, the CALIPSO mission satellite and its unique laser technology were developed to help scientists answer significant questions and provide new information about the role of clouds and aerosols (airborne particles) in the Earth's changing climate. The mission is a large-scale global partnership that includes small and large business partners, international partners, and universities.
+Watch Video | +Download Video

Electron Beam Free Form Fabrication (EBF3)

Electron Beam Free Form Fabrication (EBF3)
By working with another federal partner, a university, small and large businesses, Langley has created a radically different layer-additive, welding process. The EBF3 process, which can operate on Earth or in microgravity, builds up parts from wire with an electron beam. It can also change chemistries and micro-structures while welding, as well as add on devices such as sensors. + Watch Video (mpeg). + View more video.

Low Temperature Oxidation Catalyst (L-TOC) - Penske Racing Team

Low Temperature Oxidation Catalyst  (L-TOC) - Penske Racing Team
Penske licensed the L-TOC, which converts carbon monoxide (CO) into carbon dioxide. Through a partnership with Langley, they developed the "INCAR" system, which incorporate the L-TOC. The system converts the CO and filters the air breathed by NASCAR drivers. Today, many teams are using the systems to keep their drivers healthy.+ Watch Video (mpeg).  + Read script from the video.

LaRC-Si - Medtronic, Inc.

LaRC-Si - Medtronic, Inc.
Medtronic has licensed Langleys LaRC-Si, a hi-temperature polymer, for a medical application. The firm is using the material as a coating on the lead wire of their implantable cardiac therapy devices. The wire is actually placed into a patients heart during surgery. Currently, devices with the LaRC-Si-coated wire are in clinical lab trials. +Watch Video..

To view more of NASA's "Hallmarks" stories, please visit: http://sbir.gsfc.nasa.gov/SBIR/successvideo.html.

To learn more about our success stories, please contact us.