Advanced Optical Technologies
Thanks to NMSBA our collaboratin with Sandia facilitated comparative studies to broaden our market base to help ensure the quality and affordability of high-performance titanium aerospace parts
Titanium is an important material for fighter jets and commercial aircraft.
Strong but light, titanium enhances fuel efficiency and performance.
Currently, scientists use a destructive crystallographic testing technique
known as electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) to better understand
titanium’s mechanical properties.
Advanced Optical Technologies (AOT) offers multidimensional material
characterization of complex materials and devices and develops custom
sensors for defense and commercial customers. AOT developed a
nondestructive test alternative to EBSD known as polarization-classification
imaging (PCI). Malini Hoover and her team believed that PCI was a dramatic
improvement over EBSD, but lacked the EBSD equipment to prove it.
Hoover contacted NMSBA for assistance and was partnered with Joseph Michael
at Sandia National Laboratories. Michael and his team used a scanning electron
microscope to perform a comparative study between PCI and EBSD. The
team found that while EBSD takes nine hours, PCI takes only minutes. PCI has
significant advantages for industrial use, imaging larger areas and requiring
less surface polishing of samples. This shorter timeframe means that users can
test crystallographic structures while titanium is being produced. Innovative
technologies like PCI are delivering faster and cheaper ways to characterize
materials, especially in quality control and inspection for additive manufacturing.
In part because of the study results, AOT received $750,000 from the Air Force
Research Laboratory Materials & Manufacturing Directorate to build the first
sensor dedicated to titanium crystallography. The company also received a
$50,000 New Mexico Economic Development grant.