FlexTech Alliance has received a contract from the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) to streamline production of advanced nano-biotechnology devices.
AFRL is contributing $2.2m to a $5.5m cost-shared programme, in which will FlexTech will establish a new nano-bio manufacturing consortium (NBMC) that will bring world-class researchers on to the same platform for prototype monitoring devices development.
Remaining programme funding will be provided by the 20 alliance members, who include Lockheed Martin, GE, DuPont Teijin Films, as well as scientists from the University of Cincinnati and the University of Massachusetts, US.
The air force is planning to use the devices for real-time monitoring of aircraft pilots and to support personnel during combat operations.
FlexTech Alliance CEO Michael Ciesinski said the primary aim is to provide the air force with a technology for the monitoring of military personnel.
"While the air force’s interests are obvious, real-time monitoring of the chronically infirm or elderly, for example, is an eventual commercial application, too," Ciesinski added.
Integrating sensing, communications and power on a flexible electronics platform, the nano-bio sensors can be installed into aircraft surfaces to gauge stress and perform real-time structural integrity analysis. The sensors also have medical applications due to their ability to remotely monitor human performance.
Expected to start operations in the April 2013, the consortium will offer shared assets to help companies and universities obtain access to advanced capabilities and equipment, as well as educating and training students and workers in advanced manufacturing skills.
Other consortium members include PARC and researchers from Binghamton University, Cornell University, John Hopkins University, Princeton University, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of California at San Diego and other leading universities.