Aerospace Overview

U.S. aerospace manufacturers are very competitive internationally. In 2017, the industry contributed $143 billion in export sales to the U.S. economy. Its positive trade balance of nearly $85 billion that year was the largest trade surplus of any manufacturing industry, supporting high-wage jobs for hundreds of thousands of American workers. At the end of 2017, the inward stock of foreign direct investment (FDI) into the U.S. aerospace manufacturing industry totaled more than $21 billion.

The U.S. aerospace industry is the largest in the world and offers a skilled and educated workforce, extensive distribution systems, diverse offerings, and strong support at the local and national level for policy and promotion. The U.S. aerospace industry directly employs about 485,000 workers in scientific and technical jobs across the nation and supports more than 700,000 jobs in related fields. Investment in the U.S. aerospace industry is facilitated by a large pool of well-trained machinists, aerospace engineers, and other highly-skilled workers with experience in the aerospace industry.

Investors in the U.S. aerospace industry are supported by the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) “gold standard” of aviation safety, boosting the confidence worldwide in the safety of aircraft and aircraft parts manufactured in the United States. The FAA has Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreements (BASAs) that facilitate the airworthiness approval in 47 countries outside the United States of American made aerospace products.


Thin Film Ceramic Thermocouples

INVENTORS • Otto Gregory


A thin film ceramic thermocouple having two ceramic thermocouple  that are in contact with each other in at least on point to form a junction, and wherein each element was prepared in a different oxygen/nitrogen/argon plasma. Since each element is prepared under different plasma conditions, they have different electrical conductivity and different charge carrier concentration. The thin film thermocouple can be transparent. A versatile ceramic sensor system having an RTD heat flux sensor can be combined with a thermocouple and a strain sensor to yield a multifunctional ceramic sensor array. The transparent ceramic temperature sensor that could ultimately be used for calibration of optical sensors.


A versatile ceramic sensor system having an RTD heat flux sensor can be combined with a thermocouple and a strain sensor to yield a multifunctional ceramic sensor array. The transparent ceramic temperature sensor that could ultimately be used for calibration of optical sensors.


 The thin film thermocouple be used to read temperature changes and can also be combined with a strain gauge. This can provide more accurate data. This system is very robust and is an order of magnitude more sensitive to temperature changes than Pt:Pd thin film thermocouples.

Intellectual Property

Patent Number Issue Date Type Country of Filing
8,052,324 Nov 8, 2011 Utility United States
Track Code 03-0522
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Composite Used for Thermal Spray Instrumentation and Method for Making the Same

INVENTOR • Otto Gregory, Markus Downey


A superalloy article of a substrate, bond coat (cobalt, nickel or mixtures thereof) applied onto the substrate, and a ceramic top coat applied over the bond coat. The bond coat is exposed to a 1600-1800 degrees F after its application onto the substrate.


The composites can be used for thermal sprayed instrumentation or as thermal barrier coatings for engine parts of automobile engines, gas turbine engines and turbines for power generation.


Addresses challenges associated with monitoring the temperature and strain of the various engine components operating at temperatures > 2200 degrees F. Improves fatigue life of the sprayed coatings used to embed strain gages and thermocouples. Reduces any internal oxidation in the bond coat.
US #8048534
Technology is available for licensing.
URI# 03-0421
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High-Temperature Strain Gages

INVENTORS • Otto Gregory, Tao You


A ceramic strain gage based on reactively sputtered indium-tin-oxide (ITO) thin films is used to monitor the structural integrity of components employed in aerospace propulsion systems operating at temperatures in excess of 1500° C with a little signal draft. The preferred semiconductor is ITO and preferred metal is platinum.


Assess the structural behavior of aerospace propulsion systems in harsh environments. Thin film sensors are ideally suited to make measurements of operational turbine conditions since they have negligible mass and thus, minimal impact on vibration patterns. A preferred semiconductor is indium tin oxide and a particularly preferred metal is platinum.


Thin film strain sensors are particularly attractive in the gas turbine engine environment since they do not adversely affect the gas flow over the surface of a component and do not require adhesive or cements for bonding purposes. Excellent adhesion and similar thermal expansion coefficients to most oxides used for electrical isolation. Monitors both static and dynamic strain of components. ITO elements are oxidation resistant and do not undergo any phase changes when thermally cycled between room temperature and 1500° C.
URI# 03-0422
US #7963171
Technology is available for licensing.
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Distributed Fiber-Optic Sensing with Ultralow Size, Weight, Power, and Cost (SWaP-C) Interrogator



We have developed a novel optical frequency domain reflectometry (ODFR)-based distriubted fiber-optic sensing (DFOS) technology with ultralow SWaP-C
interrogator (100 times less cost than commercial ones without compromising performance) for continuously sensing of shape/position, stress, strain and temperature of an object. The new fiber optic sensing device uses a series of ultraweak (<−50 dB), mm or cm pitch reflector cavities along an optical fiber cable to perform distributed interferometric measurements. A wide variety of lasers can be utilized to fabricate the ultra-weak reflectors, including, but not limited to deep UV and IR/NIR femtosecond/picosecond lasers.


High-cost of interrogater is one of the major pain point of current OFDR-based DFOS technology. To address this problem we provided a solution which is different from conventional Rayleigh Scattering based OFDR technology which requires very expensive broadband interrogator (cost ≥ $100K). Our sensing device requires only a narrow interrogation bandwidth (hundreds of gigahertz or less), and thus can engage low-cost light sources having narrow bandwidth (e.g., a semiconductor laser source, DFB, VCSEL,etc.) contributing to drastically lowering the interrogator cost (e.g., < $1K).


A distributed sensing platform with high spatial resolution applicable in downhole temperature measurements, monitoring flexible aerospace components. Shape sensing, as well as providing “nerving system” to robotics arm, smart vehicles, smart building, homes, etc.


About 100 times cost savings than existing commercially available devices without compromising performance.



Issued U.S. Patent, 9,958,605 B2


Terahertz-Range Weak Reflection Fiber Optic Structures for Sensing Applications. IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics, 2017, 23(2), 246-251. DOI: 10.1109/JSTQE.2016.2612221.


optical interferometry, optical-fibers, ultra-weak reflector, sensors, distributed sensing, Terahertz (THz) frequency sensing, strain sensor, interrogation bandwidth, shape sensing, position sensing, reflectometry

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