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Northrop Grumman has signed its first non-exclusive agreement to manufacture niobium-based connectors (NiobiCon) specifically designed for harsh environments, the company announced on 12 February.

NiobiCon is a new way of making electrical connections underwater that enables power transfer and data exchange without using seals, oil or moving parts. This technology was developed to address the inefficient recharging of unmanned vehicles in underwater environments. When the niobium connector enters in contact with the water, it creates its own thin isolating layer, which gets scraped off when the connection is made. Once disconnected, the layer instantly regenerates.

NiobiCon is a patented technology that has global commercial and defense applications,” said Alan Lytle, Vice President, Undersea Systems at Northrop Grumman. “It is an innovative, wet-mateable connector technology we have developed that will not only improve reliability and cost-effectiveness, but also revolutionize the industry.”

Northrop Grumman has entered into an agreement with iCONN Systems LLC, which specialises in the manufacture of connectors for harsh environments, as its first non-exclusive licensee. The company will work with potential customers to develop more reliable interconnects for both commercial and defence applications.

NiobiCon may well revolutionise naval electronics architectures, as well as providing significant advantage to ruggedization of systems for other defence and security domains. (Photo: Northrop Grumman)

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