Special Coverage


SiC Multi-Chip Power Modules as Power-System Building Blocks

Fault-tolerant power-supply systems could be constructed and expanded relatively inexpensively. The term “SiC MCPMs” (wherein “MCPM” signifies “multi-chip power module”) denotes electronic power-supply modules containing multiple silicon carbide power devices and silicon-on-insulator (SOI) control integrated-circuit chips. SiC MCPMs are being developed as building blocks of advanced expandable, reconfigurable, fault-tolerant power-supply systems. Exploiting the ability of SiC semiconductor devices to operate at temperatures, breakdown voltages, and current densities significantly greater than those of conventional Si devices, the designs of SiC MCPMs and of systems comprising multiple SiC MCPMs are expected to afford a greater degree of miniaturization through stacking of modules with reduced requirements for heat sinking. Moreover, the higher-temperature capabilities of SiC MCPMs could enable operation in environments hotter than Si-based power systems can withstand.

Posted in: Semiconductors & ICs, Briefs


Computational Workbench for Multibody Dynamics

PyCraft is a computer program that provides an interactive, workbench-like computing environment for developing and testing algorithms for multibody dynamics. Examples of multibody dynamic systems amenable to analysis with the help of PyCraft include land vehicles, spacecraft, robots, and molecular models. PyCraft is based on the Spatial-Operator-Algebra (SOA) formulation for multibody dynamics. The SOA operators enable construction of simple and compact representations of complex multibody dynamical equations. Within the PyCraft computational workbench, users can, essentially, use the high-level SOA operator notation to represent the variety of dynamical quantities and algorithms and to perform computations interactively. PyCraft provides a Python-language interface to underlying C++ code. Working with SOA concepts, a user can create and manipulate Python-level operator classes in order to implement and evaluate new dynamical quantities and algorithms. During use of PyCraft, virtually all SOA-based algorithms are available for computational experiments.

Posted in: Software, Briefs, TSP


Predicting Rocket or Jet Noise in Real Time

Measurement data can be analyzed in real time. A semi-empirical theoretical model and a C++ computer program that implements the model have been developed for use in predicting the noise generated by a rocket or jet engine. The computer program, entitled the Realtime Rocket and Jet Engine Noise Analysis and Prediction Software, is one of two main subsystems of the Acoustic Prediction/Measurement Tool, which comprises software, acoustic instrumentation, and electronic hardware combined to afford integrated capabilities for real-time prediction and measurement of noise emitted by rocket and jet engines. [The other main subsystem, consisting largely of acoustic instrumentation and electronic hardware, is described in “Wireless Acoustic Measurement System,” which appears elsewhere in this section.

Posted in: Information Sciences, Briefs


Spiral Orbit Tribometer

Friction and lubricant degradation rate can be quantified rapidly. The spiral orbit tribometer (SOT) bridges the gap between full-scale life testing and typically unrealistic accelerated life testing of ball-bearing lubricants in conjunction with bearing ball and race materials. The SOT operates under realistic conditions and quickly produces results, thereby providing information that can guide the selection of lubricant, ball, and race materials early in a design process.

Posted in: Mechanics, Machinery & Automation, Mechanical Components, Briefs, TSP


Ingestible Thermometer Pill Aids Athletes in Beating the Heat

From the football turf to high above the Earth, heat exhaustion is a life-threatening concern. Heat exhaustion, or hyperthermia, is an acute condition caused by excessive exposure to heat and dehydration. It occurs when the body can no longer dissipate heat adequately because of extreme environmental conditions or increased heat production from within. Heat exhaustion may progress to heatstroke when the body’s thermoregulatory mechanisms become overwhelmed and fail, ultimately leading to brain and organ damage or even death.

Posted in: NTB, Spinoff


NASA Institute Studies and Identifies Martian Land Formations

The Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) in Houston is part of the Universities Space Research Association, and is a NASAfunded institute that conducts research in the lunar, planetary, and terrestrial sciences on behalf of university science departments and NASA. The most recent project between the University of Houston (UH) and the LPI seeks to identify and characterize the natural landscape structures of Mars, such as the inside of craters, valley networks, and the outside and inside rims of craters and inter-crater plains. Identifying these structures is important because rocks, minerals, and geologic landforms hold clues to past water activity on Mars. Understanding the history of water on Mars is a part of NASA’s long-term Mars Exploration Project.

Posted in: Application Briefs


Versatile Friction Stir Welding/Friction Plug Welding System

A single system could perform any FSW or FPW operation. A proposed system of tooling, machinery, and control equipment would be capable of performing any of several friction stir welding (FSW) and friction plug welding (FPW) operations. These operations would include the following:

Posted in: Manufacturing & Prototyping, Briefs, TSP