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Tracking Electromagnetic Energy With SQUIDs

A superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID) is a gadget used to measure extremely weak signals, specifically magnetic flux. It can detect subtle changes in energy, up to 100 billion times weaker than the electromagnetic energy required to move a compass needle. SQUIDs are used for a variety of testing procedures where extreme sensitivity is required and where the test instrument need not come into direct contact with the test subject.

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Software to Manage the Unmanageable

In 1995, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) contracted Redmond, Washington-based Lucidoc Corporation, to design a technology infrastructure to automate the intersection between policy management and operations management with advanced software that automates document workflow, document status, and uniformity of document layout. JPL had very specific parameters for the software. It expected to store and catalog over 8,000 technical and procedural documents integrated with hundreds of processes. The project ended in 2000, but NASA still uses the resulting highly secure document management system, and Lucidoc has managed to help other organizations, large and small, with integrating document flow and operations management to ensure a compliance-ready culture.

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Fault-Detection Tool Has Companies Mining Own Business

A successful launching of NASA's Space Shuttle hinges heavily on the three Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSME) that power the orbiter. These critical components must be monitored in real time, with sensors, and compared against expected behaviors that could scrub a launch or, even worse, cause in- flight hazards.

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Formulations for Stronger Solid Oxide Fuel-Cell Electrolytes

Alumina is added to yttria-stabilized zirconia. Tests have shown that modification of chemical compositions can increase the strengths and fracture tough- nesses of solid oxide fuel-cell (SOFC) electrolytes. Heretofore, these solid electrolytes have been made of yttria- stabilized zirconia, which is highly conductive for oxygen ions at high temp- eratures, as needed for operation of fuel cells. Unfortunately yttria-stabilized zirconia has a high coefficient of thermal expansion, low resistance to thermal shock, low fracture toughness, and low mechanical strength. The lack of strength and toughness are especially problematic for fabrication of thin SOFC electrolyte membranes needed for contemplated aeronautical, automotive, and stationary power-generation applications.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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A Search Engine That's Aware of Your Needs

Internet research can be compared to trying to drink from a firehose. Such a wealth of information is available that even the simplest inquiry can sometimes generate tens of thousands of leads, more information than most people can handle, and more burdensome than most can endure.

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Liquid-Crystal Thermosets, a New Generation of High-Performance Liquid-Crystal Polymers

Liquid-crystal polymers can now be used as resins in textile composites. One of the major challenges for NASA's next-generation reusable-launch-vehicle (RLV) program is the design of a cryogenic lightweight composite fuel tank. Potential matrix resin systems need to exhibit a low coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE), good mechanical strength, and excellent barrier properties at cryogenic temperatures under load. In addition, the resin system needs to be processable by a variety of non-autoclavable techniques, such as vacuum-bag curing, resin-transfer molding (RTM), vacuum-assisted resin-transfer molding (VaRTM), resin-film infusion (RFI), pultrusion, and advanced tow placement (ATP).

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Nonlinear Thermoelastic Model for SMAs and SMA Hybrid

This model captures essential mechanics with fundamental engineering property input. A constitutive mathematical model has been developed that predicts the nonlinear thermomechanical behaviors of shape-memory alloys (SMAs) and of shape- memory-alloy hybrid composite (SMAHC) structures, which are composite-material structures that contain embedded SMA actuators. SMAHC structures have been investigated for their potential utility in a variety of applications in which there are requirements for static or dynamic control of the shapes of structures, control of the thermoelastic responses of structures, or control of noise and vibrations. The present model overcomes deficiencies of prior, overly simplistic or qualitative models that have proven ineffective or intractable for engineering of SMAHC structures. The model is sophisticated enough to capture the essential features of the mechanics of SMAHC structures yet simple enough to accommodate input from fundamental engineering measurements and is in a form that is amenable to implementation in general-purpose structural analysis environments.

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