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NASA Spinoff Brings Nanotechnology to Market

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD, licensed its patented technique for manufacturing high-quality, single-walled carbon nanotubes (CNTs) to Idaho Space Materials (ISM) in Boise. Carbon nanotubes based on this process are being used by researchers and companies working on the next generation of composite polymers, metals, and ceramics that will impact almost every facet of life.

Posted in: UpFront

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Instrumented Spindle Improves Manufacturing of Optical Materials

Sensors and data acquisition system provide real-time visibility of grinding system operation. High-performance materials such as ceramics, optics, and alloy steels are manufactured using abrasive grinding technology. Until now, the grinding wheel and process conditions have been difficult to measure in production.

Posted in: Photonics, Briefs, ptb catchall, Tech Briefs, Photonics

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Flexible Laser Design Targets Low-Volume Material Processing Needs

A flexible approach to diode-pumped laser design combines customized performance with costeffective manufacturing. Q-switched, diode-pumped solid-state lasers with an end-pumped cavity design are now widely used in micromachining, materials processing, marking, and related applications. They are used to process a broad range of materials including metals, glass, plastics, and semiconductors. But this application diversity creates a concomitant need for laser diversity. Namely, while each application requires superior reliability and performance, the definition of “superior performance” is very application-specific. For example, some metal ablation applications may benefit from a long laser pulse, whereas semiconductor scribing needs a short pulse and a very high pulse repetition rate.

Posted in: Photonics, Briefs, ptb catchall, Tech Briefs, Photonics

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Aligning Optical Fibers by Means of Actuated MEMS Wedges

Wedges would be fabricated using gray-scale exposure of photoresist. Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) of a proposed type would be designed and fabricated to effect lateral and vertical alignment of optical fibers with respect to optical, electro-optical, optoelectronic, and/or photonic devices on integrated circuit chips and similar monolithic device structures. A MEMS device of this type would consist of a pair of oppositely sloped alignment wedges attached to linear actuators that would translate the wedges in the plane of a substrate, causing an optical fiber in contact with the sloping wedge surfaces to undergo various displacements parallel and perpendicular to the plane. In making it possible to accurately align optical fibers individually during the packaging stages of fabrication of the affected devices, this MEMS device would also make it possible to relax tolerances in other stages of fabrication, thereby potentially reducing costs and increasing yields.

Posted in: Photonics, Briefs, ptb catchall, Tech Briefs, Photonics

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Optical Characterization of Molecular Contaminant Films

A theoretical model is correlated with measured spectral transmittances and VUV exposures of spacecraft optics. A semi-empirical method of optical characterization of thin contaminant films on surfaces of optical components has been conceived. The method was originally intended for application to films that become photochemically deposited on such optical components as science windows, lenses, prisms, thinfilm radiators, and glass solar-cell covers aboard spacecraft and satellites in orbit. The method should also be applicable, with suitable modifications, to thin optical films (whether deposited deliberately or formed as contaminants) on optical components used on Earth in the computer microchip laser communications and thin-film industries.

Posted in: Photonics, Briefs, ptb catchall, Tech Briefs, Photonics

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Eliminate Color Fading in Washable Cotton Garments

Cotton garments, especially dark-colored garments, lose their initial color through repeated washings and exposure to sunlight. Needed is a new technology or technology system that will give cotton garments improved color fastness, but which does not depend just on using a more expensive dye with higher fastness. Such a treatment could take place during one of the several stages in the manufacture of cotton garments.

Posted in: NASA Tech Needs

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Frizzy Hair Control

Materials and compounded products are sought that, when deposited on hair from a leave-on or rinse-off conditioner, will control frizzy hair and leave a positive feel to the hair. Any solution must be non-toxic and safe for use by children. It should neither produce environmental difficulties in its use or manufacture, nor affect the stability of the formulated product to which it is added. Additionally, it should not interfere with other benefits delivered. Possible materials include associative or cross-linked polymers, silicones, and non-polar oils.

Posted in: NASA Tech Needs

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