Special Coverage

Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems
Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems
NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space
Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators
Automating Optimization and Design Tasks Across Disciplines
Vibration Tables Shake Up Aerospace and Car Testing
Supercomputer Cooling System Uses Refrigerant to Replace Water
Computer Chips Calculate and Store in an Integrated Unit
Electron-to-Photon Communication for Quantum Computing

Making a Back-Illuminated Imager With Back-Side Contact and Alignment Markers

Metal plugs provide both electrical contact and alignment.

A design modification and a fabrication process that implements the modification have been conceived to solve two problems encountered in the development of back-illuminated, back-side-thinned complementary metal oxide/semiconductor (CMOS) image-detector integrated circuits. With respect to such an integrated circuit to be fabricated on a silicon substrate, the two problems are (1) how to form metal electrical-contact pads on the back side that are electrically connected through the thickness in proper alignment with electrical contact points on the front side and (2) how to provide alignment keys on the back side to ensure proper registration of backside optical components (e.g., microlenses and/or color filters) with the frontside pixel pattern. (In this special context, “front side” signifies that face of the substrate upon which the pixel pattern and the associated semiconductor devices and metal conductor lines are formed.)

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Electronics & Computers, Calibration, Imaging and visualization, Integrated circuits, Fabrication
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Green Energy for the Battlefield

The amount of energy the United States consumes increases every year and this growth in energy consumption outpaces energy production. To fill this gap, the U.S. imports 35% of its energy. More importantly, the U.S. imports over 60% of its total oil consumption. Added to this, 70% of this energy is from non-renewable sources.

Posted in: Articles, Energy, Green Design & Manufacturing, Energy consumption, Military vehicles and equipment
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Miniature Control Chip Drives James Webb Telescope Signal

SIDECAR ASIC microprocessor-controlled chip Teledyne Imaging Sensors Camarillo, CA 805-373-4545 www.teledyne-si.com

The electronics that will convert analog signals to digital signals on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), being built by Northrop Grumman and managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, have been miniaturized to take up less space and to weigh less. The electronics also will provide better images of objects in space when they are sent back to scientists on Earth.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Electronics, Sensors, Imaging and visualization, Sensors and actuators
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NASA Satellite Data Interpreted for Medical and Public Health Use

Laboratory for Global Health Observation University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Public Health Birmingham, AL 205-934-4993 www.regardsstudy.org

A partnership between NASA’s National Space Science and Technology Center (NSSTC) and the School of Public Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is using NASA satellite imagery and data to determine how environmental factors influence diseases such as malaria and childhood asthma.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Medical, Data Acquisition, Data acquisition and handling, Medical, health, and wellness, Satellites
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Low-Loss Waveguides for Terahertz Frequencies

Low-loss, flexible conduits of terahertz power would be developed.

Hollow-core, periodic bandgap (HCPBG) flexible waveguides have been proposed as a means of low-loss transmission of electromagnetic signals in the frequency range from about 300 GHz to 30 THz. This frequency range has been called the “terahertz gap” because it has been little utilized: Heretofore, there has been no way of low-loss guiding of terahertz beams other than by use of fixed- path optical beam guides with lenses and mirrors or multimode waveguides that cannot maintain mode purity around bends or modest discontinuities.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Waveguides, Wireless communication systems
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NASA’s Science Mission Directorate’s Sensor, Detectors, and Instrument Technology Needs

The Science Mission Directorate (SMD) engages the Nation’s science community, sponsors scientific research, and develops and deploys satellites and probes in collaboration with NASA’s partners around the world to answer fundamental questions requiring the view from and into space. The National Research Council is an advisor to SMD and conducts decadal surveys to define science priorities in its discipline areas for the next decade. SMD seeks to understand the origins, evolution, and destiny of the universe and to understand the nature of the phenomena that shape it. SMD also seeks to understand:

Posted in: NASA Tech Needs
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Improved Sand-Compaction Method for Lost-Foam Metal Casting

The flow of sand is redirected for better filling and compaction.

An improved method of filling a molding flask with sand and compacting the sand around a refractory- coated foam mold pattern has been developed for incorporation into the lost-foam metal-casting process. In comparison with the conventional method of sand filling and compaction, this method affords more nearly complete filling of the space around the refractory-coated foam mold pattern and more thorough compaction of the sand. In so doing, this method enables the sand to better support the refractory coat under metallostatic pressure during filling of the mold with molten metal.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Casting, Foams, Metals, Refractory materials, Silicon alloys
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PowerBlock™ 50

Mercury Computer Systems, Chelmsford, MA, has introduced the PowerBlock™ 50 ultra-compact rugged embedded computer for small platforms in the 6- to 10- pound range. Optimized for real-time image, sensor, and signal processing, and ruggedized for harsh environments, it is programmable and features liquid cooling. The system’s modular architecture allows for flexible configurations of multiple processors, delivering over 100 GFLOPS of processing power. A fully configured system weighs less than 10 pounds and measures 4 × 5 × 6". The system is available as a complete software development platform, including the PowerBlock 50 system, Linux BSP development environment, and a desktop heat rejection unit (HRU). The complete platform is customizable into configurations that include PowerQUICC™, Virtex™-4, and Intel processors, and SATA storage. Each configuration includes Gigabit Ethernet and RS-232 I/O interfaces.

For Free Info .

Posted in: Products
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This Month in NASA History

This year, as NASA celebrates its 50th anniversary, we’ll be highlighting technology innovations and important moments in NASA history, leading to our special 50th Anniversary Issue in October.

Posted in: UpFront
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“Create the Future” and Win

The 2008 NASA Tech Briefs “Create the Future” Design Contest, presented by SolidWorks Corp., opens for entries on July 7. The seventh annual contest welcomes innovative design ideas in the following categories: Machinery, Equipment, and Component Technology; Consumer Products; Medical; Safety and Security; Transportation; and Sustainable Technologies.

Posted in: UpFront
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