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Composite Elastic Skins for Shape-Changing Structures

Anisotropic stiffness properties can be tailored for specific applications. Composite elastic skins having tailorable mechanical properties have been invented for covering shape-changing (“morphable”) structures. These skins are intended especially for use on advanced aircraft that change shapes in order to assume different aerodynamic properties.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Glass/Ceramic Composites for Sealing Solid Oxide Fuel Cells

Ceramic fillers in a glass contribute to strength and fracture toughness. A family of glass/ceramic composite materials has been investigated for use as sealants in planar solid oxide fuel cells. These materials are modified versions of a barium calcium aluminosilicate glass developed previously for the same purpose. The composition of the glass in mole percentages is 35BaO + 15CaO + 5Al2O3 + 10B2O3 + 35SiO2. The glass seal was found to be susceptible to cracking during thermal cycling of the fuel cells.

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Manufacturing Large Membrane Mirrors at Low Cost

Shapes are determined by edge retention fixtures rather than by precise molds. Relatively inexpensive processes have been developed for manufacturing lightweight, wide-aperture mirrors that consist mainly of reflectively coated, edge-supported polyimide membranes. The polyimide and other materials in these mirrors can withstand the environment of outer space, and the mirrors have other characteristics that make them attractive for use on Earth as well as in outer space:

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Double-Vacuum-Bag Process for Making Resin-Matrix Composites

To prevent formation of voids, volatiles are removed before applying consolidation pressure. A double-vacuum-bag process has been devised as a superior alternative to a single-vacuum-bag process used heretofore in making laminated fiber-reinforced resin-matrix composite-material structural components. This process is applicable to broad classes of high-performance matrix resins — including polyimides and phenolics — that emit volatile compounds (solvents and volatile by-products of resin-curing chemical reactions) during processing. The superiority of the double-vacuum-bag process lies in enhanced management of the volatile compounds. Proper management of volatiles is necessary for making composite material components of high quality: if not removed and otherwise properly managed, volatiles can accumulate in interior pockets as resins cure, thereby forming undesired voids in the finished products.

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Surface Bacterial-Spore Assay Using Tb3+/DPA Luminescence

A total spore count could be obtained in minutes. Equipment and a method for rapidly assaying solid surfaces for contamination by bacterial spores are undergoing development. The method would yield a total (nonviable plus viable) spore count of a surface within minutes and a viable-spore count in about one hour. In this method, spores would be collected from a surface by use of a transparent polymeric tape coated on one side with a polymeric adhesive that would be permeated with one or more reagent(s) for detection of spores by use of visible luminescence. The sticky side of the tape would be pressed against a surface to be assayed, then the tape with captured spores would be placed in a reader that illuminates the sample with ultraviolet light and counts the green luminescence spots under a microscope to quantify the number of bacterial spores per unit area. The visible luminescence spots seen through the microscope would be counted to determine the concentration of spores on the surface.

Posted in: Bio-Medical, Briefs, TSP

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Simplified Microarray Technique for Identifying mRNA in Rare Samples

This method can be implemented by use of portable equipment. Two simplified methods of identifying messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA), and compact, low-power apparatuses to implement the methods, are at the proof-of-concept stage of development. These methods are related to traditional methods based on hybridization of nucleic acid, but whereas the traditional methods must be practiced in laboratory settings, these methods could be practiced in field settings.

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High-Resolution, Wide-Field-of-View Scanning Telescope

Narrow-angle scanning over a wide field would be achieved without slewing the entire telescope. A proposed telescope would afford high resolution over a narrow field of view (<0.10°) while scanning over a total field of view nominally 16° wide without need to slew the entire massive telescope structure. The telescope design enables resolution of a 1-m-wide object in a 50-km-wide area of the surface of the Earth as part of a 200-km-wide area field of view monitored from an orbit at an altitude of 700 km. The conceptual design of this telescope could also be adapted to other applications — both terrestrial and extraterrestrial — in which there are requirements for telescopes that afford both wide- and narrow-field capabilities.

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