Special Coverage

Supercomputer Cooling System Uses Refrigerant to Replace Water
Computer Chips Calculate and Store in an Integrated Unit
Electron-to-Photon Communication for Quantum Computing
Mechanoresponsive Healing Polymers
Variable Permeability Magnetometer Systems and Methods for Aerospace Applications
Evaluation Standard for Robotic Research
Small Robot Has Outstanding Vertical Agility
Smart Optical Material Characterization System and Method
Lightweight, Flexible Thermal Protection System for Fire Protection
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Wearable Wireless Telemetry System for Implantable BioMEMS Sensors

Physiological monitoring would entail minimal risk, discomfort, or restriction of mobility. Telemetry systems of a type that have been proposed for the monitoring of physiological functions in humans would include the following subsystems: Surgically implanted or ingested units that would comprise combinations of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS)- based sensors [bioMEMS sensors] and passive radio-frequency (RF) readout circuits that would include miniature loop antennas. Compact radio transceiver units integrated into external garments for wirelessly powering and interrogating the implanted or ingested units.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Bio-Medical, Medical, Antennas, Sensors and actuators, Telemetry, Wireless communication systems, Prostheses and implants

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Electronic Escape Trails for Firefighters

Routes would be traced among RFID tags equipped with sensors showing temperatures. A proposed wireless- communication and data-processing system would exploit recent advances in radio- frequency identification devices (RFIDs) and software to establish information lifelines between firefighters in a burning building and a fire chief at a control station near but outside the building. The system would enable identification of trails that firefighters and others could follow to escape from the building, including identification of new trails should previously established trails become blocked.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Wireless communication systems, Data management, Evacuation and escape, Fire fighting

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Deployable Wireless Camera Penetrators

Disposable, wireless camera darts can be used in zero G, or for surface surveys. A lightweight, low-power camera dart has been designed and tested for context imaging of sampling sites and ground surveys from an aerobot or an orbiting spacecraft in a microgravity environment. The camera penetrators also can be used to image any line-of-sight surface, such as cliff walls, that is difficult to access.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components, Mechanics, Optics, Surveillance, Spacecraft, Unmanned aerial vehicles

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Fast Electromechanical Switches Based on Carbon Nanotubes

Potential applications include computer memory, cell phones, and scientific instruments. Electrostatically actuated nano- electromechanical switches based on carbon nanotubes have been fabricated and tested in a continuing effort to develop high-speed switches for a variety of stationary and portable electronic equipment. As explained below, these devices offer advantages over electrostatically actuated micro- electromechanical switches, which, heretofore, have represented the state of the art of rapid, highly miniaturized electromechanical switches. Potential applications for these devices include computer memories, cellular telephones, communication networks, scientific instrumentation, and general radiation-hard electronic equipment.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Electronic equipment, Microelectromechanical devices, Switches, Nanotechnology

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Architecture for a High-to-Medium-Voltage Power Converter

High input voltage would be divided evenly among many converter blocks. A power converter now undergoing development is required to operate at a DC input potential ranging between 5.5 and 10 kV and a DC output potential of 400 V at a current up to 25 A. This power converter is also required to be sufficiently compact and reliable to fit and operate within the confines of a high-pressure case to be lowered to several miles (≈5 km) below the surface of the ocean. The architecture chosen to satisfy these requirements calls for a series/parallel arrangement of 48 high-frequency, pulse-width-modulation (PWM), transformer-isolation DC-to-DC power converter blocks.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, Voltage regulators, Marine vehicles and equipment

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24-Way Radial Power Combiner/Divider for 31 to 36 GHz

A unique design affords high bandwidth with high order of combining. The figure shows a prototype radial power-combining waveguide structure, capable of operation at frequencies from 31 to 36 GHz, that features an unusually large number (N = 24) of combining (input) ports. The combination of wide-band operation and large N is achieved by incorporating several enhancements over a basic radial power-combiner design. In addition, the structure can be operated as a power divider by reversing the roles of the input and output ports.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Electronics & Computers, Waveguides, Product development

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Three-Stage InP Submillimeter-Wave MMIC Amplifier

Submillimeter-wave amplifiers can enable more sensitive receivers for earth science, planetary remote sensing, and astrophysics telescopes. A submillimeter-wave monolithic integrated- circuit (S-MMIC) amplifier has been designed and fabricated using an indium phosphide (InP) 35-nm gate-length high electron mobility transistor (HEMT) device, developed at Northrop Grumman Corporation. The HEMT device employs two fingers each 15 micrometers wide. The HEMT wafers are grown by molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) and make use of a pseudomorphic In0.75Ga0.25As channel, a silicon delta-doping layer as the electron supply, an In0.52Al0.48As buffer layer, and an InP substrate. The three-stage design uses coplanar waveguide topology with a very narrow ground-to-ground spacing of 14 micrometers. Quarter-wave matching transmission lines, on-chip metal-insulator-metal shunt capacitors, series thin-film resistors, and matching stubs were used in the design. Series resistors in the shunt branch arm provide the basic circuit stabilization. The S-MMIC amplifier was measured for S-parameters and found to be centered at 320 GHz with 13–15-dB gain from 300–345 GHz.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Electronics & Computers, Amplifiers, Architecture, Integrated circuits, Fabrication

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