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

Harmful Silver

Posted in: Blog

Globular Clusters

Posted in: Blog

Exclusive Interview With the Director of 'Westinghouse'

Westinghouse is a fascinating new feature-length documentary about the life and times of George Westinghouse, one of America's greatest inventors, entrepreneurs, and industrialists. Listen to our interview with the writer and director, Mark Bussler, as he discusses this "forgotten giant" -- his amazing legacy, greatest inventions, and competition with Thomas Edison, which culminated in the Battle of the Currents at the Chicago World's Fair and set the stage for the entire future of electric power.

Posted in: Podcasts

Hand-Held Units for Short-Range Wireless Biotelemetry

These units would power surgically implanted sensors.

Special-purpose hand-held radio- transceiver units have been proposed as means of short-range radio powering and interrogation of surgically implanted microelectromechanical sensors and actuators. These units are based partly on the same principles as those of the units described in “Printed Multi-Turn Loop Antennas for RF Biotelemetry” (LEW-17879-1), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 31, No. 6 (June 2007), page 48. Like the previously reported units, these units would make it unnecessary to have wire connections between the implanted devices and the external equipment used to activate and interrogate them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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