Special Coverage

Soft Robot “Walks” on Any Terrain
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Using Microwaves to Produce High-Quality Graphene
Transducer-Actuator Systems for On-Machine Measurements and Automatic Part Alignment
Wide-Area Surveillance Using HD LWIR Uncooled Sensors
Heavy Lift Wing in Ground (WIG) Cargo Flying Boat
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

Green Liquid Monopropellant Thruster for In-Space Propulsion

Hydrazine has been the standard baseline liquid monopropellant for space propulsion over many decades since replacing hydrogen peroxide. Hydrazine was preferred over peroxide due to its easier storability and higher performance. Like peroxide, hydrazine can be readily decomposed by passing it over a catalyst. For these advantages, hydrazine has a significant drawback: it is toxic (carcinogen and mutagen), and its handling and refurbishment requires special procedures. Accidental spill is a concern, and strict and expensive mitigation procedures are required. In recent years, a need has arisen to find green or reduced toxicity hydrazine substitutes with equal or greater propulsive performance than hydrazine.

Posted in: Briefs, Propulsion
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Shaper Design in CMOS for High Dynamic Range

This circuit design has uses in industrial automation, medical signal processing, and radiation detection for medical and security applications.

Front-end electronics for capacitive sensors typically include a preamplifier followed by a filter. The preamplifier provides low-noise amplification of the signals induced in the sensor electrodes. The filter, by properly limiting the signal bandwidth, maximizes the Signal-to-Noise (S/N) ratio. Additionally, the filter limits the duration of the output signal associated with the measured event and, for those sensors where the induced signal is relatively slow, it maximizes the signal amplitude.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers
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Tamper-Indicating Bolt

This system detects whether tampering has occurred in a container or compartment during storage or transport.

In storage and/or transport of certain items, the ability to detect tampering with a container or compartment for such items can be necessary and valuable. In the transport of hazardous substances or nuclear materials (including fuels and/or radioactive waste), there are particularly stringent requirements to ensure integrity as well as safe transport and storage of materials. A retailer shipping inventory may need to know whether tampering with the container has occurred during transport to determine if shipment is original and complete.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components
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NetEgg: Automated Code Generation for Software-Defined Networks

This software enables fast and easy network configuration.

Software-Defined Networking (SDN) usually requires network administrators to be skilled in programming languages such as C++, Python, or Ruby. Many IT operators tasked with installing routers or other network components may lack the skills to program SDN equipment. Due to a shortage of trained staff, implementing SDN across an entire enterprise can become very time-consuming and costly.

Posted in: Briefs, Software
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Robust Method for Data Protection and Change Detection

Methods exist for processing an original data sequence in order to generate information about the data for the purposes of integrity measurement, ownership demonstration, and authentication. The first category is digital watermarking, the second is data hashing, and the third is error detection coding. In the present context, watermarking is often used for ownership demonstration and authentication purposes; data hashing is often used for integrity measurement purposes; and as with data hashing, error detection coding is used to measure data integrity. However, the latter is normally done as part of data transmission protocol, and therefore addresses transmission errors rather than tampering.

Posted in: Briefs, Software
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Camera Trends 2017

For an in-depth look at current trends in the camera market, we interviewed Alex Shikany, Director of Market Analysis, Association for Advancing Automation (A3), Ann Arbor, MI.

Posted in: Articles, Photonics
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X-Ray Scattering Constructs 3D Images of Nanoparticle Grains

Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory have developed a new X-ray technique to see inside continuously packed nanoparticles, also known as grains, to examine deformations and dislocations that affect their properties.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics
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Carbon Nanotube-Based Coatings Provide Extremely-High Surface Emissivity

Santa Barbara Infrared (SBIR) and Surrey NanoSystems (SNS) have partnered to produce a line of extended-area blackbody sources with exceptionally-high emissivity and radiometric accuracy. The emitter plates in these sources feature a carbon nanotube (CNT) based coating with remarkable light-trapping properties. This ultra-black coating was developed by SNS to satisfy a broad range of applications requiring surfaces with extremely low reflectance. The resulting blackbody sources provide more accurate infrared (IR) radiometric calibration than previously achievable by drastically reducing errors due to reflected IR light from the surrounding environment. The coating also works to reduce stray light in optical and IR imaging systems.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Photonics
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High-Resolution Imaging with Conventional Microscopes

MIT researchers have developed a method for making extremely high-resolution images of tissue samples at a fraction of the cost of other techniques, yet with similar resolution. The new technique relies on expanding tissue before imaging it with a conventional light microscope. Two years ago, the team showed that it was possible to expand tissue volumes 100-fold, resulting in an image resolution of about 60 nanometers. Now, they have shown that expanding the tissue a second time before imaging can boost the resolution to about 25 nanometers.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics
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Cinematography on the Fly

In recent years, a host of Hollywood blockbusters, including “The Fast and the Furious 7,” “Jurassic World,” and “The Wolf of Wall Street,” have included aerial tracking shots provided by drone helicopters outfitted with cameras. Those shots required separate operators for the drones and the cameras, and careful planning to avoid collisions. But a team of researchers from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and ETH Zurich hope to make drone cinematography more accessible, simple, and reliable.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics
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