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

Smart Windows Get Smarter (and Self-Powered)

A “smart window” from Princeton University uses a transparent solar cell to selectively absorb and harvest near-ultraviolet light. The advanced window controls the transmission of visible light and infrared heat into the building, while the new type of solar cell uses near-UV light to power the system.

Posted in: News, Energy, Energy Harvesting, Energy Storage, Renewable Energy, Solar Power
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Could lenses and thick cameras become obsolete?

A team at the California Institute of Technology designed a lens-less camera. "Once scaled up, this technology can make lenses and thick cameras obsolete," said graduate student and camera researcher Behrooz Abiri. What do you think? Could lenses and thick cameras become obsolete?

Posted in: Question of the Week, Cameras, Imaging
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Adhesive Strength Enhancement of Shape Memory Polymer Composite and Metal Joint

This technology has applications in adaptive space structures, smart fabrics, intelligent medical devices, morphing structures, and packaging.

NASA Langley Research Center has developed technology to increase the adhesive strength between shape memory polymer composites (SMPs) and metal alloys. Shape memory materials, including SMPs, have been explored for numerous applications because of their unique shape memory capabilities. These materials can change shape and/or other properties in response to changes in an external stimulus such as stress, temperature, or an electric field.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials
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Personal Annunciation Device (PAD)

The PAD can be used where chemical, biological, or other hazards are present, and traditional notification means are not adequate.

Many industrial and commercial plants, government and private research facilities, and industrial facilities perform potentially dangerous processes. Automated warning and alarm systems alert personnel to dangerous or abnormal conditions inside or near a plant so the personnel may take prompt protective action such as evacuation, co-location, or shelter in place. Such automated systems include simple fire and smoke detectors that detect the presence of fire or smoke and immediately activate a connected, audible alarm confined to a specific area of a plant. Many systems include a central hub for receiving detection signals from detectors located throughout a plant. In some systems, the central hub also is connected to a network of alarms including audible alarms — both siren-like and information-based — and visual alarms, including flashing emergency lights and textual-based information screens.

Posted in: Briefs, Communications
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National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) was founded in 1901, and is now part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Based in Gaithersburg, MD, it was established to remove a major challenge to U.S. industrial competitiveness at the time — a second-rate measurement infrastructure that lagged behind the capabilities of the United Kingdom, Germany, and other economic rivals.

Posted in: Articles, Research Lab, Test & Measurement
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Decoupled Ranging and Orientation Inversions Enable Linear and Fast Long-Range Non-Line-of-Sight Positioning

New linear solutions are significantly simpler than the previous complex nonlinear solutions.

The wireless radio positioning or radiolocation problem is of great importance in society today. Existing radiolocation systems such as the Global Positioning System (GPS), Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) systems, and Ultra Wide-Band (UWB) systems use propagating EM waves and show reduced accuracy in non-line-of-sight (NLoS) environments due to propagation losses, delays, or multi-path effects. These significantly limit their use in radiolocation applications where the line of sight to the device is blocked. Examples of these are many, and include radiolocation for a device inside a cave or building, embedded underground or in a tunnel or mine, and for underwater applications, which covers a multitude of space, military, and civilian applications. In addition to these severe limitations, existing radiolocation systems using propagating EM waves enable ranging and positioning, but cannot provide precision two-dimensional (2D) or three-dimensional (3D) orientation sensing, which is critical in many applications where the sensor's attitude is important.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement
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Calibration and Synchronization of Micro-Air-Vehicle Autopilots

Conventional calibration of an inertial measurement unit (IMU) through open-loop data collection includes typical flight simulator systems that provide processed stimuli to emulate real-life flight conditions. Other solutions involve testing inertial measurement devices on a multi-axis rate table using a processor internal to the inertial measurement devices, and transferring the signals directly to the processors for determining and storing the calibration coefficients of the inertial measurement devices internally so that they are self-calibrating. Unfortunately, conventional solutions typically involve evaluating control algorithms in a computer simulation before experimentation in the aircraft occurs. This can result in unstable flight during the first few cycles that could lead to failure of the aircraft.

Posted in: Briefs, Aeronautics, Aerospace
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Ultrasonic Transducer Delivery Tool

This tool can be used in any industry using double-walled storage tanks.

Stennis Space Center has the need to measure the inner wall thickness of cryogenic storage tanks without entering the inner tank of the double-walled vessels. It was proposed that an ultrasonic probe be inserted through access points in the outer wall of the vessel and delivered to the inner wall of the vessel, which would provide for at least a discrete set of inner wall thickness measurements where access points were available.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement
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Graphene-Based Sensor for Improved Evaluation, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Asthma

This device detects and measures inflammation in the lungs.

Asthma, which causes inflammation of the airway and obstructs airflow, affects about 300 million people worldwide. Symptoms include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. Other serious lung ailments include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which encompasses emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

Posted in: Briefs, Medical
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Mobile Underwater Acoustic Communications

This invention does not require any complicated signal processing.

Reliable, long-range acoustic communications (LRAC) is an enabling technology for numerous applications of manned and unmanned underwater systems. For example, with the capability of communicating at long ranges of several hundreds or even thousands of kilometers, it will become possible to remotely command and control unmanned underwater vehicles that are otherwise unreachable. As another example, underwater systems will be able to rely on such capability to establish a wide-area undersea network to complete missions in a collaborative fashion.

Posted in: Briefs, Communications
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