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

Recovering Metals from Electronic Waste

This process dissolves the major metals found in electronics, including materials that have been shredded, magnetically separated, or milled to a particle size less than one millimeter.

End-of-life electronic devices such as smartphones, computers, televisions, and other electronics contain significant amounts of valuable metals including base metals (zinc, tin, lead, nickel, and copper), precious metals (silver, gold, and palladium), and rare earth magnets (neodymium, yttrium, samarium). Some electronic scrap is currently landfilled or incinerated, and there is a need to develop more effective processes to capture these valuable metals along with keeping them out of the environment.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers

Composite Insulated Conductor

These extreme fire-resistant insulation systems show promise for use in high-voltage, high-power systems.

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed a new class of polyimide composite electrical insulation materials for wires, cable, and bus pipe. These new insulation materials have been shown to withstand a 12-hour gas flame test while maintaining structural and electrical circuit integrities. These extreme fire-resistant insulation systems show promise for use in high-voltage, high-power systems. They can improve survivability and continuity of the electrical power supply. Besides fire resistance, these materials also provide weight and space savings because of their lightweight nature and exceptionally high-performance capability. NASA developed the wire insulation for exploration and space operations; however, the technology also has applicability to other high-voltage, high-power systems for maritime, high-rise building construction, and other industries.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials

Solder Bond Packaging for High-Voltage Pulsed Power Devices

This invention is a superior switching component for pulsed power applications.

The huge demand for switching components exceeding silicon's (Si) current density limitation of 200 A/cm2 has pushed the enhancement of alternative semiconductor materials such as silicon carbide (SiC), gallium nitride, and diamond. The enhanced material properties of SiC, such as high thermal conductivity, large critical field, wide bandgap, large elastic modulus, and high saturation velocity, make it a viable candidate for pulsed power systems. Using SiC would increase both current and power densities, improve dI/dt and dV/dt capabilities, reduce recovery time, and minimize switching losses in various power electronic systems. Furthermore, a significant reduction in the volume and weight of pulsed power systems can be realized by implementing SiC SGTOs, reducing the thermal management requirements of the pulsed power system.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers

Omnidirectional Mobile Robot with Two Moving Parts

A spherical induction motor (SIM) eliminates the robot's mechanical drive system.

SIMbot is an updated version of the ballbot, an elegantly simple robot whose tall, thin body moves on top of a sphere slightly smaller than a bowling ball. SIMbot features a motor with just one moving part: the ball. The other active moving part of the robot is the body itself.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation

Interactive Robot Control System and Method of Use

Robonaut 2 can enter hazardous areas or tackle difficult terrain without endangering its human operator.

Researchers at NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC), in collaboration with General Motors and Oceaneering, have designed a state-of-the-art, highly dexterous, humanoid robot: Robonaut 2 (R2). R2 is made up of multiple systems and sub-components: vision systems, image-recognition systems, sensors, control algorithms, and much more. R2's nearly 50 patented and patent-pending technologies have the potential to be game-changers in multiple industries. One of the most promising applications for the R2 technologies is in the area of hazardous environments. R2 has the capability to work in remote locations separate from the human controller. R2 can function autonomously, or it can be controlled by direct teleoperations.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation

Launch Trajectory Acquisition System (LTAS) Source Slaving Selector (LS3)

The LTAS Source Slaving Selector application was developed to transmit LTAS data in User Datagram Protocol (UDP) packets using the LTAS data from one of multiple incoming UDP streams. Users select the data stream via a graphical user interface (GUI), which also displays a variety of data values from the LTAS frames. Prior art that performs a similar objective includes the Selectable Internet Protocol Slaving (SIPS) system, which can perform the objective, but can also create problems when transmitting slaving LTAS data by filling some data fields with zeroes. This is especially true for the velocity data fields. In addition, SIPS' GUI does not include X' and Y' angles, which are a form of local coordinates. The SIPS software was built using an older version of the integrated development environment (IDE) and compiler.

Posted in: Briefs, Software

Positioning Stage

Assembly of optic-electronic devices requires precision alignment of optical fibers with lasers or sensors, and then bonding. A worker looking through a microscope at the end of a fiber conventionally executes this precision alignment and bonding process.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping

Multifunctional Platelet Composites for Tin Whisker Mitigation

Applications include consumer electronics, automotive, and electronic weapons systems.

To comply with the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive, pure tin is replacing lead-tin alloys in commercial electronic devices. Unfortunately, tin can grow whiskers that can lead to electrical short circuits or metal vapor arcing, both of which threaten the long-term reliability of electronic systems, and cause critical systems to fail catastrophically. A current method of whisker mitigation utilizes coatings based on glassy or rubbery unfilled polymers; such coatings are not impenetrable to tin whiskers.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials

Additive-Manufactured, Very Lightweight, Diamond Turned Aspheric Mirror

Industrial-grade, lightweight mirrors used in military and aeronautics have tight specifications brought on by demanding performance parameters. For example, a mirror that is used in an orbiting telescope would have to be extremely lightweight, stiff, and be configured to operate in extreme temperatures. These parameters traditionally work against each other. A material that is stiff is typically heavy, and a mirror that is lightweight and machinable may greatly distort when exposed to extreme heat or cold. Furthermore, materials that fit some of these parameters may not be easily machined to create a mirror — an art that requires high-precision tooling.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics

Virtual Fabrication and Assembly Documentation

Over the years, the term “virtual” has become associated with many different domains. Virtual machines are now commonplace as a substitute for physical laptops or desktops, allowing for the emulation of computer systems. Of course, virtual reality is in the news daily as new headsets, apps, and games provide a substitute for images and sounds, allowing for the simulation of a three-dimensional environment. In the printed circuit board (PCB) space, some fabrication and assembly information such as artwork, drill, netlist, test, and component placement have been conveyed virtually to manufacturing for more than 30 years.

Posted in: Articles, Electronics & Computers

The U.S. Government does not endorse any commercial product, process, or activity identified on this web site.