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

Accurate Measurement Techniques for Deep-Bone Density and Structure

A company seeks a clinically useful technology with enough sensitivity to assess the microstructure of “spongy” bone that is found in the marrow cavities of whole bones. However, this technology must be for skeletal sites surrounded by layers of soft tissues, such as the spine and the hip. Soft tissue interferes with conventional imaging and using a more accessible area — for example, the wrist or the ankle of limbs — as a proxy for the less accessible skeletal regions, will not be accurate. A non-radioactive technology is strongly preferred.

Posted in: NASA Tech Needs
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Fast, Quantitative Diagnostic Reader for Medical Tests

Kimberly-Clark Corporation

This medical reader can perform diagnostic tests on any bodily fluid that attenuates light, such as blood, urine, sputum, or other fluid. Thousands of potential tests are possible, including immunoassay, colorimetric/chromogenic tests, cholesterol, and osteoporosis calcium levels. This all-in-one diagnostic reader can handle such tests and report results in as little as ten minutes. The prototype performs three identical tests on a single, whole-blood sample for accuracy, but a greater number of simultaneous tests could be performed, or a battery of tests could be performed on the same sample.

Posted in: Techs for License
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Low-Cost Nanomaterials Synthesis and Delivery Mechanism

Drayton Weissenfels Inc.

This platform technology produces ultra-small, water-dispersible nanomaterials that are easily incorporated into existing products and processes. The process is done under simple conditions and results in nanoparticles that are ultra-small (

Posted in: Techs for License
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Active and Passive Hybrid Sensor

The sensor acquires active and passive measurements to map ocean winds.

A hybrid ocean wind sensor (HOWS) can map ocean vector wind in low to hurricane-level winds, and non-precipitating and precipitating conditions. It can acquire active and passive measurements through a single aperture at two wavelengths, two polarizations, and multiple incidence angles. Its low profile, compact geometry, and low power consumption permits installation on aircraft platforms, including high-altitude unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Sensors and actuators, Weather and climate, Aircraft, Unmanned aerial vehicles
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Quick-Response Thermal Actuator for Use as a Heat Switch

Thermal actuators have many applications in aerospace, automotive, and energy storage.

This work improves the performance of a heat switch, or a thermal actuator, by delivering heat to the actuator in a more efficient manner. The method uses a heat pipe as the plunger or plug instead of just using a solid piece of metal. The heat pipe could be one tailored for fast transient thermal response.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components, Mechanics, Sensors and actuators, Switches, Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems (HVAC), Performance upgrades, Pistons
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AlGaN Ultraviolet Detectors for Dual-Band UV Detection

This technology can be used in multicolor imaging for flame temperature sensing and counter- camouflage / biosensing applications.

This innovation comprises technology that has the ability to measure at least two ultraviolet (UV) bands using one detector without relying on any external optical filters. This allows users to build a miniature UVA and UVB monitor, as well as to develop compact, multicolor imaging technologies for flame temperature sensing, air-quality control, and terrestrial/counter-camouflage/biosensing applications.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Exterior lighting, Downsizing, Imaging and visualization, Sensors and actuators, Product development
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Method for Detecting Perlite Compaction in Large Cryogenic Tanks

This technique could be applied by companies using rail cars and trucks to deliver liquid cryogens.

Perlite is the most typical insulating powder used to separate the inner and outer shells of cryogenic tanks. The inner tank holds the low-temperature commodity, while the outer shell is exposed to the ambient temperature. Perlite minimizes radiative energy transfer between the two tanks. Being a powder, perlite will settle over time, leading to the danger of transferring any loads from the inner shell to the outer shell. This can cause deformation of the outer shell, leading to damaged internal fittings.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Finite element analysis, Sensors and actuators, Containers, Insulation
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Directional Spherical Cherenkov Detector

Incident particles could be sorted by direction, speed, and electric charge.

A proposed radiation-detecting apparatus would provide information on the kinetic energies, directions, and electric charges of highly energetic incident subatomic particles. The apparatus was originally intended for use in measuring properties of cosmic rays in outer space, but could also be adapted to terrestrial uses — for example, radiation dosimetry aboard high-altitude aircraft and in proton radiation therapy for treatment of tumors.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Sensors and actuators, Medical equipment and supplies, Radiation, Test equipment and instrumentation
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Using Thin-Film Thermometers as Heaters in Thermal Control Applications

A cryogenic sensor maintains calibration at ≈4.2 K to better than 2 mK (

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Sensors and actuators, Thermal management
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System for Hydrogen Sensing

A low-power, wireless gas-sensing system is designed to safeguard the apparatus to which it is attached, as well as associated personnel. It also ensures the efficiency and operational integrity of the hydrogen-powered apparatus. This sensing system can be operated with lower power consumption (less than 30 nanowatts), but still has a fast response. The detecting signal can be wirelessly transmitted to remote locations, or can be posted on the Web. This system can also be operated by harvesting energy.

The electrical signal response of the sensor to the hydrogen gas can be amplified by a differential detection interface (DDI) connected to the low-power gas sensor. A microcontroller is connected and programmed to process the electrical signal, which is then wirelessly transmitted. The system also includes a central monitoring station with a wireless receiver configured to receive the sensor data signal from the wireless transmitter of the sensor device. The system further includes a power source with at least one vibrational energy harvester, solar energy harvester, and a battery.

This work was done by Jenshan Lin, David P. Norton, Stephen J. Pearton, and Fan Ren of the University of Florida for Glenn Research Center. For more information, download the Technical Support Package (free white paper) at www.techbriefs.com/tsp under the Physical Sciences category.

Inquiries concerning rights for the commercial use of this invention should be addressed to NASA Glenn Research Center, Innovative Partnerships Office, Attn: Steve Fedor, Mail Stop 4–8, 21000 Brookpark Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44135. Refer to LEW-18484-1.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Sensors and actuators, Hydrogen fuel, Gases, Reliability, Fueling safety
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