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NASA's Innovative Partnerships Program (IPP) provides technology for NASA's mission directorates, programs, and projects through investment and technology partnerships with industry, academia, government agencies, and national labs. NASA Tech Briefs spoke with Doug Comstock, Director of NASA's Innovative Partnerships Program, about how the public and industry can access NASA technologies, and how NASA communicates its technology needs to those who can provide them.

Posted in: Blog

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Techs of the Week

PharmaDur™ is a polymer-based technology that provides benefits over conventional forms of transdermal drug delivery. Also used for transmucosal and ophthalmic applications, it is a topical application that yields an invisible and imperceptible hydrogel film that creates a monolithic reservoir from which drug substances are released at a controlled rate for transdermal transport. Unlike conventional gels and creams, it functions like a patch to provide controlled released delivery of APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients).

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New CPR



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Thermocouple Rakes for Measuring Boundary-Layer Flows

Flows can be measured extremely close to surfaces. Thin-film devices that comprise heaters in combination with thermocouples have been developed for measuring flow velocities extremely close to solid surfaces, at several distances from the surface of interest. Devices that perform this function are denoted generally as “boundary-layer rakes.” The measurement data acquired by boundary-layer rakes are needed for calculating viscous shear forces, for developing mathematical models of turbulence to be used in computational fluid dynamics, and as feedback in some flow-control systems.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs, TSP

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Electrical Monitoring of Thicknesses of Semiconductor Wafers

Electrical fuses would be implanted at depths corresponding to desired thicknesses. A technique based on electrical-continuity measurements has been proposed as a means of monitoring and controlling the thicknesses of semiconductor wafers during lapping, polishing, and etching. The technique is expected to contribute to the development of microelectromechanical systems by making it possible to lap and polish wafers with precision greater than has been achieved previously, thereby further making it possible to fabricate wafers of unprecedented thinness (thicknesses of 5 µm or possibly even less). Unlike some prior techniques for measuring the thicknesses of semiconductor wafers, this technique does not entail the timeconsuming intermittent stopping of processing to take measurements. Also, in comparison with most prior techniques, this technique offers the potential for greater precision at lower cost.

Posted in: Manufacturing & Prototyping, Briefs, TSP

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Two Techniques for Removing Core-Drill Debris

Both techniques contribute savings in time and money. Two alternative techniques make it possible to remove core-drill debris more rapidly and efficiently than was previously possible. Either technique is a vast improvement over the prior art. For industries in which ultrasonic core drills are used, these two techniques are expected to result in savings of time and money.

Posted in: Manufacturing & Prototyping, Briefs

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Ice-Melting Probe Using Steam and Jets of Hot Water

This probe would overcome some of the deficiencies of prior ice-melting probes. An improved probe has been proposed for burrowing vertically into ice for scientific exploration of polar icecaps, glaciers, and the like. The predecessor of the improved probe is a Philbert probe, which contains an electric heater to melt the ice in contact with it and thereby make it descend through the ice under its own weight. A Philbert probe also contains a mechanism from which the wires for the electric heater and any sensors in the probe are paid out behind the probe; these wires become sealed into the overlying ice as the probe descends. The two major drawbacks of a Philbert probe are that (1) it tends not to go straight down and (2) a plug of dust, sand, rock, and/or other debris tends to build up in the meltwater ahead of the probe, eventually becoming large enough to halt the descent by interrupting the heat-transfer interface between the vehicle nose and the ice. The improved probe is designed to eliminate these drawbacks.

Posted in: Mechanics, Mechanical Components, Briefs, TSP

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