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Telematics: An Industry Game-Changer

Telematics is the transmission of machine data to a remote consumer. If that remote consumer is an electronic device rather than a human, the process is called machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. The emerging M2M revolution is based on innovations in hardware and software that are converging to form a whole new way of transacting business.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Software, Communications, Machinery & Automation, White Papers

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Microwave Kinetic Inductance Detector With Selective Polarization Coupling

Low-noise detector and readout functionality are combined into one device. A conventional low-noise detector requires a technique to both absorb incident power and convert it to an electrical signal at cryogenic temperatures. This innovation combines low-noise detector and readout functionality into one device while maintaining high absorption, controlled polarization sensitivity, and broadband detection capability. The resulting far-infrared detectors can be read out with a simple approach, which is compact and minimizes thermal loading.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Briefs, TSP

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Flexible Microstrip Circuits for Superconducting Electronics

Improved wiring geometry should further reduce the size of the wiring while also reducing the crosstalk among wire pairs. Flexible circuits with superconducting wiring atop polyimide thin films are being studied to connect large numbers of wires between stages in cryogenic apparatus with low heat load. The feasibility of a full microstrip process, consisting of two layers of superconducting material separated by a thin dielectric layer on 5 mil (≈0.13 mm) Kapton sheets, where manageable residual stress remains in the polyimide film after processing, has been demonstrated. The goal is a 2-mil (≈0.051-mm) process using spin-on polyimide to take advantage of the smoother polyimide surface for achieving high-quality metal films. Integration of microstrip wiring with this polyimide film may require high-temperature bakes to relax the stress in the polyimide film between metallization steps.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Semiconductors & ICs, Briefs, TSP

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High-Temperature, Distributed Control Using Custom CMOS ASICs

Integrated circuits capable of operating at elevated temperatures are needed in applications including automotive control, turbine engine control, and downhole well logging systems. Four application specific integrated circuits (ASICs) that provide sensing, actuation, and power conversion capabilities for distributed control in a high-temperature (over 200 °C) environment were developed. The four ASICs are combined with a digital signal processor (DSP) to create a distributed control node. Patented circuit design techniques facilitate fabrication in a conventional 0.5-micron bulk complimentary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) foundry process.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Semiconductors & ICs, Briefs

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Use of Highly Integrated Components in the Design of Small Gasoline Engine Controllers

Both the vehicle and power-tool small-engine markets can benefit from this circuit topology. As small gasoline engines evolve to use more sophisticated electronic engine controls, new challenges will face the smallengine manufacturers, including constraints in size and cost, as well as having to meet new emission and fuel efficiency standards driven by recent legislation. The rapid miniaturization of electronic components, as a side benefit of the smartphone and tablet market explosion, will help manufacturers meet these challenges, but new system and circuit topologies will also be required.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Briefs

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Fabrication Methods for Adaptive Deformable Mirrors

Two methods are presented. Previously, it was difficult to fabricate deformable mirrors made by piezoelectric actuators. This is because numerous actuators need to be precisely assembled to control the surface shape of the mirror. Two approaches have been developed. Both approaches begin by depositing a stack of piezoelectric films and electrodes over a silicon wafer substrate. In the first approach, the silicon wafer is removed initially by plasma-based reactive ion etching (RIE), and non-plasma dry etching with xenon difluoride (XeF2). In the second approach, the actuator film stack is immersed in a liquid such as deionized water. The adhesion between the actuator film stack and the substrate is relatively weak. Simply by seeping liquid between the film and the substrate, the actuator film stack is gently released from the substrate.

Posted in: Manufacturing & Prototyping, Electronics & Computers, Briefs, TSP

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Compact Focal Plane Assembly for Planetary Science

New fabrication methods were incorporated to produce an ultra-lightweight and compact radiometer. A compact radiometric focal plane assembly (FPA) has been designed in which the filters are individually co-registered over compact thermopile pixels. This allows for construction of an ultralightweight and compact radiometric instrument. The FPA also incorporates micromachined baffles in order to mitigate crosstalk and low-pass filter windows in order to eliminate high-frequency radiation.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Briefs, TSP

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