Efficient Radiation Shielding Through Direct Metal Laser Sintering

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

Functional and parametric degradation of microcircuits due to total ionizing dose (TID) often poses serious obstacles to deployment of critical state-of-the-art (SOTA) technologies in NASA missions. Moreover, because device dielectrics in which such degradation occurs vary from one fabrication lot to the next, these effects must be reevaluated on a lot-by-lot basis. Often, the most effective mitigation against TID degradation is the addition of radiation shielding to the electronics box. Unfortunately, shielding materials can add significant amounts of mass to a system, particularly when vulnerable parts require shielding over 4π steradians. One method for reducing mass is to apply spot shielding located only on the critical components that require it. Reduced box- and/or spacecraft-level shielding will necessitate more complex spot shielding to protect the component from the omnidirectional radiation environment.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Metal finishing, Radiation protection, Lightweighting

Using PXI to Build a High-Performance MEMS Microphone Testing System

The demand for increasing microphone signal quality from handheld mobile devices has led to the development of microphone signal processing technologies such as: HD audio, noise cancellation, active noise cancellation, beam forming, directional reception, stereo sound field reconstruction, and speech recognition. As well, devices incorporating multiple microphones are becoming more and more popular. Several newly released smart phones now integrate multiple MEMS (Micro Electrical-Mechanical System) microphones for improved background noise cancellation. All flagship smart phone models in introduced in 2015 featured three or more MEMS microphones to support HD audio, ambient noise cancellation, noise filtering, directional reception and speech recognition. Popularity of MEMS microphones is expected to grow.

Posted in: White Papers, Electronics, Data Acquisition, Sensors, Test & Measurement

Thermoelectric Cooling: How Does It Work? Why Should You Choose It?

There are many places one can go to get an outline on the pros and cons of different methods for enclosure cooling. Although we will briefly touch on them here, this is really an in-depth article on how to choose a Peltier (thermoelectric) air conditioner, once you have committed to the technology.

Posted in: White Papers, White Papers, Electronics & Computers

Beyond Telematics: IoT

This Bsquare whitepaper explains how manufacturers of commercial trucking and heavy construction equipment can move beyond simple telematics in order to increase asset uptime while reducing operating costs through comprehensive Internet of Things (IoT) technology.

Posted in: White Papers, Electronics & Computers

Polymer Nanofiber-Based Reversible Nano-Switch/Sensor Schottky Diode (nanoSSSD) Device

This microsensor has applications in biomedical devices, combustion engines, and detection/switching devices used in mass transit systems.

John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio

NASA’s Glenn Research Center has developed a groundbreaking new microsensor that detects toxic gases and explosives in a variety of environments. Most devices can perform only a unidirectional sensing task, lacking a switching feature that would allow the device to return to baseline operation after the volatile species is removed or has dissipated. Glenn’s nano-Switch Sensor Schottky Diode (nanoSSSD) device consists of a thin film of graphene deposited on a specially prepared silicon wafer. Graphene’s two-dimensional properties make this technology both extremely sensitive to different gases and highly reliable in harsh, enclosed, or embedded conditions. The nanoSSSD can be connected to a visual and/or sound alarm that is autonomously triggered as the sensor detects a selected gas, and then is returned to its passive mode when the gas is no longer present. The innovation has applications in biomedical devices, combustion engines, and detection/switching devices used in mass transit systems.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Sensors and actuators, Switches, Gases, Nanotechnology, Polymers

Method of Fault Detection and Rerouting

The technology can be used in wiring for aerospace, marine, automotive, industrial, and smart grid applications.

John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida

NASA seeks partners interested in the commercial application of the In Situ Wire Damage Detection and Rerouting System (ISWDDRS). NASA’s Kennedy Space Center is soliciting licensees for this innovative technology. The ISWDDRS consists of a miniaturized inline connector containing self-monitoring electronics that use time domain reflectometry (TDR) to detect wire faults and determine fault type and fault location on powered electrical wiring. When a damaged or defective wire is identified, the system is capable of autonomously transferring electrical power and data connectivity to an alternate wire path. When used in conjunction with NASA’s wire constructions that use a conductive detection layer, the system is capable of detecting and limiting damage not only to the core conductor, but also to the insulation layer before the core conductor becomes compromised.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Failure analysis, Sensors and actuators, Wiring

Metal Oxide Vertical Graphene Hybrid Supercapacitors

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California

NASA has developed a novel hybrid supercapacitor system utilizing vertical graphene as an electrode material grown directly on collector metals using a plasma enhanced chemical vapor de - position. Supercapacitors are an alternative to batteries for energy storage, offering high power density and rapid charging time. Nanomaterials such as carbon nanotubes and graphene offer high surface area and porosity to construct the electrodes. Vertical graphene grown directly on a collector metal substrate enables construction of a supercapacitor. The key to the hybrid supercapacitor technology is the growth of vertical graphene directly onto an inexpensive metal substrate without the use of bulk graphene, catalysts, or binders, resulting in increased power density. Adding the metal oxide or electrically conducting polymer to the vertical graphene adds redox (reduction and oxidation) capacitance, thus increasing the overall performance of the device.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Energy storage systems, Ultracapacitors and supercapacitors, Metals, Nanomaterials

Reconfigurable Drive Current System

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) has developed compact, reconfigurable electronic devices to drive and control avionics instruments. Typical avionics systems function through centralized power distribution units (PDUs), which have complex, expensive, and time-consuming design, development, test, and evaluation (DDT&E) cycles. To increase efficiency and lower design and implementation costs, the Standardized Multipurpose Avionics with Reconfigurable Technology (SMART) has been developed, replacing the PDU and sensor signal conditioning functions. By replacing the PDU, the system is able to process commands and condition signals at the application site, thus lowering system load. SMART can also be reconfigured for new tasks without changing hardware. This means functions can be added or changed later in the DDT&E cycle and even during integration, helping to reduce cost and schedule impact while enabling responsiveness to changing application needs.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Avionics, Electronic control units, Maintainability and supportability

System and Method for Transferring Telemetry Data Between a Ground Station and a Control Center

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) employs many advanced innovations developed at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and in collaboration with other organizations. The applications and benefits for these technologies are advantageous for many other industries as well. One of those technologies is the Space Link Extension Return Channel Frames (SLE-RCF) software library. This software library enables a mission control center to receive telemetry frames from a ground station. The technology implements the SLE-RCF protocol as defined by the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (CCSDS). Software routines can be reused from mission to mission.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Electronics & Computers, Software, Communication protocols, Data exchange, Satellite communications, Telemetry

Noise Analysis in Precision Analog Designs

There are articles explaining component-level noise analysis for amplifiers or for analog-to-digital converters (ADCs), but very few that explain how to budget noise or analyze noise from the system level. This paper reviews the basics of noise analysis in precision designs, relates those calculations to system-level specifications such as sensitivity, dynamic range, and resolution, and answers some of the big questions about low-noise design.

Posted in: White Papers, Electronic Components, Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Semiconductors & ICs

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