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A Modular Apparatus and Method for Attaching Multiple Devices

This technology improves the real-time monitoring of high-temperature or other harsh environments.Scientists at NASA's Glenn Research Center have received several patents for fabrication methods that speed the production of silicon carbide (SiC) sensors and electronics, reduce fabrication costs, and enable advanced semiconductor functionality at temperatures greater than 600 °C. Glenn has developed a method for fabricating ultra-thin SiC microstructures using a dopant selective reactive ion etching (DSRIE) technique that can create extremely thin diaphragms (approximately 2 microns), increasing sensor sensitivity and resolution. In addition, Glenn has developed a modular protective packaging that allows SiC-based electronic devices to survive and operate reliably at very high temperatures. These innovations improve the real-time monitoring of high-temperature harsh environments, such as jet and rocket engines, allowing faster response times and more accurate readings.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Electronic equipment, Sensors and actuators, Fabrication, Silicon alloys, Protective structures

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Wireless Electrical Device Using Open-Circuit Elements Having No Electrical Connections

This technology produces sensors for axial load force, linear displacement, rotation, strain, pressure, torque, and motion sensing.NASA Langley Research Center has developed a wireless, connection-free, open-circuit technology that can be used for developing electrical devices such as sensors that need no physical contact with the properties being measured. At the core of the technology is the SansEC (Sans Electrical Connections) circuit, which is damage-resilient and environmentally friendly to manufacture and use. The technology uses a NASA award-winning magnetic field response measurement acquisition device to provide power to the device and, in the case of a sensor application, to acquire physical property measurements from them. This fundamental new approach using open circuits enables applications such as sensors for axial load force, linear displacement, rotation, strain, pressure, torque, and motion sensing, as well as unique designs such as for a wireless keypad or wireless rotational dial, or for energy storage.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, Integrated circuits, Sensors and actuators, Wireless communication systems, Electric power, Magnetic materials

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ISO 26262 & Automotive Electronics Development

Compliance standards, especially those that involve relatively new functional safety elements, will likely add additional requirements to the development process. But ISO 26262, in particular, will add more than new requirements to the product life cycle for automotive hardware-software systems. This Functional Safety standard will act as a framework impacting integrated requirements traceability, risk management, validation, verification, documentation and collaboration throughout the systems engineering “V” model life cycle process (see Figure). ISO 26262 will also require the qualification of tools used to create automotive systems. This paper examines the impact of the standard on the development process and support tool chains for automotive electronics.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Electronics & Computers, Information Sciences, Semiconductors & ICs, Software, Computer software and hardware, Life cycle analysis, Safety regulations and standards

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PTC Heater Brings Greater Control for Hand-held Medical Devices and Disposables

Point of Care diagnostics devices, whether handheld or single-use, often require a brief application of tightly controlled heat. The disposable nature of these devices requires a low-cost component capable of delivering that heat reliably and safely. Heatron's new PTC heater solution uses a polymer-based heater technology that controls heat to within ±2°C of the target temperature, and reduces unit cost by eliminating sensors and applied controls.

Posted in: White Papers, Briefs, TSP, Electronics & Computers, Thermoelectrics, Medical, Medical equipment and supplies, Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems (HVAC), Polymers

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MRAM Alternative Uses Less Energy than Conventional Chip

Purely electrical memory chips commonly used today are volatile and their state must be continuously refreshed, which requires a lot of energy. An alternative to these electrical memory chips is magnetic random access memory (MRAM), which saves data magnetically and does not require constant refreshing. They do, however, require relatively large electrical currents to write the data to memory, which reduces reliability.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Computer software and hardware, Integrated circuits, Energy consumption

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Reconfigurable Chaos-Based Microchips

Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed nonlinear chaos-based integrated circuits that enable computer chips to perform multiple functions with fewer transistors. These integrated circuits can be manufactured with off-the-shelf fabrication processes, and could lead to novel computer architectures that do more with less circuitry and fewer transistors.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, Integrated circuits, Transistors, Fabrication

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Supercomputer Cooling System Uses Refrigerant to Replace Water

Sandia National Laboratories researchers designed a cooling system for supercomputer centers that is expected to save four to five million gallons of water annually in New Mexico if installed at Sandia's computing center, and hundreds of millions of gallons nationally if the method is widely adopted. It is being tested at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which expects to save a million gallons annually. The system, built by Johnson Controls and called the Thermosyphon Cooler Hybrid System, cools like a refrigerator without the expense and energy needs of a compressor.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Computer software and hardware, Product development, Cooling, Refrigerants

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