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Low-Dead-Volume Inlet for Vacuum Chamber

Gas introduction from near-ambient pressures to high vacuum traditionally is accomplished either by multi-stage differential pumping that allows for very rapid response, or by a capillary method that allows for a simple, single-stage introduction, but which often has a delayed response. Another means to introduce the gas sample is to use the multi-stage design with only a single stage. This is accomplished by using a very small conductance limit. The problem with this method is that a small conductance limit will amplify issues associated with dead-volume.

Posted in: Manufacturing & Prototyping, Briefs

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Infrared-Bolometer Arrays With Reflective Backshorts

Operational wavelengths can be tailored by adjusting a few process steps.Integrated circuits that incorporate square arrays of superconducting-transition-edge bolometers with optically reflective backshorts are being developed for use in image sensors in the spectral range from far infrared to millimeter wavelengths. To maximize the optical efficiency (and, thus, sensitivity) of such a sensor at a specific wavelength, resonant optical structures are created by placing the backshorts at a quarter wavelength behind the bolometer plane. The bolometer and backshort arrays are fabricated separately, then integrated to form a single unit denoted a backshort-under-grid (BUG) bolometer array. In a subsequent fabrication step, the BUG bolometer array is connected, by use of single-sided indium bump bonding, to a readout device that comprises mostly a superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID) multiplexer circuit. The resulting sensor unit comprising the BUG bolometer array and the readout device is operated at a temperature below 1 K.

Posted in: Manufacturing & Prototyping, Briefs, TSP

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Method for Selective Cleaning of Mold Release From Composite Honeycomb Surfaces

A simple, EPA-friendly approach solves a long-standing problem in heat-formed composite manufacturing.Honeycomb structures are commonly employed as load- and force-bearing structures as they are structurally strong and lightweight. These structures include many aircraft and spacecraft surfaces, including aircraft wings and fuselages, spacecraft pressure vessels, and heat-shield materials. Many other processes in other areas of transportation and defense, as well as the pharmaceutical and construction industries, employ pressure vessels with similar heat-formed composite structures.

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Thermal Control Method for High-Current Wire Bundles by Injecting a Thermally Conductive Filler

A procedure was developed to inject thermal filler material (a paste-like substance) inside the power wire bundle coming from solar arrays. This substance fills in voids between wires, which enhances the heat path and reduces wire temperature. This leads to a reduced amount of heat generated. This technique is especially helpful for current and future generation high-power spacecraft (1 kW or more), because the heat generated by the power wires is significant enough to cause unacceptable overheating to critical components that are in close contact with the bundle.

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Carbon Nanotube-Based Structural Health Monitoring Sensors

Carbon nanotube (CNT)-based sensors for structural health monitoring (SHM) can be embedded in structures of all geometries to monitor conditions both inside and at the surface of the structure to continuously sense changes. These CNTs can be manipulated into specific orientations to create small, powerful, and flexible sensors. One of the sensors is a highly flexible sensor for crack growth detection and strain field mapping that features a very dense and highly ordered array of single-walled CNTs.

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Nanopatterning of Inorganic and Polymeric Substrates by Indentation Lithography

This fabrication method can be used in applications such as lab-on-a-chip, where conventional techniques cannot be used.A recent collaboration between the Whitesides Group at Harvard University and CSM Instruments has culminated in an important advance in lithography of different materials at the nano scale. The motivation for thisdevelopment was the ability to produce unique lithographical patterns of different shapes and sizes for use in research applications, such as lab-on-a-chip, where conventional techniques such as electron-beam lithography (EBL) and photolithography cannot be used.

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Mount Protects Thin-Walled Glass or Ceramic Tubes From Large Thermal and Vibration Loads

Low-stress, low-profile mounts were developed for photomultiplier tubes for imaging systems, biological sensing, and atmospheric sensing.The design allows for the low-stress mounting of fragile objects, like thin walled glass, by using particular ways of compensating, isolating, or releasing the coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) differences between the mounted object and the mount itself. This mount profile is lower than true full kinematic mounting. Also, this approach enables accurate positioning of the component for electrical and optical interfaces. It avoids the higher and unpredictable stress issues that often result from “potting” the object. The mount has been built and tested to space-flight specifications, and has been used for fiber-optic, optical, and electrical interfaces for a spaceflight mission.

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