Hubble Spinoffs: Space Age Technology for the Masses

By Bruce A. Bennett Over the plast 25 years, some of the sophisticated technology developed for the HST has been successfully spun off and commercialized to improve life on Earth.

Posted in: Articles, Features, Cameras, Imaging, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Medical, Photonics, Semiconductors & ICs, Software


Fabrication of Single-Mode, Distributed-Feedback, Interband Cascade Lasers

Applications exist in the oil and gas industry, automobile emissions monitors, breath analyzers, and fire detection equipment. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Type-II interband cascade lasers (ICLs) based on the GaSb material system represent an enabling technology for laser absorption spectroscopy in the 3-to-5-μm wavelength range. Instruments operating in this spectral regime can precisely match strong absorption lines of several gas molecules of interest in atmospheric science and environmental monitoring, specifically methane, ethane, other alkanes, and inorganic gases. Compared with non-semiconductor-based laser technologies, ICLs can be made more compact and power efficient, ultimately leading to more portable, robust, and manufacturable spectroscopy instruments.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Lasers & Laser Systems, Optics, Photonics


Developing Ceramic-Like Bulk Metallic Glass Gears

This technology has applications in gears, bearings, and gearboxes for automotive, spacecraft, and robotics. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California This invention describes systems and methods for implementing bulk metallic glass-based (BMG) macroscale gears with high wear resistance. This invention creates bulk metallic glasses (BMGs) with selected mechanical properties that are very similar to ceramics, such as high strength and resistance to wear, but without high melting temperatures. Ceramics are high-strength, hard materials that are typically used for their extremely high melting temperatures. Because of their extreme hardness, ceramics are optimal materials for making gears, due to their low wear loss. Unfortunately, ceramics suffer from low fracture toughness (typically <1 MPa·m1/2), and their high melting temperatures prevent them from being cast into net-shaped parts. Ceramic gears, for example, must be ground to a final shape at great expense.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Ceramics, Materials, Metals, Motion Control


Circuit Design Tool

Sunstone Circuits, Mulino, OR, announced DFMplus, a Design to Manufacturing tool that allows potential issues to be fixed in the PCB design phase. The tool helps users verify PCB designs before ordering. The tool features a preview of possible failure points, provides efficient transfer of design file data into manufacturing, and enables designers to submit partial designs, or regions of the design, as a section-by-section check.

Posted in: Products, Electronics & Computers, Manufacturing & Prototyping


Computed Tomography Systems

JG&A Metrology Center (Detroit, MI) introduced increased flat panel sizes for computed tomography (CT) systems. Cone beam systems now utilize flat panel technology and scan parts up to 14" (350 mm) in diameter. With increases in LDA sizes as well, the CT systems use line detector array technology when scanning parts up to 26" (650 mm) in diameter. The equipment is used to provide 3D internal part inspection using industrial CT equipment.

Posted in: Products, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Detectors, Test & Measurement


Google Glass for Industrial Automation

A new concept uses Google Glass for operating machinery, with all of the benefits delivered by wearable computing in an industrial environment. With Google’s Web-enabled glasses, status or dialog messages can be projected via a head-up display directly into a person’s field of vision. Online information and communication is also possible with this innovative device, and error messages can be acknowledged using a touchpad.

Posted in: Articles, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Motion Control, Optics, Machinery & Automation


Mechanically Induced Nucleation Improves Crystalline Quality During Melt Growth of Semiconductors

Significantly lower supercooling results in the ideal growth condition of single crystal nucleation. Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama For certain semiconductors with important applications, the existing bulk crystal growth technique from the melt usually results in poor-quality multi-crystalline ingots that cause the typically low yield of the commercial growth process. The low-quality, multi-grained crystal growth is mainly caused by the large supercool of the melt, which prohibits the ideal growth condition that a small, single-crystal nucleus forms at the very tip and grows into a large single crystal. For instance, semi-insulating cadmium zinc telluride (CdZnTe) crystal is a highly promising material for room-temperature x-ray and gamma ray detectors. However, the major hurdle in using the CdZnTe crystals is its cost. The ability to pack many data acquisition channels (hundreds) with the stopping power for high-energy radiation requires large single crystals of CdZnTe.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Semiconductors & ICs


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