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Low-Power-Consumption, Single-Mode Quantum Cascade Lasers Fabricated Without Epitaxial Regrowth

These low-power lasers can be used for spectroscopy instruments in health and safety monitoring, and industrial process monitoring.Quantum cascade (QC) lasers employ intersubband electronic transitions in semiconductor quantum well structures to generate emission at specific engineered wavelengths. QC devices have been particularly successful as mid-infrared emitters in the 4- to 12-μm wavelength range, a spectral regime that is difficult to access with interband diode lasers. As cascade devices, QC lasers can also be designed with many gain stages, which, combined with optimized doping and optical design, has enabled the development of lasers with remarkably high continuous output power (in excess of 1 W). One of the most important applications of mid-infrared QC lasers is quantitative gas detection using absorption spectroscopy, where a single-frequency laser is used to interrogate specific absorption lines of a target compound. While high output power is essential in certain applications, many in situ absorption spectrometers require only milliwatt-level output to effectively measure low levels of compounds of interest with strong absorption lines in the mid-infrared regime.

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A Versatile Three-Dimensional Printing Approach

This technology can generate integrated circuits, electrical connectors, supercapacitors, and flow cell batteries.NASA has developed a versatile method and associated apparatus for constructing and using a conductive filament in various applications of 3D printing. It uses an attractive polymer formulation, which exhibits low melting temperature even when combined with conductive material, as the printing filament material. It may be used with a commercial 3D printer to generate custom 3D conductive geometries, such as integrated circuitries, electrical connectors, supercapacitors, and flow cell batteries. This invention can be used to create conductive, piezoelectric, or multifunctional materials using three-dimensional printing, with relatively low melt or glass transition temperatures. This invention should be useful wherever such materials are needed, with modest fabrication costs.

Posted in: Briefs, Aerospace, Manufacturing & Prototyping

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Puncture-Healing Thermoplastic Resin Carbon-Fiber Reinforced Composites

This technology self-repairs following low- to mid-velocity impacts. A through-transmission C-scan of the healable composite panel shows the material post-impact (top) and post-healing cycle (bottom). NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed carbon fiber reinforced composites with self-healing properties. The initiation and propagation of damage to carbon composites, such as in aircraft structural components, results in component failure. Typical structural repairs result in damaging practices, where material is ground away and holes are drilled to secure patches, which can act as new sites for damage. This technology exhibits effective self-repair that heals quickly following low- to mid-velocity impacts, while retaining structural integrity.

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Improved Impact Toughness and Heat Treatment for Cast Aluminum

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center researchers have developed a new, stronger aluminum alloy, ideal for cast aluminum products that have powder or paint-baked thermal coatings. With advanced mechanical properties, the NASA-427 alloy shows greater tensile strength and increased ductility, providing substantial improvement in impact toughness. In addition, this alloy improves the thermal coating process by decreasing the time required for heat treatment. With improvements in both strength and processing time, use of the alloy provides reduced materials and production costs, lower product weight, and better product performance. The superior properties of NASA-427 can benefit many industries, including automotive, where it is particularly well suited for use in aluminum wheels.

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Dynamically Variable Spot Size Laser System

Applications include aerospace engine repair, medical hardware manufacturing, plastic mold and die restoration, and jewelry manufacturing and repair.NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center developed the handheld laser torch, designed for welding and brazing metals, to repair hard-to-reach Space Shuttle engine nozzles. It incorporates various manual controls and changing lenses to allow the operator to adjust the laser’s power output in real time. The controls and lenses are designed to increase precision, portability, and maneuverability as compared to existing automated lasers and traditional welding techniques such as tungsten inert gas (TIG), metal inert gas (MIG), or gas-tungsten arc welding (GTAW) systems. Proximity sensors with automated shut-off switches also ensure a high level of safety for the user.

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Tension Stiffened and Tendon Actuated Manipulator

This configuration offers mechanical advantage and improved efficiency over existing arms that use weighty gearboxes and motors. Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia NASA’s Langley Research Center is developing a robotic arm with lightweight joints that provide a wide range of motion. The envisioned design provides users with a long reach and numerous degrees of freedom. The arm, ideal for use in aquatic environments or for manipulation of light terrestrial loads, consists of articulating booms connected by antagonistic cable tension elements. The arm elements are structurally efficient and lightweight, and support compact packaging. The inherent mechanical advantage provided by the tendon articulation allows the use of small, efficient motor systems. The manipulator can be scaled over a large range from 10 m (load-bearing arm) to over 1000 m (submersible or float-supported arm). Current efforts are focusing on a 15-m prototype and a 300-m subsystem to test the unique robotic architecture. NASA is seeking partners to assist with the development of its concept system for specific applications.

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Lattice Structures Coating Concept for Efficient Thermal Linking Beds

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama Conventional air revitalization technology for removal of CO2, moisture, and trace organic contaminants usually involves a packed bed of sorbent pellets that can be regenerated using a concept similar to that of pressure swing adsorption (PSA). Additional heat input for thermal regeneration is preferred during the adsorption-desorption process to increase the regeneration efficiency. Typically, a pair of adsorber modules consisting of the same sorbent material with identical loading capacity is placed in parallel and work in tandem, where one module adsorbs the contaminants from the process air while the other is in regeneration mode. The two adsorber modules have separate housings and may be placed in separate locations.

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