Special Coverage

Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems
Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems
NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space
Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators
Automating Optimization and Design Tasks Across Disciplines
Vibration Tables Shake Up Aerospace and Car Testing
Supercomputer Cooling System Uses Refrigerant to Replace Water
Computer Chips Calculate and Store in an Integrated Unit
Electron-to-Photon Communication for Quantum Computing

BiBlade Sampling Chain

This tool enables multiple sampling attempts per sample.

The BiBlade sampler has been developed for potentially acquiring samples from the surface of a planetary body. The tool could conceivably be used in both in situ and notional sample return missions to planetary bodies including asteroids, comets, and moons. While the tool was designed for planetary sampling missions, it could have terrestrial applications as well.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components
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Recovering Metals from Electronic Waste

This process dissolves the major metals found in electronics, including materials that have been shredded, magnetically separated, or milled to a particle size less than one millimeter.

End-of-life electronic devices such as smartphones, computers, televisions, and other electronics contain significant amounts of valuable metals including base metals (zinc, tin, lead, nickel, and copper), precious metals (silver, gold, and palladium), and rare earth magnets (neodymium, yttrium, samarium). Some electronic scrap is currently landfilled or incinerated, and there is a need to develop more effective processes to capture these valuable metals along with keeping them out of the environment.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers
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Composite Insulated Conductor

These extreme fire-resistant insulation systems show promise for use in high-voltage, high-power systems.

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed a new class of polyimide composite electrical insulation materials for wires, cable, and bus pipe. These new insulation materials have been shown to withstand a 12-hour gas flame test while maintaining structural and electrical circuit integrities. These extreme fire-resistant insulation systems show promise for use in high-voltage, high-power systems. They can improve survivability and continuity of the electrical power supply. Besides fire resistance, these materials also provide weight and space savings because of their lightweight nature and exceptionally high-performance capability. NASA developed the wire insulation for exploration and space operations; however, the technology also has applicability to other high-voltage, high-power systems for maritime, high-rise building construction, and other industries.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials
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Solder Bond Packaging for High-Voltage Pulsed Power Devices

This invention is a superior switching component for pulsed power applications.

The huge demand for switching components exceeding silicon's (Si) current density limitation of 200 A/cm2 has pushed the enhancement of alternative semiconductor materials such as silicon carbide (SiC), gallium nitride, and diamond. The enhanced material properties of SiC, such as high thermal conductivity, large critical field, wide bandgap, large elastic modulus, and high saturation velocity, make it a viable candidate for pulsed power systems. Using SiC would increase both current and power densities, improve dI/dt and dV/dt capabilities, reduce recovery time, and minimize switching losses in various power electronic systems. Furthermore, a significant reduction in the volume and weight of pulsed power systems can be realized by implementing SiC SGTOs, reducing the thermal management requirements of the pulsed power system.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers
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Omnidirectional Mobile Robot with Two Moving Parts

A spherical induction motor (SIM) eliminates the robot's mechanical drive system.

SIMbot is an updated version of the ballbot, an elegantly simple robot whose tall, thin body moves on top of a sphere slightly smaller than a bowling ball. SIMbot features a motor with just one moving part: the ball. The other active moving part of the robot is the body itself.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation
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Interactive Robot Control System and Method of Use

Robonaut 2 can enter hazardous areas or tackle difficult terrain without endangering its human operator.

Researchers at NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC), in collaboration with General Motors and Oceaneering, have designed a state-of-the-art, highly dexterous, humanoid robot: Robonaut 2 (R2). R2 is made up of multiple systems and sub-components: vision systems, image-recognition systems, sensors, control algorithms, and much more. R2's nearly 50 patented and patent-pending technologies have the potential to be game-changers in multiple industries. One of the most promising applications for the R2 technologies is in the area of hazardous environments. R2 has the capability to work in remote locations separate from the human controller. R2 can function autonomously, or it can be controlled by direct teleoperations.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation
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Launch Trajectory Acquisition System (LTAS) Source Slaving Selector (LS3)

The LTAS Source Slaving Selector application was developed to transmit LTAS data in User Datagram Protocol (UDP) packets using the LTAS data from one of multiple incoming UDP streams. Users select the data stream via a graphical user interface (GUI), which also displays a variety of data values from the LTAS frames. Prior art that performs a similar objective includes the Selectable Internet Protocol Slaving (SIPS) system, which can perform the objective, but can also create problems when transmitting slaving LTAS data by filling some data fields with zeroes. This is especially true for the velocity data fields. In addition, SIPS' GUI does not include X' and Y' angles, which are a form of local coordinates. The SIPS software was built using an older version of the integrated development environment (IDE) and compiler.

Posted in: Briefs, Software
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Positioning Stage

Assembly of optic-electronic devices requires precision alignment of optical fibers with lasers or sensors, and then bonding. A worker looking through a microscope at the end of a fiber conventionally executes this precision alignment and bonding process.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping
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Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

In 1928, physics professor Ernest O. Lawrence left his faculty position at Yale University for a job at the University of California's Berkeley campus. While at Berkeley, Lawrence invented a unique particle accelerator called a cyclotron that would prove his hypothesis: whirling charged particles around to boost their energies then casting them toward a target is an effective way to smash open atomic nuclei. Lawrence won the 1939 Nobel Prize in physics for the cyclotron, and ushered in a new era in the study of subatomic particles.

Posted in: Articles, Research Lab
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Multifunctional Platelet Composites for Tin Whisker Mitigation

Applications include consumer electronics, automotive, and electronic weapons systems.

To comply with the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive, pure tin is replacing lead-tin alloys in commercial electronic devices. Unfortunately, tin can grow whiskers that can lead to electrical short circuits or metal vapor arcing, both of which threaten the long-term reliability of electronic systems, and cause critical systems to fail catastrophically. A current method of whisker mitigation utilizes coatings based on glassy or rubbery unfilled polymers; such coatings are not impenetrable to tin whiskers.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials
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