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

Wearable Robotic System for Minimally Invasive Surgery

This tool supports and enhances the surgeon's performance in urology, cardiovascular, and orthopedic fields.

Researchers developed a wearable robotic system for minimally invasive surgery (also known as keyhole surgery) that will offer surgeons natural and dexterous movement, as well as the ability to sense, see, control, and safely navigate through the surgical environment. The need for better tools in robot-assisted minimally invasive surgery was identified to support and enhance the surgeon's performance in urology, cardiovascular, and orthopedic fields, and to expand the potential for this technology to more complex surgical procedures.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation
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Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems

Potential applications include networked autonomous cars and delivery drones in which security would be a major issue.

Multi-robot systems deployed in real-world applications are exposed to the same issues that computer systems face. A cybersecurity attack on a robot has the consequences of an attack on a computer system, with the added risk that the robot could be controlled to take potentially damaging action.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation
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AUTONOMIE Automotive System Design Software

AUTONOMIE is a MATLAB-based software environment and framework for automotive control system design, simulation, and analysis. It simulates subsystems, systems, or an entire vehicle, and predicts and analyzes fuel efficiency and performance. The software performs analyses and tests for virtual calibration, verification, and validation of hardware models and algorithms, and supports system hardware and software requirements.

Posted in: Briefs, Software
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Numerical Method to Predict the Evaporation Time of a Water Droplet Attached to a Solid Boundary in the Presence of Fluid Flow

One of the objectives of the In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) RESOLVE project was to extract water from lunar regolith by heating and then capturing and quantifying the released water. A potentially large error in measurements would occur if some of the water condensed in the piping between the oven and the water capture bed. Questions arise if condensation were to occur (either because of a low-temperature or high-pressure area): 1) how long would it take for convection and diffusion to evaporate the droplet back into the process stream, 2) how will it affect the ISRU RESOLVE process, 3) can accurate data be obtained, 4) how much longer will the process have to run to capture all the water, and 5) what conditions are the most favorable to quicken the evaporation process?

Posted in: Briefs, Software
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Functionalization of Carbon Nanotubes

These multi-functional composite materials have applications in body armor, radiators, chemical sensors, computers, and electronics.

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have attracted much attention due to their extraordinary mechanical and unique electronic properties. CNTs are being studied for applications in high-strength/low-weight composites and other applications. In order to alter the CNT properties for particular applications, chemical functionalization may be necessary. Development of multifunctional composite materials may require functionalization of a collection of CNTs to allow the tubes to be dispersed more easily in a host matrix.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping
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Carbon Fiber and Fiber Metal Laminate Composites Reinforced with Metallic Glass

This new class of composites has applications in aerospace, automotive, sporting goods, military, and defense.

Carbon fiber (CF) and carbon fiber composites have gained widespread use in recent years due to their unique combination of high strength and stiffness-to-weight ratio. To improve their mechanical properties, CF is sometimes used as a laminate, usually with aluminum, to improve the impact and residual strength properties of the CF. By bonding sheets of CF and aluminum, it was noticed that fatigue crack growth rates could be reduced in the laminates, as compared to monolithic sheets of either material. These composites have been referred to as CF metal laminates (CFMLs), and they are generally comprised of thin sheets of metal alloys (not always Al) and plies of fiber (not always carbon fiber) reinforced with polymeric materials.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping
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Development of a Sodium LiDAR for Spaceborne Missions

Laser and electro-optic technologies are under development to remotely measure sodium (Na) by adapting existing LiDAR technology with spaceflight heritage. The developed instrumentation will serve as the core for planning a heliophysics mission targeted to study the composition and dynamics of Earth's mesosphere based on a spaceborne LiDAR that will measure the mesospheric Na layer.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics
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Space Vehicle Heat Shield Having Edgewise Strips of Ablative Material

Edgewise strips of PICA ablator eliminate gaps in the capsule heat shield.

An alternate heat shield concept for the Orion space vehicle is to use interlocking blocks of Phenolic Impregnated Carbon Ablator (PICA). The blocks are independent from one another and there is a defined gap inches between the blocks. That gap poses serious problems to the vehicle and crew if gases flow between the PICA blocks. This invention is a simple yet robust invention for PICA block gap filler. Strips of preconditioned PICA blocks are positioned edgewise to fill gaps between PICA blocks to provide a gap filler substance that allows thermal expansion, and satisfies mechanical strain between the PICA tiles and substructure.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials
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Mechanically Strong, Thermally Stable, and Electrically Conductive Nanocomposite Structure and Method of Fabricating Same

This technology can be used in automobiles, launch vehicles, advanced aerospace vehicles, aircraft, and spacecraft.

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed a method for producing multifunctional, structural, thermally stable nanocomposites with aligned carbon nanotubes. The invention improves upon current state-of-the-art graphite fiber composites by providing the same lightweight and mechanically strong characteristics, but also adds thermal stability and electrical conductivity. Thus, the invention can be used to provide a new class of mechanically strong, thermally stable, and electrically conductive nanocomposites.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials
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Micro Acoustic Resonant Chambers for Heating/Agitating/Mixing (MARCHAM)

This device can be used for extracting amino acids in microfluidic or benchtop designs, and could be scaled up to accommodate large samples for mixing and extraction.

To measure organics in a fluid sample, one either has to bring the sample in the form of a colloid to the instrument, or extract the organics from the sample and bring the liquid extract to the instrument. The disclosed technique enables both extraction and transport of the fines or the organics.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components
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