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Coming Attractions: Linear Scales in Thermonuclear Ignition System

Motion Control Technology™, a bi-monthly supplement to NASA Tech Briefs, contains a section called Applications, which reports on motion control components being used in the field. Here's an Insider sneak peek at one of the technologies covered in the upcoming June issue: Scales Work as Part of Thermonuclear Ignition Target Assembly The National Ignition Facility (NIF), part of Lawrence Livermore National Lab (Livermore, CA), constructed a system of lasers ending in a chamber ten meters in diameter to house tiny fuel capsules that are subjected to a high-energy pulse, setting off a small thermonuclear burst. The target assembly machine, built by ABTech (Swanzey, NH), used linear scales from HEIDENHAIN Corp. (Schaumburg, IL). With an accuracy of up to 4 millionths of an inch, the 5-axis assembly station is an air-bearing machine that includes mechanical arms with the ability to slide into position without friction. The system is capable of positioning the target shell halves in locations within 0.1 µm. The scales are exposed linear encoders capable of small, precise measured steps to 0.005 µm. The system is completed with a high-resolution camera and surgical microscope that provide views of the mating components. The new target design has allowed NIF to create thermonuclear ignitions mimicking conditions found in the Sun or an exploding nuclear event. The primary mission of NIF will be to attain fusion ignition in the laboratory, exploring fusion's potential as a clean, long-term energy source. Look for this application in the June issue of Motion Control Technology. Click here to view previously published Applications Click here to learn more about HEIDENHAIN

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Robotic Rotary Motor Runs on Compressed Air

Researchers at Engineair Pty Ltd. (Melbourne, Australia) have designed a rotary air engine called the Di Pietro motor, whose concept is based on a rotary piston and is driven by compressed air. The motor uses a cylindrical rotary piston that rolls inside the cylindrical stator. The space between stator and rotor is divided into six expansion chambers by pivoting dividers. These dividers follow the motion of the shaft driver as it rolls around the stator wall. The unit is lighter than piston motors and produces no fumes. The compressed air would be held in tanks mounted under the loading floor of ground-based vehicles. Engineair plans to develop a new burden carrier, driven by the motor, for use on a small scale. Click here for more information.

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Current Attractions: Focus on Communications

Each month, NTB highlights tech briefs related to a particular area of technology in a special section known as Technology Focus. Here's an Insider look at the May focus on Communications. Noise-Canceling Helmet Audio System NASA's John Glenn Research Center has developed a helmet audio system to improve voice communications in noisy settings for users wearing protective suits such as biohazard, fire, rescue, and diving suits. The system includes microphones and small loudspeakers mounted in a helmet, amplifiers and signal-routing circuitry, and a digital signal processor. The system works in conjunction with a radio transceiver and accommodates itself to normal motion of the user's head within the helmet. (Page 22) Six-Message Electromechanical Display An electromechanical display developed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center would be capable of communicating up to six distinct messages. Most electromechanical displays are limited to just three messages. The system uses display elements with multiple flat faces that are rotated into view to present an image. Each element could be rotated to one of six equally spaced angular positions to present the desired portion of one of six messages. (Page 24) Read previously published tech briefs on Communications and other technologies here.

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Techs of the Week: Web-Based Application Protection

A software-based Web application firewall called DotDefender(TM) is deployed as a Web server plug-in to identify and stop attacks that attempt to exploit vulnerabilities in Web applications. Protection is provided through a combination of three security engines: pattern recognition, session protection, and a signature knowledge base. Automatic updates ensure protection against the latest threats. Further information here. The Textron Generic Token-Based Access System (GTBAS) is a database- driven application that facilitates integration via a “virtual handshake” between third-party Internet applications and a company’s user authentication. This integrated system allows parties to share authentication information by encrypted tokens, rather than each party managing user access information separately. Companies can autonomously control information while securely sharing just what’s needed to make applications work together seamlessly. Further information here. The Technologies of the Week describe inventions offered for license through the yet2.com marketplace. Search over $2.5 billion of licensable technologies at www.yet2.com.

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New Device Could Lead to Sleep on Demand

Dr. Giulio Tononi, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, has discovered how to stimulate brain waves that characterize the deepest stage of sleep. The discovery could open a new window into the role of sleep in keeping humans healthy, happy, and able to learn. Theoretically, creating slow brain waves on demand could lead to magnetically stimulated "power naps," which might confer the benefit of eight hours of sleep in just a few hours. A transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) device sends a harmless magnetic signal through the scalp and skull into the brain, where it activates electrical impulses. In response to each burst of magnetism, the subject's brain immediately produces slow waves typical of deep sleep. Click here for more information.

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Technology Business Brief

Laser Pattern Generator with Submicron Precision This device is available for use in a wide range of applications including advanced printing systems, patterning photoresist during IC manufacture, and creating masks or reticles for projection-type photolithography systems. More information here. The Technology Business Briefs portray licensing or selling opportunities intermediated by NextTechs. NextTechs Technologies, LLC is a Global Technology Investment Bank engaged in technology offers and needs intermediation in over 41 industries and 141 research disciplines. Search NextTechs' Technology Portfolio here.

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Device Tracks Ad Effectiveness By Monitoring Eye Movement

A device developed at Queen's University (Canada) provides a unique way for advertisers to track the effectiveness of their messages by measuring how many people are looking at their billboards and screens. Called eyebox2(TM), the portable device uses a camera that monitors eye movements in real time and automatically detects when you are looking at it from up to 10 meters away, without calibration. "This camera mimics eye contact perception in humans, allowing us to pinpoint quite accurately what plasma screen or product shelf people are looking at," says Dr. Roel Vertegaal, director of the Human Media Laboratory at Queen's and inventor of the technology. The technology reflects a novel approach to human-computer interactions. The focus of the research is on making everyday devices more attentive to their users by "sensing" when it is appropriate to interact with them. The current research focuses on advertising applications, but future potential uses include attentive computers, cellphones, and household appliances. For more information, click here.

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