Electrical/Electronics

Electric Field Quantitative Measurement System and Method

This technology could be used for medical imaging, security applications, weather prediction, and nondestructive evaluation of composites and insulators.NASA Langley Research Center’s Electric Field Imaging (EFI) system is the only noncontact method capable of quantitatively measuring the magnitude and direction of electrostatic fields in near- and far-field applications. Based on low-cost, commercially available components, the EFI system uses measurement of very-low-current, human-safe electric fields to construct a three-dimensional image of objects and people based on their dielectric properties. This platform technology, originally developed for measurement of the efficacy of electrical shielding around cables, could be optimized for a variety of applications, including medical imaging, security and detection, weather and natural disaster prediction, and nondestructive evaluation of composites and insulators. The EFI system has the potential to offer a lower-cost, portable, and safer alternative to the imaging systems currently used in these applications.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers

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Auto-Balancing Series-Stacked Input DC-DC Converter

This invention could enable practical, reliable, and efficient power conversion in high-voltage DC systems without power level limitation.ADC-DC converter that can operate from a high input voltage is needed for future high-power space applications. However, the selection of space-qualified, high-voltage transistors and filter capacitors for such a converter are very limited. The available high-voltage components have lower performance than lower-voltage components. One possible solution to this problem is connecting in series the inputs of multiple converters to lower the input voltage at the individual converter inputs. However, because of component tolerances, performance degradation, and transient events, this can result in an unbalanced voltage distribution throughout the various inputs. Excessive voltage on any of the stacked converters can damage components and cause a catastrophic failure. A circuit that could inherently balance the voltage between the inputs of multiple low-voltage DCDC converters would have better performance and reliability.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers

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Larger-Area Integrated Electrical Metallization Dielectric Structures with Stress-Managed Unit Cells for Extreme- Environment Semiconductor Electronics Chips

Electronic circuits that operate in high temperatures are used in automobiles, airplanes, oil drilling operations, and many other applications.The use of patterned multiple layers of thin films of metal and dielectric to form integrated circuit interconnections of transistors and/or form on-chip circuit capacitors is well known to those skilled in the art of semiconductor microelectronic fabrication. Because differing layers of thin film materials have different physical and thermal expansion properties, it is also well known that stress is inherently present in these multilayer film structures on a microelectronic chip. The amount of stress changes with temperature and as a function of lateral feature size/area across the chip. When stress anywhere within a patterned metal film feature becomes critically large (i.e., the “yield stress” is exceeded), the metal film can physically crack, buckle, or delaminate from other layers, which usually damages/fails the intended electrical operation of the microelectronic circuit.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers

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Novel Computer Chips Could Bridge Gap Between Computation and Storage

Software written by Jing Li, right, and her students — including Jialiang Zhang, left —allows programmers to directly use existing coding languages with the new Liquid Silicon chips. (Credit: Stephanie Precourt/UW–Madison College of Engineering) Computer chips in development at the University of Wisconsin–Madison could make future computers more efficient and powerful by combining tasks usually kept separate by design. Jing Li, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at UW–Madison, is creating computer chips that can be configured to perform complex calculations and store massive amounts of information within the same integrated unit — and communicate efficiently with other chips. She calls them “liquid silicon.”

Posted in: News, Computers, Electronic Components, Electronics, Semiconductors & ICs

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Supersonic Spray Yields New Nanomaterial for Bendable, Wearable Electronics

Left, photograph of a large-scale silver nanowire-coated flexible film. Right, silver nanowire particles viewed under the microscope. (Credit: S.K. Yoon, Korea University) A new, ultrathin film that is both transparent and highly conductive to electric current has been produced by a cheap and simple method devised by an international team of nanomaterials researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago and Korea University. The film is also bendable and stretchable, offering potential applications in roll-up touchscreen displays, wearable electronics, flexible solar cells and electronic skin.

Posted in: News, Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Materials, Sensors, Transducers

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Carbon Nanofibers Synthesized on Selective Substrates for Nonvolatile Memory and 3D Electronics Applications

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has developed a nano-electro-mechanical resonator (NEMR) based on vertically aligned carbon nanofibers (CNFs) that is suitable for applications requiring high sensitivity, broad tenability, low loss (high Q), low power consumption, and small size. Other nanoscale resonators have been demonstrated using top-down fabrication approaches, but these generally involve complicated and expensive electron beam lithography. JPL’s bottom-up fabrication approach yields robust, vertically oriented CNFs that can be used to form high-Q, high-frequency NEMRs. In addition, the resonant frequency of these NEMRs can be tuned by selecting the length and diameter of the CNFs. This allows for a highly integrated, ultra-low-power, high-data-rate, and wide-bandwidth NEMR-based transceiver architecture.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronic Components, Electronics & Computers

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A Nanotube Film Electrode and Electroactive Device Fabricated with the Nanotube Film Electrode and Methods for Making the Same

Applications include optical devices, electromechanical energy conversion, medical devices, sonar, and transducers.NASA’s Langley Research Center offers an all-organic electroactive device system fabricated with single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNT). The enhanced design offers higher electroactive performance in comparison with conventional electroactive device systems fabricated with metal electrodes or other conducting polymers. The new structure allows for significant improvement of the electroactive strain due to relief of the constraint on the electroactive layer. It exhibits superb actuation properties and can withstand high temperatures with improved mechanical integrity and chemical stability. In addition, the electroactive device can be made transparent, allowing for use in optical devices. NASA is seeking development partners and potential licensees.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronic Components, Electronics & Computers

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