Electrical/Electronics

Next-Generation Electronics Innovations for NASA’s Space and Commercial Future

In 1964, NASA’s Electronics Research Center (ERC) opened in Massachusetts, serving to develop the space agency’s in-house expertise in electronics during the Apollo era. The center’s accomplishments include development of a high-frequency (30-GHz) oscillator, a miniaturized tunnel-diode transducer, and a transistor more tolerant of space radiation. Another development was in the area of holography. At the ERC, holography was “used for data storage, and has permitted a remarkable degree of data compression in the storing of star patterns.”

Posted in: Articles, Electronics

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2015 Create the Future Design Contest: Electronics Category Winner

Real-Time Fiber Optic Sensing System Lance Richards NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center Edwards, CA A team at NASA Armstrong has developed fiber optic sensing system (FOSS) technology that represents a major breakthrough in high-speed operational monitoring and sensing. Driven by ultra-efficient algorithms, FOSS can be used to determine, in real time, a variety of critical parameters including strain, shape deformation, temperature, liquid level, and operational loads. This state-of-the-art sensor system delivers reliable measurements in the most demanding environments confronted by aerospace, automotive, and energy sectors. FOSS is ideal for monitoring the structural health of aircraft, buildings, and dams; improving the efficiency of turbines and industrial equipment; and detecting instabilities within tunnels and power plants.

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Reducing Interconnection Weight in Autosports

In Formula 1 and other autosports, weight reduction is critical to competitive advantage. A few grams saved here and a few more saved there can add up to significant savings. There is also a move toward high-density packaging of electronics parts. As the electronics content of cars increases, the natural drive is to miniaturize the package to gain maximum efficiency in the use of space.

Posted in: Articles, Electronic Components, Electronics, Composites, Fiber Optics

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Magnetic Fluids Deliver Better Speaker Sound Quality

NASA’s liquid magnetization technology helps Sony increase sound amplitude while reducing distortion. In the early 1960s, NASA scientists were trying to move fuel into an engine without the benefit of gravity. A scientist at Lewis Research Center (now Glenn Research Center) came up with the idea to magnetize the liquid with extremely fine particles of iron oxide. That way, fuel could be drawn into the engine using magnetic force.

Posted in: Articles, Electronics, Joining & Assembly

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Self-Powered Intelligent Keyboard Could Provide Additional Security

By analyzing such parameters as the force applied by key presses and the time interval between them, a new self-powered, non-mechanical, intelligent keyboard could provide a stronger layer of security for computer users. The self-powered device generates electricity when a user’s fingertips contact the multi-layer plastic materials that make up the device.

Posted in: News, Board-Level Electronics, Computers, Electronic Components, Electronics, Power Management, Energy Harvesting

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Public Lighting System Runs on Solar and Wind Energy

A researcher at the Barcelona College of Industrial Engineering, in collaboration with the company Eolgreen, has developed the first autonomous industrialized public lighting system that works with solar and wind energy. This system, developed after four years of research, is designed for inter-urban roads, motorways, urban parks, and other public areas. It is unique in the world, and reduces the cost by 20% compared with conventional public lighting systems. The prototype is 10 meters high and is fitted with a solar panel, a wind turbine, and a battery. The turbine runs at a speed of 10 to 200 rpm and has a maximum output of 400 watts. Work is being done on a second prototype generator that runs at a lower speed (10 to 60 rpm) and has a lower output (100 W). An electronic control system manages the flow of energy among the solar panel, the wind turbine, the battery, and the light. Source:

Posted in: News, Batteries, Renewable Energy, Solar Power, Wind Power

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Zinc Oxide Materials Power Tiny Energy Harvesting Devices

Many types of smart devices are readily available and convenient to use. The goal now is to make wearable electronics that are flexible, sustainable, and powered by ambient renewable energy. This last goal inspired researchers to explore how the attractive physical features of zinc oxide (ZnO) materials could be used to tap into abundant mechanical energy sources to power micro devices. They discovered that inserting aluminum nitride insulating layers into ZnO-based energy harvesting devices led to a significant improvement of the devices’ performance. The group’s findings are expected to provide an effective approach for realizing “nanogenerators” for self-powered electronic systems such as portable communication devices, healthcare monitoring devices, environmental monitoring devices, and implantable medical devices. Source:

Posted in: News, Electronic Components, Energy Harvesting, Renewable Energy, Metals

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