Electrical/Electronics

Method of Forming Textured Silicon Substrate by Maskless Cryogenic Etching

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has developed an advanced energy-storage device to accommodate portable devices, minimize emissions from automobiles, and enable more challenging space missions. The use of silicon for the anode of lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries is attractive because silicon has the highest theoretical charge capacity of any material when used as an anode in a Li-ion battery. Conventional silicon anodes undergo large-volume expansions and contractions with the absorption and desorption of Li-ions, however, and this results in pulverization of the anode after several charge and discharge cycles. JPL’s innovative Li-ion battery anodes are made of micro-textured silicon, which is able to accommodate the stress of expansion and contraction during the charging cycle. These robust silicon anodes make high-capacity, rapid-charge-rate Li-ion batteries practical.

Posted in: Briefs, Power Management

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An Apparatus and Method for Communication Over Power Lines

NASA’s Glenn Research Center is offering a sensor and actuator networking innovation applicable to smart vehicle or component control. This innovation requires no additional connectivity beyond the wiring providing power. This results in lower system weight, increased ease and flexibility for system modifications and retrofits, and improved reliability and robustness. The technology was specifically designed for harsh, high-heat environments, but has applications in multiple arenas. The device is compatible with most communication protocols.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers

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A High-Efficiency Power Module

Innovators at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have developed a microwave power module to power radar, communications, and/or navigation interchangeably. This high-efficiency, all-solid-state microwave power module (MPM) is based on a multi-stage distributed-amplifier design, which is capable of very wideband operation. This MPM is extremely durable and can last a decade or longer. Already more compact and lightweight than conventional designs, Glenn’s patented technique offers further size reduction by eliminating the need for either a traveling-wave tube amplifier or its accompanying kV-class electronic power conditioner. The performance of this MPM is exceptional, with much higher cut-off frequency and maximum frequency of oscillation than metal-semiconductor field-effect transistors offer, and the distributed amplifier’s wide bandwidth also results in much faster pulse rise times. Finally, Glenn’s design allows the module to operate in both pulsed and continuous wave modes, so it can single-handedly drive exceptional performance for radar, navigation, and communications.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics

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Addendum of Self-Aligned Ion Implant to Design and Processing of SiC High-Temperature Transistors for Durable Operation Above 400 °C

Applications include aerospace, oil and gas combustion, well drilling, transportation, and computers.Researchers at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have developed a revolutionary new generation of silicon carbide (SiC) integrated circuit (IC) chips, setting an unprecedented benchmark in the field of high-temperature electronics. In the past, SiC ICs could not withstand more than a few hours of 500 °C temperatures before degrading or failing. Now, Glenn has successfully fabricated prototype chips that can exceed 10,000 hours of continuous operation at 500 °C. The advanced performance stems in part from the development of Glenn’s patented iridium interfacial stack (IrIS), a bondable metallization stack that prevents diffusion of oxygen and gold into silicon carbide (SiC) integrated circuits operating above 500 °C. The enhanced reliability of these components (and the transistors and logic boards they support) will enable important improvements in the control and operation of combustion engines, well-drilling, and other harsh environment systems, thereby greatly impacting operational efficiency and environmental quality. This advance in the manufacture of SiC-based electronics also fundamentally revolutionizes the opportunities for intelligent systems operating in high-temperature environments.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers

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Method and Apparatus to Detect Wire Pathologies Near Crimped Connector

NASA’s Langley Research Center has created a collection of innovations for rapid, precise, and verified crimps. Wiring crimp failures can be a threat to safety and may lead to a loss of critical functions in high-risk applications, such as aerospace. In addition to the safety concerns, diagnosing and repairing poor crimp connections can be costly. Langley’s crimping innovations increase quality and reduce risk by using ultrasound to provide real-time, nondestructive verification of wire-crimp integrity while the crimp is being formed. This technology can be applied to electromechanical crimping machines, where the appropriate force required to form a crimped connection is determined in real time. Such an application prevents over- or under-crimping, and prevents excessive tool wear. Langley has also created a means and method to calibrate and verify the mechanical and electrical settings for an ultrasonically enhanced crimp tool.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers

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Preventing Cell-to-Cell Thermal Runaway in Lithium-Ion Battery Modules

Lithium-ion (Li-ion) cells are increasingly used in high-voltage and high-capacity modules. The Li-ion chemistry has the highest energy density of all rechargeable battery chemistries, but associated with that energy is the issue of catastrophic thermal runaway with a fire. With recent incidents in the commercial aerospace and electronics sectors, it was necessary to find methods to prevent cell-to-cell thermal runaway propagation.

Posted in: Briefs, Batteries

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Stackable Form-Factor Peripheral Component Interconnect Device and Assembly

Applications include fault-tolerant computing systems, high-speed data acquisition, embedded servers, and intelligent transportation systems. The invention is a design for a peripheral component interconnect (PCI) local bus controller and target in a PC/104-Plus form-factor. The design uses a flash-based field programmable gate array (FPGA) to provide immediate functionality from power-on to avoid delay after power is applied. It can be reprogrammed from connectors directly on the board, and is able to both receive and drive the clock for system and local peripherals, allowing it to function as either a PCI bus host controller or PCI target device interface. Fully compliant with the PC/104-Plus specification, the design has associated schematics and Gerber files in a vendor-ready state. The design was developed to support ongoing research in fault-tolerant computing systems.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers

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