Electrical/Electronics

Superconducting Transition Edge Sensors and Methods for Design and Manufacture Thereof

Superconducting Transition Edge Sensors and Methods for Design and Manufacture ThereofNASA technologists have developed a novel, superconducting transition edge sensor (TES). Such TES devices are thermometers that are widely used for particle detection, e.g. X-rays, infrared photons, atoms, molecules, etc. Energy resolution is chiefly important in superconducting transition edge sensors to function as imaging spectrometers. For optimal energy resolution, it is necessary to control the superconducting transition temperature for the device.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronic Components, Electronics & Computers, Design processes, Imaging and visualization, Sensors and actuators, Fabrication

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Chalcogenide Nanoionic-Based Radio Frequency Switch

The electrochemical switch is non-volatile, lacks moving parts that can fail, and is easy to fabricate.NASA’s Glenn Research Center has developed nanoionic-based radio frequency (RF) switches for use in devices that rely on low-power RF transmissions, such as automotive systems, RFID technology, and smartphones. These groundbreaking nanoionic switches operate at speeds of semiconductor switches, and are more reliable than microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) switches while retaining the superior RF performance and low power consumption found in MEMS, all without the need for higher electrical voltages. In this new process, metals are photo-dissolved into a chalcogenide glass and packaged with electrodes and a substrate to form a switch. Since the nanoionic-based switch is electrochemical in nature, it has certain advantages over switches that are mechanically based, including nonvolatility, lack of moving parts that can fail, ease and efficiency of activation, and ease of fabrication. This innovative device has the potential to replace MEMS and semiconductors in a wide range of switching systems, including rectifying antennas (rectennas) and other RF antenna arrays.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronic Components, Electronics & Computers, RF & Microwave Electronics, Radio equipment, Switches, Radio-frequency identification, Nanotechnology

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X-ray Diffraction (XRD) Characterization Methods for Sigma=3 Twin Defects in Cubic Semiconductor (100) Wafers

This technology is especially relevant in high-end, high-speed electronics.NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed a method of using x-ray diffraction (XRD) to detect defects in cubic semiconductor (100) wafers. The technology allows non-destructive evaluation of wafer quality in a simple, fast, inexpensive process that can be easily incorporated into an existing fab line. The invention adds value throughout the semiconductor industry, but is especially relevant in high-end, high-speed electronics where wafer quality has a more significant effect on yields.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronic Components, Electronics & Computers, Semiconductors, X-ray inspections

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System for Configuring Modular Telemetry Transponders

Possible applications include weather monitoring and forecasting, Earth observation, and ionospheric studies. Figure 1. The individual slices, or decks, that comprise the PULSAR telemetry unit. The modular design enables inclusion of multiple-band frequency transmitters and receivers. Researchers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center have developed software-defined radio (SDR) telemetry transceiver technology to collect and transmit data to and from small satellites and microsatellites. The SDR concept uses a minimal number of traditional analog radio-frequency components to convert RF signals to a digital format. Digital signal processing replaces bulky radio-frequency components, and enables reduced cost as well as size, weight, and power requirements (SWaP). The NASA technology enables software and firmware updates that increase the lifespan and efficacy of satellites, supporting a wide variety of changing radio protocols as they are developed. A modular design enables inclusion of multiple band frequency transmitters and receivers (S-band, X-band, Ka-band, etc.). The NASA SDR can find use in satellite applications in which cost savings, upgradability, and reliability are essential. A first-generation SDR has been flight tested on NASA’s FASTSAT mission.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronic Components, Electronics & Computers, Computer software and hardware, Satellite communications, Satellites

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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, Energy

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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, Communication protocols, Electric cables, Sensors and actuators, Vehicle networking

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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, Electronics & Computers

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