Features

Using Source Measure Units to Characterize High-Power Semiconductors (Part 1)

The proliferation of electronic control and electronic power conversion into a variety of industries (e.g., energy generation, industrial motor drives and control, transportation, and IT) has made efficient power semiconductor device design and test more critical than ever. To demonstrate technology improvements, new device capabilities must be compared with those of existing devices. The use of semiconductor materials other than silicon demands the use of new processes. To be sustainable, these new processes must be tuned to deliver consistent results and high production yield. As new device designs are developed, reliability measurements must be performed on many devices over long periods. Therefore, test engineers must identify test equipment that is not only accurate, but scalable and cost-effective.

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Water Treatment Technologies Inspire Healthy Beverages

Purification techniques for astronaut drinking water find use in probiotic drinks. At NASA’s Johnson Space Center in the mid-1990s, Mike Johnson assisted the scientists who were developing technology to convert urine into drinking water. The research conducted by the Advanced Water Recovery Systems Development team has proven vital to space exploration. Thanks in part to their work, astronauts in low Earth orbit make the most of their resources, and those who will take part in future missions — like a trip to an asteroid or Mars — can count on having drinkable water for the journey.

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Network Interface Links Sensor-Web Instruments

NASA Airborne Science operates a fleet of aircraft in conjunction with orbiting satellites for Earth observations. In 2004, NASA started planning missions to employ constellations of instruments flying on those platforms that would mutually interact and communicate as a network with stations on the ground. These sensor webs would simultaneously collect data from multiple perspectives to better describe hurricanes, polar ice conditions, and other geophysical dynamics. Data from various spectra and locations could be correlated in real time to form detailed composites of events in progress.

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Sensor-Web Experiments Advance Earth Science

NASA funds more atmospheric research by far than any other government agency or private concern internationally. More than 100 different instruments have been developed and flown in support of NASA airborne science missions during more than three decades of investigation, most of which were designed, built, and are maintained by various NASA field centers, by universities, or by other government agencies such as NOAA.

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Using Vacuum Technology to Cool CCDs

Imagine a CCD camera operating on a long exposure and seeing only 1 electron per pixel every 16 minutes. That equates to dark current of less than 0.000001 electrons/pixel/sec. Imagine the same camera delivering less than 1.75 electrons readout noise with minimal hot spots and blemishes while delivering a peak QE of 77%. To hit these specs it would need to be cooled significantly.

Posted in: Features, Photonics, Articles

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Spacesuit Materials Add Comfort to Undergarments

Phase change materials for spacesuits are being used in “cool” underwear. More than two decades ago, NASA started looking for a new way to keep astronauts comfortable in their space gloves. During a spacewalk, temperatures can range between 250 °F and -250 °F. One of the technologies NASA looked at to help maintain a “just right” temperature was phase change materials (PCMs). At a designated high temperature, PCMs absorb and hold heat to produce a cooling effect. At a designated low temperature, PCMs release their stored heat to produce a warming effect in an area.

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NASA Announces 2012 Inventions of the Year

NASA’s Inventions of the Year competition consists of two awards: the NASA Commercial Invention of the Year and the NASA Government Invention of the Year. Each NASA field center submits nominations for the awards, which are evaluated by NASA’s Inventions and Contributions Board. Here are the 2012 winners.

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