Features

Thermal Cameras Reveal Materials’ Secrets

Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory are pioneering the use of infrared cameras to image additive manufacturing processes in hopes of better understanding how processing conditions affect the strength, residual stresses and microstructure of 3D-printed parts.

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Researchers Turn Solar Energy into Electrical Power Using Photo-Bioelectrochemical Cells

A new paradigm for the development of photo-bioelectrochemical cells has been reported by researchers from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in Israel, and the University of Bochum, in Germany. The design of photo-bioelectrochemical cells based on native photosynthetic reaction is attracting substantial recent interest as a means for the conversion of solar light energy into electrical power.  

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NASA Engineers Tapped to Build First Integrated-Photonics Modem

A NASA team has been tapped to build a new type of communications modem that will employ an emerging, potentially revolutionary technology that could transform everything from telecommunications, medical imaging, and advanced manufacturing to national defense. The space agency’s first-ever integrated-photonics modem will be tested aboard the International Space Station beginning in 2020 as part of NASA’s multi-year Laser Communications Relay Demonstration, or LCRD. The cell phone-sized device incorporates optics-based functions, such as lasers, switches, and wires, onto a microchip — much like an integrated circuit found in all electronics hardware. Once aboard the space station, the so-called Integrated LCRD LEO (Low-Earth Orbit) User Modem and Amplifier (ILLUMA) will serve as a low-Earth orbit terminal for NASA’s LCRD, demonstrating yet another capability for high-speed, laser-based communications.

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Product of the Month

MSC Software Corp., Newport Beach, CA, announced the release of Marc 2015 nonlinear and multiphysics simulation software. Enhancements include new material models to simulate complex dynamic behavior of elastomers, permanent deformation of thermoplastics, and anisotropic plastic deformation in metal forming. The software provides a cohesive contact behavior that allows users to apply a finite stiffness in the normal and tangential direction, improving stress results in the contact zones and the overall deformation. A new family of elements has improved bending behavior compared to traditional lower order triangular and tetrahedral elements, and can be used for either compressible or nearly incompressible behavior. Two new global adaptive meshing methods are included, as well as improvements to Mentat, the user interface of Marc.

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MEET NASA'S PLANETARY PROTECTION OFFICER

Dr. Catharine A. Conley, Planetary Protection Officer, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC As NASA plans launches to Mars, Europa, and beyond, the agency's Office of Planetary Protection ensures that the environments are shielded against contamination, especially bacteria and microbes from Earth. Dr. Catherine Conley oversees and audits the planetary protection strategies for NASA's exploration missions.

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Products of Tomorrow: January 2016

The technologies NASA develops don’t just blast off into space. They also improve our lives here on Earth. Life-saving search-and-rescue tools, implantable medical devices, advances in commercial aircraft safety, increased accuracy in weather forecasting, and the miniature cameras in our cellphones are just some of the examples of NASA-developed technology used in products today.

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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.”

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