Manufacturing & Prototyping

Dual-Polarized W-Band Metal Patch Antenna Element for Phased Array Applications

Interlaced transmit/receive all-metal patch elements eliminate the need for discrete isolators and increase efficiency. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California W-band active phased array antennas have a very small inter-element pitch (≈2 mm). In this innovation, instead of trying to integrate isolators into the unit cell to separate transmit and receive signals, an interlaced triangular grid of metal patch elements has been developed. The isolation between transmit elements and receive elements has been demonstrated to be on the order of 25 dB or more, precluding the need for discrete isolator circuits. Using metal patch technology, the element and associated interconnect loss has been demonstrated to be 0.5 dB at 94 GHz, which represents an efficiency of 89%.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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High-Temperature Superconducting Bolometric Devices on Amorphous Silicon Nitride Membranes

Applications include defense-related infrared launch detection and night vision. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California There has been a great deal of interest in building bolometers from hightemperature superconductors due to their high transition temperatures and the associated ease of cooling. High-temperature superconducting (high Tc) bolometers are difficult to fabricate because the standard method of thermal isolation is not compatible with these materials. A method is described that allows a standard thermal isolation technique (using amorphous silicon nitride membranes) to be used with high-temperature superconductors.

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Uniformly Etched Lateral Gratings Applied to Pre-existing Ridge Waveguides

New technology is 100 times smaller and has fewer components with possibly the same performance. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California There is great difficulty in implementing lateral gratings in GaSb-based lasers. Commercially, single-frequency GaSb lasers have been fabricated using metal gratings deposited laterally to the ridge-waveguide (RWG) stripe. The disadvantage of this is that the laser performance is compromised by additional optical loss due to radiation absorption by the metal. Fabricating lasers in this way limits the potential for high-power performance. A better method is to etch gratings into the semiconductor, but generally, patterning these grating structures is difficult because of nonuniformity of the grating pattern and etching difficulty due to sub-micrometer dimensions.

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High-Precision Thin Film Metal Liftoff Technique

This process can be used by industries that need to fabricate microelectronic devices and superconducting sensors. Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland The objective of this work was to develop a thin film metal liftoff process that would allow one to accurately pattern two-micron-wide (or wider) features. The goal of this innovation was to pattern thin metal films on silicon substrates. The thin metal films can be deposited using physical vapor deposition techniques. The metallic films to be lifted off were deposited via DC magnetron sputtering, in which the mean free path of the metal atoms to be deposited is on the order of one micron. Thus, the deposited metal could conformally coat structures to fill in gaps that were greater than approximately one micron tall.

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Process for 3D Printer Filament Fabrication

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama Conventional filament extrusion processes are unsuitable for recycling materials on the International Space Station due to requirements for continuous monitoring and tuning, as well as poor filament dimensional control. The Positrusion process recycles scrap or waste thermoplastics into filament for 3D fused filament fabrication (FFF) printers.

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Method for Decreasing Additive Manufacturing Build Times Using Arrays of Multiple Deposition Heads

3D printing several parts simultaneously enables increased speed for mass production. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Additive manufacturing (AM, also informally known as 3D printing) is a relatively new process for fabricating net- shaped parts from a computer-generated drawing. The inherent problem with using AM in mass production is the slow build times for each part. Because parts must be built layer by layer, the build time cannot be dramatically increased. The build time is limited by the physical melting and consolidation of plastic or metal, which cannot be dramatically speeded up, and the velocity of the build head, which is limited by the mechanical motion mechanism. One solution to the inherently slow build times is to replicate the building head, while replicating as few of the other machine components as possible. Utilizing this technique, the fabrication time per part can be reduced by the number of simultaneous building heads, which may make the AM process suitable for some mass production.

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Electropolishing in Pneumatics and Hydraulics

This single-process finishing method can be employed for virtually any metal alloy. Able Electropolishing, Chicago, Illinois Manufacturing reliable, high-performing parts and components that have extended lifecycles is crucial for the pneumatics and hydraulics industry. From springs to fittings, the performance of each these manufactured parts and components is essential to the operation of machinery used in a variety of disciplines in the pneumatics and hydraulics industry. When reliability, functionality, performance, and life of metal parts are paramount, electropolishing is a single-process metal finishing method that effectively meets the challenges.

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