Manufacturing & Prototyping

Bismuth Passivation Technique for High-Resolution X-Ray Detectors

The Athena-plus team requires X-ray sensors with energy resolution of better than one part in 3,000 at 6 keV X-rays. While bismuth is an excellent material for high X-ray stopping power and low heat capacity (for large signal when an X-ray is stopped by the absorber), oxidation of the bismuth surface can lead to electron traps and other effects that degrade the energy resolution. Bismuth oxide reduction and nitride passivation techniques analogous to those used in indium passivation are being applied in a new technique. The technique will enable improved energy resolution and resistance to aging in bismuth- absorber-coupled X-ray sensors.

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Silicon Micromachined Microlens Array for THz Antennas

There is strong demand for a multi-pixel heterodyne detector array for Earth observation, astrophysics, future planetary, and ground applications. A 5×5 silicon microlens array was developed using a silicon micromachining technique for a silicon-based THz antenna array. The feature of the silicon micromachining technique enables one to microfabricate an unlimited number of microlens arrays at one time with good uniformity on a silicon wafer. This technique will resolve one of the key issues in building a THz camera, which is to integrate antennas in a detector array. The conventional ap proach of building single-pixel receivers and stacking them to form a multi-pixel receiver is not suited at THz because a single-pixel receiver already has difficulty fitting into mass, volume, and power budgets, especially in space applications.

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Method for Reduction of Silver Biocide Plating on Metal Surfaces

Silver ions in aqueous solutions (0.05 to 1 ppm) are used for microbial control in water systems. The silver ions remain in solution when stored in plastic containers, but the concentration rapidly decreases to non-biocidal levels when stored in metal containers. The silver deposits onto the surface and is reduced to non-biocidal silver metal when it contacts less noble metal surfaces, including stainless steel, titanium, and nickel-based alloys.

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Micromachined Active Magnetic Regenerator for Low- Temperature Magnetic Coolers

Fabrication improvements are evaluated and introduced. A design of an Active Magnetic Regenerative Refrigeration (AMRR) system has been developed for space applications. It uses an innovative 3He cryogenic circulator to provide continuous remote/distributed cooling at temperatures in the range of 2 K with a heat sink at about 15 K. A critical component technology for this cooling system is a highly efficient active magnetic regenerator, which is a regenerative heat exchanger with its matrix material made of magnetic refrigerant gadolinium gallium garnet (GGG).

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The Thermal Hogan — A Means of Surviving the Lunar Night

A document describes the Thermal Hogan, a new shelter concept that would be used on the Moon to moderate the extreme nighttime temperatures, allowing survival of equipment with minimal heater power. It is lightweight, has few mechanical parts, and would be relatively easy to deploy on the Moon.

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Phase Change Material Thermal Power Generator

An innovative modification has been made to a previously patented design for the Phase Change Material (PCM) Thermal Generator, which works in water where ocean temperature alternatively melts wax in canisters, or allows the wax to re-solidify, causing high-pressure oil to flow through a hydraulic generator, thus creating electricity to charge a battery that powers the vehicle. In this modification, a similar thermal PCM device has been created that is heated and cooled by the air and solar radiation instead of using ocean temperature differences to change the PCM from solid to liquid. This innovation allows the device to use thermal energy to generate electricity on land, instead of just in the ocean.

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Advanced Materials and Fabrication Techniques for the Orion Attitude Control Motor

Rhenium is ideally suited for high-temperature applications. Rhenium, with its high melting temperature, excellent elevated temperature properties, and lack of a ductile-to-brittle transition temperature (DBTT), is ideally suited for the hot gas components of the ACM (Attitude Control Motor), and other hightemperature applications. However, the high cost of rhenium makes fabricating these components using conventional fabrication techniques prohibitive. Therefore, near-net-shape forming techniques were investigated for producing cost-effective rhenium and rhenium alloy components for the ACM and other propulsion applications.

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