Manufacturing & Prototyping

Making Complex Electrically Conductive Patterns on Cloth

Circuit patterns are implemented in tightly woven cloth instead of stitched conductive thread. A method for automated fabrication of flexible, electrically conductive patterns on cloth substrates has been demonstrated. Products developed using this method, or related prior methods, are instances of a technology known as “e-textiles,” in which electrically conductive patterns are formed in, and on, textiles. For many applications, including high-speed digital circuits, antennas, and radio frequency (RF) circuits, an e-textile method should be capable of providing high surface conductivity, tight tolerances for control of characteristic impedances, and geometrically complex conductive patterns. Unlike prior methods, the present method satisfies all three of these criteria. Typical patterns can include such circuit structures as RF transmission lines, antennas, filters, and other conductive patterns equivalent to those of conventional printed circuits.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Fabricating Nanodots Using Lift-Off of a Nanopore Template

Applications include nano-scale electronic and magnetic devices. A process for fabricating a planar array of dots having characteristic dimensions of the order of several nanometers to several hundred nanometers involves the formation and use of a thin alumina nanopore template on a semiconductor substrate. The dot material is deposited in the nanopores, then the template is lifted off the substrate after the dots have been formed. This process is expected to be a basis for development of other, similar nanofabrication processes for relatively inexpensive mass production of nanometer- scale optical, optoelectronic, electronic, and magnetic devices.

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Micromachined Slits for Imaging Spectrometers

Slits can now be made about 100× the precision previously attainable. Slits for imaging spectrometers can now be fabricated to a precision much greater than previously attainable. What makes this possible is a micromachining process that involves the use of microlithographic techniques. This micromachining process supplants a prior machine-shop process.

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Fabricating High-Resolution X-Ray Collimators

A process and method for fabricating multi-grid, high-resolution rotating modulation collimators for arcsecond and sub-arcsecond x-ray and gamma-ray imaging involves photochemical machining and precision stack lamination. The special fixturing and etching techniques that have been developed are used for the fabrication of multiple high-resolution grids on a single array substrate.

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Embossed Teflon AF Laminate Membrane Microfluidic Diaphragm Valves

A new fabrication strategy for valve manifolds uses flexible, durable materials. A microfluidic system has been designed to survive spaceflight and to function autonomously on the Martian surface. It manipulates microscopic quantities of liquid water and performs chemical analyses on these samples to assay for the presence of molecules associated with past or present living processes. This technology lies at the core of the Urey Instrument, which is scheduled for inclusion on the Pasteur Payload of the ESA ExoMars rover mission in 2013.

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Direct Metal Laser-Sintering of Titanium

DMLS titanium parts can be used in aerospace and medical applications. During the first decade of direct metal laser-sintering (DMLS), the metals employed were generally ones developed specifically for DMLS, rather than those used in traditional metalforming methods. But in recent years, the range of available powder metals and the production quality of DMLS parts have advanced considerably, driving new interest in rapid manufacturing.

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Fabrication of Gate-Electrode Integrated Carbon-Nanotube Bundle Field Emitters

Emission tips and a gate electrode are integrated into a monolithic device. Figure 1. A Gate Electrode Overhangs a recess containing an array of bundles of carbon nanotubes (see part a). In part (b) are scanning electron micrograph (SEM) images of fabricated field-emitter devices.A continuing effort to develop carbon- nanotube-based field emitters (cold cathodes) as high-current-density electron sources has yielded an optimized device design and a fabrication scheme to implement the design. One major element of the device design is to use a planar array of bundles of carbon nanotubes as the field-emission tips and to optimize the critical dimensions of the array (principally, heights of bundles and distances between them) to obtain high area-averaged current density and high reliability over a long operational lifetime — a concept that was discussed in more detail in “Arrays of Bundles of Carbon Nanotubes as Field Emitters” (NPO-40817), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 31, No. 2 (February 2007), page 58. Another major element of the design is to configure the gate electrodes (anodes used to extract, accelerate, and/or focus electrons) as a ring that overhangs a recess wherein the bundles of nanotubes are located [see Figure 1(a)], such that by virtue of the proximity between the ring and the bundles, a relatively low applied potential suffices to generate the large electric field needed for emission of electrons.

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