Physical Sciences

Integrity Sensing With Smart Polymers and Rubber Components on Vehicles

This technology has the potential to improve the quality and provide stability monitoring of materials and connections within seals, tires, and hoses. This research provides a capacitance-based method for monitoring the integrity of tires and other polymeric products during manufacturing and throughout the useful product life. Tires are complex composite structures composed of layers of formulated cross-linked rubber, textiles, and steel reinforcement layers. Tire production requires precise manufacturing through chemical and mechanical methods to achieve secure attachment of all layers. Tires are subjected to a variety of harsh environments, experience heavy loads, intense wear, heat, and in many cases, lack of maintenance. These conditions make tires extremely susceptible to damage.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Sensors, Tires and traction, Elastomers, Polymers, Smart materials, Wear, Test procedures


Blade Tip Clearance Sensors for Engine Health Monitoring

These sensors are rugged enough to monitor gas turbine engine blades throughout the life of the engine. Blade health monitoring continues to gain interest as a means of assessing the health of turbine airfoils in aerospace and ground-based gas turbine engines in fleet operation. Many types of blade sensors are used throughout the design validation process of new engines that would theoretically provide information for blade health monitoring. However, most of these sensors are either too difficult to use or do not have sufficient survivability to monitor blades throughout the operational life of the engine.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Sensors, Sensors and actuators, Diagnostics, Gas turbines


Multi-Source Autonomous Response for Targeting and Monitoring of Volcanic Activity

This concept has great relevance to Earth science and future planetary exploration. The study of volcanoes is important for both purely scientific and human survival reasons. From a scientific standpoint, volcanic gas and ash emissions contribute significantly to the terrestrial atmosphere. Ash depositions and lava flows can also greatly affect local environments. From a human survival standpoint, many people live within the reach of active volcanoes, and therefore can be endangered by both atmospheric (ash, debris) toxicity and lava flow.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Sensors, Sensors and actuators, Environmental testing, Particulate matter (PM), Satellites, Unmanned aerial vehicles


Deployable Fresnel Rings

This antenna technology can be used by first-responders and soldiers requiring cellular range extension or satellite links to handheld devices. Deployable Fresnel rings (DFRs) significantly enhance the realizable gain of an antenna. This innovation is intended to be used in combination with another antenna element, as the DFR itself acts as a focusing or microwave lens element for a primary antenna. This method is completely passive, and is also completely wireless in that it requires neither a cable, nor a connector from the antenna port of the primary antenna to the DFR.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Antennas


Array Design Considerations for the Solar Probe Plus

Power supplied via solar array wings will result in lower thermal resistance and lower operating temperatures for the spacecraft. The NASA Solar Probe Plus (SPP) mission will fly into the Sun’s corona, reaching as close as 9.86 solar radii from the center of the Sun. Power generation for the spacecraft will be provided by two solar array wings, which are being designed and built by JHU-APL and Emcore. SPP will get closer to the Sun than any previous mission, meaning that the solar arrays will need to operate reliably under unusually high irradiances and temperatures, a situation that introduces interesting challenges for the array design.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Design processes, Solar energy, Spacecraft


Transition-Edge Hot-Electron Microbolometers for Millimeter and Submillimeter Astrophysics

New instruments promise to expand the investigation of cosmic microwave background radiation and its polarization to get better insight into the evolution of the universe. The millimeter and the submillimeter wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum hold a wealth of information about the evolution of the universe. In particular, cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation and its polarization carry the oldest information in the universe, and provide the best test of the inflationary paradigm available to astronomy today. Detecting gravity waves through their imprint on the CMB polarization would have extraordinary repercussions for cosmology and physics.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Antennas, Sensors and actuators, Semiconductors


V-Assembly Dual-Head Efficiency Resonator (VADER) Laser Transmitter

The combined features form a unit with new performance levels. A complete demonstration breadboard unit for advanced development as a high-TRL (technology readiness level) system has been constructed and characterized. Infusion of several new component technologies, such as ceramic:YAG material and high-power laser diode arrays (LDAs), combined with a proprietary minimal part count architecture, has resulted in dramatic performance gains. The proprietary dual-head configuration employs a pair of side-pumped laser slabs, optically in series in the cavity, but at opposing polarization orientations. This promises tremendous power range scalability, simplified and symmetrical thermal lens control, unprecedented stored energy extraction efficiency, and inherent diffraction limited TEM00 beam quality.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Tech Briefs, Photonics, Physical Sciences, Architecture, Telecommunications


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