Physical Sciences

New Class of Flow Batteries for Terrestrial and Aerospace Energy Storage Applications

Applications include energy storage in conjunction with renewable energy generation technologies such as solar, wind power, and automotive. Future sustainable energy generation technologies such as photovoltaic and wind farms require advanced energy storage systems on a massive scale to make the alternate (green) energy options practical. The daunting requirements of such large-scale energy systems — such as long operating and cycle life, safety, and low cost — are not adequately met by state-of-the-art energy storage technologies such as vanadium flow cells, lead-acid, and zinc-bromine batteries. Much attention is being paid to redox batteries — specifically to the vanadium redox battery (VRB) — due to their simplicity, low cost, and good life characteristics compared to other related battery technologies.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs

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ESD Test Apparatus for Soldering Irons

Prior lengthy testing now takes less than a minute. ESDA (Electrostatic Discharge Association) ESD STM 13.1-2000 requires frequent testing of the voltage leakage from the tip of a soldering iron and the resistance from the tip of the soldering iron to the common point ground. Without this test apparatus, the process is time-consuming and requires several wires, alligator clips, or test probes, as well as additional equipment. Soldering iron tips must be tested for electrostatic discharge risks frequently, and this typically takes a lot of time in setup and testing. This device enables the operator to execute the full test in one minute or less.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Test & Measurement, Briefs

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Pneumatic Proboscis Heat-Flow Probe

Applications include measuring heat flow in areas on Earth where optimal thermal isolation of heaters/ temperature sensors is of paramount importance. Heat flow is a fundamental property of a planet, and provides significant constraints on the abundance of radiogenic isotopes, the thermal evolution and differentiation history, and the mechanical properties of the lithosphere. Heat-flow measurements are also essential in achieving at least four of the goals set out by the National Research Council for future lunar exploration. The heat-flow probe therefore directly addresses the goal of the Lunar Geophysical Network, which is to understand the interior structure and composition of the Moon.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Test & Measurement, Briefs

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FPGA-Based X-Ray Detection and Measurement for an X-Ray Polarimeter

This technology enables detection and measurement of x-rays in an x-ray polarimeter using a field-programmable gate array (FPGA). The technology was developed for the Gravitational and Extreme Magnetism Small Explorer (GEMS) mission. It performs precision energy and timing measurements, as well as rejection of non-x-ray events. It enables the GEMS polarimeter to detect precisely when an event has taken place so that additional measurements can be made. The technology also enables this function to be performed in an FPGA using limited resources so that mass and power can be minimized while reliability for a space application is maximized and precise real-time operation is achieved.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Test & Measurement, Briefs

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Method to Measure Total Noise Temperature of a Wireless Receiver During Operation

A method has been developed to measure the total effective noise power in a GPS receiver, including contributions from the system temperature, the antenna temperature, interference, lossy components, etc. A known level of noise is periodically injected before the preamplifier during normal tracking, with a switch set to a very low duty cycle, so that there is insignificant signal loss for the GPS signals being tracked. Alternately, a signal of known power may be injected.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Test & Measurement, Briefs

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Fully Integrated, Miniature, High-Frequency Flow Probe Utilizing MEMS Leadless SOI Technology

The probe could be used for inlet flows, turbomachinery flows, and a variety of studies on fundamental fluid physics. This work focused on developing, fabricating, and fully calibrating a flow-angle probe for aeronautics research by utilizing the latest microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), leadless silicon on insulator (SOI) sensor technology. While the concept of angle probes is not new, traditional devices had been relatively large due to fabrication constraints; often too large to resolve flow structures necessary for modern aeropropulsion measurements such as inlet flow distortions and vortices, secondary flows, etc. Measurements of this kind demanded a new approach to probe design to achieve sizes on the order of 0.1 in. (≈3 mm) diameter or smaller, and capable of meeting demanding requirements for accuracy and ruggedness.

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Advanced Dispersed Fringe Sensing Algorithm for Coarse Phasing Segmented Mirror Telescopes

The algorithm reduces sensitivity to calibration errors. Segment mirror phasing, a critical step of segment mirror alignment, requires the ability to sense and correct the relative pistons between segments from up to a few hundred microns to a fraction of wavelength in order to bring the mirror system to its full diffraction capability. When sampling the aperture of a telescope, using auto-collimating flats (ACFs) is more economical. The performance of a telescope with a segmented primary mirror strongly depends on how well those primary mirror segments can be phased. One such process to phase primary mirror segments in the axial piston direction is dispersed fringe sensing (DFS). DFS technology can be used to co-phase the ACFs. DFS is essentially a signal fitting and processing operation. It is an elegant method of coarse phasing segmented mirrors. DFS performance accuracy is dependent upon careful calibration of the system as well as other factors such as internal optical alignment, system wavefront errors, and detector quality. Novel improvements to the algorithm have led to substantial enhancements in DFS performance.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Information Sciences, Briefs

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