Physical Sciences

Laser Metrology for an Optical-Path- Length Modulator

Sensitivity is of the order of picometers. Laser gauges have been developed to satisfy requirements specific to monitoring the amplitude of the motion of an optical path- length modulator that is part of an astronomical interferometer. The modulator includes a corner-cube retroreflector driven by an electromagnetic actuator. During operation of the astronomical interferometer, the electromagnet is excited to produce linear reciprocating motion of the corner-cube retroreflector at an amplitude of 2 to 4 mm at a frequency of 250, 750, or 1,250 Hz. Attached to the corner- cube retroreflector is a small pick-off mirror. To suppress vibrations, a counterweight having a mass equal to that of the corner-cube retroreflector and pick-off mirror is mounted on another electromagnetic actuator that is excited in opposite phase.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs, TSP

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PCM Passive Cooling System Containing Active Subsystems

A PCM would absorb intense heat bursts and would be regenerated between them. A multistage system has been proposed for cooling a circulating fluid that is subject to intermittent intense heating. The system would be both flexible and redundant in that it could operate in a basic passive mode, either sequentially or simultaneously with operation of a first, active cooling subsystem, and either sequentially or simultaneously with a second cooling subsystem that could be active, passive, or a combination of both. This flexibility and redundancy, in combination with the passive nature of at least one of the modes of operation, would make the system more reliable, relative to a conventional cooling system.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs

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Automated Electrostatics Environmental Chamber

Atmospheric temperature and pressure can be varied between the extremes of Mars and Earth. The Mars Electrostatics Chamber (MEC) is an environmental chamber designed primarily to create atmospheric conditions like those at the surface of Mars to support experiments on electrostatic effects in the Martian environment. The chamber is equipped with a vacuum system, a cryogenic cooling system, an atmospheric-gas replenishing and analysis system, and a computerized control system that can be programmed by the user and that provides both automation and options for manual control. The control system can be set to maintain steady Mars-like conditions or to impose temperature and pressure variations of a Mars diurnal cycle at any given season and latitude. In addition, the MEC can be used in other areas of research because it can create steady or varying atmospheric conditions anywhere within the wide temperature, pressure, and composition ranges between the extremes of Mars-like and Earth-like conditions.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs

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One-Dimensional Photonic Crystal Superprisms

In comparison with three-dimensional superprisms, these could be fabricated more easily.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Photonics, Briefs

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Solid-Phase Extraction of Polar Compounds From Water

A solid-phase extraction (SPE) process has been developed for removing alcohols, carboxylic acids, aldehydes, ketones, amines, and other polar organic compounds from water. This process can be either a subprocess of a water-reclamation process or a means of extracting organic compounds from water samples for gas-chromatographic analysis.

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Efficient Computational Model of Hysteresis

A useful approximate model applies to quasistatic displacements. A recently developed mathematical model of the output (displacement) versus the input (applied voltage) of a piezoelectric transducer accounts for hysteresis. For the sake of computational speed, the model is kept simple by neglecting the dynamic behavior of the transducer. Hence, the model applies to static and quasistatic displacements only. A piezoelectric transducer of the type to which the model applies is used as an actuator in a computer-based control sys- tem to effect fine position adjustments. Because the response time of the rest of such a system is usually much greater than that of a piezoelectric transducer, the model remains an acceptably close approximation for the purpose of control computations, even though the dynamics are neglected.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs, TSP

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Verifying the Safety of a Radioactive Waste Container With Simulation Software

Simulating drop tests helped ensure structural integrity of a contaminated glovebox. As part of decommissioning the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Hanford Site — an inactive nuclear facility in southeastern Washington — a contaminated apparatus called a glovebox (a steel isolation chamber with built-in gloves that allow personnel to remotely manipulate radioactive materials) needed to be removed and transported to the on-site Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility (ERDF) landfill, and then buried safely without exposing people or the environment to harmful radiation.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs

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