Physical Sciences

Miniaturized Schottky Diode Sensors for Hydrogen and Hydrocarbon Detection at High Temperatures

The sensors have application in fuel leak detection, environmental monitoring, fire detection, security monitoring, and engine emission monitoring. John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio A miniaturized Schottky diode hydrogen and hydrocarbon sensor with the structure of catalytic metal-metal oxide-silicon carbide (SiC) has been developed. The major innovation of this work is the use of the metal oxide, palladium oxide (PdOx), as a barrier layer between the catalytic metal and the SiC in the gas-sensing structure. A major advantage of adding a PdOx barrier layer between the gate metal and the SiC is to prevent and alleviate chemical reactions between the gate metal and the SiC. Without the PdOx barrier layer, the gate metal and the substrate can easily form metal silicides at high temperature, leading to diode structure disruption. The metal oxide barrier layer can be incorporated into a gas-sensing structure by standard deposition techniques in a controlled manner. This oxide naturally forms with Pd in Pd-based gas sensor systems and can disrupt the gas sensor structure when formed in situ in an uncontrolled manner. However, purposely including this oxide in the Schottky barrier structure produces a stable barrier layer that enables a stable and sensitive gas sensor structure.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors

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Analog Ceramic Isolated Voltage Sensor

John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio Galvanic isolated monitoring of voltages for launch vehicle, missiles, and space-deployed systems can be very challenging. Radiation exposure makes use of optics-based sensors difficult, as they can latch-up and become corrupted by the radiation environment; such devices can moreover be thermally challenged. Magnetic transformer-based methods of isolated voltage measurement require shielding to prevent stray magnetic interference from degrading or corrupting the readings; moreover, magnetic-based solutions are unable to measure voltages down to DC levels.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Sensors

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Flexible and Erectable Magnetic Field Response Sensors

Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia The means to make a flexible and/or erectable magnetic field response sensor, a geometrically fixed capacitor mounting frame, a wireless dipstick, and an elastically flexible capacitor support have been developed. Either the capacitor mounting frame or the flexible, erectable magnetic field response sensor can be developed to take measurements in hazardous conditions, or in containers with environmentally harmful contents, such as a gasoline storage tank.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Sensors

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Miniature Amperometric Solid Electrolyte Carbon Dioxide Sensor with Low Detection Limit

This sensor is applicable to fire detection, personal health monitoring, and environmental monitoring. John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio A miniaturized amperometric electro-chemical (solid electrolyte) carbon dioxide (CO2) sensor using a novel and robust sensor design has been developed and demonstrated. Semiconductor microfabrication techniques were used in the sensor fabrication, and the sensor is fabricated for robust operation in a range of environments. The sensing area is 1.0 × 1.1 mm. The sensor is operated by applying voltage across the electrodes and measuring the resultant current flow at temperatures from 450 to 600 °C. Linear responses were achieved to the CO2 concentrations from 1% to 4%, and to the natural logrithmic concentrations of the CO2 from 0.02% to 1%. This CO2 sensor has the advantage of being simple to batch-fabricate, small in size, low in power consumption, easy to use, and fast with response time.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors

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Improved Light Injection and Detection Methods for fNIRS Headgear for Use in Avionics and Astronautics

The benefits of the innovation allow the technique to move out of the controlled laboratory and into clinical and operational environments. John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio Measuring hemoglobin concentration changes in the brain with functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) is a promising technique for monitoring cognitive state to optimize human performance during both aviation and space operations. The detection and prevention of performance decrement is also relevant to safety-critical operational tasks such as monitoring for air traffic control, performing surgery, and driving. Advances in optical instrumentation for fNIRS have been conceptualized and integrated into several new headgear prototypes designed for use by operators in the real world.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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A High-Cross-Polarization-Isolation, Multi-Frequency Antenna for Cloud and Precipitation Research

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland The Global Precipitation Mission (GPM) has an immediate need for a matched-beam Ku-band/Ka-band antenna system that can be used as a component of a ground validation radar. Retrieval techniques based on both polarization and differential absorption at the two wavelengths can be used to provide additional insight into precipitation type and particle size distribution over a 10- to 40-km spatial domain. These measurements can then be compared with long range radar, such as the WSR-88D, and in situ sensors to provide a comprehensive dataset for evaluating and improving satellite-based precipitation estimates.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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External Magnetic Field Reduction Technique for Advanced Stirling Radioisotope Generator

New generators can be configured for very low magnetic emissions so as not to interfere with sensitive instrumentation. John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio Linear alternators coupled to Stirling power converters are promising candidates for high-efficiency heat-to-electricity power conversion in space. Presently, the external magnetic field emissions of such converters may exceed the allowed emission limits for use with certain sensitive scientific instrumentation. This invention, based on concepts of magnetic moment balancing, can reduce such field emissions sufficiently to enable use of the space power Stirling converters in sensitive instrumentation missions.

Posted in: Briefs

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