Physical Sciences

Surface Acoustic Wave Sensor for Viscosity Measurement

Acoustic wave solid-state viscometers can be integrated into in-line, real-time monitoring and process control systems. Viscosity is a measure of the resistance of a liquid to flow, and is an important measurement requirement in industrial process control and OEM applications. Viscosity describes the retarding force that is proportional to the rate of deformation. This so-called shear rate has units of s-1 and describes the crossstream gradient of the flow speed.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs

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Forecasting of Storm-Surge Floods Using ADCIRC and Optimized DEMs

Maximum water levels are mapped for Hurricanes Camille and Katrina. Increasing the accuracy of storm-surge flood forecasts is essential for improving preparedness for hurricanes and other severe storms and, in particular, for optimizing evacuation scenarios. An interactive database, developed by WorldWinds, Inc., contains atlases of storm-surge flood levels for the Louisiana/Mississippi gulf coast region. These atlases were developed to improve forecasting of flooding along the coastline and estuaries and in adjacent inland areas. Storm-surge heights depend on a complex interaction of several factors, including: storm size, central minimum pressure, forward speed of motion, bottom topography near the point of landfall, astronomical tides, and, most importantly, maximum wind speed.

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Arrays of Bundles of Carbon Nanotubes as Field Emitters

Area-averaged current densities exceed those of arrays of single nanotubes. Experiments have shown that with suitable choices of critical dimensions, planar arrays of bundles of carbon nanotubes (see figure) can serve as high-current-density field emitter (cold-cathode) electron sources. Whereas some hot-cathode electron sources must be operated at supply potentials of thousands of volts, these cold-cathode sources generate comparable current densities when operated at tens of volts. Consequently, arrays of bundles of carbon nanotubes might prove useful as cold-cathode sources in miniature, lightweight electron-beam devices (e.g., nanoklystrons) soon to be developed.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs, TSP

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Delta-Doped CCDs as Detector Arrays in Mass Spectrometers

Improved performance is obtained with reduced size, mass, and power. Delta-doped, back-illuminated charge-coupled devices (CCDs) are used as detector arrays in high-performance double- focusing miniature mass spectrometers of Mattauch-Herzog design (described below). The uses of delta-doped CCD detector arrays eliminates the need for microchannel plates (MCPs) and the high-voltage power supplies, that, heretofore, have been used in detection schemes in mass spectrometers; this makes it possible to reduce the sizes, masses, and power demands of mass spectrometers. The use of delta-doped CCDs enables the direct and simultaneous measurement of ions with different masses separated along the focal plane.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs, TSP

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Array of Bolometers for Submillimeter-Wavelength Operation

This is a prototype of arrays for astrophysical imaging and photometry. A feed-horn-coupled monolithic array of micromesh bolometers is undergoing development for use in a photometric camera. The array is designed for conducting astrophysical observations in a wavelength band centered at 350 μm. The bolometers are improved versions of previously developed bolometers comprising metalized Si3N4 micromesh radiation absorbers coupled with neutron-transmutation-doped Ge thermistors. Incident radiation heats the absorbers above a base temperature, changing the electrical resistance of each thermistor. In the present array of improved bolometers (see figure), the thermistors are attached to the micromesh absorbers by indium bump bonds and are addressed by use of lithographed, vapor-deposited electrical leads. This architecture reduces the heat capacity and minimizes the thermal conductivity to 1/20 and 1/300, respectively, of earlier versions of these detectors, with consequent improvement in sensitivity and speed of response.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs, TSP

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Optimal Calibration of the Spitzer Space Telescope

A document discusses the focal-plane calibration of the Spitzer Space Telescope by use of the instrument pointing frame (IPF) Kalman filter, which was described in “Kalman Filter for Calibrating a Telescope Focal Plane” (NPO-40798), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 30, No. 9 (September 2006), page 62. To recapitulate: In the IPF Kalman filter, optimal estimates of both engineering and scientific focal-plane parameters are obtained simultaneously, using data taken in each focal-plane survey activity. The IPF Kalman filter offers greater efficiency and economy, relative to prior calibration practice in which scientific and engineering parameters were estimated by separate teams of scientists and engineers and iterated upon each other. In the Spitzer Space Telescope application, the IPF Kalman filter was used to calibrate 56 frames for precise telescope pointing, estimate >1,500 parameters associated with focal-plane mapping, and process calibration runs involving as many as 1,338 scientific image centroids. The final typical survey calibration accuracy was found to be 0.09 arc second. The use of the IPF Kalman filter enabled a team of only four analysts to complete the calibration processing in three months. An unanticipated benefit afforded by the IPF Kalman filter was the ability to monitor health and diagnose performance of the entire end-to-end telescope- pointing system.

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Integral Radiator and Storage Tank

Weight and volume are reduced. A simplified, lightweight system for dissipating heat of a regenerative fuel- cell system would include a heat pipe with its evaporator end placed at the heat source and its condenser end integrated into the wall of the regenerative fuel cell system gas-storage tanks. The tank walls act as heat-radiating surfaces for cooling the regenerative fuel cell system. The system was conceived for use in outer space, where radiation is the only physical mechanism available for transferring heat to the environment. The system could also be adapted for use on propellant tanks or other large-surface-area structures to convert them to space heat-radiating structures.

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