Physical Sciences

Multimode-Guided-Wave Ultrasonic Scanning of Materials

Two documents discuss a method of characterizing advanced composite materials by use of multimode-guided ultrasonic waves. The method at an earlier stage of development was described in “High-Performance Scanning Acousto-Ultrasonic System” (), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 30, No. 3 (March 2006), page 62. To recapitulate: A transmitting transducer excites modulated (e.g., pulsed) ultrasonic waves at one location on a surface of a plate specimen. The waves interact with microstructure and flaws as they propagate through the specimen to a receiving transducer at a different location. The received signal is analyzed to determine the total (multimode) ultrasonic response of the specimen and utilize this response to evaluate microstructure and flaws. The analysis is performed by software that extracts parameters of signals in the time and frequency domains. Scanning is effected by using computer controlled motorized translation stages to position the transducers at specified pairs of locations and repeating the measurement, data-acquisition, and data-analysis processes at the successive locations. The instant documents reiterate the prior description and summarize capabilities of the hardware and software of the method at the present state of development. One document presents results of a scan of a specimen containing a delamination.

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Satellite Multiangle Spectropolarimetric Imaging of Aerosols

One instrument would implement a synergistic combination of multispectral, multiangle, and polarimetric techniques. A proposed remote-sensing instrument, to be carried aboard a spacecraft in orbit around the Earth, would gather data on the spatial distribution and radiative characteristics of tropospheric aerosols. These data are needed for better understanding of the natural and anthropogenic origins of aerosols, and of the effects of aerosols on climate and atmospheric chemistry.

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Measuring Attitude of a Large, Flexible, Orbiting Structure

A document summarizes a proposed metrology subsystem for precisely measuring the attitude of a large and flexible structure in space.

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Interferometric System for Measuring Thickness of Sea Ice

Frequency- and spatial-domain VHF radar interferometry are used. The cryospheric advanced sensor (CAS) is a developmental airborne (and, potentially, spaceborne) radar based instrumentation system for measuring and mapping the thickness of sea ice. A planned future version of the system would also provide data on the thickness of snow covering sea ice. Frequent measurements of the thickness of polar ocean sea ice and its snow cover on a synoptic scale are critical to understanding global climate change and ocean circulation.

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Magnetic Field Solvers

The Magnetic Field Solver computer program calculates the magnetic field generated by a group of collinear, cylindrical axisymmetric electromagnet coils. Given the current flowing in, and the number of turns, axial position, and axial and radial dimensions of each coil, the program calculates matrix coefficients for a finite-difference system of equations that approximates a two-dimensional partial differential equation for the magnetic potential contributed by the coil. The program iteratively solves these finite-difference equations by use of the modified incomplete Cholesky preconditioned-conjugate-gradient method. The total magnetic potential as a function of axial (z) and radial (r) position is then calculated as a sum of the magnetic potentials of the individual coils, using a high-accuracy interpolation scheme. Then the r and z components of the magnetic field as functions of r and z are calculated from the total magnetic potential by use of a high-accuracy finite-difference scheme. Notably, for the finite-difference calculations, the program generates nonuniform two-dimensional computational meshes from nonuniform one-dimensional meshes. Each mesh is generated in such a way as to minimize the numerical error for a benchmark one-dimensional magnetostatic problem.

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Fiber-Optic Gratings for Lidar Measurements of Water Vapor

These are highly selective, lightweight, tunable optical filters. Narrow-band filters in the form of phase-shifted Fabry-Perot Bragg gratings incorporated into optical fibers are being developed for differential-absorption lidar (DIAL) instruments used to measure concentrations of atmospheric water vapor. The basic idea is to measure the relative amounts of pulsed laser light scattered from the atmosphere at two nearly equal wavelengths, one of which coincides with an absorption spectral peak of water molecules and the other corresponding to no water vapor absorption. As part of the DIAL measurement process, the scattered light is made to pass through a filter on the way to a photodetector. Omitting other details of DIAL for the sake of brevity, what is required of the filter is to provide a stop band that

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Anion-IntercalatingCathodes for High-Energy-Density Cells

A report discusses physicochemical issues affecting a fluoride-intercalating cathode that operates in conjunction with a lithium ion-intercalating anode in a rechargeable electrochemical cell described in a cited prior report. The instant report also discusses corresponding innovations made in solvent and electrolyte compositions since the prior report. The advantages of this cell, relative to other lithium-ion-based cells, are said to be greater potential (5 V vs. 4 V), and greater theoretical cathode specific capacity (0.9 to 2.2 A-h/g vs. about 0.18A-h/g). The discussion addresses a need for the solvent to be unreactive toward the lithium anode and to resist anodicoxidation at potentials greater than about 4.5 V vs. lithium; the pertinent innovation is the selection of propylene carbonate (PC) as a solvent having significantly more stability, relative to other solvents that have been tried. The discussion also addresses the need for an electrolyte additive, denoted an anion receptor, to complex the fluoride ion; the pertinent innovation is the selection of tris(hexafluoroisopropyl) borate as a superior alternative to the prior anion receptor, which was tris(pentafluorophenyl) borate.

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