Physical Sciences

Atomic Force Microscope Mediated Chromatography

Trace-chemical and microfluidic analyses are taken to higher precision. The atomic force microscope (AFM) is used to inject a sample, provide shear-driven liquid flow over a functionalized substrate, and detect separated components. This is demonstrated using lipophilic dyes and normal phase chromatography. A significant reduction in both size and separation time scales is achieved with a 25- micron-length column scale, and one-second separation times. The approach has general applications to trace chemical and microfluidic analysis.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs

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Dielectrophoresis-Based Particle Sensor Using Nanoelectrode Arrays

An array of nanostructure electrodes can provide a more sensitive reading than conventional microelectrodes. A method has been developed for concentrating, or partly separating, particles of a selected species from a liquid or gas containing these particles, and flowing in a channel. An example of this is to promote an accumulation (and thus concentration) of the selected particle (e.g., biological species such as E. coli, salmonella, anthrax, tobacco mosaic virus or herpes simplex, and non-biological materials such as nano- and microparticles, quantum dots, nanowires, nanotubes, and other inorganic particles) adjacent to the first surface.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs, TSP

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Global Shutter Imaging

Recent improvements in CMOS sensors enable advanced high-speed machine vision. In order to deliver crisp images in high-speed machine vision applications, image sensors require high-speed shuttering ability. The industry has traditionally relied on charge-coupled device (CCD) image sensors using interline transfer architectures to deliver this functionality. However, recent improvements in CMOS sensor design have enabled CMOS technology to achieve the image quality and true global shuttering performance necessary to meet high-speed machine vision demands. And with parallel outputs, windowing, and on-chip integration, well-designed CMOS imagers can offer compelling advantages in speed and system throughput.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs

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Multi-Dimensional Damage Detection for Surfaces and Structures

This system determines the size, depth, and location of damage in a multi-layered system. Current designs for inflatable or semirigidized structures for habitats and space applications use a multiple-layer construction, alternating thin layers with thicker, stronger layers, which produces a layered composite structure that is much better at resisting damage. Even though such composite structures or layered systems are robust, they can still be susceptible to penetration damage.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs

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Autonomous Cryogenic Leak Detector for Improving Launch Site Operations

Virtually all storage tanks of hydrogen and other flammable gases could use this sensor technology. NASA, military, and commercial satellite users need launch services that are highly reliable, less complex, easier to test, and cost effective. This project has developed a tapered optical fiber sensor for detecting hydrogen. The invention involves incorporating chemical indicators on the tapered end of an optical fiber using organically modified silicate nanomaterials.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs, TSP

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Submillimeter Planetary Atmospheric Chemistry Exploration Sounder

A report describes the Submillimeter Planetary Atmospheric Chemistry Exploration Sounder (SPACES), a highsensitivity laboratory breadboard for a spectrometer targeted at orbital planetary atmospheric analysis. The frequency range is 520 to 590 GHz, with a target noise temperature sensitivity of 2,500 K for detecting water, sulfur compounds, carbon compounds, and other atmospheric constituents. SPACES is a prototype for a powerful tool for the exploration of the chemistry and dynamics of any planetary atmosphere. It is fundamentally a single-pixel receiver for spectral signals emitted by the relevant constituents, intended to be fed by a fixed or movable telescope/antenna. Its front-end sensor translates the received signal down to the 100-MHz range where it can be digitized and the data transferred to a spectrum analyzer for processing, spectrum generation, and accumulation.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs, TSP

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Micro-XRF for In Situ Geological Exploration of Other Planets

X-ray fluorescence instruments are used for non-destructive testing, sorting of recycled materials, and hazardous waste detection. In situ analysis of rock chemistry is a fundamental tool for exploration of planets. To meet this need, a high-spatial- resolution micro x-ray fluorescence (Micro-XRF) instrument was developed that is capable of determining the elemental composition of rocks (elements Na–U) with 100 μm spatial resolution, thus providing insight to the composition of features as small as sand grains and individual laminae. The resulting excitation beam is of sufficient intensity that high signal-to-noise punctual spectra are acquired in seconds to a few minutes using an Amptek Silicon Drift Detector (SDD).

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs

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