Sensors/Data Acquisition

NASA's Hot 100 Technologies: Sensors

Gas Sensors Based on Coated and Doped Carbon Nanotubes Electronic, inexpensive, low-power gas sensors are based on single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNT) and provide a method for gas detection by coating or doping the SWCNTs with suitable materials. Applications include detection of flammable gases for the petrochemical industry, methane detection for the mine safety industry, environmental monitoring of toxic industrial gases, and monitoring gases in a patient’s breath.

Posted in: Sensors, Techs for License, Articles

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Scientists Turn Handheld JCAD into Dual-Use Chemical, Explosives Detector

Scientists at the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center recently gave the Joint Chemical Agent Detector (JCAD) the ability to detect explosive materials. The original JCAD was developed and fielded to U.S. Forces nearly 25 years ago, to serve as a portable, automatic chemical warfare agent detector. Currently there are approximately 56,000 chemical warfare agent detecting JCADs in service within the Department of Defense. However, recent needs have required scientists to find ways to create a similar portable technology to detect explosive materials. According to the Army, "Future Army forces require the capability to provide support to unified land operations by detecting, locating, identifying, diagnosing, rendering safe, exploiting, and disposing of all explosive ordnance, improvised explosive devices, improvised/homemade explosives, and weapons of mass destruction." Funded through an Army Technology Objective (ATO) program starting in 2010, under the requirement to assess which existing detectors could also detect explosives, ECBC's Point Detection Branch began to research different options. Since so many JCADs are already in the hands of warfighters across all four services, the team explored the possibilities with that technology. ECBC Point Detection Branch handled the technical evaluation of the unit in collaboration with Smiths Detection, who is building the parts for the new capability. While working to make the JCAD an explosives detector, the team had to overcome several challenges. On a programmatic level, the ATO requirement had restrictions against modifying the existing JCAD hardware. Also, the JCAD needed to maintain its original chemical warfare agent detector purpose. Aside from the ATO requirements, making a chemical warfare agent detector into an explosives detector had some scientific challenges. The original JCAD is designed to detect vapors. However, explosive materials are usually low vapor pressure solids. ECBC scientists had to figure out how the JCAD could detect solid explosive materials, without changing the hardware or original intent of the detector. Given these parameters the scientists sought to determine how to modify this detector while essentially keeping it the same. "Many of the emerging chemical threats and explosives share the challenge of presenting little to no detectable vapor for sampling. By conducting research into the detection of solid explosive residues, we have learned valuable lessons that are equally important for detecting nonvolatile solid and liquid chemical agent residues as well," said Dr. Augustus W. Fountain III, senior research scientist for chemistry. The add-on pieces are a new JCAD Rain Cap with a Probe Swab and an inlet. Within the JCAD itself, scientists added two on-demand vapor generators: a calibrant and a dopant. The dopant changes the chemistry of the detector so that it can detect explosives easier. To convert an ordinary JCAD into a JCAD Chemical Explosive Detector (JCAD CED), the existing rain cap is replaced with one that has a new inlet. Once in place, scientists wipe any surface using the probe swab, which then retracts back into the inlet. With a simple button push, the probe swab tip with the explosives sample heats up to a certain temperature, vaporizing the explosive residue. These additional features allow an ordinary JCAD to now have the role of a portable, automated explosives detector. The swab allows users to pick up often-invisible residue from any surface and analyze it. The explosive residue can be transferred and easily detected using the instrument. The JCAD CED can already detect roughly a dozen compounds including TNT, RDX and EGN. Future efforts could increase the number of detectable compounds. Scientists plan to determine the amount of explosives that can be detected and develop a concept of operations. Other goals include developing a methodology for detecting homemade explosives, and reaching a technology readiness level 6. JCAD CED will be demonstrated in a fiscal year 2015 military utility assessment. Source:

Posted in: Sensors, Detectors, Defense, News

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High-Res Line Camera Measures Magnetic Fields in Real Time

Scientists have developed a high‑resolution magnetic line camera to measure magnetic fields in real time. Field lines in magnetic systems such as generators or motors that are invisible to the human eye can be made visible using this camera. It is especially suitable for industrial applications in quality assurance during the manufacture of magnets.

Posted in: Cameras, Imaging, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Sensors, Test & Measurement, Measuring Instruments, News

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Sensors Monitor Dangerous Hits on the Football Field

In football, a tackle can supply 100 Gs of force or more, well above the amount that can cause a concussion and more than 10 times the force of an F‑16 jet roll maneuver. University of Florida (UF) researchers are using the helmets of Gator football players to help measure the force of on‑field hits to better understand and prevent concussions, and treat them before they cause lasting damage.

Posted in: Sensors, Medical, Patient Monitoring, Test & Measurement, Monitoring, News

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Industrial Computed Tomography Inspects Parts in 3D

This nondestructive testing method can quickly inspect parts in 3D while maintaining very high accuracy. Jesse Garant & Associates Inc., Windsor, Ontario, Canada Avery important stage in the manufacturing and production cycle of a part is designing and verifying a prototype. Very often in the medical, automotive, or aerospace industries, very expensive and valuable parts are cut open to locate internal failures or to retrieve internal measurements. Such parts are left destroyed and can no longer be functional after the testing process.

Posted in: Information Sciences, Electronics & Computers, Data Acquisition, Briefs

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System Health Monitoring Software Learns System Behavior from Data

The new techniques provide faster response and require less computer memory. Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California The Inductive Monitoring System (IMS) software tool uses data mining techniques to automatically characterize nominal system operation by analyzing archived system data. These nominal characterizations are then used to perform near-real-time system health monitoring or to analyze archived system data to detect anomalies in system behavior as compared with previous nominal behavior.

Posted in: Information Sciences, Electronics & Computers, Data Acquisition, Software, Briefs

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Detecting High Stress in Oral Interviews and Text Documents

Content of an interview or text is subjected to various levels of statistical analysis to determine if the person knows the truth and is communicating it. Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California When a person is interviewed, some of the answers may be inaccurate, or even deceptive, because the person may have either incomplete information, is telling only part of the truth, or is fabricating a false answer, or a combination of all three. When the person is habitually making statements that are known to be false, or only partly true, emotional and/or intellectual conflicts often arise within them, and these conflicts may become manifest by inconsistencies in use of different parts of speech or in logical relationships between statements. These inconsistencies are more subtle than inconsistencies in factual statements, and identification of these inconsistencies is more difficult and less straightforward than identification of factual inconsistencies.

Posted in: Information Sciences, Electronics & Computers, Data Acquisition, Medical, Briefs, TSP

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