Sensors/Data Acquisition

Cryogenic Liquid Level Sensor Apparatus and Method

This technology can be used in many medical, industrial, and pharmaceutical applications. Innovators at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center have developed a highly accurate method for measuring liquid levels using optical fibers. Unlike liquid level gauges currently on the market that rely on discrete measurements to give broad approximations of liquid levels, Armstrong’s innovative fiber optic method provides precise and accurate measurements. Specifically, Armstrong’s novel method is capable of providing measurements at 1/4-inch intervals within a tank. This significant leap forward in precision and accuracy in liquid level sensing offers significant benefits to many industries. Originally designed by NASA to monitor a rocket’s cryogenic fuel levels, this technology can be used in many medical, industrial, and pharmaceutical applications.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors

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Flexible Thin Metal Film Thermal Sensing System

NASA’s Langley Research Center has extensively studied self-metallized polyimide films for aerospace applications. These thin films have shown promise not only as reflective coatings, but also conductive coatings. NASA believes that its technology may offer advantages to sensor companies, especially thermocouples as the conductive films show a volume resistivity approaching the pure metal. Specifically, NASA offers a process for producing metallized polymer films with thick conductive metal coatings.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors

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Piezoresistive Sensor

The present innovation, developed at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, comprises several piezoresistor sensor configurations for sensing rotation or torque that are superior to those currently in use in microelectromechanical (MEMS) devices. These may be used for sensing rotation/torque or any other quantity that can be converted by the sensor to a rotation (as is frequently done in sensors), and are therefore of wide applicability in current and future MEMS sensors.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors

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Short-Range Communication System

Applications range from hard disk drives and printers to robot-assisted surgery. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center has a suite of novel technologies for digital control of electronic machinery. NASA developed the technologies for autonomous assembly of modular space structures. The base technologies in the suite can improve gap sensors and absolute position sensors. They sense position and proximity, and can also wirelessly communicate the information to drive switching and stepper motor operations. Applications for these technologies span a broad range of industrial robotics topics, and they can be combined to perform a variety of functions. Other technologies in the suite can be incorporated into the base technologies to perform additional sensor functions, and serve as a short-range antenna and close proximity transmitter and receiver. The technologies are self-calibrating and have embedded integrity monitoring functions for assured position and proximity readings.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors

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Real-Time Radiation Monitoring Using Nanotechnology

NASA has patented a unique chemical sensor array leveraging nano-structures for monitoring the concentration of chemical species or gas molecules that is not damaged when exposed to protons and other high-energy particles over time. The nanotechnology-enabled chemical sensor array uses single walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs), metal catalyst-doped SWCNTs, and polymer-coated SWCNTs as the sensing media between a pair of interdigitated electrodes (IDE). By measuring the conductivity change of the SWCNT device, the concentration of the chemical species or gas molecules can be measured. These sensors have high sensitivity, low power requirements, and are robust and have a low manufacturing cost compared to other commercial chemical sensors for detection of trace amount of chemicals in gasses and liquids.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors

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Real-Time Oil Reservoir Evaluation Using Nanotechnology

This innovation is a method and system for evaluating the status and response of a mineral-producing field (e.g., oil and/or gas) by monitoring selected chemical and physical properties in or adjacent to a well site headspace. Nanotechnology sensors and other sensors are provided for one or more underground (fluid) mineral-producing well sites to determine the presence/absence of each of two or more target molecules in the fluid; relative humidity, temperature, and/or fluid pressure adjacent to the well site; and flow direction and flow velocity for the fluid. The nanosensor measures an electrical parameter value and estimates a corresponding environmental parameter value, such as water content or hydrocarbon content. The system is small enough to be located down-hole in each mineral-producing horizon for the well site.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors

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Using PXI to Build a High-Performance MEMS Microphone Testing System

The demand for increasing microphone signal quality from handheld mobile devices has led to the development of microphone signal processing technologies such as: HD audio, noise cancellation, active noise cancellation, beam forming, directional reception, stereo sound field reconstruction, and speech recognition. As well, devices incorporating multiple microphones are becoming more and more popular. Several newly released smart phones now integrate multiple MEMS (Micro Electrical-Mechanical System) microphones for improved background noise cancellation. All flagship smart phone models in introduced in 2015 featured three or more MEMS microphones to support HD audio, ambient noise cancellation, noise filtering, directional reception and speech recognition. Popularity of MEMS microphones is expected to grow.

Posted in: White Papers, Electronics, Data Acquisition, Sensors, Test & Measurement

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