Sensors/Data Acquisition

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, Sensors and actuators, Coatings, colorants, and finishes, Conductivity, Metals, Polymers, Thermal testing


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, Microelectromechanical devices, Sensors and actuators, Semiconductors


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, Electronic control systems, Sensors and actuators, Wireless communication systems, Robotics


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, Sensors and actuators, Nanotechnology, Radiation, Test equipment and instrumentation


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, Sensors and actuators, Chemicals, Gases, Nanotechnology, Mining vehicles and equipment


Smartphone Video Guidance Sensor

The need arose to apply the state determination algorithms developed for the Advanced Video Guidance Sensor autonomous rendezvous and docking (AR&D) sensor onto a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS), smartphone-based platform to create a lower-mass, lower-cost sensor for small satellite and CubeSat applications. Prior techniques used for state determination suffer one or more of the following problems: large mass, large volume, high cost, or computationally intensive calculations.

Posted in: Briefs, Tech Briefs, Sensors, Mathematical models, Computer software and hardware, Optics, Sensors and actuators, Satellites, Spacecraft


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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