Sensors/Data Acquisition

Farzin Amzajerdian, Principal Investigator, Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA

Since 2003, Farzin Amzajerdian has worked on the Navigation Doppler Lidar (NDL), a sensor designed to support safe and precise vehicle landings on Mars and other destinations. The breadbox-sized NDL contains three lasers, a small electronics box, and lenses connected by fiber-optic cables. Amzajerdian will soon oversee the testing of the technology in California's Mojave Desert.

Posted in: Who's Who, Sensors

Eddy Current System and Method for Crack Detection

This probe can identify outer surface damage from within the interior of installed hardware.

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed a new eddy current inspection device that probes for cracks in parts of metal structures that are often inaccessible without extensive disassembly. The probe is specially designed for insertion into the cavity of a part to inspect the surrounding structure in an outward direction. For example, the probe may be held inside a large, thick tube and pointed outward to inspect the outer diameter of the tube. NASA used the probe to test for stress corrosion cracking in the relief radius of Space Shuttle thrusters without having to dismantle the hardware, reducing inspection time while ensuring the health of the structure. NASA Langley is seeking organizations that would like to license the probe to test for cracks in rocket thrusters and other metallic structures with hard-to-reach inspection areas.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors, Sensors and actuators, Fatigue, Metals, Inspections

Optical Fiber Sensors vs. Conventional Electrical Strain Gauges for Infrastructure Monitoring Applications

Public infrastructure, including bridges, pipelines, tunnels, foundations, roadways, dams, etc., is subject to factors that can degrade it or lead to malfunctions. These structural problems can be the result of deterioration, improper construction methods, seismic activity, nearby construction work, etc. Although electrical strain gauges have long been used for monitoring structural changes, they sometimes lack the durability and integrity necessary to provide accurate, actionable information over extended periods. The applications in this white paper demonstrate how optical fiber sensors can offer a variety of economic and performance advantages.

Posted in: White Papers, Fiber Optics, Optics, Sensors

Radar Waveforms for A&D and Automotive Radar

There are many similarities between commercial radar and those used in defense electronics applications. The same technology used in high-end automobiles may be considered for autonomous vehicles and unmanned systems. However, one similarity that transcends the sensor application is choosing the right radar waveform.

Posted in: White Papers, Aerospace, Defense, Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Sensors

Branimir Blagojevic, Technologist, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD

During his time with former employer Science and Engineering Services, LLC, Branimir Blagojevic helped build a remote-sensing device that detected biological agents. The technology, originally made for the Department of Defense (DoD), may soon find a place on Mars. Blagojevic currently leads the development of the Bio-Indicator Lidar Instrument (BILI), a device that could be used to spot organic molecules and signs of life on Mars.

Posted in: Who's Who, Detectors

How To Substantially Reduce Encoder Cost While Gaining Functionality With Multi-Turn Rotary Position Sensors

Many applications require rotation counters that can measure angles greater than 360º. However the low-cost 10-turn potentiometers most design engineers are familiar with can’t always meet user requirements for resolution and reliability. As an alternative, optical absolute encoders are too expensive for many applications. These solutions require a continuous power supply or they will lose count when power is restored. Also, geared technology/rotation counters are subject to significant wear.

Posted in: White Papers, Motion Control, Automation, Robotics, Data Acquisition, Sensors

Will the voice become a mainstream way to control our devices?

This year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas showcased many new consumer products featuring voice control. LG, for example, introduced a smart refrigerator equipped with Amazon's Alexa voice service. Other CES technologies with voice-recognition capabilities included televisions, home lighting systems, and vehicles. Last Tuesday, Shawn Dubravac, Chief Economist of the Consumer Technology Association, said vocal computing is replacing the traditional graphical user interface, and "the ability to infuse AI into small things at relatively low cost is present." What do you think? Will the voice become a mainstream way to control our devices?

Posted in: Question of the Week, Data Acquisition, Sensors

Biomarker Sensor System and Method for Multi-Color Imaging and Processing of Single-Molecule Life Signatures

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory offers a method to manufacture biomarker sensor arrays with nanoscale resolution and active regions on the order of 1 micron by applying nanolithographic direct-write techniques to the fabrication of Silane chemistry sensors on a transparent substrate. This novel technology enables extremely fine patterns of detectors suitable for multicolor imaging of single-molecule samples at resolutions far below the diffraction limit. The extremely small size of these sensors allows for rapid, highly specific screening for hundreds of functionalities within a single, small, integrated microfluidics chip.

Posted in: Briefs, White Papers, Sensors, Integrated circuits, Sensors and actuators, Biological sciences, Fabrication, Biomaterials

Device and Method of Scintillating Quantum Dots for Radiation Imaging

Potential applications include medical imaging and aircraft inspection.

NASA’s Langley Re search Center has developed Scintillating Quantum Dots for Imaging X-rays (SQDIX) technology that enables the creation of x-ray detectors that are more sensitive than current x-ray detectors. In addition to superior sensitivity, SQDIX also offers the promise of reducing the cost of x-ray detectors by at least a factor of 10. Simply stated, SQDIX has the potential to change the way that x-ray detection is done.

Posted in: Briefs, Imaging, Sensors, Performance upgrades, Product development, X-ray inspections

Lightning Protection and Detection System

An array of SansEC sensors can cover a selective area of the aircraft surface, providing both mitigation and damage sensing.

NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed a sensor technology for structural health monitoring on composite aircraft surfaces. When conventional aircraft are struck by lightning, the result can range from no damage to serious damage requiring extensive repairs that can take the airplane out of service for an extended period of time. The SansEC technology is a proven wireless sensing platform capable of measuring the electrical impedance of physical matter in proximity to the sensor based on a change in its resonance response. The sensor also exhibits a unique characteristic to disperse the lightning strike current to help mitigate lightning damage. In this application, an array of SansEC sensors will cover a selective area of the aircraft surface, providing both mitigation and damage sensing.

Posted in: Briefs, Aviation, Sensors, Aircraft structures, Sensors and actuators, Wireless communication systems, Vehicle health management, Composite materials, Lightning protection

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