Test & Measurement

Coming to a Lab Bench Near You: Femtosecond X-Ray Spectroscopy

Upon light activation (in purple, bottom row’s ball-and-stick diagram), the cyclic structure of the 1,3-cyclohexadiene molecule rapidly unravels into a near-linear shape in just 200 femtoseconds. Using ultrafast X-ray spectroscopy, researchers have captured in real time the accompanying transformation of the molecule’s outer electron “clouds” (in yellow and teal, top row’s sphere diagram) as the structure unfurls. (Credit: Kristina Chang/Berkeley Lab)

The ephemeral electron movements in a transient state of a reaction important in biochemical and optoelectronic processes have been captured and, for the first time, directly characterized using ultrafast X-ray spectroscopy at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). Like many rearrangements of molecular structures, the ring-opening reactions in this study occur on timescales of hundreds of femtoseconds (1 femtosecond equals a millionth of a billionth of a second). The researchers were able to collect snapshots of the electronic structure during the reaction by using femtosecond pulses of X-ray light on a tabletop apparatus.

Posted in: News, Lasers & Laser Systems, Optics, Photonics, Measuring Instruments, Test & Measurement
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Infrared 3D Scanner Measures Like Human Vision

With the new infrared 3D scanner, people can be measured without disturbing projections. (© Photo Fraunhofer IOF)

A 3D scanner, with a resolution of one million pixels and real-time data processing, operates using measuring technology that works in a similar way to human vision. To detect an object, periodic patterns are projected onto the surface using a specially developed near-infrared projector. A sequence of different patterns is projected in rapid succession in order to record as many measurement points as possible by the two cameras.

Posted in: News, Measuring Instruments, Test & Measurement
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Low-Cost Device uses Light to Detect Oil Spills

Researchers have developed a simple device that can detect an oil spill in water and then pinpoint the type of oil present on the surface. The device is designed to float on the water, where it could remotely monitor a small area susceptible to pollution or track the evolution of contamination at a particular location.

Posted in: News, Test & Measurement
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Data Logger Aids in Development of New Vehicles

A new data logger developed by Fraunhofer researchers simultaneously collects data from vehicles with combustion engines, electric drives, external sensors, and location data, and permits the development of new hybrid and electric vehicles. Once installed in a car, it records all the relevant operational data from the trips the car makes over a period of several weeks or months, enabling evaluation of how a car is used, including characteristics such as route profiles or driving style – when does the driver drive more cautiously, when more aggressively?

Posted in: News, Monitoring, Test & Measurement
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High-Altitude Radiation Tests Will Protect Airline Travelers

The RaD-X payload ascended into the stratosphere to measure cosmic radiation coming from the Sun and interstellar space. (NASA)

Imagine you’re sitting on an airplane cruising at 36,000 feet. Just above you, high-energy particles, called cosmic rays, are zooming in from outer space. While we are largely protected from this radiation on the ground, up in the thin atmosphere of the stratosphere, these particles can affect humans and electronics alike.

Posted in: News, Measuring Instruments, Test & Measurement
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Reliability Testing of High-Power Devices

Before a new high-power semiconductor device can be used for industrial applications, it must be thoroughly tested to determine if it will survive environmental stresses and continue to meet specifications. This is especially true for the latest wide-bandgap semiconductor materials such as silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) to ensure they can withstand high voltage and temperatures.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement, High voltage systems, Semiconductors, Reliability, Test procedures, Thermal testing
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Electronic Device Monitors the Heart and Recognizes Speech

Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder and Northwestern University have developed a tiny, soft, and wearable acoustic sensor that measures vibrations in the human body, allowing them to monitor human heart health and recognize spoken words. The stretchable device captures physiological sound signals from the body, has physical properties matched with human skin, and can be mounted on nearly any surface of the body. The sensor resembles a small Band-Aid®, weighs less than one-hundredth of an ounce, and can gather continuous physiological data.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement, Measurements, Cardiovascular system, Prostheses and implants, Acoustics, Vibration
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Split Laser System for Environmental Monitoring

Environmental monitoring — the assessment of air, water, and soil quality — is highly important to oil and gas exploration companies, landowners, regulatory agencies, municipalities, and any organization measuring emissions and pollutants. The majority of monitoring technologies, however, are expensive and labor intensive, often requiring sample collection and preparation (i.e., external lab analysis) that can dramatically alter the sample and its inherent components. Of those technologies that do allow for in-situ analysis, few are amenable to measurements under harsh conditions, such as high temperature and/or pressure.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement, Lasers, Environmental testing, Test equipment and instrumentation, Test procedures
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Measuring Tiny Forces with Light

Photons have no mass, but they have momentum. This allows researchers to use light to push matter around. Scientists at the Physical Measurement Laboratory (PML) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have taken advantage of this property to develop devices that can create and measure minute forces, an area traditionally underserved by the metrology community.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement, Measurements, Materials properties, Test equipment and instrumentation, Test procedures
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Laser Scanning Technique for Testing Fire-Damaged Concrete

Research at The University of Nottingham (UK) and the University at Ningbo (China) has found that laser scanning is a viable structural safety technique to detect the damaging effects of fire on concrete. Concrete is the most extensively used construction material worldwide with an average global yearly consumption of 1 cubic meter per person. Fire is one of the most serious potential risks to concrete structures such as bridges, tunnels, and buildings.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement, Lasers, Materials properties, Fire, Risk assessments, Safety testing and procedures
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