Application Briefs

Plasma Etching System Expands Device Processing Capability at JPL

Apex SLR ICP etch system
Advanced Vacuum, a Plasma-Therm Co.
Saint Petersburg, FL
800-246-2592
www.plasmatherm.com

An Advanced Vacuum inductively coupled plasma etch system recently was installed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, CA, to help expand the fabrication capabilities of JPL’s Microdevices Laboratory (MDL).

Posted in: Application Briefs, Aerospace, Sensors and actuators, Sensors and actuators, Fabrication, Metals, Polymers, Semiconductors
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Automation System Retrofit Transforms 175-Ton Hydraulic Forming Press

Southern Manufacturing Group (SMG) of Morrison, TN, makes automotive components and industrial valves. In 2012, the automation system for its 175-ton hydraulic forming press received electrical damage resulting from a lightning strike (Figure 1). Purchasing a new hydraulic forming press would be prohibitively expensive — in the range of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Therefore, SMG needed a company that could repair the forming press in a short timeframe to maintain its production schedule.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Motion Control, Maintenance, Repair and Service Operations, Maintenance, repair, and service operations, Automation, Forming, Hydraulic equipment
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Researchers Prepare RoboSimian for Tasks Beyond Disaster Response

RoboSimian, a limbed robot developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), is designed to operate in environments too dangerous or difficult for human intervention, such as disaster areas and oil leak sites. After years of engineering in the lab, JPL’s researchers are preparing the tele-operated RoboSimian platform for use in new, complex environments, from deep waters to outer space.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Sensors, Human factors, Robotics, Hazards and emergency management, Hazards and emergency operations, Marine vehicles and equipment, Spacecraft
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Energy Harvester Uses RF Waves to Power Air Pollution Sensors

As more connected devices enter the market and see wider adoption by an ever increasing number of industries, the Internet of Things (IoT) is rapidly expanding.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Energy, Energy Harvesting, Sensors, Internet of things, Sensors and actuators, Internet of things, Sensors and actuators, Air pollution
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Robot Simulation Software Lets NASA Study Conditions on Planetary Surfaces

Actin™ robot control and simulation software

Energid Technologies
Cambridge, MA
617-401-7090
www.energid.com

For obvious reasons, conditions on lunar and planetary surfaces can understandably be hard to duplicate physically, even in the best case when they are well understood, if only from a distance. This makes digital simulations an essential tool during mission planning and development. Simulation can be used to study the effects of changes in terrain, lighting, reflectance, and other environmental factors on mission success.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Aerospace, Simulation Software, Software, Computer simulation, Soils, Terrain, Robotics, Spacecraft, Vehicle dynamics
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Radiation Detectors Help NASA Understand Planets from Orbiters and Landers

Mercurous halide-based radiation detectors

Brimrose Corporation of America
Sparks, MD
410-472-7070
www.brimrose.com

Brimrose is developing radiation detectors that can improve NASA’s ability to determine surface and subsurface composition of planetary bodies from orbiters and landers. Unlike most radiation detectors, these detectors can perform both gamma and neutron spectroscopy. The new detectors are based on mercurous halide materials. The mercurous halides are new wide-bandgap semiconductor detector materials that can provide radiation detection with low cost, high performance, and long-term stability.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Aerospace, Remote sensing, Sensors and actuators, Remote sensing, Sensors and actuators, Radiation, Spacecraft
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Manufacturing OLED Lighting

Organic Light Emitting Diode (“OLED”) lighting panels are thin planar area light sources that are naturally diffuse, low glare, high color rendering, cool to the touch, highly energy efficient and highly controllable. Together with LED light sources, they compose the solid state lighting technologies that are replacing over 100 years of bulb and tube lighting technologies, just as solid state electronics have replaced the bulbs and tubes used in electronic devices such as radios, computers and displays.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Imaging, Photonics, Light emitting diodes (LEDs), Light emitting diodes (LEDs)
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‘Internal Fingerprint’ Imaging Offers Deeper Authentication

A new technology developed by researchers from The Langevin Institute (Paris, France) enables subsurface imaging of the finger. The “internal fingerprint,” according to the device’s creators, could provide cheaper, more secure authentication than traditional scanners.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Imaging, Photonics, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Body regions
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NASA Turns to 3D Metal Printing for SLS Propulsion Program

Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS)
Stratasys Direct Manufacturing
Valencia, CA
888-311-1017
www.stratasysdirect.com

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center is currently leading the development of the Space Launch System (SLS) program, which is building a heavy-lift launch vehicle to carry human explorers and science payloads to new frontiers. Today, one important technology being explored by the team at Marshall is additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, as it relates to manufacturing hardware and propulsion for the SLS rocket. The center dedicated resources to materials and technologies research, using their latest liquid rocket injector development as one optimal project for testing out the capabilities, costs, and benefits of additive manufacturing processes. One goal of additive manufacturing is to consolidate parts to reduce labor and weight, and create an overall more efficient part with increased complexities that help optimize injectors for future applications.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Aerospace, Manufacturing processes
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NASA Leverages Analytical Modeling to Improve Astronaut Mission Readiness

Probabilistic modeling
Charles River Analytics
Cambridge, MA
617-491-3474
www.cra.com

NASA has contracted with Charles River Analytics to develop a system to measure and assess astronaut workload. The system for Cognitive Assessment and Prediction to Promote Individualized Capability Augmentation and Reduce Decrement, or CAPT PICARD, will measure, assess, and predict cognitive workload to assist astronauts or mission control in responding more effectively. Astronauts sent on manned NASA missions face long periods of minimal cognitive workload followed by sudden, fast-tempo operations. In addition, disrupted sleep, long-term motion exposure, and lack of normal gravity may impair cognitive and psychomotor functioning, resulting in fatigue, stress, and decreased mood.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Aerospace, Analysis methodologies, Simulation and modeling, Human factors
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