Tech Briefs

Method of Manufacturing Convective Accelerometers

Miniaturization and integration of accelerometers in standard integrated circuit (IC) processes has been the topic of extensive research. In most cases, accelerometer structures involve a solid proof mass that is allowed to move under accelerating conditions. This approach has many disadvantages. One key disadvantage is the difficulty of processing such components in IC technologies inherently unsuited for these components.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping
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Intelligent Displacement Sensor Deployment Using MTConnect Protocol over Ethernet

The protocol interfaces to an intelligent sensor and provides data gathering using a PC application.

Quality measurements for design validation and certification requirements sometimes call for hundreds or thousands of sensors and actuators. Maintaining such a complex system is difficult, especially over an extended time period and inevitable personnel changes. Many hours are spent tracking down sensor problems related to the sensor, associated cables, mounting hardware, or some part of the data acquisition system. These are expensive, labor-intensive hours that consume valuable technical resources.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors
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Multi-Dimensional Information Visualization Software

This program provides insight into data collected from networks and network simulations.

DiVisa is a multi-dimensional information visualization tool that en ables researchers to understand the behavior of network data.

Posted in: Briefs, Software
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Ammonia Recovery System for Wastewater

NASA's Ammonia Recovery System for Wastewater was developed for potential use as part of the Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS) on the International Space Station. The system uses an affordable media that is highly selective for ammonia. Ammonia concentrations in wastewater as high as 100,000 ppm can be reduced to less than 1 ppm. ECLSS conditions require low power usage, and the avoidance of high-temperature and high-pressure operations. The state-of-the-art for ammonia removal involves biological processes or ion exchange, and neither of these meets NASA's ammonia capture/recovery needs. Biological processes have high complexity, high volume requirements, and introduce contaminants in the effluent. Ion exchange is not very selective for ammonia, and requires regeneration, which requires large amounts of consumables and produces impure ammonia.

Posted in: Briefs, Green Design & Manufacturing
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Sandia Cooler

Applications include laptops and other electronic devices, automotive, appliances, and any device comprising one or more forced-air exchangers.

Heat exchangers are used for the transfer of heat between two or more media. The media may be separated by a solid wall so that they never mix, or they may be in direct contact. Heat exchangers may be used in HVAC systems, power plants, and mechanical devices and systems that require heat transfer. Examples of systems where heat dissipation would be desirable are various electromechanical systems, and electronics applications such as conventional computing systems. In a typical computing system that includes a CPU, one or more memory devices, and other circuitry, cooling of the CPU in particular may be an important design consideration.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components
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Ruck Dock Load Carriage Connector System

This device is used by civilians and military personnel who wear heavy backpacks, such as campers, rangers, firefighters, hikers, and soldiers.

Soldiers, civilians engaged in activities such as hiking, and public safety personnel engaged in search and rescue missions all require reliable systems for the effective carriage of necessary equipment. The most simplistic backpacks and rucksacks often do not incorporate a frame or other rigid load-distribution structure. Such frameless packs are suitable only for relatively light loads, as the bulk of the weight is transferred solely at two points: the shoulders of the user. Additionally, without auxiliary mounting points, the frameless backpack is subject to significant bouncing or swaying as the user runs or jumps.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components
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4D Printing of Load-Bearing and Predictable Structures

Moveable and shape-changing components are created using multi-material 3D printers.

Research is being performed in adding a fourth dimension to 3D printers — the dimension of time. This technique, called 4D printing, creates moveable and shape-variable objects, such as flat components, that can be folded into three-dimensional objects at a later point, or even objects that can change their shape as a function of external influences.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping
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RFID System for Management of High-Risk Materials

This system safeguards the management of sensitive items in storage, transportation, and disposition.

For years, radio frequency identification (RFID) technology has been used in a variety of applications, from passports to inventory tracking. Homeland security concerns have heightened the need for sensitive, real-time tracking of thousands of radioactive and hazardous material packages to ensure accountability, safety, security, and worker and public health.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors
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Wireless Damage Location Sensing System

The wireless, passive SansEC sensor detects package tampering, medication levels, temperature, and spoilage.

NASA Langley Research Center researchers have developed a wireless, open-circuit SansEC (Sans Electrical Connections) sensor that can be used for pharmaceutical applications without the need for physical contact. Many attributes of a container can be monitored, such as liquid or powder levels, temperature of contents, and changes caused by spoilage. Tampering can also be detected. The unique design of this thin-film sensor allows many of these properties to be measured with the sensor external to the container/package. Fill levels can be measured without the need to open the container. At the core of the technology is the NASA award-winning SansEC sensor, which is damage-resilient and environmentally friendly to manufacture and use. The sensors use a magnetic field response measurement acquisition device to provide power to the sensors and to acquire physical property measurements from them.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors
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Improved Two-Step Replication Process for Producing Precision Optical Mirrors

Production of precision optical mirrors by replication requires molds or mandrels of the complementary shape. For example, replicating a concave mirror requires a convex mandrel. Convex shapes are difficult to fabricate and test since they do not focus light. Convex mandrels are therefore costly when they are available. Their sizes are limited to 1-2 meters. Two-step or double replication is well known in the art. In the traditional method, a specific polymer resin system with fillers is used to replicate an existing concave mirror (designated as “mother”) to produce a convex intermediate designated as “daughter.” The same material is then used to replicate the daughter, creating a third-generation concave that is designated as “granddaughter.”

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping
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