Electrical/Electronics

A Nanotube Film Electrode and Electroactive Device Fabricated with the Nanotube Film Electrode and Methods for Making the Same

Applications include optical devices, electromechanical energy conversion, medical devices, sonar, and transducers.

NASA’s Langley Research Center offers an all-organic electroactive device system fabricated with single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNT). The enhanced design offers higher electroactive performance in comparison with conventional electroactive device systems fabricated with metal electrodes or other conducting polymers. The new structure allows for significant improvement of the electroactive strain due to relief of the constraint on the electroactive layer. It exhibits superb actuation properties and can withstand high temperatures with improved mechanical integrity and chemical stability. In addition, the electroactive device can be made transparent, allowing for use in optical devices. NASA is seeking development partners and potential licensees.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronic Components, Electronics & Computers, Electronic equipment, Optics, Electronic equipment, Optics, Nanomaterials
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Superconducting Transition Edge Sensors and Methods for Design and Manufacture Thereof

Superconducting Transition Edge Sensors and Methods for Design and Manufacture Thereof

NASA technologists have developed a novel, superconducting transition edge sensor (TES). Such TES devices are thermometers that are widely used for particle detection, e.g. X-rays, infrared photons, atoms, molecules, etc. Energy resolution is chiefly important in superconducting transition edge sensors to function as imaging spectrometers. For optimal energy resolution, it is necessary to control the superconducting transition temperature for the device.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronic Components, Electronics & Computers, Design processes, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Sensors and actuators, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Sensors and actuators, Fabrication
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Chalcogenide Nanoionic-Based Radio Frequency Switch

The electrochemical switch is non-volatile, lacks moving parts that can fail, and is easy to fabricate.

NASA’s Glenn Research Center has developed nanoionic-based radio frequency (RF) switches for use in devices that rely on low-power RF transmissions, such as automotive systems, RFID technology, and smartphones. These groundbreaking nanoionic switches operate at speeds of semiconductor switches, and are more reliable than microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) switches while retaining the superior RF performance and low power consumption found in MEMS, all without the need for higher electrical voltages. In this new process, metals are photo-dissolved into a chalcogenide glass and packaged with electrodes and a substrate to form a switch. Since the nanoionic-based switch is electrochemical in nature, it has certain advantages over switches that are mechanically based, including nonvolatility, lack of moving parts that can fail, ease and efficiency of activation, and ease of fabrication. This innovative device has the potential to replace MEMS and semiconductors in a wide range of switching systems, including rectifying antennas (rectennas) and other RF antenna arrays.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronic Components, Electronics & Computers, RF & Microwave Electronics, Radio equipment, Switches, Radio equipment, Switches, Radio-frequency identification, Nanotechnology
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X-ray Diffraction (XRD) Characterization Methods for Sigma=3 Twin Defects in Cubic Semiconductor (100) Wafers

This technology is especially relevant in high-end, high-speed electronics.

NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed a method of using x-ray diffraction (XRD) to detect defects in cubic semiconductor (100) wafers. The technology allows non-destructive evaluation of wafer quality in a simple, fast, inexpensive process that can be easily incorporated into an existing fab line. The invention adds value throughout the semiconductor industry, but is especially relevant in high-end, high-speed electronics where wafer quality has a more significant effect on yields.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronic Components, Electronics & Computers, Semiconductors, X-ray inspections
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System for Configuring Modular Telemetry Transponders

Possible applications include weather monitoring and forecasting, Earth observation, and ionospheric studies.

Researchers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center have developed software-defined radio (SDR) telemetry transceiver technology to collect and transmit data to and from small satellites and microsatellites. The SDR concept uses a minimal number of traditional analog radio-frequency components to convert RF signals to a digital format. Digital signal processing replaces bulky radio-frequency components, and enables reduced cost as well as size, weight, and power requirements (SWaP). The NASA technology enables software and firmware updates that increase the lifespan and efficacy of satellites, supporting a wide variety of changing radio protocols as they are developed. A modular design enables inclusion of multiple band frequency transmitters and receivers (S-band, X-band, Ka-band, etc.). The NASA SDR can find use in satellite applications in which cost savings, upgradability, and reliability are essential. A first-generation SDR has been flight tested on NASA’s FASTSAT mission.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronic Components, Electronics & Computers, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Satellite communications, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Satellite communications, Satellites
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Method of Forming Textured Silicon Substrate by Maskless Cryogenic Etching

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has developed an advanced energy-storage device to accommodate portable devices, minimize emissions from automobiles, and enable more challenging space missions. The use of silicon for the anode of lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries is attractive because silicon has the highest theoretical charge capacity of any material when used as an anode in a Li-ion battery. Conventional silicon anodes undergo large-volume expansions and contractions with the absorption and desorption of Li-ions, however, and this results in pulverization of the anode after several charge and discharge cycles. JPL’s innovative Li-ion battery anodes are made of micro-textured silicon, which is able to accommodate the stress of expansion and contraction during the charging cycle. These robust silicon anodes make high-capacity, rapid-charge-rate Li-ion batteries practical.

Posted in: Briefs, Power Management, Energy, Battery cell chemistry, Energy storage systems, Lithium-ion batteries, Battery cell chemistry, Energy storage systems, Lithium-ion batteries, Silicon alloys
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An Apparatus and Method for Communication Over Power Lines

NASA’s Glenn Research Center is offering a sensor and actuator networking innovation applicable to smart vehicle or component control. This innovation requires no additional connectivity beyond the wiring providing power. This results in lower system weight, increased ease and flexibility for system modifications and retrofits, and improved reliability and robustness. The technology was specifically designed for harsh, high-heat environments, but has applications in multiple arenas. The device is compatible with most communication protocols.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Communication protocols, Electric cables, Sensors and actuators, Vehicle networking, Communication protocols, Electric cables, Sensors and actuators, Vehicle networking
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A High-Efficiency Power Module

Innovators at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have developed a microwave power module to power radar, communications, and/or navigation interchangeably. This high-efficiency, all-solid-state microwave power module (MPM) is based on a multi-stage distributed-amplifier design, which is capable of very wideband operation. This MPM is extremely durable and can last a decade or longer. Already more compact and lightweight than conventional designs, Glenn’s patented technique offers further size reduction by eliminating the need for either a traveling-wave tube amplifier or its accompanying kV-class electronic power conditioner. The performance of this MPM is exceptional, with much higher cut-off frequency and maximum frequency of oscillation than metal-semiconductor field-effect transistors offer, and the distributed amplifier’s wide bandwidth also results in much faster pulse rise times. Finally, Glenn’s design allows the module to operate in both pulsed and continuous wave modes, so it can single-handedly drive exceptional performance for radar, navigation, and communications.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Amplifiers, Navigation and guidance systems, Radar, Telecommunications systems, Amplifiers, Navigation and guidance systems, Radar, Telecommunications systems, Semiconductors
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Addendum of Self-Aligned Ion Implant to Design and Processing of SiC High-Temperature Transistors for Durable Operation Above 400 °C

Applications include aerospace, oil and gas combustion, well drilling, transportation, and computers.

Researchers at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have developed a revolutionary new generation of silicon carbide (SiC) integrated circuit (IC) chips, setting an unprecedented benchmark in the field of high-temperature electronics. In the past, SiC ICs could not withstand more than a few hours of 500 °C temperatures before degrading or failing. Now, Glenn has successfully fabricated prototype chips that can exceed 10,000 hours of continuous operation at 500 °C. The advanced performance stems in part from the development of Glenn’s patented iridium interfacial stack (IrIS), a bondable metallization stack that prevents diffusion of oxygen and gold into silicon carbide (SiC) integrated circuits operating above 500 °C. The enhanced reliability of these components (and the transistors and logic boards they support) will enable important improvements in the control and operation of combustion engines, well-drilling, and other harsh environment systems, thereby greatly impacting operational efficiency and environmental quality. This advance in the manufacture of SiC-based electronics also fundamentally revolutionizes the opportunities for intelligent systems operating in high-temperature environments.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Electronic control units, Integrated circuits, Electronic control units, Integrated circuits, Silicon alloys, Thermal testing
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Method and Apparatus to Detect Wire Pathologies Near Crimped Connector

NASA’s Langley Research Center has created a collection of innovations for rapid, precise, and verified crimps. Wiring crimp failures can be a threat to safety and may lead to a loss of critical functions in high-risk applications, such as aerospace. In addition to the safety concerns, diagnosing and repairing poor crimp connections can be costly. Langley’s crimping innovations increase quality and reduce risk by using ultrasound to provide real-time, nondestructive verification of wire-crimp integrity while the crimp is being formed. This technology can be applied to electromechanical crimping machines, where the appropriate force required to form a crimped connection is determined in real time. Such an application prevents over- or under-crimping, and prevents excessive tool wear. Langley has also created a means and method to calibrate and verify the mechanical and electrical settings for an ultrasonically enhanced crimp tool.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Failure analysis, Connectors and terminals, Wiring, Connectors and terminals, Wiring, Manufacturing equipment and machinery, Non-destructive tests
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