Manufacturing & Prototyping

Micromachined Slits for Imaging Spectrometers

Slits can now be made about 100× the precision previously attainable.

Slits for imaging spectrometers can now be fabricated to a precision much greater than previously attainable. What makes this possible is a micromachining process that involves the use of microlithographic techniques. This micromachining process supplants a prior machine-shop process.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Optics, Spectroscopy, Optics, Spectroscopy, Fabrication

Fabricating Nanodots Using Lift-Off of a Nanopore Template

Applications include nano-scale electronic and magnetic devices.

A process for fabricating a planar array of dots having characteristic dimensions of the order of several nanometers to several hundred nanometers involves the formation and use of a thin alumina nanopore template on a semiconductor substrate. The dot material is deposited in the nanopores, then the template is lifted off the substrate after the dots have been formed. This process is expected to be a basis for development of other, similar nanofabrication processes for relatively inexpensive mass production of nanometer- scale optical, optoelectronic, electronic, and magnetic devices.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Product development, Fabrication, Productivity, Nanotechnology

Making Complex Electrically Conductive Patterns on Cloth

Circuit patterns are implemented in tightly woven cloth instead of stitched conductive thread.

A method for automated fabrication of flexible, electrically conductive patterns on cloth substrates has been demonstrated. Products developed using this method, or related prior methods, are instances of a technology known as “e-textiles,” in which electrically conductive patterns are formed in, and on, textiles. For many applications, including high-speed digital circuits, antennas, and radio frequency (RF) circuits, an e-textile method should be capable of providing high surface conductivity, tight tolerances for control of characteristic impedances, and geometrically complex conductive patterns. Unlike prior methods, the present method satisfies all three of these criteria. Typical patterns can include such circuit structures as RF transmission lines, antennas, filters, and other conductive patterns equivalent to those of conventional printed circuits.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Automation, Fabrication, Conductivity, Fabrics

Direct Metal Laser-Sintering of Titanium

DMLS titanium parts can be used in aerospace and medical applications.

During the first decade of direct metal laser-sintering (DMLS), the metals employed were generally ones developed specifically for DMLS, rather than those used in traditional metalforming methods. But in recent years, the range of available powder metals and the production quality of DMLS parts have advanced considerably, driving new interest in rapid manufacturing.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Lasers, Lasers, Powder metallurgy, Titanium

Embossed Teflon AF Laminate Membrane Microfluidic Diaphragm Valves

A new fabrication strategy for valve manifolds uses flexible, durable materials.

A microfluidic system has been designed to survive spaceflight and to function autonomously on the Martian surface. It manipulates microscopic quantities of liquid water and performs chemical analyses on these samples to assay for the presence of molecules associated with past or present living processes. This technology lies at the core of the Urey Instrument, which is scheduled for inclusion on the Pasteur Payload of the ESA ExoMars rover mission in 2013.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Water, Chemicals, Test equipment and instrumentation, Spacecraft

Fabricating High-Resolution X-Ray Collimators

A process and method for fabricating multi-grid, high-resolution rotating modulation collimators for arcsecond and sub-arcsecond x-ray and gamma-ray imaging involves photochemical machining and precision stack lamination. The special fixturing and etching techniques that have been developed are used for the fabrication of multiple high-resolution grids on a single array substrate.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Fabrication, Radiation

Fabrication of Gate-Electrode Integrated Carbon-Nanotube Bundle Field Emitters

Emission tips and a gate electrode are integrated into a monolithic device.

Figure 1. A Gate Electrode Overhangs a recess containing an array of bundles of carbon nanotubes (see part a). In part (b) are scanning electron micrograph (SEM) images of fabricated field-emitter devices.A continuing effort to develop carbon- nanotube-based field emitters (cold cathodes) as high-current-density electron sources has yielded an optimized device design and a fabrication scheme to implement the design. One major element of the device design is to use a planar array of bundles of carbon nanotubes as the field-emission tips and to optimize the critical dimensions of the array (principally, heights of bundles and distances between them) to obtain high area-averaged current density and high reliability over a long operational lifetime — a concept that was discussed in more detail in “Arrays of Bundles of Carbon Nanotubes as Field Emitters” (NPO-40817), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 31, No. 2 (February 2007), page 58. Another major element of the design is to configure the gate electrodes (anodes used to extract, accelerate, and/or focus electrons) as a ring that overhangs a recess wherein the bundles of nanotubes are located [see Figure 1(a)], such that by virtue of the proximity between the ring and the bundles, a relatively low applied potential suffices to generate the large electric field needed for emission of electrons.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Fabrication, Nanomaterials

Ski Binding Prototype Designed and Tested with FEA Software

Weight and strength of plastic and metal components were optimized with finite-element analysis.

G3 Genuine Guide Gear (G3) of North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, is a specialized manufacturer of backcountry ski and safety equipment — including telemark bindings and accessories, climbing skins, and shovels and saws — designed for guides and avalanche professionals.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Finite element analysis, Suppliers, Fasteners, Recreational vehicles and equipment

Vacuum Packaging of MEMS With Multiple Internal Seal Rings

Each internal seal ring would be part of an electrical feed-through.

A proposed method of design and fabrication of vacuum-packaged microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and of individual microelectromechanical devices involves the use of multiple internal seal rings (MISRs) in conjunction with vias (through holes plated with metal for electrical contacts). The proposed method is compatible with mass production in a wafer-level fabrication process, in which the dozens of MEMS or individual microelectromechanical devices on a typical wafer are simultaneously vacuum packaged by bonding a capping wafer before the devices are singulated (cut apart by use of a dicing saw). In addition to being compatible with mass production, the proposed method would eliminate the need for some complex and expensive production steps and would yield more reliable vacuum seals.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Microelectricmechanical device, Microelectromechanical devices, Microelectricmechanical device, Microelectromechanical devices, Fabrication, Productivity

Patterning of Indium Tin Oxide Films

The patterns are formed by laser printing directly onto the films.

A relatively rapid, economical process has been devised for patterning a thin film of indium tin oxide (ITO) that has been deposited on a polyester film. ITO is a transparent, electrically conductive substance made from a mixture of indium oxide and tin oxide that is commonly used in touch panels, liquid-crystal and plasma display devices, gas sensors, and solar photovoltaic panels. In a typical application, the ITO film must be patterned to form electrodes, current collectors, and the like. Heretofore it has been common practice to pattern an ITO film by means of either a laser ablation process or a photolithography/etching process. The laser ablation process includes the use of expensive equipment to precisely position and focus a laser. The photolithography/etching process is time-consuming.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Lasers, Semiconductor devices, Sensors and actuators, Lasers, Semiconductor devices, Sensors and actuators, Displays, Displays, Forming, Coatings Colorants and Finishes, Coatings, colorants, and finishes

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