Sensors/Data Acquisition

Low-Cost Chip Extends Life of Battery Sensors

Batteries in sensors last longer – in some cases, more than ten times longer.

A voltage detector chip was developed that requires only a few trillionths of a Watt (picowatts) to activate other circuits, enabling engineers to design sensors that continuously listen, without using power from a battery or mains. The result is smaller batteries, or a battery life that is extended, in some cases by years. The voltage detector can also eliminate standby power.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors, Batteries, Integrated circuits, Sensors and actuators, Batteries, Integrated circuits, Sensors and actuators
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Wireless Tamper Detection Sensor and Sensing System

The sensors can detect and locate cracks, material strain, or impact damage.

NASA's Langley Research Center researchers have developed a wireless, connection-free inductor capacitor sensor system that can be placed on or embedded in materials and structures to monitor for and detect damage. The sensors can also be used to detect package tampering and pilfering. This innovation — SansEC (Sans Electrical Connections) — makes sensors more damage-resilient and more environmentally friendly to manufacture and use.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors, Capacitors, Sensors and actuators, Wireless communication systems, Capacitors, Sensors and actuators, Wireless communication systems, Maintenance, Repair and Service Operations, Maintenance, repair, and service operations, Prognostics
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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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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, Sensors and actuators, Wireless communication systems, Sensors and actuators, Wireless communication systems, Medical equipment and supplies, Pharmaceuticals, Reliability, Reliability
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Structural Health Monitoring System/Method Using Electroactive Polymer Fibers

Potential applications include impact, delamination, and fatigue crack sensing.

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed a novel polymer material that can be utilized as a real-time structural health monitoring sensor. The material is electroactive and generates a signal in response to a mechanical force. The material is also highly elastic, which allows for a large range of measurable strain levels, and is highly durable.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors, Sensors and actuators, Sensors and actuators, Cardiovascular system, Product development, Fibers, Polymers
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Compact Active Vibration Control System

This system provides active damping of flexible structures using a simple and compact actuator, sensor, and control system.

NASA Langley Research Center has developed a point sensor and piezoelectric actuator system to actively sense and reduce vibrations in flexible structures. The system uses a directional piezoelectric actuator that couples to an underlying structure like four point forces acting normal to the structure. Four miniature accelerometers are located coincident with the piezoelectric point forces to create a matched actuator/sensor pair. This matched pair enables feedback control to be implemented using simple, robust, negative feedback that requires no knowledge of the dynamics of the structure, and can be implemented using analog electronics. When attached to a flexible structure, this active damping system can reduce vibrations in a variety of applications. Compared to other systems, this approach offers good performance with a simple and compact control system.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors, Dampers and shock absorbers, Dampers or shock absorbers, Electronic equipment, Sensors and actuators, Electronic equipment, Sensors and actuators, Noise, Vibration, Noise, Vibration
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Self-Assembling, Reversible, Reagentless Biosensor

Applications include pathogen detection, industrial monitoring, chemical detection, and healthcare and drug discovery.

Recognition-based biosensors capable of specifically detecting chemicals, toxins, and bio-agents in their environment are of increasing importance. An important goal in biosensor evolution is production of nanoscale assemblies capable of continuously monitoring concentrations of target species in a simple, reliable manner. This is accomplished by designing sensor components to carry out analyte recognition and binding while simultaneously producing useful output signals via an integrated signal transduction system. Optically addressed biosensors of this type often employ fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) in signal transduction. FRET has been employed in carefully designed sensing systems for proteins, peptides, nucleic acids, and other small molecules.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors, Sensors and actuators, Sensors and actuators, Diagnosis, Biomaterials, Chemicals, Materials identification, Materials properties, Nanotechnology
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Chip-Based Power Measurement Sensor

These sensors could be deployed in bulk, both on land and in space.

Phone signals spend at least some time traveling over fiber-optic cables. To ensure that the information gets where it needs to go, and to help researchers find better ways to ferry this information around, it’s necessary to reliably measure radiation power through these fibers. In order to calibrate a radiation power meter, researchers currently have to use a bulky cryogenic system and transfer the measurements to at least one other intermediate system. Each of these transfers increases uncertainties in the measurements, and the cryogenic systems are relatively rare and expensive to use and maintain.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors, Measurements, Fiber optics, Sensors and actuators, Fiber optics, Sensors and actuators, Radiation
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Space Radiation Detector with Spherical Geometry

This technology enables in-situ studies of the impact of Galactic Cosmic Radiation ions on Earth and in space.

NASA’s Glenn Research Center has developed and patented the Compact Full-Field Ion Detector System (CFIDS), a radiation particle detection system that provides information on the kinetic energies, directions, and electric charges of subatomic particles. The integrated package consists of a spherical Cherenkov detector, a compact detector stack, and low-noise, large-area detectors based on silicon carbide. The detectors and configuration can be modified to suit specific applications. The technology is an improvement over more conventional gas ionization detectors because the higher density of the solid media provides higher sensitivity to radiation. Originally developed to measure the properties of cosmic rays in outer space, the technology could be adapted for use on Earth for radiation dosimetry aboard high-altitude aircraft and in proton radiation therapy for cancer treatment.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors, Sensors and actuators, Sensors and actuators, Radiation, Spacecraft
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