Tech Briefs

Robot Forearm and Dexterous Hand

The hand is highly anthropomorphic and even includes a folding palm. An electromechanical hand-and-forearm assembly has been developed for incorporation into an anthropomorphic robot that would be used in outer space. The assembly is designed to offer manual dexterity comparable to that of a hand inside an astronaut’s suit; thus, the assembly may also be useful as a prosthesis or as an end effector on an industrial robot.

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Synthetic Bursae for Robots

Functions would be similar to those of natural bursae. Synthetic bursae are under development for incorporation into robot joints that are actuated by motor-driven cables in a manner similar to that of arthropod joints actuated by muscle-driven tendons. Like natural bursae, the synthetic bursae would serve as cushions and friction reducers.

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Software for Secondary-School Learning About Robotics

The ROVer Ranch is an interactive computer program designed to help secondary-school students learn about space-program robotics and related basic scientific concepts by involving the students in simplified design and programming tasks that exercise skills in mathematics and science.

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Surface Bacterial-Spore Assay Using Tb3+/DPA Luminescence

A total spore count could be obtained in minutes. Equipment and a method for rapidly assaying solid surfaces for contamination by bacterial spores are undergoing development. The method would yield a total (nonviable plus viable) spore count of a surface within minutes and a viable-spore count in about one hour. In this method, spores would be collected from a surface by use of a transparent polymeric tape coated on one side with a polymeric adhesive that would be permeated with one or more reagent(s) for detection of spores by use of visible luminescence. The sticky side of the tape would be pressed against a surface to be assayed, then the tape with captured spores would be placed in a reader that illuminates the sample with ultraviolet light and counts the green luminescence spots under a microscope to quantify the number of bacterial spores per unit area. The visible luminescence spots seen through the microscope would be counted to determine the concentration of spores on the surface.

Posted in: Bio-Medical, Briefs, TSP

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Instrumented Spindle Improves Manufacturing of Optical Materials

Sensors and data acquisition system provide real-time visibility of grinding system operation. Lion Precision and Professional Instruments, St. Paul, Minnesota High-performance materials such as ceramics, optics, and alloy steels are manufactured using abrasive grinding technology. Until now, the grinding wheel and process conditions have been difficult to measure in production.

Posted in: Photonics, Briefs, ptb catchall, Tech Briefs, Photonics

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Flexible Laser Design Targets Low-Volume Material Processing Needs

A flexible approach to diode-pumped laser design combines customized performance with cost-effective manufacturing. Coherent, Inc., Santa Clara, California Q-switched, diode-pumped solid-state lasers with an end-pumped cavity design are now widely used in micromachining, materials processing, marking, and related applications. They are used to process a broad range of materials including metals, glass, plastics, and semiconductors. But this application diversity creates a concomitant need for laser diversity. Namely, while each application requires superior reliability and performance, the definition of “superior performance” is very application-specific. For example, some metal ablation applications may benefit from a long laser pulse, whereas semiconductor scribing needs a short pulse and a very high pulse repetition rate.

Posted in: Photonics, Briefs, ptb catchall, Tech Briefs, Photonics

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Aligning Optical Fibers by Means of Actuated MEMS Wedges

Wedges would be fabricated using gray-scale exposure of photoresist. Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) of a proposed type would be designed and fabricated to effect lateral and vertical alignment of optical fibers with respect to optical, electro-optical, optoelectronic, and/or photonic devices on integrated circuit chips and similar monolithic device structures. A MEMS device of this type would consist of a pair of oppositely sloped alignment wedges attached to linear actuators that would translate the wedges in the plane of a substrate, causing an optical fiber in contact with the sloping wedge surfaces to undergo various displacements parallel and perpendicular to the plane. In making it possible to accurately align optical fibers individually during the packaging stages of fabrication of the affected devices, this MEMS device would also make it possible to relax tolerances in other stages of fabrication, thereby potentially reducing costs and increasing yields.

Posted in: Photonics, Briefs, ptb catchall, Tech Briefs, Photonics

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