Tech Briefs

Biomarker Sensor System and Method for Multi-Color Imaging and Processing of Single-Molecule Life Signatures

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory offers a method to manufacture biomarker sensor arrays with nanoscale resolution and active regions on the order of 1 micron by applying nanolithographic direct-write techniques to the fabrication of Silane chemistry sensors on a transparent substrate. This novel technology enables extremely fine patterns of detectors suitable for multicolor imaging of single-molecule samples at resolutions far below the diffraction limit. The extremely small size of these sensors allows for rapid, highly specific screening for hundreds of functionalities within a single, small, integrated microfluidics chip.

Posted in: Briefs, White Papers, Sensors

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Device and Method of Scintillating Quantum Dots for Radiation Imaging

Potential applications include medical imaging and aircraft inspection.NASA’s Langley Re search Center has developed Scintillating Quantum Dots for Imaging X-rays (SQDIX) technology that enables the creation of x-ray detectors that are more sensitive than current x-ray detectors. In addition to superior sensitivity, SQDIX also offers the promise of reducing the cost of x-ray detectors by at least a factor of 10. Simply stated, SQDIX has the potential to change the way that x-ray detection is done.

Posted in: Briefs, Imaging, Sensors, Performance upgrades, Product development, X-ray inspections

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Lightning Protection and Detection System

An array of SansEC sensors can cover a selective area of the aircraft surface, providing both mitigation and damage sensing.NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed a sensor technology for structural health monitoring on composite aircraft surfaces. When conventional aircraft are struck by lightning, the result can range from no damage to serious damage requiring extensive repairs that can take the airplane out of service for an extended period of time. The SansEC technology is a proven wireless sensing platform capable of measuring the electrical impedance of physical matter in proximity to the sensor based on a change in its resonance response. The sensor also exhibits a unique characteristic to disperse the lightning strike current to help mitigate lightning damage. In this application, an array of SansEC sensors will cover a selective area of the aircraft surface, providing both mitigation and damage sensing.

Posted in: Briefs, Aviation, Sensors, Aircraft structures, Sensors and actuators, Wireless communication systems, Vehicle health management, Composite materials, Lightning protection

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Advanced Gas Sensors and High-Temperature Pressure Sensors

This technology can be used for in situ leak detection, emissions monitoring, and pressure measurements.Innovators at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have developed advanced hydrogen and hydrocarbon gas sensors capable of detecting leaks, monitoring emissions, and providing in situ measurements of gas composition and pressure. These compact, rugged sensors can be used to optimize combustion and lower emissions, and they are designed to withstand harsh, high-temperature environments (e.g., silicon carbide (SiC) sensors can operate at 600 °C). NASA Glenn is actively seeking industrial partners to develop and apply these cutting-edge sensors cooperatively in new applications.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors, Hydrogen storage, Sensors and actuators, Emissions measurement, Hydrocarbons, Gases

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Minimally Intrusive Thin-Film Electrical Insulation on Conductive Surfaces

This innovation can be used to insulate conductive substrates prior to applying thin-film sensors such as strain gauges and thermocouples.The use of thin-film sensors has several advantages over wire or foil sensors. For example, thin-film sensors do not require special machining of the components on which they are mounted, and, with thicknesses less than 10 μm, they are considerably thinner than wires or foils. The thin-film sensors are thus much less disturbing to the operating environment, and have a minimal impact on the physical characteristics of the supporting component.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors, Sensors and actuators, Coatings, colorants, and finishes, Conductivity, Insulation

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Pulsed Ultrasonic Stir Welding System

A solid-state weld process yields better joint quality and longer tool life.NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) developed Ultrasonic Stir Welding (USW) to join large pieces of very high-strength metals such as titanium and Inconel. USW, a solid-state weld process, improves current thermal stir welding processes by adding high-power ultrasonic (HPU) energy at 20-kHz frequency. The addition of ultrasonic energy significantly reduces axial, frictional, and shear forces; increases travel rates; and reduces wear on the stir rod, which results in extended stir rod life. The USW process decouples the heating, stirring, and forging elements found in the friction stir welding process, allowing for independent control of each process element and, ultimately, greater process control and repeatability. Because of the independent control of USW process elements, closed-loop temperature control can be integrated into the system so that a constant weld nugget temperature can be maintained during welding.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Adaptive control, Manufacturing equipment and machinery, Metallurgy, Productivity, Welding

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Method of Heat Treating Aluminum-Lithium Alloy to Improve Formability

This technology can be used in aerospace, recreation, transportation, and other industries where high-strength, lightweight structures are needed.NASA scientists have designed a novel heat treatment process that significantly improves the formability of high-performance aluminum-lithium (Al-Li) 2195 alloy plate stock. The heat treatment process dramatically reduces cracking and also improves the yield and range of product sizes/shapes that can be spin/stretch formed. The improved yields also provide lower costs.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Forming, Heat treatment, Aluminum alloys, Lithium

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