Tech Briefs

Vessel Sealing Device for Robotic Devices

Invasive surgical procedures are essential for addressing various medical conditions. When possible, minimally invasive procedures are preferred, but these technologies are often limited in scope and complexity. These limitations are due in part to mobility restrictions from the use of rigid tools in small openings, and limited visual feedback. The currently available robotic systems are restricted by the use of access ports, and have limited sensory and mobility capabilities.

Posted in: Briefs, Machinery & Automation

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Improved Two-Step Replication Process for Producing Precision Optical Mirrors

Production of precision optical mirrors by replication requires molds or mandrels of the complementary shape. For example, replicating a concave mirror requires a convex mandrel. Convex shapes are difficult to fabricate and test since they do not focus light. Convex mandrels are therefore costly when they are available. Their sizes are limited to 1-2 meters. Two-step or double replication is well known in the art. In the traditional method, a specific polymer resin system with fillers is used to replicate an existing concave mirror (designated as “mother”) to produce a convex intermediate designated as “daughter.” The same material is then used to replicate the daughter, creating a third-generation concave that is designated as “granddaughter.”

Posted in: Briefs, Optics

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System and Method for Generating a Frequency-Modulated Linear Laser Waveform

Applications include manufacturing equipment, robotics, surveillance and security, military imaging, and spectroscopy.NASA’s Langley Research Center has made a breakthrough improvement in laser frequency modulation. Frequency modulation technology has been used for surface mapping and measurement in sonar, radar, and time-of-flight laser technologies for decades. Although adequate, the accuracy of distance measurements made by these technologies can be improved by using a high-frequency triangular-waveform laser instead of a sine waveform or lower-frequency radio or microwaves. This new system generates a triangular modulation waveform with improved linearity that makes possible precision laser radar [light detection and ranging (lidar)] for a variety of applications.

Posted in: Briefs, Lasers & Laser Systems, Optics, Photonics

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Small-Body Testbed

The system can simulate a microgravity environment with a wide range of terrain types and topographies.This technology allows one to test small-body surface mobility and sampling systems in the laboratory. It is capable of simulating a microgravity environment with relevant terrain. The magnitude of the gravity, the terrain properties, and the surface system being tested are all easily modified to allow for a broad range of experimental setups.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement

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Neutral Mounting of Whispering Gallery Mode Resonators for Suppression of Mechanical Frequency Fluctuations

This technology can be used in laser devices, chemical sensing, navigation, aerospace, and scientific instrumentation.NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has developed a neutral mounting scheme that eliminates the acceleration sensitivity of whispering gallery mode resonators (WGMRs), making them suitable for use in high-precision portable instruments such as optical atomic clocks and high-resolution laser ranging systems. With state-of-the-art WGMR mounting schemes, accelerations induce deformations in the resonator structure, changing its resonant frequency and limiting their usefulness in precision devices. JPL’s novel coaxial mounting scheme is capable of reducing and even eliminating these vibration- and acceleration-induced frequency fluctuations, yielding a WGMR with superior frequency stability that can be used for creating ultra-compact, highly stabilized lasers that are ideally suited for use in spectroscopy, sensing, and frequency metrology applications.

Posted in: Briefs, Instrumentation

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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

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Python Interface to T-Matrix Scattering Computations (PyTMatrix)

PyTMatrix is a Python interface to a T-matrix numerical scattering computation code originally developed at NASA GISS (Goddard Institute for Space Studies). It integrates into the NumPy/SciPy scientific framework. The software provides streamlined access to numerical T-matrix computations directly from the Python programming language. It retains the original numerical core written in Fortran 77, thus combining the flexibility of Python and the numerical performance of Fortran. It also provides tools for post-processing the output by integrating over various particle size and orientation distributions.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Information Sciences, Software

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