Tech Briefs

Photodiode Preamplifier for Preamplifier for Weak Signals

This circuit suppresses noise without sacrificing timing accuracy.

An improved preamplifier circuit has been designed for processing the output of an avalanche photodiode (APD) that is used in a high-resolution laser ranging system to detect laser pulses returning from a target. The improved circuit stands in contrast to prior such circuits in which the APD output current pulses are made to pass, variously, through wide-band or narrow-band load networks before preamplification. A major disadvantage of the prior wide-band load networks is that they are highly susceptible to noise, which degrades timing resolution. A major disadvantage of the prior narrow-band load networks is that they make it difficult to sample the amplitudes of the narrow laser pulses ordinarily used in ranging.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Amplifiers, Lasers, Performance upgrades

Advanced High-Definition Video Cameras

A product line of high-definition color video cameras, now under development, offers a superior combination of desirable characteristics, including high frame rates, high resolutions, low power consumption, and compactness. Several of the cameras feature a 3,840 × 2,160-pixel format with progressive scanning at 30 frames per second. The power consumption of one of these cameras is about 25 W. The size of the camera, excluding the lens assembly, is 2 by 5 by 7 in. (about 5.1 by 12.7 by 17.8 cm).

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Imaging and visualization, Product development, Performance tests

Circuit for Full Charging of Series Lithium-Ion Cells

Differences among cells would no longer prevent full charging.

An advanced charger has been proposed for a battery that comprises several lithium-ion cells in series. The proposal is directed toward charging the cells in as nearly an optimum manner as possible despite unit-to-unit differences among the nominally identical cells.

Posted in: Briefs, Semiconductors & ICs, Optimization, Lithium-ion batteries, Off-board vehicle charging systems

Analog Nonvolatile Computer Memory Circuits

Digital data would be stored in analog form in FFETs.

In nonvolatile random-access memory (RAM) circuits of a proposed type, digital data would be stored in analog form in ferroelectric field-effect transistors (FFETs). This type of memory circuit would offer advantages over prior volatile and nonvolatile types:

In a conventional complementary metal oxide/semiconductor static RAM, six transistors must be used to store one bit, and storage is volatile in that data are lost when power is turned off. In a conventional dynamic RAM, three transistors must be used to store one bit, and the stored bit must be refreshed every few milliseconds. In contrast, in a RAM according to the proposal, data would be retained when power was turned off, each memory cell would contain only two FFETs, and the cell could store multiple bits (the exact number of bits depending on the specific design).
Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Semiconductors & ICs, Computer software and hardware, Integrated circuits, Data management

World Wind 3D Earth Viewing

World Wind allows users to zoom from satellite altitude down to any place on Earth, leveraging high-resolution LandSat imagery and SRTM (Shuttle Radar Topography Mission) elevation data to experience Earth in visually rich 3D. In addition to Earth, World Wind can also visualize other planets, and there are already comprehensive data sets for Mars and the Earth’s moon, which are as easily accessible as those of Earth.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Imaging and visualization, Satellite communications, Human machine interface (HMI)

JavaGenes Molecular Evolution

JavaGenes is a general-purpose, evolutionary software system written in Java. It implements several versions of a genetic algorithm, simulated annealing, stochastic hill climbing, and other search techniques. This software has been used to evolve molecules, atomic force field parameters, digital circuits, Earth Observing Satellite schedules, and antennas. This version differs from version 0.7.28 in that it includes the molecule evolution code and other improvements. Except for the antenna code, JaveGenes is available for NASA Open Source distribution.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Mathematical models, Antennas, Computer software and hardware, Electronic control systems

Accounting for Uncertainties in Strengths of SiC MEMS Parts

Fracture strength of a part can be predicted as one statistical distribution.

A methodology has been devised for accounting for uncertainties in the strengths of silicon carbide structural components of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). The methodology enables prediction of the probabilistic strengths of complexly shaped MEMS parts using data from tests of simple specimens. This methodology is intended to serve as a part of a rational basis for designing SiC MEMS, supplementing methodologies that have been borrowed from the art of designing macroscopic brittle material structures.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Materials, Finite element analysis, Microelectromechanical devices, Prognostics, Materials properties, Silicon alloys

Lithium Dinitramide as an Additive in Lithium Power Cells

This inorganic additive appears to act as a superior SEI promoter.

Lithium dinitramide, LiN(NO2)2 has shown promise as an additive to nonaqueous electrolytes in rechargeable and non-rechargeable lithium-ion-based electrochemical power cells. Such non-aqueous electrolytes consist of lithium salts dissolved in mixtures of organic ethers, esters, carbonates, or acetals. The benefits of adding lithium dinitramide (which is also a lithium salt) include lower irreversible loss of capacity on the first charge/discharge cycle, higher cycle life, lower self-discharge, greater flexibility in selection of electrolyte solvents, and greater charge capacity.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Battery cell chemistry, Lithium-ion batteries

Ion-Conducting Organic/Inorganic Polymers

Properties can be tailored through a choice of starting alkoxysilane and diamine ingredients.

Ion-conducting polymers that are hybrids of organic and inorganic moieties and that are suitable for forming into solidelectrolyte membranes have been invented in an effort to improve upon the polymeric materials that have been used previously for such membranes. Examples of the prior materials include perfluorosulfonic acid-based formulations, polybenzimidazoles, sulfonated polyetherketone, sulfonated naphthalenic polyimides, and polyethylene oxide (PEO)-based formulations. Relative to the prior materials, the polymers of the present invention offer greater dimensional stability, greater ease of formation into mechanically resilient films, and acceptably high ionic conductivities over wider temperature ranges. Devices in which films made of these ion-conducting organic/ inorganic polymers could be used include fuel cells, lithium batteries, chemical sensors, electrochemical capacitors, electrochromic windows and display devices, and analog memory devices.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Materials, Performance upgrades, Conductivity, Materials properties

MoO₃ Cathodes for High-Temperature Lithium Thin-Film Cells

Cycle lives of these cathodes exceed those of LiCoO2 and LiMn2O4 cathodes.

MoO3 has shown promise as a cathode material that can extend the upper limit of operating temperature of rechargeable lithium thin-film electrochemical cells. Cells of this type are undergoing development for use as energy sources in cellular telephones, wireless medical sensors, and other, similarly sized portable electronic products. The LiCoO2 and LiMn2O4 cathodes heretofore used in these cells exhibit outstanding cycle lives (of the order of hundreds of thousands of cycles) at room temperature, but operation at higher temperatures reduces their cycle lives substantially: for example, at a temperature of 150 °C, cells containing LiCoO2 cathodes lose half their capacities in 100 charge/discharge cycles.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Materials, Battery cell chemistry, Lithium-ion batteries, Thermal testing

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