Tech Briefs

Carbon-Fiber Brush Heat Exchangers

High thermal conductance between uneven surfaces could be achieved with low clamping force. Velvetlike and brushlike pads of carbon fibers have been proposed for use as mechanically compliant, highly thermally conductive interfaces for transferring heat. A pad of this type would be formed by attaching short carbon fibers to either or both of two objects that one desires to place in thermal contact with each other. The purpose of using a thermal-contact pad of this or any other type is to reduce the thermal resistance of an interface between a heat source (e.g., a module that contains electronic circuitry) and a heat sink (e.g., a common finned heat sink).

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Thermal and Compressed-Air Storage System Provides Alternative to UPS Batteries

Three mature energy-storage technologies are combined in a new system to replace lead-acid batteries. Virtually all businesses and industries are vulnerable to electric power disturbances such as outages, sags, swells, and harmonics. These problems are less of an issue for data centers, protected behind their walls of Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) systems. But the typical battery-backed UPS is too fragile for use in less protected environments. UPS batteries must be maintained in a narrow temperature range and fail prematurely when subjected to a steady diet of step loads and motor drives. About six years ago, flywheel-based UPS products became commercially available. These devices store energy as rotational inertia, and are rugged enough to survive on the factory floor. However, flywheels have relatively short ride-through energy and are best-suited for use in locations with backup generators.

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Hydraulic Apparatus for Mechanical Testing of Nuts

Advantages include mobility and reduced setup time.The figure depicts an apparatus for mechanical testing of nuts In the original application for which the apparatus was developed, the nuts are of a frangible type designed for use with pyrotechnic devices in spacecraft applications in which there are requirements for rapid, one-time separations of structures that are bolted together. The apparatus can also be used to test non-frangible nuts engaged without pyrotechnic devices.

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Measuring Radiation Patterns of Reconfigurable Patch Antennas on Wafers

Tests can be performed relatively inexpensively and without sawing wafers.An apparatus and technique have been devised for measuring the radiation pattern of a microwave patch antenna that is one of a number of identical units that have been fabricated in a planar array on a high-resistivity silicon wafer. The apparatus and technique are intended, more specifically, for application to such an antenna that includes a DC-controlled microelectromechanical system (MEMS) actuator for switching the antenna between two polarization states or between two resonance frequencies.

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Photodiode-Based, Passive Ultraviolet Dosimeters

Outputs of photodiodes are fed to coulometers.Simple, passive instruments have been developed for measuring the exposure of material specimens to vacuum ultraviolet (VUV) radiation from the Sun. Each instrument contains a silicon photodiode and a coulometer. The photocharge generated in the photodiode is stored in the coulometer. The accumulated electric charge measured by use of the coulometer is assumed to be proportional to the cumulative dose of VUV radiation expressed in such convenient units as equivalent Sun hours (ESH) [defined as the number of hours of exposure to sunlight at normal incidence]. Intended originally for use aboard spacecraft, these instruments could also be adapted to such terrestrial uses as monitoring the curing of ultraviolet-curable epoxies.

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Portable Electromyograph

Signals from 16 differential EMG electrodes can be recorded for 8 hours.A portable electronic apparatus records electromyographic (EMG) signals in as many as 16 channels at a sampling rate of 1,024 Hz in each channel. The apparatus (see figure) includes 16 differential EMG electrodes (each electrode corresponding to one channel) with cables and attachment hardware, reference electrodes, an input/output-and-power-adapter unit, a 16-bit analog-to-digital converter, and a hand-held computer that contains a removable 256-MB flash memory card. When all 16 EMG electrodes are in use, full-bandwidth data can be recorded in each channel for as long as 8 hours. The apparatus is powered by a battery and is small enough that it can be carried in a waist pouch.

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Small Active Radiation Monitor

This is a significant advancement over the passive dosimeters that presently monitor astronaut exposure to radiation.A device, named small active radiation monitor, allows on-orbit evaluations during periods of increased radiation, after extravehicular activities, or at predesignated times for crews on such long-duration space missions as on the International Space Station. It also permits direct evaluation of biological doses, a task now performed using a combination of measurements and potentially inaccurate simulations. Indeed the new monitor can measure a full array of radiation levels, from “soft” x-rays to “hard” galactic cosmic-ray particles. With refinement, it will benefit commercial (nuclear power-plant workers, airline pilots, medical technicians, physicians/dentists, and others) and military personnel as well as the astronauts for whom thermoluminescent dosimeters are inadequate.

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