Tech Briefs

Mechanically Strong, Thermally Stable, and Electrically Conductive Nanocomposite Structure and Method of Fabricating Same

This technology can be used in automobiles, launch vehicles, advanced aerospace vehicles, aircraft, and spacecraft.

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed a method for producing multifunctional, structural, thermally stable nanocomposites with aligned carbon nanotubes. The invention improves upon current state-of-the-art graphite fiber composites by providing the same lightweight and mechanically strong characteristics, but also adds thermal stability and electrical conductivity. Thus, the invention can be used to provide a new class of mechanically strong, thermally stable, and electrically conductive nanocomposites.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Fabrication, Composite materials, Graphite, Materials properties, Nanomaterials

Micro Acoustic Resonant Chambers for Heating/Agitating/Mixing (MARCHAM)

This device can be used for extracting amino acids in microfluidic or benchtop designs, and could be scaled up to accommodate large samples for mixing and extraction.

To measure organics in a fluid sample, one either has to bring the sample in the form of a colloid to the instrument, or extract the organics from the sample and bring the liquid extract to the instrument. The disclosed technique enables both extraction and transport of the fines or the organics.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components, Measurements, Acoustics, Acoustics, Test equipment and instrumentation

Generation of Cut- and Split-Cells for Face-Piercing Geometry in Embedded-Boundary Cartesian Methods

This innovation addresses several critical issues in the construction of cut control volumes using embedded-boundary Cartesian mesh generators. The innovation considers the case of a surface triangulation intersecting the face of a Cartesian hex without intersecting any of its edges. Such face-piercing geometry is common in practical applications, especially when surface variations occur on a smaller scale than the Cartesian hex dimensions, i.e. coarse meshes. Examples include geometric perturbances such as nozzles, or even minor surface undulations and dimples. Furthermore, the innovation also considers the case of a surface triangulation containing internal passages within the Cartesian hex. The innovation correctly handles situations where hexes split into multiple control volumes are merged together if internal connections exist within the surface.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Mathematical models, Fabrication

Invertible Time Invariant Linear Filtering (InTILF) Method for Pattern Detection and Modeling of Stochastic One- or Two-Dimensional Data

This tool can analyze and model surface metrology data for polishing-tool fabricators.

X-ray astronomy offers the opportunity to observe important phenomena, including the early accretion of massive black holes and detecting diffuse ionized intergalactic gas that is heated to X-ray temperatures (>106). One of the technical challenges facing X-ray astronomy is fabricating optics that are properly shaped and smooth enough to produce quality images. Surface defects on the order of the wavelength of the observed spectrum and up to the size of the optical surface must be polished out of the mirrors without leaving a detectable pattern because the detectable signal is on the order of magnitude of the noise. This leads to a cycle of polishing and metrology that adds time and expense to optics fabrication.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics, Mirrors, Optics, Optics, Radiation

High-Speed Particle Image Velocimetry

This technology simultaneously tracks the motion of high numbers of object images under extreme, high-concentration conditions.

Particle flow fields of high particle concentration are found in many commercial applications, including chemical processing, energy conversion, pharmaceutical processing, food processing, and biomedical applications. This technology will allow, for the first time, the measurement of particle motion within high particle concentration fields.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Computational fluid dynamics, Measurements, Particulate matter (PM)

Improved Cast Stainless Steel Alloys

Applications include chemical/petrochemical production systems, gas turbine engines, and high-performance alloys.

At high temperatures, currently available cast stainless steel alloys used for engine component applications do not have the long-term stability of their original castings, and are lacking in their ability to resist deformation and cracking from extreme temperature changes. There is a need for high-strength, oxidation-resistant, and crack-resistant cast alloys for use in internal combustion engine components such as exhaust manifolds and turbocharger housings, gas-turbine engine components such as combustor housings, and other components that must function in extreme environments for prolonged periods of time.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Casting, Advanced high-strength steels, Alloys, High-strength low-alloy steel, Engine components, Durability, Durability

Advanced Tool Drive System (ATDS) Camera Positioning Mechanism (CPM)

Robotic servicing of a satellite in low earth orbit (LEO) or geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO) requires advanced systems capable of meeting the harsh environments of space. To support this effort, the Goddard Space Flight Center Satellite Servicing Capabilities Office (SSCO) has developed a camera positioning mechanism that will be capable of viewing features on a client satellite. Application of the CPM technology would be in multiple areas of spaceflight requiring robotic servicing including space exploration, planetary science, Earth science, and manned spaceflight.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components, Motion Control, Motors & Drives, Positioning Equipment, Optics, Optics, Maintenance, Repair and Service Operations, Maintenance, repair, and service operations, Robotics, Satellites

Compact, Lightweight Trap Vent

This compact, lightweight trap vent is used to minimize the pressure differential of a high-altitude, balloon-borne detector. The vent allows the pressure to equalize rapidly, yet does not allow any light to enter the detector.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components, Gases, Exhaust valves, Test equipment and instrumentation

Linear Rope Brake System for Aerial Delivery

This system helps reduce loss of any supplies that are lowered to the ground.

There are instances when items (e.g., supplies) need to be lowered from an aerial vehicle to the ground. For example, the United States military often lowers supplies from a rotary winged aircraft (e.g., a helicopter) to ground troops. In some instances, there is even a need to deliver mission essential supplies to ground troops engaged in enemy combat. Rotary wing aircraft are typically the transport platform for these supplies. Many times, the aircraft cannot land, and supplies are free-dropped from as high as 150 feet above the ground. Losses of badly needed supplies such as medicine, ammunition, water, and food are high due to the free drop.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation, Product development, Materials handling, Rotary-wing aircraft

Origami-Inspired Robot Fits in Tight Spaces

The folding robot can ride aboard a rover to help explore rough terrains.

Researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) were inspired by origami when they developed the Pop-Up Flat Folding Explorer Robot (PUFFER). Its lightweight design — which can hitch a ride aboard a rover — can flatten itself, tucking in its wheels and crawling into places that larger robots can't fit. Over the past year and a half, PUFFER has been tested in a range of rugged terrains, from the Mojave Desert in California to the snowy hills of Antarctica. The idea is to explore areas that might be too risky for a full-fledged rover to go, such as steep slopes or behind sand dunes.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation, Product development, Packaging, Robotics, Durability, Durability

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