Tech Briefs

Selenium Interlayer for High-Efficiency Multi-Junction Solar Cell

This technology can be commercialized for terrestrial applications such as power plants and smart grid systems.Innovators at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have developed a low-cost, high-efficiency solar cell that uses a thin layer of selenium as the bonding material between wafers. Selenium is a semiconductor, and it is also transparent to light at photon energies below the band gap. The innovation allows a multi-junction solar cell to be developed without the constraint of lattice matching, and uses a low-cost, robust silicon wafer as the supporting bottom substrate and bottom cell. This enables a cell that is simultaneously lower in cost, more rugged, and more efficient than existing space solar cell designs. This technology has the potential to be used in next-generation solar cells in space, and it can be commercialized for terrestrial applications such as power plants and smart grid systems.

Posted in: Briefs, Solar Power

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Tethered Vehicle Control and Tracking System

The system enables effective operation of airborne wind energy (AWE) generation systems.NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed hardware and software to track the flight of tethered vehicles, including kite-like, airborne wind energy (AWE) generation systems. The control system consists of a pan-tilt platform and a visible-spectrum digital camera, combined with tracking control software running on a standard PC. The system controls the flight of the vehicle to keep its position on a power-producing trajectory, maximizing velocity (but within limits). This trajectory produces tension, which turns the ground-based generator, producing the energy. The NASA system enables effective operation of groundgen or flygen types of AWE systems. NASA has a working prototype and pre-beta software, and is seeking development partners to make it more robust and user-friendly by testing it in real-world systems.

Posted in: Briefs, Aerospace, Aviation

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Preventing Cell-to-Cell Thermal Runaway in Lithium-Ion Battery Modules

Lithium-ion (Li-ion) cells are increasingly used in high-voltage and high-capacity modules. The Li-ion chemistry has the highest energy density of all rechargeable battery chemistries, but associated with that energy is the issue of catastrophic thermal runaway with a fire. With recent incidents in the commercial aerospace and electronics sectors, it was necessary to find methods to prevent cell-to-cell thermal runaway propagation.

Posted in: Briefs, Batteries

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System and Method for Space Utilization Optimization and Visualization

The program uses a standard Web browser to allow for visualization of an entire organization down to individual rooms.NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed a space-allocation and planning software system to allow for more effective and efficient facility usage. It also provides a customizable strategy for organizing personnel and project teams to maximize productivity and synergies among employees. Cost-reduction solutions are suggested based on organizational input constraints related to the facility. The program uses a standard Web browser to allow for visualization of an entire organization down to individual rooms. The planning tool is based on algorithms that were developed using ArcGIS software and Visual Basic codes, which enable evaluation of different space-management scenarios in real time.

Posted in: Briefs, Software

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Reducing Sensor and Readout Circuitry Noise in Digital Domain Using Reference Pixels

One of the main heritage tools used in scientific and engineering data spectrum analysis is the Fourier Integral Transform and its high-performance digital equivalent — the Fast Fourier Transform (FFT). The Fourier view of nonlinear mechanics that has existed for a long time and the associated FFT carry strong a-priori assumptions about the source data, such as linearity and being stationary. Natural phenomena measurements are essentially nonlinear and nonstationary.

Posted in: Briefs, Software

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Method and Software Tool for Evaluation and Automated Generation of Space Habitat Interior Layouts

The software can help design space habitats, submarines, ships, aircraft, recreational vehicles, and small residences.NASA has developed a new software tool for optimizing interior layout designs of highly constrained, highly integrated, and/or confined spaces, such as space habitats. This tool will automatically generate or evaluate interior layout options while taking into account multiple end-user objectives. Development and evaluation of interior layouts are often ignored during conceptual design because of the subjectivity and long times required using current evaluation methods (e.g., human-in-the-loop mockup tests and in-depth CAD evaluations). The NASA tool will allow for early, more objective assessment that will prevent expensive design changes, which can increase vehicle mass and compromise functionality.

Posted in: Briefs, Software

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Airborne Wind Profiling Algorithm for Doppler Wind Lidar

This novel method enables accurate, real-time parameter estimation in noisy environments.NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed an algorithm, Airborne Wind Profiling Algorithm for Doppler Wind Lidar (APOLO), that offers highly accurate, real-time measurement of wind parameters (i.e., direction and speed) by airborne wind lidar sensors. APOLO enables the extraction of accurate wind speed and direction from noisy flight environments, and provides correction for instrument installation biases. The algorithm has been incorporated into a supporting software package that displays accurate airborne Doppler wind lidar data, and offers several data post-processing and display functionalities. The offset compensation and parameter extraction technology could be used in a variety of applications where the motion and orientation of a lidar sensor may result in data inaccuracy. NASA is seeking licensees that may benefit from integration of the compensation algorithm and data post-processing software into existing or developing systems.

Posted in: Briefs, Software

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