Special Coverage

Supercomputer Cooling System Uses Refrigerant to Replace Water
Computer Chips Calculate and Store in an Integrated Unit
Electron-to-Photon Communication for Quantum Computing
Mechanoresponsive Healing Polymers
Variable Permeability Magnetometer Systems and Methods for Aerospace Applications
Evaluation Standard for Robotic Research
Small Robot Has Outstanding Vertical Agility
Smart Optical Material Characterization System and Method
Lightweight, Flexible Thermal Protection System for Fire Protection
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ISO 26262 & Automotive Electronics Development

Compliance standards, especially those that involve relatively new functional safety elements, will likely add additional requirements to the development process. But ISO 26262, in particular, will add more than new requirements to the product life cycle for automotive hardware-software systems. This Functional Safety standard will act as a framework impacting integrated requirements traceability, risk management, validation, verification, documentation and collaboration throughout the systems engineering “V” model life cycle process (see Figure). ISO 26262 will also require the qualification of tools used to create automotive systems. This paper examines the impact of the standard on the development process and support tool chains for automotive electronics.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Electronics & Computers, Information Sciences, Semiconductors & ICs, Software

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PTC Heater Brings Greater Control for Hand-held Medical Devices and Disposables

Point of Care diagnostics devices, whether handheld or single-use, often require a brief application of tightly controlled heat. The disposable nature of these devices requires a low-cost component capable of delivering that heat reliably and safely. Heatron's new PTC heater solution uses a polymer-based heater technology that controls heat to within ±2°C of the target temperature, and reduces unit cost by eliminating sensors and applied controls.

Posted in: White Papers, Briefs, TSP, Electronics & Computers, Thermoelectrics, Medical, Medical equipment and supplies, Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems (HVAC), Polymers

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2.2-Micron, Uncooled, InGaAs Photodiodes and Balanced Photoreceivers up to 25-GHz Bandwidth

These photodiodes have applications in LiDAR sensors, telecommunications links, and pulsed laser systems.Traditional applications for 2-micron photodetectors have been largely dominated by passive remote sensing where detectors having bandwidth of even one megahertz are deemed sufficient. The onus in such applications is to achieve low dark current through active cooling. The advent of high-power, 2-micron-wave-length lasers have made coherent LiDARs viable for active sensing applications. Such a system needs photodetectors that can handle high local oscillator optical power and have large bandwidth. Through a combination of high coherent gain and small integration time, a large signal-to-noise ratio can be achieved. Operation at high optical power levels reduces the significance of photodiodes’ dark current. As a result, uncooled operation at room temperature is feasible, simplifying the overall instrument design.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics, Optics, Remote sensing, Cooling

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Fourier Transform Spectrometer System

NASA's Langley Research Center and Science Applications International Corporation have developed a method of processing data from Fourier transform spectroscopy (FTS) measurements that improves upon existing methods. This method is simpler, more accurate, faster, and less expensive than previous methods. It uses less hardware and can be used with all wavelengths.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics, Architecture, Spectroscopy, Data management

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Large-Area, Polarization-Sensitive Bolometer for Multi-Mode Optics

This type of detector will be used by the PIXIE mission to map the microwave sky in polarization, opening a new window to the earliest moments of the universe. Polarization-sensitive bolometer measures linear polarization of the cosmic microwave background. (Left) Prototype detector. The absorber in the central square fills a small fraction of the optical area, but is opaque to microwaves. (Center) Schematic diagram showing the absorbing wires and sensing thermistors. (Right) Photomicrograph showing absorbing wires and the crystalline silicon end bank. Measurements of the cosmic microwave background are a powerful probe of the early universe. Part-per-million fluctuations in the intensity of background trace the initial conditions of matter and energy shortly after the Big Bang, mapping the large-scale structure of spacetime. Now, new measurements in linear polarization at sensitivities of a few parts per billion can look behind these initial conditions to test physics at energies a trillion times higher than terrestrial accelerators, and perhaps even provide a glimpse of quantum gravity in action.

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

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Wireless Tamper Detection Sensor and Sensing System

The sensors can detect and locate cracks, material strain, or impact damage.NASA's Langley Research Center researchers have developed a wireless, connection-free inductor capacitor sensor system that can be placed on or embedded in materials and structures to monitor for and detect damage. The sensors can also be used to detect package tampering and pilfering. This innovation — SansEC (Sans Electrical Connections) — makes sensors more damage resilient and more environmentally friendly to manufacture and use.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors, Capacitors, Sensors and actuators, Wireless communication systems, Diagnostics, Packaging

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Piezoelectric Field Disturbance Sensing System and Method

This technology provides a lightweight, cost-effective solution for structural measurements.The invention developed is a piezoelectric stimulus-response quantification-based gravimeter (PEG). The PEG takes a completely innovative approach towards utilization of the piezoelectric element — quantifying the gravitational effects on them. In this way, the piezoelectric element can: (1) generate an electric charge in response to mechanical deformation, and (2) be mechanically deformed by applying electric charges. This is known as the converse-piezoelectric effect. Piezoelectric elements can be used to precisely inject energy for exciting vibratory frequencies within the element and housing, enabling the element to be used for quantifying subsequently produced electrical output. The gravimeter is capable of measuring numerous other types of physical quantities, such as thermal, magnetic, electrical, electromotive, electromagnetic, and electro-static fields, and providing static and structural information.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors, Measurements, Electrical systems, Vibration, Test equipment and instrumentation

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