Special Coverage

Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems
Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems
NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space
Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators
Automating Optimization and Design Tasks Across Disciplines
Vibration Tables Shake Up Aerospace and Car Testing
Supercomputer Cooling System Uses Refrigerant to Replace Water
Computer Chips Calculate and Store in an Integrated Unit
Electron-to-Photon Communication for Quantum Computing

Electrocatalytic Reduction of Carbon Dioxide to Methane

A room-temperature electrocatalytic process that effects the overall chemical reaction CO2 + 2H2O → CH4 + 2O2 has been investigated as a means of removing carbon dioxide from air and restoring oxygen to the air. The process was originally intended for use in a spacecraft life-support system, in which the methane would be vented to outer space. The process may also have potential utility in terrestrial applications in which either or both of the methane and oxygen produced might be utilized or vented to the atmosphere.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Materials, Carbon dioxide, Methane, Life support systems
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Progress Toward Making Epoxy/Carbon-Nanotube Composites

A modicum of progress has been made in an effort to exploit single-walled carbon nanotubes as fibers in epoxy-matrix/fiber composite materials. Two main obstacles to such use of carbon nanotubes are the following: (1) bare nanotubes are not soluble in epoxy resins and so they tend to agglomerate instead of becoming dispersed as desired; and (2) because of lack of affinity between nanotubes and epoxy matrices, there is insufficient transfer of mechanical loads between the nanotubes and the matrices.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Materials, Composite materials, Nanomaterials, Resins
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Heterogeneous Superconducting Low-Noise Sensing Coils

Electrically superconductive outer layers are supported by highly thermally conductive skeletons.

A heterogeneous material construction has been devised for sensing coils of super-conducting quantum interference device (SQUID) magnetometers that are subject to a combination of requirements peculiar to some advanced applications, notably including low-field magnetic resonance imaging for medical diagnosis. The requirements in question are the following:

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Materials, Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
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Predicting Properties of Unidirectional-Nanofiber Composites

A theory for predicting mechanical, thermal, electrical, and other properties of unidirectional- nanofiber/matrix composite materials is based on the prior theory of micromechanics of composite materials. In the development of the present theory, the prior theory of micromechanics was extended, through progressive substructuring, to the level of detail of a nanoscale slice of a nanofiber. All the governing equations were then formulated at this level.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Mathematical models, Composite materials, Fibers, Materials properties, Nanomaterials
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Quench Crucibles Reinforced With Metal

Specimens can be quenched rapidly, without cracking ampules.

Improved crucibles consisting mainly of metal-reinforced ceramic ampules have been developed for use in experiments in which material specimens are heated in the crucibles to various high temperatures, then quenched by, for example, plunging the crucibles into water at room temperature. A quench crucible of the traditional type intended to be supplanted by the improved crucibles consists mainly of a ceramic or graphite ampule inside a metal cartridge, with a gap between the metal and the cartridge, as shown on the left side of the figure.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Containers, Ceramics, Metals, Test equipment and instrumentation
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Adjustable Membrane Mirrors Incorporating G-Elastomers

Lightweight, flexible, large-aperture mirrors of a type being developed for use in outer space have unimorph structures that enable precise adjustment of their surface figures. A mirror of this type includes a reflective membrane layer bonded with an electrostrictive grafted elastomer (G-elastomer) layer, plus electrodes suitably positioned with respect to these layers. By virtue of the electrostrictive effect, an electric field applied to the G-elastomer membrane induces a strain along the membrane and thus causes a deflection of the mirror surface. Utilizing this effect, the mirror surface figure can be adjusted locally by individually addressing pairs of electrodes.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Mirrors, Calibration, Electronic control units, Elastomers
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High-Temperature Crystal-Growth Cartridge Tubes Made by VPS

Mechanical properties and maximum useful temperature exceed those of tungsten-alloy tubes.

Cartridge tubes for use in a crystal-growth furnace at temperatures as high as 1,600°C have been fabricated by vacuum plasma spraying (VPS). These cartridges consist mainly of an alloy of 60 weight percent molybdenum with 40 weight percent rhenium, made from molybdenum powder coated with rhenium. This alloy was selected because of its high melting temperature (≈2,550°C) and because of its excellent ductility at room temperature. These cartridges are intended to supplant tungsten/nickel-alloy cartridges, which cannot be used at temperatures above ≈1,300°C.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Fabrication, Manufacturing equipment and machinery, Spraying, Alloys, Heat resistant materials
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Hall-Effect Thruster Utilizing Bismuth as Propellant

A laboratory-model Hall-effect spacecraft thruster was developed that utilizes bismuth as the propellant. Xenon was used in most prior Hall-effect thrusters. Bismuth is an attractive alternative because it has a larger atomic mass, a larger electron- impact- ionization cross-section, and is cheaper and more plentiful.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Propellants, Spacecraft fuel, Rocket engines, Performance tests
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Coated Glass for Transparent Heating Elements

This coated glass can be used in high-humidity and high-altitude applications such as architectural and aircraft windows.

Applying an electric current to specially coated glass results in radiant heat energy. This process creates a transparent heating element with near- uniform surface temperatures. Manufacturing the heating element requires an ordinary pane of float glass. A fluorine-doped tin oxide coating (SnO2:F) measuring 0.25 micron thick is applied to one surface of the glass during fabrication. The coating conducts electricity, has a very tightly controlled resistance, has no appreciable color or structure, and is quite transparent. The coating has low emissivity properties that help contribute to the efficiency of the heated glass.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Heat transfer, Fabrication, Coatings, colorants, and finishes, Conductivity, Glass
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Method of Cross-Linking Aerogels Using a One-Pot Reaction Scheme

A document discusses a new, simplified method for cross-linking silica and other oxide aerogels, with a polymeric material to increase strength of such materials without adversely affecting porosity or low density. The usual process is long and arduous, requiring multiple washing and soaking steps to infiltrate oxide with the polymer precursor after gelation. Additionally, diffusion problems can result in aerogel monoliths that are not uniformly cross-linked.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Forming, Nanomaterials, Nanotechnology, Polymers
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