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

Composite Insulated Conductor

These extreme fire-resistant insulation systems show promise for use in high-voltage, high-power systems.

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed a new class of polyimide composite electrical insulation materials for wires, cable, and bus pipe. These new insulation materials have been shown to withstand a 12-hour gas flame test while maintaining structural and electrical circuit integrities. These extreme fire-resistant insulation systems show promise for use in high-voltage, high-power systems. They can improve survivability and continuity of the electrical power supply. Besides fire resistance, these materials also provide weight and space savings because of their lightweight nature and exceptionally high-performance capability. NASA developed the wire insulation for exploration and space operations; however, the technology also has applicability to other high-voltage, high-power systems for maritime, high-rise building construction, and other industries.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials
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Multifunctional Platelet Composites for Tin Whisker Mitigation

Applications include consumer electronics, automotive, and electronic weapons systems.

To comply with the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive, pure tin is replacing lead-tin alloys in commercial electronic devices. Unfortunately, tin can grow whiskers that can lead to electrical short circuits or metal vapor arcing, both of which threaten the long-term reliability of electronic systems, and cause critical systems to fail catastrophically. A current method of whisker mitigation utilizes coatings based on glassy or rubbery unfilled polymers; such coatings are not impenetrable to tin whiskers.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials
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Electrically Conductive, Optically Transparent Polymer/Carbon Nanotube Composites

A templated growth process provides uniform-sized carbon nanotubes.

NASA's Langley Research Center researchers have developed a novel method for making carbon nanotubes that are very uniform in size. A template is used to guide the carbon nanotube growth so that all nanotubes are uniform in size. The carbon nanotubes can be used as-grown, uniformly dispersed, and aligned within the template or isolated from the template for use as carbon nanotubes. The solution-based process uses sugar as a carbon source, does not require vacuum, and is thus simple and low-cost in nature.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials
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Space Vehicle Heat Shield Having Edgewise Strips of Ablative Material

Edgewise strips of PICA ablator eliminate gaps in the capsule heat shield.

An alternate heat shield concept for the Orion space vehicle is to use interlocking blocks of Phenolic Impregnated Carbon Ablator (PICA). The blocks are independent from one another and there is a defined gap inches between the blocks. That gap poses serious problems to the vehicle and crew if gases flow between the PICA blocks. This invention is a simple yet robust invention for PICA block gap filler. Strips of preconditioned PICA blocks are positioned edgewise to fill gaps between PICA blocks to provide a gap filler substance that allows thermal expansion, and satisfies mechanical strain between the PICA tiles and substructure.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials
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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
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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
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Mechanical Actuators Bend as They “Breathe”

The equipment used for testing the new materials. (Credit: MIT)

Extreme temperatures can severely strain a mechanical component because its material may have trouble enduring the heat without degrading. To address the problem, researchers at MIT developed a new material that expands and contracts as it lets oxygen in and out. The result is a new way to make actuators that could be used in extremely hot environments.

Posted in: News, Materials, Mechanical Components, Motion Control
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3D-Printed Soft Robot ‘Walks’ on Any Terrain

Traditional robots often feature isolated mechanical joints. These discrete components limit a rover’s ability to traverse sand, stone, and other challenging environments.

A team at the University of California San Diego has demonstrated a more flexible option: a soft robot that lifts its legs over obstacles and operates on a variety of terrains. The 3D-printed quadrupedal technology may someday support search-and-rescue missions requiring intelligent navigation capabilities.

Posted in: News, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Materials, Automation, Robotics
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Advancing Bioabsorbable Scaffolds with Polymer Technology

In this White Paper, you will find information on:

Bioabsorbable scaffolds and the next revolution in endovascular therapy Advances in polymer technology to treat coronary artery disease Challenges to creating bioresorbable stents
Posted in: White Papers, Materials, Medical
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A New Path for Lamination Adhesives: Leaping Time Barriers and Erasing Steps

Automotive manufacturers, particularly in North America, primarily use two-component waterborne, reactive hot-melt, and solvent-borne adhesives for laminating thermoplastic olefin, polyvinyl chloride and leather skins to polyethylene and polypropylene foams — for applications like interior door panels, consoles and instrument panels.

Posted in: White Papers, Automotive, Coatings & Adhesives, Materials, Automotive, Transportation
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