Special Coverage

Transducer-Actuator Systems for On-Machine Measurements and Automatic Part Alignment
Wide-Area Surveillance Using HD LWIR Uncooled Sensors
Heavy Lift Wing in Ground (WIG) Cargo Flying Boat
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

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, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Life cycle analysis, Safety regulations and standards

Pyramid Micro-Electrofluidic-Spray Propulsion Thruster with Integrated Attitude and Thrust Vector Control

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

A micro-electrofluidic-spray propulsion (MEP) system was built on a micro scale, in which arrays of hundreds of nano-thrusters are etched on silicon wafers like ICs, only a centimeter on a side. Many dozens of these thruster chips can be arrayed to form a macro-thruster of finite and significant thrust. Approximately 300 centimeter-square, 100-micro-Newton micro-thrusters are arrayed in a square pyramidal structure. The pyramid is of shallow obliquity, with no more than 20° offset from the spacecraft face. This small angular offset is sufficient to provide thrust vector control (TVC) for the thruster.

Posted in: Briefs, Aerospace, Mechanical Components, Nanotechnology, Propulsion, Semiconductors & ICs

Mechanically Induced Nucleation Improves Crystalline Quality During Melt Growth of Semiconductors

Significantly lower supercooling results in the ideal growth condition of single crystal nucleation.

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama

For certain semiconductors with important applications, the existing bulk crystal growth technique from the melt usually results in poor-quality multi-crystalline ingots that cause the typically low yield of the commercial growth process. The low-quality, multi-grained crystal growth is mainly caused by the large supercool of the melt, which prohibits the ideal growth condition that a small, single-crystal nucleus forms at the very tip and grows into a large single crystal. For instance, semi-insulating cadmium zinc telluride (CdZnTe) crystal is a highly promising material for room-temperature x-ray and gamma ray detectors. However, the major hurdle in using the CdZnTe crystals is its cost. The ability to pack many data acquisition channels (hundreds) with the stopping power for high-energy radiation requires large single crystals of CdZnTe.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Semiconductors & ICs, Semiconductors, Data acquisition, Data acquisition (obsolete)

A Resistive, High-Voltage, Differential Input Interface in a 3.3-V BiCMOS 0.5-μm Process for Extreme Environments

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

Wide-temperature and extreme-environment electronics are crucial to future missions. These missions will not have the weight and power budget for heavy harnesses and large, inefficient warm boxes. In addition, extreme-environment electronics, by their inherent nature, allow operation next to sensors in the ambient environment, reducing noise and improving precision over the warm-box-based systems employed today.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Electronics & Computers, Power Management, Semiconductors & ICs, Sensors, Electronic equipment, Electronic equipment

Radiation Hard By Design (RHBD) Electronics

Under certain conditions, a false signal will be absorbed and a correct signal will be generated.

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

Current RHBD electronics are limited to speeds that approximate 250 MHz, regardless of the electronic process. The fact that determines the final speed is based on the nature of the current SEU (single-event upsets) radiation-tolerant latches, and the data flow between the latches through combinational logic.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Semiconductors & ICs, Electronic equipment, Electronic equipment

Detecting Loss of Configuration Access of Reprogrammable FPGA Without External Circuitry

This innovation makes use of the clearing of distributed memory that results from configuration refreshes.

The configuration of the reprogrammable field-programmable gate array (FPGA) currently on the market is very susceptible to single event upset when it operates in radiation environments. The current state-of-the-art approach is to refresh the configuration while the FPGA is operating. When using this approach, it is essential to detect the loss of configuration access while the FPGA is operating in a radiation environment, allowing the system to initiate a configuration access recovery.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Semiconductors & ICs, Electronic control systems, Electronic control systems

Micro-Coil Spring Interconnection for Ceramic Grid Array Packaged Integrated Circuits

This interconnection method extends the useful life of ceramic area array integrated circuits.

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama

This method of interconnecting ceramic integrated circuits to organic printed circuit boards (PCBs) is designed to substantially increase the life of the interconnections. This is accomplished by providing a means of compensating for the shear stresses produced by thermal excursions as a result of the large mismatch of coefficients of thermal expansion between the integrated circuit and the printed circuit board.

Posted in: Briefs, Semiconductors & ICs, Electronic equipment, Electronic equipment, Ceramics

Method for Formal Verification of Polymorphic Heterogeneous Multicore Processors

John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio

Amethod was developed to model polymorphic heterogeneous multicore processors at a high level of abstraction, and formally verify them. The Bahurupi polymorphic heterogeneous multi-core architecture allows the combination of multiple simple processor cores — which can be superscalar — in order to form a coalition that behaves like a wider superscalar processor. This is done at runtime under software directives, allowing the architecture to adapt to the needs of executed applications with high instruction level parallelism. Such coalitions of cores were found to have comparable or better performance than that of a wide superscalar processor with issue width equal to the sum of the issue widths of the simple cores in the coalition, while avoiding the complexity, reliability issues, and high power consumption of wide superscalar cores. All of these are highly desirable advantages of future microprocessors that will be optimized for aerospace applications.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Semiconductors & ICs, Architecture, Architecture, Semiconductors

SEE Mitigation Technique for Self-Timed Circuits and Rad-Hard, Self-Timed Configurable Memory

The new block RAM is faster and consumes less power than conventional block RAMs, while providing unparalleled levels of radiation resilience.

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama

To enable NASA’s next-generation missions, there is a critical need for a reconfigurable field programmable gate array (FPGA) that can withstand the wide temperature ranges and radiation of the space environment while consuming minimal power without compromising on performance. To address this need, GoofyFoot Labs developed the E2-AMP FPGA, a radiation-hardened, high-performance, low-power FPGA capable of operating reliably over wide temperature ranges and rapid thermal changes.

Posted in: Briefs, Semiconductors & ICs, Electronic equipment, Electronic equipment

Modeling for Partitioned and Multicore Flight Software Systems

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

The current flight software approach is monolithic in nature. Every module has tentacles that reach deep within dozens of other software modules. Because of these interdependencies between modules, functionality is difficult to extract and reuse for other missions.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Semiconductors & ICs, Architecture, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Flight control systems, Architecture, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Flight control systems, Semiconductors

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