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

Magnetically Stimulated Flow Patterns Could Solve Heat Transfer Problems

Sandia National Laboratories researchers Jim Martin and Kyle Solis have discovered a way to harness magnetic fields to create vigorous, organized fluid flows in particle suspensions. The magnetically stimulated flows offer an alternative when heat transfer is difficult because they overcome natural convection limits. Martin and Solis even demonstrated a heat transfer valve that could potentially control the temperature of computer processors. But they're not sure how and why the flow patterns occur, although clearly it's a complex scientific behavior stemming from fundamental phenomena.

Posted in: News, Physical Sciences


Laser Spider Web Sensor Used With Portable Handheld Devices

This device can be used for monitoring of greenhouse gases and tailpipe emissions, and for breath analysis. A powerful tool in understanding the role that greenhouse gasses play in climate change would be real-time data from laser chemical sensors providing concentrations and locations of key gasses. The adoption and widespread use of smart mobile phones is an ideal platform on which to create an international web of data collection devices. Because long path lengths often mean more space, many precision instruments are too large to be useful anywhere outside of a lab or test bench environment. A more compact method of achieving long path lengths is needed to advance the field of trace chemical detection.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Sensors, Sensors and actuators, Greenhouse gas emissions, Data acquisition, Data acquisition (obsolete)


Wireless Sensor Node for Autonomous Monitoring and Alerts in Remote Environments

Networked nodes can keep track of assets such as robots, people, and vehicles.The current radio infrastructure for firefighters provides voice communications, but does not support data transfer capability for continuous monitoring of people in the field. Current radios require user interaction to perform manual voice check-in for firefighter status. A new infrastructure is required to enable continuous, autonomous monitoring of firefighters at work via a remote command and control center. The system also needs the capability to send two-way alerts in real time as early warning of impending danger to firefighters and as indication of an emergency in the field due to a downed firefighter(s).

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Sensors, Telecommunications systems, Fire fighting


Life-Detecting Radar

First responders and search and rescue teams are the primary applications. A new device detects the heartbeat and respiration of victims trapped in rubble or disaster debris, and reduces the time required to initiate a rescue. Searchers would like to distinguish live victims from those who have died recently and to distinguish humans from animals. In addition to search and rescue, there are other uses for the device that can detect multiple humans from a distance, and with material between the device and the humans.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Radar, Human factors


High-Energy Lithium Flow Cells With Sulfur Cathodes for Transportation Applications

These cells can be used for large energy storage systems. Since the entry of lithium-ion rechargeable batteries into the market, considerable improvements have been made in their gravimetric and volumetric energy densities, especially compared to aqueous systems such as Pb-acid, Ni-Cd, and Ni-MH. Sulfur cathodes have been well studied for over three decades, due to many of their attractive features such as high specific energy, abundance, and low cost. A successful sulfur-based battery is, however, still to emerge, especially for ambient temperature applications.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Lithium-ion batteries


Physical Causes of Extremely Low Geomagnetic Activity

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California An analysis of solar, solar wind, and geomagnetic data during the recent solar cycle minimum (2008) has recently been undertaken. It was discovered that the lowest value of the Ap index [this index is an averaged planetary A index based on data from a set of specific magnetometer stations] in the history of its recording occurred during 2009, about 1 year after solar minimum. The investigators were able to determine that it was the decrease of solar and interplanetary forcing that was causing the anomalous effect. The coronal holes, which emit high-speed solar wind plasma streams, were located at middle (solar) latitudes during this epoch of the solar cycle. Thus the full brunt of the solar wind and its embedded Alfvén waves missed the Earth and its magnetosphere, lessening the effect of the solar wind-magnetosphere interaction.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Analysis methodologies, Data acquisition, Data acquisition (obsolete), Test procedures, Satellites


Green PCB Removal From Sediment Systems (GPRSS)

A redeployable polymer blanket attacks and adsorbs PCBs. John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida A number of NASA centers have used polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)-containing materials that have subsequently ended up in surrounding sediment systems. Each center is evaluating remediation technologies that may have application to their environmental problems; however, there are only limited options available for application to sediments containing PCBs. Currently, the most utilized option is dredging followed by disposal in a Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)-regulated landfill. This is an expensive option with long-term liability implications for simply enacting a waste transfer remedy (as opposed to a waste destruction alternative), as well as possible contaminant re-introduction into the water table. PCB contamination in sediment systems is a global issue, posing ecological and human health risks.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Ethanol, Medical, health, and wellness, Waste disposal, Magnesium, Polymers, Hazardous materials


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