January 2008

Articles : Software
CAD Tools: Usability versus Capabilities

CAD software has come a long way in terms of ease of use, interoperability, speed, and capabilities. But there is still a long way to go. We spoke to executives at leading CAD software companies to find out what’s most important to their users, and what the next revolution in CAD software will be.

Application Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Electrostatic Detection System Prevents Injuries and Damage During Spacecraft Assembly
Remote Voltage Sensor
Quasar Federal Systems
San Diego, CA
858-228-3386
www.quasarusa.com

Electrostatic charges impact the safety of both workers and spacecraft, and have been recognized as one of the main problems at the NASA...

Application Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Low-Power FPGAs Aboard NASA’s Mission to Mars to Study Climate History
RTAX-S field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) Actel
Mountain View, CA
650-318-4200
www.actel.com

Actel’s RTAX-S field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) are aboard NASA’s Phoenix mission to Mars, which launched this summer from Cape Canaveral...

Products
Connex500™

Objet Geometries, Billerica, MA, has introduced the Connex500™ multimaterial 3D printer based on the company's PolyJet Matrix™ technology, which provides simultaneous jetting of multiple model materials. The system enables the printing of parts and assemblies made of multiple materials in a single build, and fabricates...

Techs for License
Extraction of Betulin and Betulinic Acid from Birch Bark

NaturNorth has created bioactive compounds with potential applications in pharmaceutical, agricultural, and biocidal applications. The compounds have potential applications against HIV, MRSA, herpes, in anticancer treatments, and in anti-inflammatory, liver protection, and skin protection...

Techs for License
Non-Bitter Peptide

In a two-step process of hydrolyzation utilizing fungal proteases, mild peptide is extracted in such a way that it is free of the bitter taste and aftertaste of similar products. Mild peptide may be mixed with protein drinks and other products to increase the effectiveness of the protein through its amino acid profile and its...

NASA Tech Needs
Pharmaceutical Processing Technologies

A company seeks a range of new processing and preparation technologies for use in pharmaceutical preparation. Such technologies may enhance current chemistry processes such as finer milling that leads to faster in-process reactions. Technologies may be applicable to a variety of pharmaceuticals after...

Tech Needs
Microwavable Packaging That Produces Authentic Grilled Foods

This organization wants to create authentic grilled foods in a home microwave oven with typical microwave food preparation times and convenience. Authentic grilled foods combine a slightly charred taste with a less fatty, cleaner feel, and the appearance of grill marks seared by high...

Who's Who
Dr. John Mather, Chief Scientist for the Science Mission Directorate

Using NASA's Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) satellite to measure microwaves and infrared light that originated with the formation of the universe, Dr. John C. Mather helped verify the validity of the Big Bang theory. Recently named to head up the Office of the Chief...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Induction Charge Detector With Multiple Sensing Stages

An induction charge detector with multiple sensing stages has been conceived for use in characterizing sprayed droplets, dust particles, large ionized molecules, and the like. Like related prior single-stage devices, each stage yields a measurement of the electric charge and the time of...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Generic Helicopter-Based Testbed for Surface Terrain Imaging Sensors

To be certain that a candidate sensor system will perform as expected during missions, we have developed a field test system and have executed test flights with a helicopter- mounted sensor platform over desert terrains, which simulate Lunar features. A key advantage to this...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Optimized Geometry for Superconducting Sensing Coils

An optimized geometry has been proposed for superconducting sensing coils that are used in conjunction with superconducting quantum interference devices (SQUIDs) in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), magneto- encephalography (MEG), and related applications in which magnetic fields of small...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Robot Electronics Architecture

An electronics architecture has been developed to enable the rapid construction and testing of prototypes of robotic systems. This architecture is designed to be a research vehicle of great stability, reliability, and versatility. A system according to this architecture can easily be reconfigured (including...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Sensing a Changing Chemical Mixture Using an Electronic Nose

A method of using an electronic nose to detect an airborne mixture of known chemical compounds and measure the temporally varying concentrations of the individual compounds is undergoing development. In a typical intended application, the method would be used to monitor the air in an...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Inertial Orientation Trackers With Drift Compensation

A class of inertial- sensor systems with drift compensation has been invented for use in measuring the orientations of human heads (and perhaps other, similarly sized objects). These systems can be designed to overcome some of the limitations of prior orientation- measuring systems that are...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Microstrip Yagi Antenna With Dual Aperture-Coupled Feed

A proposed microstrip Yagi antenna would operate at a frequency of 8.4 GHz (which is in the X band) and would feature a mechanically simpler, more elegant design, relative to a prior L-band microstrip Yagi antenna. In general, the purpose of designing a microstrip Yagi antenna is to combine...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Optical Displacement Sensor for Sub- Hertz Applications

A document discusses a sensor made from off-the-shelf electro-optical photodiodes and electronics that achieves 20 nm/(Hz)1/2 displacement sensitivity at 1 mHz. This innovation was created using a fiber-coupled laser diode (or Nd:YAG) through a collimator and an aperture as the...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Tunable Optical Assembly With Vibration Dampening

Since their market introduction in 1995, fiber Bragg gratings (FBGs) [wherein "fiber" signifies optical fiber] have emerged as excellent means of measuring such parameters as strain and temperature. Distributed-grating sensing is particularly beneficial for such structural-health monitoring...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Patterned Ferroelectric Films for Tunable Microwave Devices

Tunable microwave devices based on metal terminals connected by thin ferroelectric films (see Figure 1) can be made to perform better by patterning the films to include suitably dimensioned, positioned, and oriented constrictions. The patterns (see Figure 2) can be formed during...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Spatial Combining of Laser-Diode Beams for Pumping an NPRO

A free-space optical beam combiner now undergoing development makes it possible to use the outputs of multiple multimode laser diodes to pump a neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet (Nd:YAG) non-planar ring oscillator (NPRO) laser while ensuring that the laser operates at only a single...

Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Efficient G⁴FET-Based Logic Circuits

A total of 81 optimal logic circuits based on four-gate field-effect transistors (G4FETs) have been designed to implement all Boolean functions of up to three variables. The purpose of this development was to lend credence to the expectation that logic circuits based on G4FETs could be...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Patterning of Indium Tin Oxide Films

A relatively rapid, economical process has been devised for patterning a thin film of indium tin oxide (ITO) that has been deposited on a polyester film. ITO is a transparent, electrically conductive substance made from a mixture of indium oxide and tin oxide that is commonly used in touch panels,...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Gimballed Shoulders for Friction Stir Welding

In a proposed improvement of tooling for friction stir welding, gimballed shoulders would supplant shoulders that, heretofore, have been fixedly aligned with pins. The proposal is especially relevant to self-reacting friction stir welding.

Briefs : Materials
SiO₂/TiO₂ Composite for Removing Hg From Combustion Exhaust

Pellets made of a high-surface-area composite of silica and titania have shown promise as means of removing elemental mercury from flue gases. With further technical development and commercialization, this material could become economically attractive as a more-effective,...

Briefs : Materials
Lightweight Tanks for Storing Liquefied Natural Gas

Single-walled, jacketed aluminum tanks have been conceived for storing liquefied natural gas (LNG) in LNG-fueled motor vehicles. Heretofore, double- wall steel tanks with vacuum between the inner and outer walls have been used for storing LNG. In comparison with the vacuum-insulated steel...

Briefs : Materials
Hybrid Wound Filaments for Greater Resistance to Impacts

The immediately preceding article includes an example in which a composite overwrap on a pressure vessel contains wound filaments made of a hybrid of high-strength carbon fibers and poly(phenylene benzobisoxazole) [PBO] fibers. This hybrid material is chosen in an effort to increase the...

Briefs : Materials
Making High-Tensile-Strength Amalgam Components

Structural components made of amalgams can be made to have tensile strengths much greater than previously known to be possible. Amalgams, perhaps best known for their use in dental fillings, have several useful attributes, including room- temperature fabrication, corrosion resistance, dimensional...

Briefs : Materials
Bonding by Hydroxide-Catalyzed Hydration and Dehydration

A simple, inexpensive method for bonding solid objects exploits hydroxidecatalyzed hydration and dehydration to form silicatelike networks in thin surface and interfacial layers between the objects. (Silicatelike networks are chemical-bond networks similar to, but looser than, those of...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Balanced Flow Meters Without Moving Parts

Balanced flow meters are recent additions to an established class of simple, rugged flow meters that contain no moving parts in contact with flow and are based on measurement of pressure drops across objects placed in flow paths. These flow meters are highly accurate, minimally intrusive, easily...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Passive Porous Treatment for Reducing Flap Side-Edge Noise

A passive porous treatment has been proposed as a means of suppressing noise generated by the airflow around the side edges of partial-span flaps on airplane wings when the flaps are extended in a high-lift configuration. The treatment proposed here does not incur any aerodynamic...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Deflection-Compensating Beam for Use Inside a Cylinder

A design concept for a beam for a specific application permits variations and options for satisfying competing requirements to minimize certain deflections under load and to minimize the weight of the beam. In the specific application, the beam is required to serve as a motion-controlled...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Four-Point-Latching Microactuator

Figure 1 depicts an experimental inchworm- type linear microactuator. This microactuator is a successor to the one described in "MEMS-Based Piezoelectric/ Electrostatic Inchworm Actuator" (NPO- 30672), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 27, No. 6 (June 2003), page 68. Both actuators are based on the principle of using a...

Briefs : Medical
Validating Requirements for Surgical Spinal Implants With Finite Element Analysis

When Spinal USA, a manufacturer and distributor of advanced surgical spinal products, designed a new series of spinal implants called vertebral body replacement (VBR) devices, they needed to meet United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements for...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Improved Thermal Modulator for Gas Chromatography

An improved thermal modulator has been invented for use in a variant of gas chromatography (GC). The variant in question — denoted as two-dimensional gas chromatography (2DGC) or GC-GC — involves the use of three series-connected chromatographic columns, in the form of capillary tubes...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Nuclear-Spin Gyroscope Based on an Atomic Co-Magnetometer

An experimental nuclear-spin gyroscope is based on an alkali-metal/noblegas co-magnetometer, which automatically cancels the effects of magnetic fields. Whereas the performances of prior nuclear-spin gyroscopes are limited by sensitivity to magnetic fields, this gyroscope is insensitive...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Utilizing Ion-Mobility Data To Estimate Molecular Masses

A method is being developed for utilizing readings of an ion-mobility spectrometer (IMS) to estimate molecular masses of ions that have passed through the spectrometer. The method involves the use of (1) some feature-based descriptors of structures of molecules of interest and (2) reduced...

Briefs : Information Technology
Algorithm Optimally Orders Forward-Chaining Inference Rules

People typically develop knowledge bases in a somewhat ad hoc manner by incrementally adding rules with no specific organization. This often results in a very inefficient execution of those rules since they are so often order sensitive. This is relevant to tasks like Deep Space Network...

Briefs : Information Technology
Project Integration Architecture

The Project Integration Architecture (PIA) is a distributed, object- oriented, conceptual, software framework for the generation, organization, publication, integration, and consumption of all information involved in any complex technological process in a manner that is intelligible to both computers and humans....

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Multiple-Cone Sunshade for a Spaceborne Telescope

A document describes a sunshade assembly for the spaceborne telescope of the Terrestrial Planet Finder Coronagraph mission. During operation, the telescope is aimed at target stars in the semi-hemisphere away from the Earth's Sun. The observatory rotates about its pointing axis during a single...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
High Power Amplifier and Power Supply

A document discusses the creation of a high-voltage power supply (HVPS) that is able to contain voltages up to –20 kV, keep electrical field strengths to below 200 V/mil (≈7.87 kV/mm), and can provide a 200- nanosecond rise/fall time focus modulator swinging between cathode potential of 16.3 kV...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Estimating Mixing Heights Using Microwave Temperature Profiler

A paper describes the Microwave Temperature Profiler (MTP) for making measurements of the planetary boundary layer thermal structure — data necessary for air quality forecasting as the Mixing Layer (ML) height determines the volume in which daytime pollution is primarily...

Photonics Tech Briefs : Physical Sciences
Curved Piezoelectric Actuators for Stretching Optical Fibers

Assemblies containing curved piezoceramic fiber composite actuators have been invented as means of stretching optical fibers by amounts that depend on applied drive voltages. Piezoceramic fiber composite actuators are conventionally manufactured as sheets or ribbons that are flat and...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Cylindrical Piezoelectric Fiber Composite Actuators

The use of piezoelectric devices has become widespread since Pierre and Jacques Curie discovered the piezoelectric effect in 1880. Examples of current applications of piezoelectric devices include ultrasonic transducers, micropositioning devices, buzzers, strain sensors, and clocks. The...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Polarization/Spatial Combining of Laser-Diode Pump Beams

The figure depicts a breadboard version of an optical beam combiner that makes it possible to use the outputs of any or all of four multimode laser diodes to pump a non-planar ring oscillator (NPRO) laser. This apparatus could be an alternative to the one described in the immediately...

News : Aerospace
Join the Celebration! NASA Turns 50

This year, NASA celebrates its 50th anniversary, which will be observed on October 1. All year, NASA Tech Briefs will join in the celebration, highlighting technology innovations and epic moments in NASA history, leading to our special 50th Anniversary Issue in October.

In each issue’s UpFront page,...

Articles : Electronics & Computers
Z-RAM

In the electronics industry today there are two commonly used high-speed memory types: static RAM (SRAM) and dynamic RAM (DRAM). Traditionally, SRAM embedded memory has been the designer's choice for fast memory, but since a typical SRAM bitcell is comprised of six transistors, that benefit comes at the expense of cost and silicon area....

Articles : Electronics & Computers
Designing Configurable Air Transport Racks

High-powered embedded computing equipment utilizing the Air Transport Rack (ATR) form factor is playing an ever-larger role in extreme, mission-critical applications in air, land, and sea environments. This compact, rugged, and light form factor has been around for nearly 70 years. Its small size meets...

Articles : Electronics & Computers
Designing COTS Computers for Harsh Environments

The need for commercial off the shelf (COTS) single board computer (SBC) products continues to grow as higher processing, smaller footprints and lower power requirements become more critical. For design engineers in medical, military, industrial, aeronautics and other fields, the desire for reduced...

Application Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Performing Failure Mode and Effect Analysis

Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA) is a methodology for analyzing potential problems early in the product development cycle where it is easier to take action to overcome potential issues, thereby enhancing reliability through design. The tool is used to identify relationships between process and...

Products : Electronics & Computers
Single Board Computer

VersaLogic Corp. (Eugene, OR) offers the Sidewinder, a single board computer (SBC) designed to complement their existing EBX product line. The Sidewinder is a reliable fanless design featuring a robust array of onboard I/O functions including 8-channel 12- bit analog input, and 32- channel digital I/O. The RoHS-compliant...

Products : Electronics & Computers
Boundary Scan Test System

ASSET InterTech (Richardson, TX) has expanded its ScanWorks® system by adding signal integrity analysis applications that support Intel's next-generation embedded instrumentation technology, Intel® IBIST (Interconnect Built In Self Test). ASSET's ScanWorks environment with support for IBIST consists of software...

Products : Electronics & Computers
13 GHz Test System

Lecroy® Corporation (Chestnut Ridge, NY) has introduced a 13 GHz test system comprised of the SDA 13000 Serial Data Analyzer, the D13000PS Active Differential Probe, and a suite of debug and analysis tools. The new system provides powerful methods for next-generation serial data bus design, development, and debug.

Products : Electronics & Computers
Avionics Network

ALT Software, DiSTI, Green Hills Software, and RTI (Santa Clara, CA) have combined to introduce a robust solution for mission-critical data distribution and display. The real-time integrated avionics network is for remotely piloted vehicles as well as other defense and aerospace applications.

Products : Electronics & Computers
32 GB 2.5-inch SATA Solid State Drive

The new 32 GB SATA Solid State Disk (SSD) Drive from Ridata (Diamond Bar, CA) is almost twice as fast as a conventional hard disk drive. The data transfer rates are 60MB/s for maximum sequential read and 48MB/s for maximum sequential write. It requires a five-volt power supply.

Products : Electronics & Computers
VME64x PowerPC Single Board Computer

Cornet Technology Inc. (Springfield, VA) has announced its latest VME64x PowerPC single board computer called the Celero CVME-7448ST. This board incorporates a newer hostbridge controller (Tundra Tsi109) and DDR2 memory technology. The CVME- 7448ST offers higher performance per watt and improved signal...

Products : Electronics & Computers
VMEbus Single Board Computer

Dynatem (Mission Viejo, CA) offers the Intel® Core-Duo (Yonah) processor-based DPD VMEbus Single Board Computer (SBC). The DPD is a single-slot VMEbus (and VME64) compatible platform and requires only 5V from the backplane, enabling full functionality in legacy VMEbus backplane systems. All major components...

Products : Electronics & Computers
Center Probe Test Sockets

The new line of high-frequency center probe test sockets from Aries Electronics (Frenchtown, NJ) can be used with devices requiring pitches as low as 0.40mm. The sockets are used in CSP, MicroBGA, DSP, LGA, SRAM, DRAM, and Flash devices with speeds from 1 GHz to over 10 GHz.

Products : Electronics & Computers
1000-Watt Power Supply

Lambda (San Diego, CA) has introduced the HWS1000 series of 1000-watt power supplies. The single-output power supplies are ideal for powering process control equipment, ATE, and factory automation systems. The power supplies meet the SEMI F4 power line sag specs. The units are available in 10 nominal output voltages...

Products : Electronics & Computers
System in Package Designs

System in Package (SiP) designs from Endicott Interconnect Technologies (Endicott, NY) bring multiple packages from a printed wiring board (PWB) into a SiP for improved electrical performance, and reduced PWB complexity and cost.

Products : Electronics & Computers
Networking System-on-Chip Coprocessors

Lantronix (Irvine, CA) has introduced the DeviceLinx™ XChip™ family of fully turnkey, networking coprocessor system-on-chip (SoC) solutions. The SoC family enables original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to embed serial-to-Ethernet connectivity and web services into a new class of high-volume,...

Products : Electronics & Computers
Encrypted EEPROMs

Amtel® Corporation (San Jose, CA) offers the CryptoMemory® family of EEPROMs with a 64-bit embedded hardware encryption engine, four sets of non-readable 64-bit authentication keys, and four sets of non-readable 64-bit session encryption keys. The new devices provide a low-cost means of preventing product counterfeiting...

Products : Electronics & Computers
64-Bit Single Board Computer

MEN Micro Inc. (Boston, MA) has expanded its series of intercompatible CompactPCI/-Express single board computers (SBCs) with a new 64-bit board based on the Intel® Core™2 Duo Processor T7500 combined with the Mobile Intel 965GM Express Chipset. The new F18 SBC is ideal for industrial applications such as...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Micron-Accurate Laser Fresnel-Diffraction Ranging System

The figure schematically depicts two versions of an optoelectronic system, undergoing development at the time of reporting the information for this article, that is expected to be capable of measuring a distance between 2 and 10 m with an error of no more than 1 μm. The system would be...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Web-Enabled Optoelectronic Particle-Fallout Monitor

A Web-enabled optoelectronic particle- fallout monitor has been developed as a prototype of future such instruments that (l) would be installed in multiple locations for which assurance of cleanliness is required and (2) could be interrogated and controlled in nearly real time by multiple...

Articles : Photonics/Optics
Combining Multimode Emissions from Broad Area Laser Diodes into Single-Mode Spots without Feedback

Broad-area laser diodes are the most efficient coherent light sources and are widely used today. The extraordinary efficiency, modulation easiness, availability to virtually any wavelength and compactness are the principle drives stimulating the...

Application Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Design of a Field-Mapped Beam Homogenizer

Light beam homogenizer designs used for decades are largely based upon lenticular lens arrays that date back to the 1940s and 1950s. A more recent design is from the late 1980s that comprises a pair of crossed-cylindrical lenticular lens structures coupled with a condensing lens. The 1980s design has 10...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Optical Displacement Sensor for Sub-Hertz Applications

A document discusses a sensor made from off-the-shelf electro-optical photo-diodes and electronics that achieves 20 nm/(Hz)1/2 displacement sensitivity at 1 mHz. This innovation was created using a fiber-coupled laser diode (or Nd:YAG) through a collimator and an aperture as the...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Tunable Optical Assembly With Vibration Dampening

Since their market introduction in 1995, fiber Bragg gratings (FBGs) [wherein “fiber” signifies optical fiber] have emerged as excellent means of measuring such parameters as strain and temperature. Distributed-grating sensing is particularly beneficial for such structural-health monitoring...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Cylindrical Piezoelectric Fiber Composite Actuators

The use of piezoelectric devices has become widespread since Pierre and Jacques Curie discovered the piezoelectric effect in 1880. Examples of current applications of piezoelectric devices include ultrasonic transducers, micro-positioning devices, buzzers, strain sensors, and clocks. The...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Micron-Accurate Laser Fresnel-Diffraction Ranging System

The figure schematically depicts two versions of an opto-electronic system, undergoing development at the time of reporting the information for this article, that is expected to be capable of measuring a distance between 2 and 10 m with an error of no more than 1 μm. The system would be...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Polarization/Spatial Combining of Laser-Diode Pump Beams

The figure depicts a breadboard version of an optical beam combiner that makes it possible to use the outputs of any or all of four multimode laser diodes to pump a non-planar ring oscillator (NPRO) laser. This apparatus could be an alternative to the one described in the immediately...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Web-Enabled Optoelectronic Particle-Fallout Monitor

A Web-enabled optoelectronic particle-fallout monitor has been developed as a prototype of future such instruments that (l) would be installed in multiple locations for which assurance of cleanliness is required and (2) could be interrogated and controlled in nearly real time by multiple remote...

Products
Photonics West Exhibitor Preview

View these and other new products on display by exhibitors at Photonics West, January 22-24, in San Jose, CA. Visit Photonics Tech Briefs at Booth 1437.Visit http://spie.org/x2584.xml for more information.

Technology Leaders