March 2011

News : Energy
Funding Opportunity for Applied R&D in Hydrogen Storage Technologies

The DOE's Fuel Cell Technologies Program is offering up to $12 million to advance hydrogen storage technologies for use in fuel cell powered vehicles and other applications. The funding will be made available for applied research and development projects in two topic areas.

Features : Energy
From Aircraft Wings to Wind Turbine Blades: NASA Software Comes Back to Earth with Green Energy Applications

You might think a wind turbine would have more in common with a plane’s propeller than an aircraft wing, but wind blades actually behave a lot more like wings than props. This fact has enabled a valuable spinoff from aerospace to wind...

Briefs : Materials
Carbon Nanotubes on Titanium Substrates for Stray Light Suppression

A method has been developed for growing carbon nanotubes on a titanium substrate, which makes the nanotubes ten times blacker than the current state-of-the-art paints in the visible to near infrared. This will allow for significant improvement of stray light performance in...

Products : Energy
30V Power MOSFETs

The NexFET™ power MOSFET from Texas Instruments (Dallas, TX) has been designed to minimize losses in power conversion applications. The MOSFET features ultralow Qg and Qgd, low thermal resistance, and Pb-free terminal plating. It is avalanche rated, RoHS-compliant, and halogen-free.

Products : Transportation
High-Power Transformers

Payton Planar Magnetics (Deerfield Beach, FL) offers high-power transformers with 99%+ efficiencies. These types of transformers are used in battery charging stations for HV and can be connected in series to achieve 60-80KW. All Payton automotive magnetics are qualified to meet full automotive specs.

Scalable Real-Time OS

TenAsys Corporation (Beaverton, OR) has announced a new scalable real-time OS called INtime® Distributed RTOS. Based on INtime for Windows®, INtime Distributed RTOS enables programmers to write applications that run without modification on different system configurations from single-core or multi-core processor systems to...

Separation Kernel and Embedded Hypervisor

LynuxWorks™ (San Jose, CA) has introduced LynxSecure 5.0, a new separation kernel and hypervisor that adds performance increases for fully virtualized guest operating systems (OSes) by utilizing new hardware technologies and offering 64-bit and Symmetric Multi-processing (SMP) guest OS virtualization...

Oscilloscope in a DIP Module

Saelig Company (Pittsford, NY) has introduced Xprotolab - the first mixed-signal oscilloscope with an arbitrary waveform generator housed in a tiny 1" x 1.6" DIP module. It can be mounted directly on a breadboard or PCB for in situ testing and verification. Based on Atmel's ATXMEGA32A4 microcontroller, with 32KB...

3U cPCI Single Board Computer

The 75DP3 from North Atlantic Industries (NAI) (Bohemia, NY) is a single slot, 3U cPCI SBC configured with Freescale’s™ PowerPC MPC8536 or Analog Devices’ Blackfin® BF533 processor. When coupled with the 75D3 or 75C3 multi-function I/O boards, functions supported include digital I/O (discrete, differential,...

SATA-based VME Disk Module

Elma Electronic Systems division (Fremont, CA) now offers the SATA-based EDM2, a dual-slot 6U VME storage module that retains the SCSI interface while adding the latest in 2.5" SATA drive technology. The new module appears to the system as a legacy SCSI drive via an onboard Ultra320 SCSI interface, while incorporating...

News : Energy
Insight into Bacteria for Solar Energy

Researchers from Washington University in St. Louis and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have used small-angle neutron scattering to analyze the structure of chlorosomes in green photosynthetic bacteria. Chlorosomes are efficient at collecting sunlight for conversion to energy, even in low-light and...

Products : Energy
Advanced Diodes

Power Integrations (San Jose, CA) announced the availability of the Qspeed family of advanced diodes. Qspeed diodes use a unique silicon-based process to combine an extremely low reverse recovery charge (QRR) with a very soft recovery waveform. Together, these features help designers optimize the efficiency and EMI performance of...

News : Electronics & Computers
Improving the Vanadium Redox Battery

Though considered a promising large-scale energy storage device, the vanadium redox battery's use has been limited by its inability to work well in a wide range of temperatures and its high cost. New research indicates that modifying the battery's electrolyte solution significantly improves its performance -...

News : Energy
View the March Issue of Solar & Wind Power

The latest issue of Solar & Wind Power is here. Inside the March issue are more feature articles, tech briefs, application stories, and technologies for license - all on the latest alternative energy solutions.

Briefs : Energy
Accurate Wind Simulation Tool for Wind Turbines and Wind Farms

CgWind is a new, high-fidelity simulation tool designed to meet the modeling requirements of advanced wind energy resources. These new resources, targeting 20% of the US electrical supply by 2030, require the development of larger and lighter wind turbines as well as more accurate...

Briefs : Energy
Black Silicon Enhanced Thin-Film Silicon Photovoltaic Devices

An enhanced thin-film silicon photovoltaic device with improved efficiency has been developed. Thin-film silicon solar cells suffer from low material absorption characteristics, resulting in poor cell efficiencies. SiOnyx’s approach leverages black silicon, an advanced material...

Products : Electronics & Computers
Capacitive Sensor Signal Conditioner

ZMDI (Dresden, Germany) has expanded its family of capacitive sensor signal conditioners (SSCs) with the addition of the wide-dynamic-range ZSSC3122 cLite device. With new design technology, the chip delivers 14-bit resolution and 0.25% full-scale-output accuracy. A built-in sleep mode lowers current...

News : Electronics & Computers
Extending Battery Life for Mobile Devices

University of Illinois engineers have developed a form of ultra-low-power digital memory that is faster and uses 100 times less energy than similar available memory. The technology could give future portable devices much longer battery life between charges.

Briefs : Energy
Spacecraft Radiator Freeze Protection Using a Regenerative Heat Exchanger
An active thermal control system architecture has been modified to include a regenerative heat exchanger (regenerator) inboard of the radiator. Rather than using a radiator bypass valve, a regenerative heat exchanger is placed inboard of the radiators.
Briefs : Energy
Multi-Mission Power Analysis Tool

Multi-Mission Power Analysis Tool (MMPAT) Version 2 simulates spacecraft power generation, use, and storage in order to support spacecraft design, mission planning, and spacecraft operations. It can simulate all major aspects of a spacecraft power subsystem. It is parametrically driven to reduce or eliminate the...

News : Energy
Universal Energy Harvesting Kit

Cymbet Corporation (Elk River, MN) has introduced its EnerChip™ EP CBC-EVAL-09 Universal Energy Harvesting evaluation kit. The EVAL-09 supports all types of ambient energy harvesting from light, vibration, thermal gradients, and flow/motion.

Articles : Imaging
Imagery in Motion: Advances in Ultra-High-Speed Cameras

Ultra-high-speed framing cameras have long been the workhorse for acquiring elusive data in scientific fields where very fast phenomena are studied, such as high-voltage discharge, crack propagation, detonics, and impact studies. Today these cameras are also increasingly used in the fields...

Articles : Imaging
3D Displays Emerge and Immerse

The first 3D immersive environments, consisting of rudimentary software, projection, and display technologies, appeared two or more decades ago, but the past five years have seen a dramatic increase in the power and versatility of these projection and display environments.

Application Briefs : Imaging
Vision System Finds and Aligns Electronic Components

Nordson Asymtek, headquartered in Carlsbad, CA, provides automated fluid dispensing systems, which are used in the assembly and packaging of semiconductors, printed circuit boards, flat panel displays, electronic components, and medical/biotech products. The dispensing system, however,...

Products : Imaging
Digital High-Speed Camera

Vision Research, Wayne, NJ, has released the 4000 ISO-rated Phantom® v341 high-speed camera. The v341 incorporates a 4-megapixel, 35mm format sensor and almost 3 gigapixels/second throughput, offering rates of 800 frames per second. The camera, which has shutter speeds down to 1 microsecond, features a 2560 × 1600...

Products : Imaging
Camera Link Devices

Vivid Engineering, Shrewsbury, MA, offers supporting products for Camera Link applications. The CLR-101C, a repeater and adapter, enables the use of PoCL cameras with standard frame grabbers. A simulator, the CLS-212, incorporates special features for testing or exercising PoCL devices. The CLV-412 splitter distributes the...

Products : Imaging
Video-Zoom Objective with CMOS Camera

Titan Tool Supply, Buffalo, NY, announces its Micro-Video-Zoom Objective featuring a CMOS camera. The unit is supplied with a 6' USB cable and TWAIN-compliant software. It has an adjustable back focal length, for use with any monocular microscope tube measuring 150 to 170mm long. The system has a...

Products : Imaging
EST Projector

VDC Display Systems, a division of Video Display Corporation, Atlanta, GA, has announced its Marquee® SSL 7000HD projector. Key features include a 16.4" Extreme Short Throw Lens, LED light source, 1920 × 1080 HD resolution, along with ruggedized and non-ruggedized variants. A VDC data display system includes the EST projectors,...

Articles : Automotive
Global Car Platforms: Automotive Design With the World in Mind

Hours before most commuters start their engines and head to work, James Hughes is already calling the other side of the world from his office in Dearborn, MI. Because of a six-hour time difference between most of his engineering sites abroad, including the Ford Merkenich small car...

Articles : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Create the Future Design Contest Winners: Where Are They Now?

The Create the Future Design Contest was launched in 2002 by the publishers of NASA Tech Briefs to help stimulate and reward engineering innovation. The competition has attracted more than 7,000 product design ideas that have the potential to change the way we live and work. As the...

Articles : Software
Software Development and Integration Services Support NASA Simulation and Flight Research
Software and hardware design, development, and testing
Blue Bell, PA

NASA has chosen Unisys to provide application development and systems integration services to support the simulation and...

Application Briefs : RF & Microwave Electronics
General Dynamics to Supply Next-Generation Deep Space Network Antennas
Beam waveguide antennas
General Dynamics SATCOM
Newton, NC

General Dynamics SATCOM Technologies has been chosen by NASA s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to build two additional 34-meter...

Application Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Semiconductor Laser Technology Chosen for Space LIDAR
Single-frequency semiconductor laser
Redfern Integrated Optics (RIO)
Santa Clara, CA

NASA has chosen Redfern Integrated Optics to further develop a single-frequency, narrow-linewidth semiconductor laser suitable for spaceflight...

Mesa Geo 3G Rugged Notepad

Juniper Systems, Logan, UT, has introduced the Mesa Geo 3G Rugged Notepad™ that offers Bluetooth® wireless technology, Wi-Fi®, 2-5 meter accuracy GPS, 3.2MP digital camera, and a 3G GSM cellular data modem that provides real-time wireless connectivity while working in the field. The notepad provides a platform for...

NASA Tech Needs
Carbon Nanotubes for Stray Light Suppression

Bright light from sources such as the Earth or bright stars is scattered on surfaces of scientific instruments and creates noise in scientific observations. All scientific instruments have baffles, stops, and other components that are used to reduce the amount of stray light that decreases signal to...

Briefs : Information Technology
Optimal Tuner Selection for Kalman-Filter-Based Aircraft Engine Performance Estimation

An emerging approach in the field of aircraft engine controls and system health management is the inclusion of real-time, onboard models for the inflight estimation of engine performance variations. This technology, typically based on Kalman-filter concepts,...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Power-Combined GaN Amplifier With 2.28-W Output Power at 87 GHz

Future remote sensing instruments will require focal plane spectrometer arrays with higher resolution at high frequencies. One of the major components of spectrometers are the local oscillator (LO) signal sources that are used to drive mixers to down-convert received radio-frequency...

Briefs : Information Technology
Airborne Radar Interferometric Repeat-Pass Processing

Earth science research often requires crustal deformation measurements at a variety of time scales, from seconds to decades. Although satellites have been used for repeat-track interferometric (RTI) synthetic-aperture-radar (SAR) mapping for close to 20 years, RTI is much more difficult to...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Plug-and-Play Environmental Monitoring Spacecraft Subsystem

A Space Environment Monitor (SEM) subsystem architecture has been developed and demonstrated that can benefit future spacecraft by providing (1) real-time knowledge of the spacecraft state in terms of exposure to the environment; (2) critical, instantaneous information for anomaly...

Briefs : Software
Wallops Ship Surveillance System

Approved as a Wallops control center backup system, the Wallops Ship Surveillance Software is a day-of-launch risk analysis tool for spaceport activities. The system calculates impact probabilities and displays ship locations relative to boundary lines. It enables rapid analysis of possible flight paths to...

Briefs : Software
Guidance, Navigation, and Control Program

The Rendezvous and Proximity Operations Program (RPOP) is realtime guidance, navigation, and control (GN&C) domain piloting-aid software that provides 3D Orbiter graphics and runs on the Space Shuttle’s Criticality-3 Payload and General Support Computer (PGSC) in the crew cockpit. This software...

Briefs : Software
Source Lines Counter (SLiC) Version 4.0

Source Lines Counter (SLiC) is a software utility designed to measure software source code size using logical source statements and other common measures for 22 of the programming languages commonly used at NASA and the aerospace industry. Such metrics can be used in a wide variety of applications, from...

Briefs : Software
Single-Frame Terrain Mapping Software for Robotic Vehicles

This software is a component in an unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) perception system that builds compact, single-frame terrain maps for distribution to other systems, such as a world model or an operator control unit, over a local area network (LAN). Each cell in the map encodes an...

Briefs : Software
Auto Draw From Excel Input Files

The design process often involves the use of Excel files during project development. To facilitate communications of the information in the Excel files, drawings are often generated. During the design process, the Excel files are updated often to reflect new input. The problem is that the drawings often lag the...

Briefs : Software
Observation Scheduling System

Software has been designed to schedule remote sensing with the Earth Observing One spacecraft. The software attempts to satisfy as many observation requests as possible considering each against spacecraft operation constraints such as data volume, thermal, pointing maneuvers, and others. More complex constraints...

Briefs : Software
CFDP for Interplanetary Overlay Network

The CCSDS (Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems) File Delivery Protocol for Interplanetary Overlay Network (CFDP-ION) is an implementation of CFDP that uses ION’s DTN (delay tolerant networking) implementation as its UT (unit-data transfer) layer. Because the DTN protocols effect automatic,...

Briefs : Software
X-Windows Widget for Image Display

XvicImage is a high-performance X-Windows (Motif-compliant) user interface widget for displaying images. It handles all aspects of low-level image display. The fully Motif-compliant image display widget handles the following tasks:

Image display, including dithering as neededZoom
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
MMIC Replacement for Gunn Diode Oscillators

An all-solid-state replacement for high-frequency Gunn diode oscillators (GDOs) has been proposed for use in NASA’s millimeter- and submillimeter-wave sensing instruments. Highly developed microwave oscillators are used to achieve a low-noise and highly stable reference signal in the 10–40-GHz...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Binary-Signal Recovery

Binary communication through long cables, opto-isolators, isolating transformers, or repeaters can become distorted in characteristic ways. The usual solution is to slow the communication rate, change to a different method, or improve the communication media. It would help if the characteristic distortions could be...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Volumetric 3D Display System With Static Screen

Current display technology has relied on flat, 2D screens that cannot truly convey the third dimension of visual information: depth. In contrast to conventional visualization that is primarily based on 2D flat screens, the volumetric 3D display possesses a true 3D display volume, and places...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Feature Acquisition With Imbalanced Training Data

This work considers cost-sensitive feature acquisition that attempts to classify a candidate datapoint from incomplete information. In this task, an agent acquires features of the datapoint using one or more costly diagnostic tests, and eventually ascribes a classification label. A cost function...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Carbon Nanotube-Based Structural Health Monitoring Sensors

Carbon nanotube (CNT)-based sensors for structural health monitoring (SHM) can be embedded in structures of all geometries to monitor conditions both inside and at the surface of the structure to continuously sense changes. These CNTs can be manipulated into specific orientations to...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Nanopatterning of Inorganic and Polymeric Substrates by Indentation Lithography

A recent collaboration between the Whitesides Group at Harvard University and CSM Instruments has culminated in an important advance in lithography of different materials at the nano scale. The motivation for this

development was the ability to produce unique...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Mount Protects Thin-Walled Glass or Ceramic Tubes From Large Thermal and Vibration Loads

The design allows for the low-stress mounting of fragile objects, like thin walled glass, by using particular ways of compensating, isolating, or releasing the coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) differences between the mounted object and the mount...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Wireless Inductive Power Device Suppresses Blade Vibrations

Vibration in turbomachinery can cause blade failures and leads to the use of heavier, thicker blades that result in lower aerodynamic efficiency and increased noise. Metal and/or composite fatigue in the blades of jet engines has resulted in blade destruction and loss of lives....

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Anti-Rotation Device Releasable by Insertion of a Tool

A drive mechanism enables a socket-type wrench to rotate a shaft and prevents accidental rotation of the shaft when the wrench is not coupled to the shaft. In the original intended application, the shaft would be part of an attachment mechanism on a spacecraft, and the purpose to be served...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Safe, Advanced, Adaptable Isolation System Eliminates the Need for Critical Lifts

The Starr Soft Support isolation system incorporates an automatically reconfigurable aircraft jack into NASA’s existing 1-Hertz isolators. This enables an aircraft to float in mid-air without the need for a critical lift during ground vibration testing (GVT),...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Single Piezo-Actuator Rotary-Hammering Drill

This innovation comprises a compact drill that uses low-axial preload, via vibrations, that fractures the rock under the bit kerf, and rotates the bit to remove the powdered cuttings while augmenting the rock fracture via shear forces. The vibrations “fluidize” the powered cuttings inside the...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
A Magnetically Coupled Cryogenic Pump

Historically, cryogenic pumps used for propellant loading at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and other NASA Centers have a bellows mechanical seal and oil bath ball bearings, both of which can be problematic and require high maintenance. Because of the extremely low temperatures, the mechanical seals are made of...

Briefs : Materials
Fire-Retardant Polymeric Additives

Polyhydroxyamide (PHA) and polymethoxyamide (PMeOA) are fire-retardant (FR) thermoplastic polymers and have been found to be useful as an additive for imparting fire retardant properties to other compatible, thermoplastic polymers (including some elastomers). Examples of compatible flammable polymers include...

Briefs : Materials
Catalytic Generation of Lift Gases for Balloons

A lift-gas cracker (LGC) is an apparatus that generates a low-molecular-weight gas (mostly hydrogen with smaller amounts of carbon monoxide and/or carbon dioxide) at low gauge pressure by methanol reforming. LGCs are undergoing development for use as sources of buoyant gases for filling...

Briefs : Materials
Ionic Liquids to Replace Hydrazine

A method for developing safe, easy-to-handle propellants has been developed based upon ionic liquids (ILs) or their eutectic mixtures. An IL is a binary combination of a typically organic cation and anion, which generally produces an ionic salt with a melting point below 100 °C. Many ILs have melting points...

Briefs : Materials
Variable Emittance Electrochromics Using Ionic Electrolytes and Low Solar Absorptance Coatings

One of the last remaining technical hurdles with variable emittance devices or skins based on conducting polymer electrochromics is the high solar absorptance of their top surfaces. This high solar absorptance causes overheating of the skin when facing...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Improved Ambient Pressure Pyroelectric Ion Source

The detection of volatile vapors of unknown species in a complex field environment is required in many different applications. Mass spectroscopic techniques require subsystems including an ionization unit and sample transport mechanism. All of these subsystems must have low mass, small volume,...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Correction for Self-Heating When Using Thermometers as Heaters in Precision Control Applications

In precision control applications, thermometers have temperature-dependent electrical resistance with germanium or other semiconductor material thermistors, diodes, metal film and wire, or carbon film resistors. Because resistance readout requires...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Gravitational Wave Detection With Single-Laser Atom Interferometers

A new design for a broadband detector of gravitational radiation relies on two atom interferometers separated by a distance L. In this scheme, only one arm and one laser are used for operating the two atom interferometers. The innovation here involves the fact that the atoms in...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Titanium Alloy Strong Back for IXO Mirror Segments

A titanium-alloy mirror-holding fixture called a strong back allows the temporary and permanent bonding of a 50° D263 glass x-ray mirror (IXO here stands for International X-ray Observatory). The strong back is used to hold and position a mirror segment so that mounting tabs may be bonded to...

Briefs : Information Technology
Multi-Modal Image Registration and Matching for Localization of a Balloon on Titan

A solution was developed that matches visible/IR imagery aboard a balloon in Saturn’s moon Titan’s atmosphere to SAR (synthetic aperture radar) and visible/IR data acquired from orbit. A balloon in Titan’s atmosphere must be able to localize itself...

Briefs : Information Technology
Entanglement in Quantum-Classical Hybrid

It is noted that the phenomenon of entanglement is not a prerogative of quantum systems, but also occurs in other, non-classical systems such as quantum-classical hybrids, and covers the concept of entanglement as a special type of global constraint imposed upon a broad class of dynamical systems....

Briefs : Information Technology
Algorithm for Autonomous Landing

Because of their small size, high maneuverability, and easy deployment, micro aerial vehicles (MAVs) are used for a wide variety of both civilian and military missions. One of their current drawbacks is the vast array of sensors

(such as GPS, altimeter, radar, and the like) required to make a landing. Due...

Briefs : Information Technology
Quantum-Classical Hybrid for Information Processing

Based upon quantum-inspired entanglement in quantum-classical hybrids, a simple algorithm for instantaneous transmissions of non-intentional messages (chosen at random) to remote distances is proposed. The idea is to implement instantaneous transmission of conditional information on remote...

Briefs : Information Technology
Small-Scale Dissipation in Binary-Species Transitional Mixing Layers

Motivated by large eddy simulation (LES) modeling of supercritical turbulent flows, transitional states of databases obtained from direct numerical simulations (DNS) of binary-species supercritical temporal mixing layers were examined to understand the subgrid-scale...

Briefs : Information Technology
Coding for Parallel Links To Maximize the Expected Value of Decodable Messages

When multiple parallel communication links are available, it is useful to consider link-utilization strategies that provide tradeoffs between reliability and throughput. Interesting cases arise when there are three or more available links. Under the model considered,...

Briefs : Information Technology
Superpixel-Augmented Endmember Detection for Hyperspectral Images

Superpixels are homogeneous image regions comprised of several contiguous pixels. They are produced by shattering the image into contiguous, homogeneous regions that each cover between 20 and 100 image pixels. The segmentation aims for a many-to-one mapping from superpixels to...

Dr. Jacqueline Quinn, Environmental Engineer, NASA’s Surface Systems Office, Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Dr. Jacqueline Quinn is an environmental engineer with NASA’s Surface Systems Office at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. In 2005, a groundwater remediation technology she helped develop, called Emulsified Zero-Valent Iron (EZVI),...

Who's Who
Dr. Jacqueline Quinn, Environmental Engineer, NASA’s Surface Systems Office, Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Dr. Jacqueline Quinn is an environmental engineer with NASA’s Surface Systems Office at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. In 2005, a groundwater remediation technology she helped develop, called Emulsified Zero-Valent Iron (EZVI),...

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