April 2009

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Wireless Fluid-Level Sensors for Harsh Environments

Magnetic-field-response sensors have been developed for use in measuring levels of fluids under extreme conditions. The sensors work without wire connections or direct physical contact with power sources, microprocessors, data- acquisition equipment, or electrical circuitry. For fuel-level...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Direct-Solve Image-Based Wavefront Sensing

A method of wavefront sensing (more precisely characterized as a method of determining the deviation of a wavefront from a nominal figure) has been invented as an improved means of assessing the performance of an optical system as affected by such imperfections as misalignments, design errors, and...

Briefs : Medical
Using Fluorescent Viruses for Detecting Bacteria in Water

A method of detecting water-borne pathogenic bacteria is based partly on established molecular-recognition and fluorescent-labeling concepts, according to which bacteria of a species of interest are labeled with fluorescent reporter molecules and the bacteria can then be detected by...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Use of UV Sources for Detection and Identification of Explosives

Measurement of Raman and native fluorescence emission using ultraviolet (UV) sources (<400 nm) on targeted materials is suitable for both sensitive detection and accurate identification of explosive materials. When the UV emission data are analyzed using a combination of...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Gradiometer Using Middle Loops as Sensing Elements in a Low-Field SQUID MRI System

A new gradiometer scheme uses middle loops as sensing elements in low-field superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This design of a second order gradiometer increases its sensitivity and makes it more uniform,...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Volcano Monitor: Autonomous Triggering of 'In-Situ' Sensors

In-situ sensors near volcanoes would be alerted by the Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) craft to take more frequent data readings. This project involves developing a sulfur-dioxide-sensing volcano monitor that will be able to transmit its readings through an Iridium modem. The monitor, when...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Wireless Devices for Temperature Monitoring

The growth of wireless instrumentation technology has provided new ways to apply temperature measurement sensors, combined with personal computers, to collect, tabulate, and analyze data. For complex, multi-sensor applications, wireless devices provide a means to eliminate the nuisance of running...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Interference-Detection Module in a Digital Radar Receiver

A digital receiver in a 1.26-GHz spaceborne radar scatterometer now undergoing development includes a module for detecting radio-frequency interference (RFI) that could contam-inate scientific data intended to be acquired by the scatterometer. The role of the RFI-detection module is to...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Modal Vibration Analysis of Large Castings

The art of experimental modal vibration analysis (MVA) has been extended to apply to large castings. This extension was made to enable the use of experimental MVA as a relatively inexpensive, simple means of assessing the internal structural integrity of tread shoes of crawler transporters used to move...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Structural/Radiation-Shielding Epoxies

A development effort was directed toward formulating epoxy resins that are useful both as structural materials and as shielding against heavy-ion radiation. Hydrogen is recognized as the best element for absorbing heavy-ion radiation, and high- hydrogen-content polymers are now in use as shielding...

Briefs : Materials
Integrated Multilayer Insulation

Integrated multilayer insulation (IMLI) is being developed as an improved alternative to conventional multilayer insulation (MLI), which is more than 50 years old. A typical conventional MLI blanket comprises between 10 and 120 metallized polymer films separated by polyester nets. MLI is the best...

Articles : Medical
2008 Create the Future Design Contest Grand Winner

This year’s seventh annual NASA Tech Briefs “Create the Future Design Contest,” presented by Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp., recognized innovation in product design in six categories: Consumer Products, Machinery & Equipment, Medical, Safety & Security, Sustainable...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Determining Aliasing in Isolated Signal Conditioning Modules

Within a digital world, the parameters of real-world information (temperature, voltage, current, speed, flow, pressure, distance, etc.) used for process communications and control are analog in nature. Processing this information is achieved primarily using digital signal processing...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Apparatus for Screening Multiple Oxygen-Reduction Catalysts

An apparatus that includes an array of multiple electrodes has been invented as a means of simultaneously testing multiple materials for their utility as oxygen-reduction catalysts in fuel cells. The apparatus ensures comparability of test results by exposing all the catalyst-material...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Spectrum Analyzers Incorporating Tunable WGM Resonators

A photonic instrument is proposed to boost the resolution for ultraviolet/optical/infrared spectral analysis and spectral imaging allowing the detection of narrow (0.00007-to-0.07-picometer wavelength resolution range) optical spectral signatures of chemical elements in space and planetary...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Composite Bipolar Plate for Unitized Fuel Cell/Electrolyzer Systems

In a substantial improvement over present alkaline systems, an advanced hybrid bipolar plate for a unitized fuel cell/ electrolyzer has been developed. This design, which operates on pure feed streams (H2/O2 and water, respectively) consists of a porous...

Articles : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Consumer Products Category Winner

Jim Jablonsky
J&M Associates
Hatfield, PA

This inexpensive and easily operated filter system removes heavy metals, arsenic, mercury, bad tastes, and offensive odors. It consists of a composite mixture of metal oxide, carbon, and zeolite multimedia that has been processed...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Quantum-Well Thermophotovoltaic Cells

Thermophotovoltaic cells containing multiple quantum wells have been invented as improved means of conversion of thermal to electrical energy. The semiconductor bandgaps of the quantum wells can be tailored to be narrower than those of prior thermophotovoltaic cells, thereby enabling the cells to convert...

Briefs : Information Technology
Bounded-Angle Iterative Decoding of LDPC Codes

Bounded-angle iterative decoding is a modified version of conventional iterative decoding, conceived as a means of reducing undetected- error rates for short low-density parity-check (LDPC) codes. For a given code, bounded- angle iterative decoding can be implemented by means of a simple...

Briefs : Information Technology
Conversion From Tree to Graph Representation of Requirements

A procedure and software to implement the procedure have been devised to enable conversion from a tree representation to a graph representation of the requirements governing the development and design of an engineering system. The need for this procedure and software and for other...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Parallel Hybrid Vehicle Optimal Storage System

A paper reports the results of a Hybrid Diesel Vehicle Project focused on a parallel hybrid configuration suitable for diesel-powered, medium-sized, commercial vehicles commonly used for parcel delivery and shuttle buses, as the missions of these types of vehicles require frequent stops. During...

Briefs : Medical
Anaerobic Digestion in a Flooded Densified Leachbed

A document discusses the adaptation of a patented biomass-digesting process, denoted sequential batch anaerobic composting (SEBAC), to recycling of wastes aboard a spacecraft. In SEBAC, high-solids-content biomass wastes are converted into methane, carbon dioxide, and compost.

Articles : Robotics, Automation & Control
Machinery & Equipment Category Winner

Winner of an HP Workstation

Small-Area Thin-Film Heat Flux Sensor

Mahmoud Assaad
The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.
Akron, OH

This sensor is being used in tires of all types and sizes, and has also been applied to engineering products such as hoses, belts, and...

Articles : Medical
Medical Category Winner

Kristina Irsch Wilmer Ophthalmological Institute, Johns Hopkins University
School of Medicine
Baltimore, MD

Amblyopia, commonly known as “lazy eye,” is the leading cause of vision loss in childhood, caused by misalignment of the eyes (strabismus) or defocus. If treated early in...

Articles : Electronics & Computers
Safety & Security Category Winner

Electronic Fog, Frost, and Ice Prevention Technology

Don Skomsky
Integrity Engineering, Inc.
West Chester, PA

This electronic device prevents condensation, frost, and ice from forming on any surface. It predicts when fog, frost, and/or ice is about to form on a surface (windows,...

Articles : Green Design & Manufacturing
Sustainable Technologies Category Winner

Lindsay Meek

Perth, Australia

This design improves the energy efficiency of a residential air conditioner by replacing the traditional reciprocating compressor (bore and stroke) with a higher efficiency permanent magnet motor coupled to a scroll compressor. Recent advances in permanent...

Articles : Transportation
Transportation Category Winner

Tai Chiem

Melbourne, Australia

Movito is a scooter based on an electric inwheel motor, a hubless front wheel, and a modular base system. It is designed for traveling short distances in and around the city.

One of the key technologies used to reduce harmful emissions is an in-wheel motor...

Application Briefs : Communications
Communications Systems Support NASA’s Unmanned Aircraft
Communications systems and support equipment
L-3 Communications Corp.
Communications Systems West
Salt Lake City, UT
801-594-2000
www.l-3com.com/csw/

NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, CA has chosen L-3 Communications Systems West to...

Application Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Handheld Labeler is Key to International Space Station’s Organizational System
PT-1880 handheld electronic labeler
Brother International
Bridgewater, NJ
908-704-1700
www.brother-usa.com

In October 2007, the crew of NASA’s International Space Station (ISS) was having difficulty clarifying the often complex...

NASA Tech Needs
Advanced Computational Fluid Dynamics - Mesh Generation

NASA’s work in advanced aeronautics and space vehicle development relies on advanced Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) codes such as FUN3D that rely on numerical solution of equations of motion over a discrete mesh of points in three dimensions. A judicious placement of points is...

Products
P356 Low-Pressure Gage

Kavlico, a unit of Custom Sensors & Technologies, Moorpark, CA, has introduced the P356 low-pressure gage/differential pressure sensor for applications requiring an operational life in excess of 10 years. Available in pressure ranges of 0-0.5, 0-1, ±1, 0-3, and 0-5 PSI, the sensor provides a linear amplified voltage...

Articles
Product Simplification: Rediscover a Whole New Game

Product simplification is the discipline of merging the greatest performance functionality into the fewest number of parts using the most suitable and cost-effective materials and manufacturing processes. It is an engineering board game, in a way, answering questions about a design and seeing a...

Who's Who
Dr. Alexander Kashlinsky, Senior Staff Scientist, SSAI, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD

Dr. Alexander Kashlinsky is a principal investigator on several NASA and NSF grants studying topics related to cosmological bulk flows, cosmic microwave and infrared background radiation, and early stellar populations. Using the Wilkinson Microwave...

Techs for License
Green Sewage Treatment and Water Purification Technology

A green sewage treatment and water purification technology combines water with fertilizer and biomass production. The sustainable water treatment system produces biofuel and organic fertilizer, and extracts carbon from the atmosphere. No electric power is required for sewage treatment,...

Techs for License
Odor Removal From Recycled Plastics

This technology removes odors from recycled plastics, especially high-density polyethylene (HDPE). Odors absorbed from household or industrial liquids do not affect physical properties of the polymer, but make the recycled plastic unsuitable for consumer goods. Trace amounts of polyethylene imines blended with...

Tech Needs
Generating Sodium Hydroxide from Sodium Sulfate and Calcium Hydroxide

A company produces crystalline sodium sulfate as a byproduct, using sodium hydroxide as one of many feeds within the process. They seek to use the available compounds to produce it in situ. The company seeks a process that uses sodium sulfate and calcium oxide to produce...

NASA Tech Needs
Manufacturing Method for Joining Elastic Materials

A company seeks methods of joining identical elastic materials. The current method is to use adhesives to bond the elastic components physically, but adhesives lack the strength of a chemical bond or weld. A method of joining or bonding natural or synthetic rubber in a way that can withstand a...

Podcasts
Dr. Alexander Kashlinsky, Senior Staff Scientist, SSAI, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD

Dr. Alexander Kashlinsky is a principal investigator on several NASA and NSF grants studying topics related to cosmological bulk flows, cosmic microwave and infrared background radiation, and early stellar populations. Using the Wilkinson...

Articles : Energy
"Create the Future" Sustainable Technologies Category Winner

The 2008 NASA Tech Briefs "Create the Future Design Contest," presented by SolidWorks, recognized innovation in product design in six categories: Consumer Products, Machinery & Equipment, Medical, Safety & Security, Sustainable Technologies, and Transportation. Here is the winner of...

Briefs : Energy
Quantum-Well Thermophotovoltaic Cells

Thermophotovoltaic cells containing multiple quantum wells have been invented as improved means of conversion of thermal to electrical energy. These cells are expected to be especially useful for extracting electrical energy from combustion, waste-heat, and nuclear sources. Conversion efficiencies more than...

Articles : Motion Control
Slip Clutches Solve Diverse Design Problems

Slip clutches are commonly used to protect against overloads, but they can solve many other problems as well. Their applications include increasing machine speeds, applying constant tension to webs or wires, indexing a mechanism, holding a hinged object in position, controlling torque on capping or...

Application Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
BEI Duncan’s Steer-by-Wire Technology Improves Fuel Efficiency for AGCO Challenger® Tractor

Off-highway tractors slog through mud, muck, and other rough terrain on a daily basis. Achieving high reliability and performance in spite of these harsh conditions requires technology at its best. To improve fuel efficiency and reliability while...

Application Briefs : Motion Control
Delta Motion Controller Helps ADI Improve Automotive Chassis Testing

There’s a science to testing metal structures for rigidity and performance under stress. The development of new testing methodologies is continuing at a fast pace, aided by innovations in supporting technologies. For example, motion controllers have evolved to support special...

Application Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Heidenhain Encoders Help TRW Machine Ford SUV Parts

TRW has been making parts for the automotive industry for many years, but when Ford Automotive considered giving them the contract to manufacture the rear toe-links for their Navigator and Expedition SUVs, their traditional lathes were considered inadequate for the task. The solution was to...

Products
Optical Encoder

The TONiC optical encoder from Renishaw, Hoffman Estates, IL, provides the accuracy of fine-pitch encoders in a rugged, simple-to-install package. It employs a compact read head (35mm long × 13.5mm wide × 10mm high for design/application flexibility and installation; even on micro-manufacturing systems for the semiconductor,...

Products
Pillow Blocks

Pillow blocks from Quality Bearings & Components, Garden City Park, NY, feature both locking collar and set screw types. Designated the BBXBLK-HCP and BBXBLK-UCP Series, the blocks have cast iron housings and are designed to fit shafts ranging from 1/2 to 3-1/2in. in diameter. The height from the bottom of the unit to the shaft...

Products
Incremental Encoder

The DFS 60 incremental encoders from Sick|Stegmann, Dayton, OH, are available in fully programmable versions to accommodate any value from 1 to 65,536 pulses per revolution. With the help of a simple programming tool, users, system integrators and distributors can select any number of lines between 1 and 65,536 via their PC...

Products
Piezo Linear Actuator

Based on the Piezo Walk principle, the N-380/N-381 NEXACT® ceramic linear motor actuator from Physik Instrumente replaces classical lead screw actuators. It combines high forces and long travel ranges with sub-nanometer resolution in a small package. It provides 1 kg of push/pull force, 30mm of travel, and 10mm/sec...

Products
DC Gearmotors

Designed for high torque, tight space applications, the FlexTorq™ 762 series hollow shaft offset DC gearmotors from Bison Gear & Engineering Corp., St. Charles, IL, feature either a 1.25in. (31.75mm) I.D. hollow shaft, or a 1.25in. diameter solid shaft in u-shaped or s-shaped configurations. Driven by 1/20, 1/4 or 1/2hp, 90Vdc...

Products
Speed Regulator

The Cushion-Start Kinechek® speed regulator from Deschner Corp., Santa Ana, CA, combines the shock absorbing feature of the company’s Cushioneer® shock absorber with the Kinechek® speed regulator. The impact-absorbing feature is a safeguard for those applications where a fast moving load exerts an impact force beyond the...

Products
Electric Actuator

The EGC electric actuator from Festo Corp., Hauppauge, NY, is designed for high dynamic speeds and high rigidity. It can be used as an individual component adapted to third-party motors, or as a complete system. The actuator is available with ball screw pitches in sizes 70, 80, 120, 185, and toothed belt pitches sizes of 50,...

Products
Linear Drive

The TA333 high-power linear drive from Trust Automation, San Luis Obispo, CA, combines a Class-AB linear amplifier with pure analog throughput at currents up to 25A. Highly configurable, the drive can be used with a brushless motor using external sinusoidal commutation, with an internally commutated brushless motor with Hall Effect...

Articles : Photonics/Optics
Taming Residual Bulk Image in CCDs

Residual bulk image (RBI) is a phenomenon observed in certain types of front side-illuminated charge-coupled devices (CCDs). A CCD is an electronic light sensor used in digital cameras. In simplest terms, the sensor exhibits a memory of prior exposures resulting in ghost images appearing in subsequent images....

Products
Photonics Tech Briefs Announces 2008 Products of the Year

The votes are in and the winners of the 2008 Photonics Tech Briefs Readers’ Choice Product of the Year Awards have been selected.

Application Briefs : Defense
Shortwave Infrared - The Latest Weapon in the War on Terror

Keeping one step ahead of our adversaries is top priority for security forces with terrorist threats growing daily around the world. Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance are the core situational awareness tools for the global war on terrorism (GWOT). Just as night vision...

Application Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Shortwave Infrared - The Latest Weapon in the War on Terror

Keeping one step ahead of our adversaries is top priority for security forces with terrorist threats growing daily around the world. Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance are the core situational awareness tools for the global war on terrorism (GWOT). Just as night vision...

Products
Product of the Month: Laser Beam Analysis System

Ophir-Spiricon (Logan, UT) has introduced BeamGageTM, a new laser beam analysis system. Based on UltraCalTM, Ophir-Spiracon’s patented baseline correction algorithm that helped establish the ISO 11146-3 standard for beam measurement accuracy, BeamGage guarantees that the data baseline...

Products
Gel Imaging System

UVP (Upland, CA) has released an upgraded GelDoc-ItTMTS Imaging System with a 15" VGA screen for high resolution fluorescent imaging. The GelDoc-It TS touch screen capabilities and built-in computer minimizes equipment on the laboratory workbench. The high resolution, scientific grade CCD camera, with conveniently located zoom...

Products
Near-IR Cameras

FJW Optical Systems, Inc. (Palatine, IL) has released the Find-R-Scope model 85700 and 85706 Near-IR Cameras. The cameras utilize a 2.54cm (1”) PbO-PbS Super Infrared Vidicon and sophisticated electronics to provide uniform high resolution, low geometric distortion, and low noise performance without compromising long term...

Products
LED Lighting Modules

The Imaging Source (Charlotte, NC) now offers cost effective LED lighting modules, which seamlessly integrate with The Imaging Source USB, FireWire, and GigE cameras. The lighting modules feature very bright LEDs and direct connection to the camera. All parameters can be set via the shipped software, IC Capture and IC...

Products
Piezo Stages

Physik Instrumente (Auburn, MA) has extended its line of piezo stages for scanning microscopy applications. The P-737 Piezo Z-Focusing Stage is offered along with the stiffer, P-726 high performance microscope lens focusing system for large NA microscope objectives and the redesigned P-686 XY piezo motor positioning stage providing...

Products
Transmission Flat For Interferometers

Tower Optical Corp. (Boynton Beach, FL) has released a Transmission Flat, TxF, that is used in interferometers to verify the surface flatness of plano elements such as mirrors, windows, and prism surfaces. The transmission flat provides a reference wavefront which is compared to the returning, reflected...

Products
Phototransistor Optocouplers

Everlight Electronics (Caroll-ton, TX) has introduced 4-pin SSOP phototransistor optocouplers. The phototransistor opto-couplers feature a low-profile (2mm) package, high isolation voltage (3750 Vrms), minimum creepage distance (5mm), wide operating temperature range (-55°C to +110°C), multiple...

Products
Thin-Film Thermoelectric Cooler

Nextreme Thermal Solutions (Durham, NC) has released a thin-film thermoelectric cooler module, the OptoCooler UPF40, designed for optoelectronic applications with high heat-flux requirements. The module is suitable for the cooling and temperature control of optoelectronic devices such as semiconductor optical...

Products
Miniature Halogen Lamps

Welch Allyn Lighting Products (Skaneateles Falls, NY) has introduced HPX® miniature halogen lamps with enhanced ultraviolet (UV) output and increased stability. The HPX lamps produce high-quality 340nm light with total output stability as high as 99.95%, making them ideal for integration into high-precision analytical...

Products
642nm 150mW Laser Diode

Photonic Products (Hertfordshire, UK) has announced the Opnext HL6385DG, a 642nm, 150mW, single longitudinal mode semi-conductor laser diode with TE mode oscillation. The Opnext HL6385DG laser diode is a single longitudinal mode, low aspect ratio laser diode with optical output power of 150mW CW (typ), at a lasing...

Products
LED Drivers

RECOM (Brooklyn, NY) has introduced the RCD-24-x.xx Series LED-drivers with current outputs of 300, 350, 500, 600 and 700mA, which can also be adjusted using the analog dim-function. The buck converters feature an input range of 4.5 - 36 Volts. The housing measures 22.1 × 12.6 × 8.5mm and is made of UL94-V0 material. The drivers...

Products
Dual Vision Thermal Imaging Camera

Mikron Infrared (Oakland, NJ) has introduced the M7816 Dual Vision Thermal Imaging Camera for demanding PPM applications. The camera features a 160 × 120 pixel resolution along with Mikron’s Dual Vision capabilities, which allows for the use of Mikron Fusion and Mikron Blender technology. The M7816 Dual...

Products
Pump Diode Laser

The AM6-940B-20-608 from Alfa-light, Inc. (Madison, WI) is a 940nm, 6W uncooled multimode laser diode for cladding-pumped telecom fiber amplifiers. The AM6-940B-20-608 device includes a thermistor for temperature tracking, supporting complete system diagnostic and performance monitoring. It is available in a compact, hermetic...

Products
Borescopes

GenScope, Inc. (E. Longmeadow, MA) introduces the MicroFlex, Micro SemiRigid, and MicroRigid ergonomic borescopes. With diameters of 0.6mm, the scopes are engineered for high speed inline and maintenance inspections in fast-moving aviation facilities. The MicroFlex GenScope has a durable fused quartz fiber optic image bundle that...

Products
Ruggedized Lasers

Model ML301HD and Model MIL301HD ruggedized laser diode modules from Bea Laser Inc. (Elk Grove Village, IL) withstand vibration, chemical, impact, and dust conditions. Available in red or green laser beam output, these units are suitable in applications for metal forming equipment, punch presses, and heavy-duty saws where...

Products
LED Driver

Linear Technology (Milpitas, CA) offers the LT3598, a 45V, 2.5MHz DC/DC boost mode converter designed to operate as a constant current LED driver for up to sixty white LEDs. The LT3598 can drive up to six strings of LEDs, each with up to ten 30mA white LEDs in series, while delivering efficiencies up to 90%. Its multichannel...

Products
Portable Raman Spectroscopy Device

A portable 1064nm Raman Spectroscopy device from Andor Technology (Belfast, Northern Ireland) is based around the Andor iDus InGaAs detector array camera and Bayspec’s high throughput Volume Phase Holographic Gratings (VPHG) spectrograph. The instrument offers price and performance benefits while also...

Products
Laser Apparatus

Mobius Photonics (Santa Clara, CA) has been awarded U.S. Patent #7,443,903 for a new laser apparatus that has multiple synchronous amplifiers tied to one master oscillator. This fiber-based architecture scales up average power for integration into high throughput machine tools without sacrificing reliability. Conventional...

Products
Handheld Spectrometer

The i-LAB® Hand Held Analyzing Spectrometer from MicrOptix Technologies (Wilton, ME) performs real-time measurement and analysis of liquids and solids in the visible light range from 400–700nm. Features include a variety of sample interface adapters for sample measurement in the laboratory, field, plant, and classroom...

Products
Damage-Resistant Mirrors

Saint-Gobain Crystals (Hiram, OH) has introduced high reflectors optimized for use with q-switched, solid-state lasers (Nd:YAG, NdYVO4, and Nd:YLF) operating in the near infrared and visible spectrum (1064nm, 1053nm, 532nm). The coatings on the beam delivery optics are designed to withstand high peak fluences...

Products
Dispersion Control Modules

OFS (Norcross, GA) has announced new additions to its FemtoCompTM Modules line of dispersion control technologies for ultra-short pulse lasers. The modules address the difficult-to-match, third- and fourth-order dispersions of commonly used grating compressors. There are four new FemtoComp Modules in...