April 2012

News : Materials
Tailoring Metal Oxides for Green Technological Applications

Harnessing solar energy can be as simple as tuning the optical and electronic properties of metal oxides at the atomic level by making an artificial crystal or super-lattice ‘sandwich.’ "Metal oxides can be tailored to meet all sorts of needs, which is good news for technological...

Achieving Better Lithium-Sulfur Batteries With Carbon Nanoparticles

As the number of mobile electronic devices from smart phones to e-bikes increases steadily worldwide, so does the demand for small, lightweight, and powerful batteries. Experts are looking at lithium-sulfur batteries as the next step in energy storage.

News : Electronics & Computers
Boosting Energy Efficiency of Multi-Hop Wireless Networks

Multi-hop wireless networks can provide data access for large and unconventional spaces, but they face significant limits on the amount of data they can transmit. North Carolina State University researchers have developed a more efficient data transmission approach that can boost the...

Question of the Week
By 2020, will the majority of consumers use mobile phones instead of cash?

Consumers can currently pay for products with mobile apps, and many tools are available to turn smartphones into mobile cash registers. Sixty-five percent of respondents to a Pew Internet & American Life Project survey say that by 2020 most people will have fully adopted...

News : Communications
Develop Wireless Chargers for Electric Vehicles

The U.S Department of Energy has recently announced up to $4 million available this year to accelerate the development and deployment of wireless charging systems for light-duty electric vehicles (EVs).

Question of the Week
Will augmented-reality technology catch on?

On Wednesday, Google previewed an initiative called Project Glass. The company created wrap-around glasses with a clear display that sits above the eye. The wearable-computing technology streams information to the lenses and allows the wearer to send and receive messages through voice commands. A...

News : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Magnetic Testing Technique Helps Ensure Reliability of PV Cells

Making use of the force generated by magnetic repulsion, Georgia Tech researchers have developed a new technique for measuring the adhesion strength between thin films of materials used in microelectronic devices, photovoltaic cells, and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS).

Frame Grabber

Building on the success of its Karbon®-CL line of PCI Express frame grabbers, BitFlow, Inc. (Woburn, MA) has introduced the model CL4-F featuring interfaces for two independent base, medium or full CameraLink (CL) digital video cameras. Two independent channels with separate trigger signals allow the CL4-F to acquire from two...

Photovoltaic Metallization Paste

DuPont Microcircuit Materials (MCM) (Bristol, UK) has introduced DuPont™ Solamet® PV416 photovoltaic metallization, a new frontside silver paste material used to raise the efficiency of thin film photovoltaic cells. This new silver composition has the capability to be processed at temperatures less than...

24W Laser

Coherent Inc. (Santa Clara, CA) has introduced a new, higher power Paladin™ laser designed for high-throughput Laser Direct Imaging (LDI) and other advanced microelectronics applications. The new Paladin Advanced 355 24000 is a mode-locked, diode-pumped, solid-state laser that delivers over 24W (at 80 MHz) of output power at 355 nm....

Thermoelectric Temperature Controller

ILX Lightwave (Bozeman, MT), a Newport Corporation brand, announced the addition of the LDT-5940C Thermoelectric Temperature Controller to its portfolio of thermoelectric temperature controllers designed for testing laser diodes and other optoelectronic devices. The LDT-5940C features 60W of temperature...

Question of the Week
Will 'swap shops' boost electric vehicle ownership?

Some electric car companies have begun to change their ownership models. The French automaker Renault, for example, has reduced its prices under a model that has drivers buy the car, but rent the battery separately. The idea of renting out an electric battery separately has inspired an Israeli...

News : Materials
'Tunable' Metal Films Increase Electrical Conductivity

Cornell chemists have developed a way to make porous metal films with up to 1,000 times the electrical conductivity offered by previous methods. Their technique opens the door to creating a wide variety of metal nanostructures for engineering and biomedical applications.

The new method...

News : Energy
Funding for Biomass R&D Initiative
Funding for Biomass R&D Initiative

Projects funded through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) — a joint program through the USDA and the DOE — will help develop economically and environmentally sustainable sources of...

Funding for Biomass R&D Initiative
Question of the Week
In the near future, will we see a widespread commercial use of autonomous vehicles?

Last week, Google released a video that demonstrated the potential of its self-driving car. The video showed a legally blind man, who after taking the driver seat of one of Google's robotic cars, maneuvered from his home, through neighborhoods, and into a...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Gas Composition Sensing Using Carbon Nanotube Arrays

This innovation is a lightweight, small sensor for inert gases that consumes a relatively small amount of power and provides measurements that are as accurate as conventional approaches. The sensing approach is based on generating an electrical discharge and measuring the specific gas...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Computational Ghost Imaging for Remote Sensing

This work relates to the generic problem of remote active imaging; that is, a source illuminates a target of interest and a receiver collects the scattered light off the target to obtain an image. Conventional imaging systems consist of an imaging lens and a high-resolution detector array [e.g., a...

Briefs : Software
Dispersed Fringe Sensing Analysis — DFSA

Dispersed Fringe Sensing (DFS) is a technique for measuring and phasing segmented telescope mirrors using a dispersed broadband light image. DFS is capable of breaking the monochromatic light ambiguity, measuring ab solute piston errors between segments of large segmented primary mirrors to tens of...

Briefs : Information Technology
Model-Based Method for Sensor Validation

Fault detection, diagnosis, and prognosis are essential tasks in the operation of autonomous spacecraft, instruments, and in situ platforms. One of NASA’s key mission requirements is robust state estimation. Sensing, using a wide range of sensors and sensor fusion approaches, plays a central role in...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Indium Tin Oxide Resistor-Based Nitric Oxide Microsensors

A sensitive resistor-based NO microsensor, with a wide detection range and a low detection limit, has been developed. Semiconductor microfabrication techniques were used to create a sensor that has a simple, robust structure with a sensing area of 1.10 × 0.99 mm. A Pt interdigitated...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Sensor for Boundary Shear Stress in Fluid Flow

The formation of scour patterns at bridge piers is driven by the forces at the boundary of the water flow. In most experimental scour studies, indirect processes have been applied to estimate the shear stress using measured velocity profiles. The estimations are based on theoretical models and...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Qualification of Engineering Camera for Long-Duration Deep Space Missions

Qualification and verification of advanced electronic packaging and interconnect technologies, and various other types of hardware elements for the Mars Exploration Rover’s Spirit and Opportunity (MER)/Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) flight projects, has been performed to...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Remotely Powered Reconfigurable Receiver for Extreme Environment Sensing Platforms

Wireless sensors connected in a local network offer revolutionary exploration capabilities, but the current solutions do not work in extreme environments of low temperatures (200K) and low to moderate radiation levels (

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Bump Bonding Using Metal-Coated Carbon Nanotubes

Bump bonding hybridization techniques use arrays of indium bumps to electrically and mechanically join two chips together. Surface-tension issues limit bump sizes to roughly as wide as they are high. Pitches are limited to 50 microns with bumps only 8–14 microns high on each wafer. A new process...

Briefs : Software
'In Situ' Mosaic Brightness Correction

In situ missions typically have pointable, mast-mounted cameras, which are capable of taking panoramic mosaics comprised of many individual frames. These frames are mosaicked together. While the mosaic software applies radiometric correction to the images, in many cases brightness/contrast seams still exist...

Briefs : Software
Simplex GPS and InSAR Inversion Software

Changes in the shape of the Earth’s surface can be routinely measured with precisions better than centimeters. Processes below the surface often drive these changes and as a result, investigators require models with inversion methods to characterize the sources. Simplex inverts any combination of GPS...

Briefs : Software
Virtual Machine Language 2.1

VML (Virtual Machine Language) is an advanced computing environment that allows spacecraft to operate using mechanisms ranging from simple, timeoriented sequencing to advanced, multicomponent reactive systems.

Briefs : Software
Multi-Scale Three- Dimensional Variational Data Assimilation System for Coastal Ocean Prediction

A multi-scale three-dimensional variational data assimilation system (MS-3DVAR) has been formulated and the associated software system has been developed for improving high-resolution coastal ocean prediction. This system helps improve coastal ocean...

Briefs : Software
Pandora Operation and Analysis Software

Pandora Operation and Analysis Software controls the Pandora Sun- and sky-pointing optical head and built-in filter wheels (neutral density, UV bandpass, polarization filters, and opaque). The software also controls the attached spectrometer exposure time and thermoelectric cooler to maintain the...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Processing of Nanosensors Using a Sacrificial Template Approach

A new microsensor fabrication approach has been demonstrated based upon the use of nanostructures as templates. The fundamental idea is that existing nanostructures, such as carbon nanotubes or biological structures, have a material structure that can be used advantageously in order...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Fabrication of a Cryogenic Bias Filter for Ultrasensitive Focal Plane

A fabrication process has been developed for cryogenic in-line filtering for the bias and readout of ultrasensitive cryogenic bolometers for millimeter and submillimeter wavelengths. The design is a microstripline filter that cuts out, or strongly attenuates, frequencies...

Briefs : Materials
High-Temperature Shape Memory Polymers

Shape memory materials undergo physical conformation changes when exposed to an external stimulus, such as a change in temperature. Such materials have a permanent shape, but can be reshaped above a critical temperature and fixed into a temporary shape when cooled under stress to below the critical...

Briefs : Materials
Non-Toxic, Low-Freezing, Drop-In Replacement Heat Transfer Fluids

A non-toxic, non-flammable, low-freezing heat transfer fluid is being developed for drop-in replacement within current and future heat transfer loops currently using water or alcohol-based coolants. Numerous water-soluble compounds were down-selected and screened for...

Briefs : Materials
Modular Flooring System

The modular flooring system (MFS) was developed to provide a portable, modular, durable carpeting solution for NASA’s Robotics Alliance Project’s (RAP) outreach efforts. It was also designed to improve and replace a modular flooring system that was too heavy for safe use and transportation. The MFS was developed for...

Briefs : Materials
Materials That Enhance Efficiency and Radiation Resistance of Solar Cells

A thin layer (≈10 microns) of a novel “transparent” fluorescent material is applied to existing solar cells or modules to effectively block and convert UV light, or other lower solar response waveband of solar radiation, to visible or IR light that can be more...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Static Gas-Charging Plug

A gas-charging plug can be easily analyzed for random vibration. The design features two steeped O-rings in a radial configuration at two different diameters, with a 0.050-in. (≈1.3-mm) diameter through-hole between the two O-rings. In the charging state, the top O-ring is engaged and sealing. The bottom O-ring outer...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Low-Cost, Rugged High-Vacuum System

A need exists for miniaturized, rugged, low-cost high-vacuum systems. Recent advances in sensor technology have led to the development of very small mass spectrometer detectors as well as other analytical instruments such as scanning electron microscopes. However, the vacuum systems to support these sensors...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Stemless Ball Valve

This invention utilizes a new method of opening and closing a ball valve. Instead of rotating the ball with a perpendicular stem (as is the case with standard ball valves), the ball is rotated around a fixed axis by two guide pins. This innovation eliminates the leak point that is present in all standard ball valves due to...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Floating Oil-Spill Containment Device

Previous oil containment booms have an open top that allows natural gas to escape, and have significant oil leakage due to wave action. Also, a subsea pyramid oil trap exists, but cannot move relative to moving oil plumes from deepsea oil leaks.

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Oxygen-Methane Thruster

An oxygen-methane thruster was conceived with integrated igniter/injector capable of nominal operation on either gaseous or liquid propellants. The thruster was designed to develop 100 lbf (≈445 N) thrust at vacuum conditions and use oxygen and methane as propellants. This continued development included refining the...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Lunar Navigation Determination System — LaNDS

A portable comprehensive navigational system has been developed that both robotic and human explorers can use to determine their location, attitude, and heading anywhere on the lunar surface independent of external infrastructure (needs no Lunar satellite network, line of sight to the Sun or Earth,...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Supercritical CO₂ Cleaning System for Planetary Protection and Contamination Control Applications

Current spacecraft-compatible cleaning protocols involve a vapor degreaser, liquid sonication, and alcohol wiping. These methods are not very effective in removing live and dead microbes from spacecraft piece parts of slightly complicated...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Design and Performance of a Wideband Radio Telescope

The Goldstone Apple Valley Radio Telescope (GAVRT) is an outreach project, a partnership involving NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL ), the Lewis Center for Educational Research (LCER), and the Apple Valley Unified School District near the NASA Goldstone deep space communication complex....

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Launch Method for Kites in Low-Wind or No-Wind Conditions

Airborne observations using lightweight camera systems are desirable for a variety of applications. This system was contemplated as a method to provide a simple remote sensing aerial platform. Kites have been successfully employed for aerial observations, but have historically required...

Briefs : Information Technology
Finite Element Models for Electron Beam Freeform Fabrication Process

Electron beam freeform fabrication (EBF3) is a member of an emerging class of direct manufacturing processes known as solid freeform fabrication (SFF); another member of the class is the laser deposition process. Successful application of the EBF3 process...

Briefs : Information Technology
IMAGESEER — IMAGEs for Education and Research

IMAGESEER is a new Web portal that brings easy access to NASA image data for non-NASA researchers, educators, and students. The IMAGESEER Web site and database are specifically designed to be utilized by the university community, to enable teaching image processing (IP) techniques on NASA data, as...

Briefs : Information Technology
Vehicle Detection for RCTA/ANS (Autonomous Navigation System)

Using a stereo camera pair, imagery is acquired and processed through the “JPLV” stereo processing pipeline. From this stereo data, large 3D blobs are found. These blobs are then described and classified by their shape to determine which are vehicles and which are not. Prior...

Briefs : Information Technology
HyDE Framework for Stochastic and Hybrid Model-Based Diagnosis

Hybrid Diagnosis Engine (HyDE) is a general framework for stochastic and hybrid model-bused diagnosis that offers flexibility to the diagnosis application designer. The HyDE architecture supports the use of multiple modeling paradigms at the component and system level. Several...

Briefs : Information Technology
Autonomous Information Unit for Fine-Grain Data Access Control and Information Protection in a Net-Centric System

As communication and networking technologies advance, networks will become highly complex and heterogeneous, interconnecting different network domains. There is a need to provide user authentication and data protection in order to...

Briefs : Information Technology
Image Mapping and Visual Attention on the Sensory Ego-Sphere

The Sensory Ego-Sphere (SES) is a short-term memory for a robot in the form of an egocentric, tessellated, spherical, sensory-motor map of the robot’s locale. Visual attention enables fast alignment of overlapping images without warping or position optimization, since an attentional...

Product of the Month: HP Z1 Workstation

Hewlett-Packard (Palo Alto, CA) has introduced the HP Z1 Workstation, an all-in-one workstation with a 27" diagonal display that snaps open so users can swap out parts and make upgrades without the need for tools. Users can add a hard drive, upgrade memory, or access graphics cards by snapping open the...

Articles : Manufacturing & Prototyping
3D Printing Gets Real

3Dprinting grabs a lot of attention — as much for its futuristic potential as for what it can do today. Send a 3D printer to the Moon, some imagine, and print out a city. Is your coffee maker dying? Just print yourself a new one.

Application Briefs : Software
Mission Control Core Trajectory Subsystem Gets Software Upgrade

Lockheed Martin Corp. is supporting the upgrade of the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) Mission Control Center’s Core Trajectory Subsystem (CTS) using a.i. solutions’ FreeFlyer® software. The contract has an initial value of $3.2 million, with options for additional support and...

Application Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Medical Robotics Experts Help Advance NASA’s Satellite Surgery Project

Johns Hopkins engineers, recognized as experts in medical robotics, are helping NASA with a space dilemma: How can the agency fix valuable satellites that are breaking down or running out of fuel? One option — sending a human repair crew into space — is costly,...

Articles : Electronics & Computers
Implementing PCI Express on PC/104-Size Modules

As PC/104 celebrates its 20th anniversary as an open standard this year, it continues to grow in terms of new design-ins, applications, and integration of the latest technology. In today’s fast paced, throw-away world, this is a remarkable achievement. PC/104 users typically demand a long product...

Articles : Electronics & Computers
COM Express Revision 2.0: What’s new in the latest specification?

The COM Express specification was first released in 2005. Its main target was, and still is, to define the mandatory requirements of COM Express modules and carrier boards as far as it is necessary to ensure interoperability between the products of different vendors....

Products : Electronics & Computers
Smart Reset ICs

STMicroelectronics (Geneva, Switzerland) has introduced a new line of Smart Reset™ chips. The integrated circuits reset ‘frozen’ gadgets, such as mobile phones, media players, and other portable consumer devices.

Products : Electronics & Computers
Battery Simulation Software

Using its low-power EFM32 Gecko microcontrollers, Energy Micro (Oslo, Norway) has introduced a software tool that enables designers to predict battery cell life expectancy. The free energyAware™ Battery Estimator provides a simulation of total system energy usage, taking into account actual battery source, MCU...

Products : Electronics & Computers
DRAM-on-Logic IC

Imec (Leuven, Belgium) has demonstrated 3D integrated DRAM-on-logic for lowpower mobile applications. The 3D stack technology consists of Imec’s proprietary logic CMOS IC, on top of which a commercial DRAM is stacked using through-silicon vias (TSVs) and micro-bumps. Heaters were integrated to test the impact of hotspots on...

Application Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Creating a Fully Automated Pharmacy Warehouse

Previously, the walk from the sales counter of the pharmacy to the medication drawer wasted valuable time. Today, the fully automated picking system for European pharmacies by KLS requires only eight seconds. Image-based Cognex DataMan® 500 barcode readers can now guarantee rapid resupplying from...

Articles : Robotics, Automation & Control
Underwater Autonomous Vehicles Combine Robotics and Vision to Inspect Oil Pipelines

Among the various components of a submarine pipeline, the vertical section known as a riser is critical to managing the pipeline. This section connects the piping that runs along the bottom of the sea with the floating production platform.

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Measurement Machine Software

HEIDENHAIN (Schaumburg, IL) has released the IK5000 version 2.96 PC-based QUADRA-CHEK Metrology software for inspection measurement machines. It performs 2D and 3D measuring tasks and offers functionality such as 3D profiling capabilities for measurement and graphic evaluation of 3D contours using multisensor and...

Products : Motion Control
Linear Actuators

Warner Linear (Belvidere, IL) has introduced the S-Track line of linear actuators for generalduty applications. Models are available with aluminum or engineered plastic housings. Enhanced control allows for 12 or 24 VDC switched power operation by turning power off to the motor automatically when the internal end limits are...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Linear Systems

Wittenstein (Bartlett, IL) offers the RP+ and RPM+ linear rack and pinion systems. The RP+ combines the alpha TP+ gearbox, pinion, and rack into one solution for linear motion; the RPM+ combines the TPM+ actuator, pinion, and rack. Maximum power density and functional design are fused into a unit featuring visible length benefits....

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control

Kollmorgen (Radford, VA) has introduced Value-Line servomotors that cover the torque range from 0.5 Nm to 16 Nm (peak or continuous). The servomotors are available in most popular motor sizes with 12 standard windings, in both NEMA23 and NEMA34, and Metric (60 mm and 90 mm) mounting standards, and with multiple shaft configurations...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Rubber Mountings

Advanced Antivibration Components (New Hyde Park, NY) offers the V12Z55M062M Series bell-shaped rubber mountings to dampen shock and vibration for loads up to 887 kgf (1956 lbf). They are made from a combination of natural rubber and styrene-butadiene rubber compound for pliability and elasticity. Of the 12 isolators in the...

Products : Motion Control

Advanced Motion Controls (Camarillo, CA) has released the DZE and DZS series EtherCAT® servo drives and DxM (Demultiplexed Motion) technology. The servo drives for EtherCAT-enabled control networks are housed in a package size that can fit in the palm of a hand. DxM technology allows connectivity of up to 3 DZS drives (sub-nodes) to a...

Products : Motion Control
Software-Based PLC

The A3200 MotionPAC from Aerotech (Pittsburgh, PA) is a software-based programmable logic controller (PLC) that is integrated with the company’s A3200 motion controller. The MotionPAC can be used independently for full machine control, or in conjunction with AeroBasic™ programs, and complies with IEC 61131-3 and PLCopen....

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Tri-Axial Inclinometer

Sherborne Sensors (Wyckoff, NJ) has introduced the T835 Series gravity-referenced tri-axial inclinometer for challenging and space constrained environments. Available in angular ranges ±14.5° to ±60°, and measuring 25.4 mm in diameter, the unit is manufactured from aerospace-quality stainless steel for measurement in...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Piezo Stage System

Prior Scientific (Rockland, MA) offers the NZ400 NanoScan Piezo Stage System for researchers producing rapid Z sections and live cell 3D images of specimens grown in well plates, large petri dishes, or mounted to glass slides. The stage can create a stack of images using multiple objectives in the Z axis with nanometer...

Products : Motion Control
Stepper Drive/Controller

Tolomatic (Hamel, MN) offers the ACS with Ethernet, which adds Ethernet connectivity to the ACS Stepper Drive/Controller. It supports both Ethernet/IP and Modbus TCP, allowing connectivity to PLCs and HMIs. It offers built-in configurations for all of the company’s electric actuators. The combination of the ACS and the...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Diaphragm Micropump

The KNF Type NMP05 diaphragm micropump for sampling air and gases is available from KNF Neuberger (Trenton, NJ). It provides efficient operation for a wide range of portable, battery operated equipment applications. The miniature pump measures 17 x 26 x 31 mm, and weighs 18 g. Features include a bolted-on pump head for gas...

Techs for License
Detection of Pathogens, Environmental Contaminants, and Illicit Materials

The University of Georgia Research Foundation has a portfolio of technologies for the fast and accurate detection and identification of pathogens and chemicals. The technologies provide for a scalable and inexpensive method for the detection of disease agents as well as...

Techs for License
Smart Grid Technology for Monitoring Power Generation of Each Solar Panel

The National Institute of AIST in Japan has developed a communication technology that uses the direct current (DC) power line of a solar panel as a communication line. The technology helps monitor the power generation in each solar panel, which is useful for the...

NASA Tech Needs
Naturally Derived Chemicals Exhibiting Pesticidal Effects

A company seeks biorational approaches to new pesticides. “Biorational” approaches include processes, organisms, or chemistries that occur spontaneously in nature. By isolating these substances, a biorational pesticide may be created. These naturally derived (or synthesized products...

NASA Tech Needs
Natural Ingredients for Foods That Improve Insulin Sensitivity

Healthy people and pre-diabetic individuals may have a reduced sensitivity (or resistance) to insulin. A company seeks natural ingredients that can be added to foods that will enhance the body’s sensitivity to insulin, and help maintain post-absorptive blood glucose control at a...

Who's Who
Michael Gazarik, Director of Space Technology Programs, NASA Headquarters, Washington DC

As NASA’s Director of Space Technology Programs, Michael Gazarik contributes to the development of technology that can be applied to NASA’s exploration systems, space operations, and science missions. Gazarik integrates and tracks all investments across...

Michael Gazarik, Director of Space Technology Programs, NASA Headquarters, Washington DC

As NASA’s Director of Space Technology Programs, Michael Gazarik contributes to the development of technology that can be applied to NASA’s exploration systems, space operations, and science missions. Gazarik integrates and tracks all investments...


Upcoming Webinars: Robotics, Automation & Control

Collaborative Robot Applications in the Automotive Industry

Upcoming Webinars: Aerospace

Update on Civil Certification of Multicore Processing Systems in...

Upcoming Webinars: Manufacturing & Prototyping

Metal 3D Printing

On-Demand Webinars: Materials

Enhance Product Design and Dependability with Advanced Coating Technologies

On-Demand Webinars: Green Design & Manufacturing

Rapid, Selective Volatile Emissions Testing for Vehicles and Components

Tech Talks: Medical

New Developments in Catheter Shaft Components – Part 2