July 2009

Re-Inventing the Number

I had the opportunity to meet with an old friend of NASA Tech Briefs last week. Allen Razdow, who many design engineers may know as the inventor of Mathcad and the co-founder of MathSoft, was in town to talk to me about his new company and his new venture, a sort of “Wikipedia for numbers.”

The company, True...

News : Transportation
Reinventing the Tuktuk

In large cities across Asia, auto rickshaws (tuktuks) are one of the most important means of transportation. These tuktuks produce considerable CO2 emissions and air pollution, and their drivers are underpaid. Students participating in the Hybrid Auto Rickshaw project sought to cut CO2 emissions by 40%, while improving the...

News : Green Design & Manufacturing
Green Aircraft Contest Takes Off

Today, the NASA Innovative Partnerships Program and the Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency (CAFE) Foundation officially announced the Green Flight Challenge. The flight efficiency competition is for aircraft that can average at least 100 mph on a 200-mile flight, while achieving greater than 200 passenger...

News : Energy
Creating "Cool" Cars

Operating the air conditioning is the largest auxiliary energy drain on cars. In December 2008, DOE announced a project to study and develop thermoelectric heating and cooling systems. As partners in the project, NREL will team up with Ford to research efficient ways of cooling vehicles.

Articles : Energy
Windshields to Reflect Sunlight, and Perhaps Produce Electricity

The California Air Resources Board will require new cars sold in California to have windows that reflect or absorb heat-producing rays from the sun. Starting in 2012, windows must prevent 45 percent of the sun's total heat-producing energy from entering the car, and the windshield...

News : Energy
Improvements in Organic Photovoltaics on the Horizon
Organic photovoltaics, which rely on organic molecules to capture sunlight and convert it into electricity, have come a step closer to reality thanks to discoveries by NIST researchers. The scientists have deepened their understanding of the complex organic films at the heart of the devices.
Computer Program Warns Weary Drivers

Although less publicized than alcohol, driver fatigue is a major contributor to auto accidents in the U.S. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 56,000 sleep-related road crashes occur annually in the U.S., resulting in 40,000 injuries and 1,550 fatalities. According to the...

News : Green Design & Manufacturing
New Supercomputer Ready to Tackle Earth's Problems

Chinook – a $21.4 million supercomputer built by HP - has been commissioned for use by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Department of Energy. It's primed to take on problems in areas such as climate science and hydrogen storage.

News : Energy
Efficient Light Source Technology

New cavity organic light-emitting diode (COLED) technology from SRI International and light-emitting polymers from Showa Denko K.K. (SDK) produce a highly efficient light source that could replace incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs.

News : Green Design & Manufacturing
A House Built of Straw

This summer, University of Bath, UK researchers are constructing a “BaleHaus” made of prefabricated straw bale and hemp cladding panels on campus. Straw is a truly environmentally-friendly building material, being both renewable and a by-product of farming.

News : Energy
Students Design World's First Solar-Powered Blimp

Over 30 French college students have collaborated to design the world’s first solar-powered blimp, Nephelios. One hundred years after the first flight across the English Channel by Louis Blériot, Nephelios will undertake an English Channel crossing in late August.

News : Energy
Algae Biofuel Monitor

BaySpec, Inc. (Fremont, CA) introduces a Raman-specific 1064nm spectrometer designed for measuring microalgae, a promising future source of biofuels. Using the NunavutTM spectrometer, researchers were able to overcome issues with fluorescence seen at lower wavelengths.

Good News, Bad News

You know that old adage, "I've got some good news and I've got some bad news"? Well, that pretty much sums up this year's Semicon West, which was held last week at San Francisco's Moscone Center.

Semiconductor West is the semiconductor manufacturing industry's annual trade show and technical conference. As such, it's a...

News : Green Design & Manufacturing
Global Ocean Surface Temperature Warmest on Record for June

The world’s ocean surface temperature was the warmest on record for June - breaking the previous high mark set in 2005 - according to the NOAA. Additionally, the combined average global land and ocean surface temperature for June was second-warmest on record (global records began in...

Products : Energy
Energy-Saving LED Luminaire

Operating on just 150 watts, the powder-coated aluminum SafeSite® LED High Bay luminaire is designed to perform for over 10 years in demanding applications - three times as long as traditional HID fixtures, and nearly twice as long as fluorescent solutions.

News : Energy
Concentrating Solar Power Funding Opportunity

DOE is offering $52.5 million for research, development, and demonstration of concentrating solar power (CSP) systems that provide low-cost electrical power both day and night. CSP technologies concentrate the sun's energy and capture that energy as heat, which then drives an engine or turbine to...

Walter Cronkite, Friend of Space Travel

Walter Cronkite, arguably the best-known and respected television news anchor of the past half century, died last Friday at 92. Cronkite left an indelible mark on the face on television news journalism, covering many of the main events and interviewing many of the world’s key leaders shaping the 20th...

News : Energy
Turning Trees into Tires

Wood science researchers at Oregon State University have made some surprising findings about the potential of microcrystalline cellulose – a product that can be made easily from almost any type of plant fiber – to partially replace silica as a reinforcing filler in the manufacture of rubber tires.

News : Government
Funding for Algal and Advanced Biofuels

The U.S. Department of Energy announced the availability of up to $85 million toward the development of algae-based biofuels and advanced, infrastructure-compatible biofuels. DOE seeks to bring together leading scientists and engineers from universities, private industry, and government to develop new...

A Persistent Surveillance Application with Converged Sensor Network Architecture

This podcast discusses the challenges faced by a Mercury customer while developing a persistent surveillance application imaging pod. This complex, multi-faceted program featured stringent design elements, including: real-time & multi-sensor data...

News : Energy
Cheap, Efficient, Flexible Solar Cells – From Nanopillars

There's a new way to fabricate efficient solar cells from low-cost and flexible materials. The new design grows optically active semiconductors in arrays of nanoscale pillars - each a single crystal - with dimensions measured in billionths of a meter.

News : Green Design & Manufacturing
Mercury Rises With Summer Heat

Smog is made up of an array of air pollutants, including mercury. One Ryerson University researcher has found that summer is the peak season for this atmospheric toxin, and that higher levels of mercury species exist in the urban atmosphere as compared to rural regions.

Videos : Energy
Geothermal Heat Extraction Process Takes Advantage of New Liquid

Scientists at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have come up with an innovative approach that can safely and economically extract and convert heat from untapped geothermal resources. The heat recovery method makes the most of low-temperature “hot...

News : Green Design & Manufacturing
Capturing Carbon Dioxide In A Bowl

The accidental discovery of a bowl-shaped molecule that pulls carbon dioxide out of the air could offer new possibilities for dealing with global warming, including genetically engineering microbes to manufacture these CO2 “catchers.”

News : Energy
$32 Million Initiative to Expand Hydropower

U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced up to $32 million in Recovery Act funding, which is designed to support the deployment of hydropower turbines and control technologies to increase power generation and environmental stewardship at existing non-Federal hydroelectric...

Faking a Moon Landing

July 20 marks the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11, the first space mission to land on the Moon. Astronaut Neil Armstrong’s words - “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” – arguably depict one of the finest moments in U.S. history. The landing was the culmination of a massive collective effort by the U.S....

News : Energy
Virtually Engineering Energy Conversion Plants

Photovoltaic and wind energy plants, hydroelectric power stations, and biogas plants can be complex to design and maintain. In designing a hydroelectric power station, an engineer needs to know what the pressures, temperatures, and fluid flows will be in the facility. Virtual reality makes planning...

News : Green Design & Manufacturing
NASA Satellite Survey Reveals Dramatic Arctic Sea Ice Thinning

Arctic sea ice thinned dramatically between the winters of 2004 and 2008, with thin seasonal ice replacing thick older ice as the dominant type for the first time on record. The new results, based on data from a NASA Earth-orbiting spacecraft, provide further evidence for the rapid,...

News : Energy
A Low-Cost Manufacturing Solution for CIGS-Based Solar Cells

Though the solar industry today predominately produces solar panels made from crystalline silicon, they remain relatively expensive to make. New players in the solar industry have instead been looking at panels that can harvest energy with CIGS (copper-indium-gallium-selenide) or...

Dr. Scott Barthelmy, Research Scientist, Laboratory for High Energy Astrophysics, Goddard Space Flight Center

Dr. Scott Barthelmy is the principal investigator for the Burst Alert Telescope (BAT) that detects and locates gamma-ray bursts in the universe. Developed as part of NASA’s Swift mission, the technology is being considered for homeland...

Articles : Energy
Measuring LED and Solid State Lighting Performance

Light emitting diodes (LEDs) and solid state lighting (SSL) products that incorporate LEDs pose many measurement challenges compared with other lighting elements, such as traditional tungsten and fluorescent. Advanced optical radiation measurement equipment and new techniques are often required...

Green Living, Amish Style

I spent part of the recent Fourth of July weekend in central Pennsylvania, with one of the stops being Lancaster, home of one of the largest concentrations of Amish people in the U.S. The Amish are well known for eschewing modern technology as they shun the use of electricity, private automobiles, and many of the...

News : Energy
First Step in Converting Solar Energy Using Artificial Leaf

Two things are needed to produce fuel from sunlight: an antenna that harvests light, and a light-driven catalyst. The most efficient antennae contain bacteria. An international team, headed by Leiden University professor Huub de Groot, modified chlorophyll from an alga so that it...

Brain Wave Wheelchair Control

One of the world’s leading manufacturers of cars and light trucks, Toyota, is making inroads into the area of brain machine interface (BMI) technology. Toyota has developed a brain wave control that analyzes the brain waves of a wheelchair driver in as little as 125 milliseconds, as opposed to several seconds with...

News : Green Design & Manufacturing
Monitoring Plutonium Contamination

Five years from now, scientists will be able to better determine how, when, and why plutonium moves in soil and groundwater. The way to predict how plutonium is transported in groundwater away from a site is by looking at the dominant geochemical processes that control plutonium's (Pu) behavior in the...

News : Energy
Saving Energy With Artifical Noise

Ecological and economic factors are prompting telecommunications companies to deploy energy-saving systems. Scientists at Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Communication Systems ESK provide a solution that combines existing methods - which network providers could implement immediately.

News : Green Design & Manufacturing
Feather Fibers Fluff Up Hydrogen Storage Capacity

Scientists have developed a new hydrogen storage method - carbonized chicken feather fibers - that can hold vast amounts of hydrogen, and do it at a far lower cost than other hydrogen storage systems. The research could help overcome some of the hurdles to using hydrogen fuel in cars, trucks, and...

Products : Electronics & Computers
Easy Release Thermal Gap Pads

Fujipoly (Carteret, NJ) has announced the availability of a specially formulated thermal interface gap pad that simplifies board-level maintenance by dramatically reducing material tearing during disassembly for rework and repair. The company’s Sarcon® GR-H and XR-H thermal interface materials are manufactured...

Products : Electronics & Computers

The ETX® 620 computer-on-module (COM) from ADLINK Technology (San Jose, CA) is suitable for mission-critical military, avionics, medical, and industrial applications. ETX 620 features the low-power AMD Geode LX 800 processor and CS5536 companion chip. ETX 620 is designed for extremely rugged environments, operating over...

Products : Electronics & Computers
Panel Mount Computer
The MDU PC Panel Mount Computer Series from Comark Corporation (Medfield, MA) combines the functionality of a computer, display, and optional touchscreen into a modular assembly. The MDUPC-15, MDUPC-19, and MDUPC-20 are 15", 19", and 20" displays, respectively. The displays are designed for military and rugged commercial...
Products : Electronics & Computers

Austin Semiconductor, Inc. (Austin, TX) now offers a 512Mb, 54-Pin TSOPII SDRAM with a copper lead frame. The TSOPII features a Lead on Chip (LOC) design, which allows the size of the package to be approximately the chip size. The device is a 32Mb x 16, 3.3V, SDRAM, measuring 22.30mm x 11.76mm, with a height of 1.2mm. The TSOPII is...

News : Energy
Sensing Method Checks Refrigerant Levels, Saves Energy

A new “virtual refrigerant charge sensor" saves energy and servicing costs by indicating when air conditioners are low on refrigerant, preventing the units from working overtime. Engineers at Purdue University developed the sensing technique, which is particularly practical for automotive...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Hail Monitor Sensor

Figure 1 shows damage to the space shuttle’s external tank (ET) that was likely caused by a pea-sized hailstone. Because of the potential damage to the ET while exposed to the weather, it is important to remotely monitor the hail fall in the vicinity of the shuttle pad. If hail of sufficient size and quantity is detected by...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Dual Cryogenic Capacitive Density Sensor

A dual cryogenic capacitive density sensor has been developed. The device contains capacitive sensors that monitor two-phase cryogenic flow density to within ±1% accuracy, which, if temperature were known, could be used to determine the ratio of liquid to gas in the line. Two of these density sensors,...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Improved Blackbody Temperature Sensors for a Vacuum Furnace

Some improvements have been made in the design and fabrication of blackbody sensors (BBSs) used to measure the temperature of a heater core in a vacuum furnace. Each BBS consists of a ring of thermally conductive, high-melting-temperature material with two tantalum-sheathed...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Miniature Six-Axis Load Sensor for Robotic Fingertip

A miniature load sensor has been developed as a prototype of tactile sensors that could fit within fingertips of anthropomorphic robot hands. The sensor includes a force-and-torque transducer in the form of a spring instrumented with at least six semiconductor strain gauges. The strain-gauge...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Wide-Range Temperature Sensors With High-Level Pulse Train Output

Two types of temperature sensors have been developed for wide-range temperature applications. The two sensors measure temperature in the range of –190 to +200 °C and utilize a thin-film platinum RTD (resistance temperature detector) as the temperature-sensing element. Other...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Wrap-Around Out-the-Window Sensor Fusion System

The Advanced Cockpit Evaluation System (ACES) includes communication, computing, and display subsystems, mounted in a van, that synthesize out-the-window views to approximate the views of the outside world as it would be seen from the cockpit of a crewed spacecraft, aircraft, or remote control of a...

Briefs : Software
Terminal Descent Sensor Simulation

Sulcata software simulates the operation of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) radar terminal descent sensor (TDS). The program models TDS radar antennas, RF hardware, and digital processing, as well as the physics of scattering from a coherent ground surface. This application is specific to this sensor and is...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
A Robust Mechanical Sensing System for Unmanned Sea Surface Vehicles

The need for autonomous navigation and intelligent control of unmanned sea surface vehicles requires a mechanically robust sensing architecture that is watertight, durable, and insensitive to vibration and shock loading. The sensing system developed here comprises four black...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Additive for Low-Temperature Operation of Li-(CF)n Cells

Some progress has been reported in continuing research on the use of anion-receptor compounds as electrolyte additives to increase the sustainable rates of discharge and, hence, the discharge capacities, of lithium-poly(carbon monofluoride) [Li-(CF)n, where n >1] primary...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Li/CFₓ Cells Optimized for Low-Temperature Operation

Several prior developments are combined.

Some developments reported in prior NASA Tech Briefs articles on primary electrochemical power cells containing lithium anodes and fluorinated carbonaceous (CFx) cathodes have been combined to yield a product line of cells...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Number Codes Readable by Magnetic-Field-Response Recorders

A method of encoding and reading numbers incorporates some of the features of conventional optical bar coding and radio-frequency identification (RFID) tagging, but overcomes some of the disadvantages of both: (1) Unlike in conventional optical bar coding, numbers can be read without...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Determining Locations by Use of Networks of Passive Beacons

Networks of passive radio beacons spanning moderate-sized terrain areas have been proposed to aid navigation of small robotic aircraft that would be used to explore Saturn’s moon Titan. Such networks could also be used on Earth to aid navigation of robotic aircraft, land vehicles, or...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Optical Injection Locking of a VCSEL in an OEO

Optical injection locking has been demonstrated to be effective as a means of stabilizing the wavelength of light emitted by a vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) that is an active element in the frequency-control loop of an opto-electronic oscillator (OEO) designed to implement an atomic...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Superconducting Hot-Electron Submillimeter-Wave Detector

A superconducting hot-electron bolometer has been built and tested as a prototype of high-sensitivity, rapid-response detectors of submillimeter-wavelength radiation. There are diverse potential applications for such detectors, a few examples being submillimeter spectroscopy for scientific...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Measuring Multiple Resistances Using Single-Point Excitation

In a proposed method of determining the resistances of individual DC electrical devices (e.g., batteries or fuel-cell stacks containing multiple electrochemical cells) connected in a series or parallel string, no attempt would be made to perform direct measurements on individual...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Improved-Bandwidth Transimpedance Amplifier

The widest available operational amplifier, with the best voltage and current noise characteristics, is considered for transimpedance amplifier (TIA) applications where wide bandwidth is required to handle fast rising input signals (as for time-of-flight measurement cases). The added amplifier inside...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Thin-Film Solid Oxide Fuel Cells

The development of thin-film solid oxide fuel cells (TFSOFCs) and a method of fabricating them have progressed to the prototype stage. A TFSOFC consists of the following:

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Novel Materials Containing Single-Wall Carbon Nanotubes Wrapped in Polymer Molecules

In this design, single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) have been coated in polymer molecules to create a new type of material that has low electrical conductivity, but still contains individual nanotubes, and small ropes of individual nanotubes, which are...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Light-Curing Adhesive Repair Tapes

Adhesive tapes, the adhesive resins of which can be cured (and thereby rigidized) by exposure to ultraviolet and/or visible light, are being developed as repair patch materials. The tapes, including their resin components, consist entirely of solid, low-out-gassing, nonhazardous or minimally hazardous...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Zinc Alloys for the Fabrication of Semiconductor Devices

ZnBeO and ZnCdSeO alloys have been disclosed as materials for the improvement in performance, function, and capability of semiconductor devices. The alloys can be used alone or in combination to form active photonic layers that can emit over a range of wavelength values.

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Inherently Ducted Propfans and Bi-Props

The terms “inherently ducted propfan” (IDP) and “inherently ducted bi-prop” (IDBP) denote members of a proposed class of propfan engines that would be quieter and would weigh less than do other propfan engines that generate equal amounts of thrust. The designs of these engines would be based on...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Small, Lightweight, Collapsible Glove Box

A small, lightweight, collapsible glove box enables its user to perform small experiments and other tasks. Originally intended for use aboard a space shuttle or the International Space Station (ISS), this glove box could also be attractive for use on Earth in settings in which work space or storage space...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Steel Primer Chamber Assemblies for Dual Initiated Pyrovalves

A solution was developed to mitigate the potential risk of ignition failures and burn-through in aluminum primer chamber assemblies on pyrovalves. This was accomplished by changing the assembly material from aluminum to steel, and reconfiguration of flame channels to provide more...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Aerial Deployment and Inflation System for Mars Helium Balloons

A method is examined for safely deploying and inflating helium balloons for missions at Mars. The key for making it possible to deploy balloons that are light enough to be buoyant in the thin, Martian atmosphere is to mitigate the transient forces on the balloon that might tear...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Radial Halbach Magnetic Bearings

Radial Halbach magnetic bearings have been investigated as part of an effort to develop increasingly reliable non-contact bearings for future high-speed rotary machines that may be used in such applications as aircraft, industrial, and land-vehicle power systems and in some medical and scientific instrumentation...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Voice Coil Percussive Mechanism Concept for Hammer Drill

A hammer drill design of a voice coil linear actuator, spring, linear bearings, and a hammer head was proposed. The voice coil actuator moves the hammer head to produce impact to the end of the drill bit. The spring is used to store energy on the retraction and to capture the rebound...

Briefs : Materials
Silicon Nanowire Growth at Chosen Positions and Orientations

It is now possible to grow silicon nanowires at chosen positions and orientations by a method that involves a combination of standard microfabrication processes. Because their positions and orientations can be chosen with unprecedented precision, the nanowires can be utilized as...

Briefs : Materials
Detecting Airborne Mercury by Use of Palladium Chloride

Palladium chloride films have been found to be useful as alternatives to the gold films heretofore used to detect airborne elemental mercury at concentrations of the order of parts per billion (ppb). Somewhat more specifically, when suitably prepared palladium chloride films are exposed to...

Briefs : Materials
Detecting Airborne Mercury by Use of Gold Nanowires

Like the palladium chloride (PdCl2) films described in the immediately preceding article, gold nanowire sensors have been found to be useful for detecting airborne elemental mercury at concentrations on the order of parts per billion (ppb). Also like the PdCl2 films, gold...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Nanowire Electron Scattering Spectroscopy

Nanowire electron scattering spectroscopy (NESS) has been proposed as the basis of a class of ultra-small, ultra-low-power sensors that could be used to detect and identify chemical compounds present in extremely small quantities. State-of-the-art nanowire chemical sensors have already been demonstrated...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Electron-Spin Filters Would Offer Spin Polarization >1

A proposal has been made to develop devices that would generate spin-polarized electron currents characterized by polarization ratios having magnitudes in excess of 1. Heretofore, such devices (denoted, variously, as spin injectors, spin polarizers, and spin filters) have typically offered...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
A Model for Predicting Thermoelectric Properties of Bi₂Te₃

A parameterized orthogonal tight-binding mathematical model of the quantum electronic structure of the bismuth telluride molecule has been devised for use in conjunction with a semiclassical transport model in predicting the thermoelectric properties of doped bismuth telluride. This...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Subcritical-Water Extraction of Organics From Solid Matrices

An apparatus for extracting organic compounds from soils, sands, and other solid matrix materials utilizes water at subcritical temperature and pressure as a solvent. The apparatus, called subcritical water extractor (SCWE), is a prototype of subsystems of future instrumentation...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Micro Electron MicroProbe and Sample Analyzer

A proposed, low-power, backpack-sized instrument, denoted the micro electron microprobe and sample analyzer (MEMSA), would serve as a means of rapidly performing high-resolution microscopy and energy-dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDX) of soil, dust, and rock particles in the field. The MEMSA would...

Briefs : Information Technology
A Software Rejuvenation Framework for Distributed Computing

A performability-oriented conceptual framework for software rejuvenation has been constructed as a means of increasing levels of reliability and performance in distributed stateful computing. As used here, “performability-oriented” signifies that the construction of the framework is...

Briefs : Information Technology
Kurtosis Approach to Solution of a Nonlinear ICA Problem

An algorithm for solving a particular nonlinear independent-component-analysis (ICA) problem, that differs from prior algorithms for solving the same problem, has been devised. The problem in question — of a type known in the art as a post nonlinear mixing problem — is a useful...

Briefs : Information Technology
Robust Software Architecture for Robots

“Robust Real-Time Reconfigurable Robotics Software Architecture” (“R4SA”) is the name of both a software architecture and software that embodies the architecture. The architecture was conceived in the spirit of current practice in designing modular, hard, real-time aerospace systems. The...

Briefs : Information Technology
R4SA for Controlling Robots

The R4SA GUI mentioned in the immediately preceding article is a user-friendly interface for controlling one or more robot(s). This GUI makes it possible to perform meaningful real-time field experiments and research in robotics at an unmatched level of fidelity, within minutes of setup. It provides such powerful...

Briefs : Information Technology
Bio-Inspired Neural Model for Learning Dynamic Models

A neural-network mathematical model that, relative to prior such models, places greater emphasis on some of the temporal aspects of real neural physical processes, has been proposed as a basis for massively parallel, distributed algorithms that learn dynamic models of possibly complex...

Briefs : Information Technology
Evolutionary Computing Methods for Spectral Retrieval

A methodology for processing spectral images to retrieve information on underlying physical, chemical, and/or biological phenomena is based on evolutionary and related computational methods implemented in software. In a typical case, the solution (the information that one seeks to retrieve)...

Briefs : Information Technology
Monitoring Disasters by Use of Instrumented Robotic Aircraft

Efforts are under way to develop data- acquisition, data- processing, and data- communication systems for monitoring disasters over large geographic areas by use of uninhabited aerial systems (UAS) — robotic aircraft that are typically piloted by remote control. As integral parts of...

Briefs : Information Technology
Complexity for Survival of Living Systems

A logical connection between the survivability of living systems and the complexity of their behavior (equivalently, mental complexity) has been established. This connection is an important intermediate result of continuing research on mathematical models that could constitute a unified representation of...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Using Drained Spacecraft Propellant Tanks for Habitation

A document proposes that future spacecraft for planetary and space exploration be designed to enable reuse of drained propellant tanks for occupancy by humans. This proposal would enable utilization of volume and mass that would otherwise be unavailable and, in some cases, discarded. Such...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Connecting Node

A paper describes the Octanode, a connecting node that facilitates the integration of multiple docking mechanisms, hatches, windows, and internal and external systems with the use of flat surfaces. The Octanode is a 26-faced Great Rhombicuboctahedron Archimedean solid with six octagon-shaped panels, eight hexagon-shaped panels,...

Briefs : Materials
Electrolytes for Low-Temperature Operation of Li-CFₓ Cells

A report describes a study of electrolyte compositions selected as candidates for improving the low-temperature performances of primary electrochemical cells that contain lithium anodes and fluorinated carbonaceous (CFx) cathodes. This study complements the developments...

The fourth servicing mission (SM-4) for the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) offered an impressive and unprecedented set of advanced technologies that may yield the most...

Articles : Energy
Advancing Technologies Harness the Power of Wind, Water, and the Sun

Renewable energy will be the world’s fastest-growing source of electricity generation over the next two decades, although it will still make up a relatively minor portion of the global energy supply, according to the Energy Information Administration. The majority of that...

Application Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Laser Tracker Ensures Accurate Alignment of Ares I Components
FARO® Laser Tracker
FARO Technologies
Lake Mary, FL

Making its first flights to the International Space Station by the middle of the next decade, the Orion crew exploration vehicle is part of the Constellation Program, which...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Integrated Miniature Arrays of Optical Biomolecule Detectors

Integrated miniature planar arrays of optical sensors for detecting specific biochemicals in extremely small quantities have been proposed. An array of this type would have an area of about 1 cm2. Each element of the array would include an optical microresonator that would...

Application Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Tape Backup Systems Help NASA Archive Enterprise Data
Spectra® T950 tape libraries
Spectra Logic Federal
Boulder, CO

NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, CA, installed two Spectra® T950 tape libraries with LTO-4 drives and media, which together offer approximately...

Data Acquisition Modules
IOtech, Cleveland, OH, has released the 6000 Series data acquisition modules with Encore software. The 6220 is a 12-channel, simultaneously sampled, 16-bit voltage input module that features a 100-kHz per channel sample rate. It includes BNC connectors for signal connection. The 6224 is a 12-channel, simultaneously sampled...
Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Inter-Symbol Guard Time for Synchronizing Optical PPM

An inter-symbol guard time has been proposed as a means of synchronizing the symbol and slot clocks of an optical pulse-position modulation (PPM) receiver with the symbol and slot periods of an incoming optical PPM signal. (Such synchronization is necessary for correct identification of...

Who's Who
Dr. Scott Barthelmy, Research Scientist, Laboratory for High Energy Astrophysics, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD

Dr. Scott Barthelmy is the principal investigator for the Burst Alert Telescope (BAT), a sophisticated instrument that detects and precisely locates elusive gamma-ray bursts in the universe. Developed as part of NASA’s...

Techs for License
Low-Cost Engineered Properties for Non- Wovens, Films, and Laminates

A suite of nonwoven technologies offers low-cost mechanical processes that impart specific engineered properties to commodity-priced nonwovens, films, and laminates, and even to non-polymeric materials. A wide range of textures, controllable permeability, aperturing, multilayer...

Techs for License
Cooler, Quieter Jet Engine for Light-Sport Aircraft and Ultralights

A small jet engine is suitable for light-sport, ultralight, and experimental aircraft, and can replace the vibrating piston engine and propeller combination used in most sport aircraft. Exhaust heat is minimized for safety to 750 °C, so that a suitably insulated cowling can be...

Tech Needs
One-Megapixel Infrared Light Detector

A company seeks a detector array for the infrared region to detect two-dimensional radiation patterns. The sensor should have 1000 x 1000 pixels (or at least 512 × 640 pixels), which are individually addressable. The detector array is comparable to a high-speed CCD chip, but must have high sensitivity in...

NASA Tech Needs
Non-Fluoro-Based Textile Repellency Treatment

A company seeks a ready-to-use, non - fluorochemical - based repellent solution for oil- and water-borne stains for application on textiles. The textiles may be cotton, wool, or synthetic, or a blend of natural and synthetic fibers. This material may be fully formulated or partially formulated in a...

NASA Tech Needs
Power Beaming for Small Robots and Remote Instruments

The NASA Ames Intelligent Robotics Group (IRG) is dedicated to enabling humans and robots to explore and learn about extreme environments, remote locations, and uncharted worlds. The IRG conducts applied research in a wide range of areas, with an emphasis on robotics systems science and field...

Eye on Innovation
Three Steps to Cost Control: Addressing the Root Cause of Unexpected Product Costs

We often hear a common story from small and mid-size manufacturers. The VP of sales nails a really big order that will secure the company’s future — if the company can deliver. The challenge ignites chaos, and it’s a frenzy of frantic phone calls and...

Articles : Electronics & Computers

For 25 years, the VME architecture defined COTS systems that met the demand for increases in computing and connectivity. Successive generations of new processors provided more and more compute cycles, while VME bandwidth evolved in a similar fashion from 40 Mbytes/s on the original VMEbus to 80 Mbytes/s, then 160 Mbytes/s and finally 320...

Articles : Electronics & Computers
Secure Software Flashing

More and more devices in our modern world come with a multitude and variety of embedded systems. An obvious example of this trend is today’s vehicles, which have dozens of electronic control units (ECUs) that control everything from the air conditioning and electric windows to the engine and brake system. Several ECUs...

Articles : Electronics & Computers
Cloud Computing: What Are the Networking Implications?

The growth of data centers and the concept of infrastructure as a service is leading to significant focus on cloud computing architectures. Pundits have proclaimed cloud computing as the ultimate merger of information technology with communication. The promise of cloud computing is immense...

Application Briefs : Electronics & Computers
The Physics of Failure: Predicting Reliability in Electronic Components

A lot has been written about Moore's Law and the potential limitations of semiconductor design and manufacturing in the future. Can we really continue to double the number of transistors on a given-sized die every eighteen months? For the last 30 years, Moore's Law has held,...

Products : Electronics & Computers
VMEbus Processing Blade

Emerson Network Power (Tempe, AZ) has released the MVME4100 single-core, next-generation VMEbus processing blade that is suitable for industrial, medical, and defense/aerospace original equipment manufacturers. The VMEbus computing blades provide backwards compatibility to protect investments in existing VMEbus...

Products : Electronics & Computers
AC/DC Switching Power Supply

The EPM-FPS-50 module from VersaLogic Corp. (Eugene, OR) is an effective method for supplying power to PC/104-type systems, including PC/104, PC/104-Plus, EBX, and EPIC platforms. The AC/DC switching power supply operates from clean or noisy power inputs between 8 and 40 Volts AC or DC. This allows the use of...

Products : Electronics & Computers
Touch Screen Panel PC

VIA Technologies, Inc. (Taipei, Taiwan) has introduced the VIA VIPRO VP7710 touch screen panel PC, a fullfeatured, fanless panel PC suitable for intelligent display applications in demanding environments. The VIA VIPRO is a costeffective, intelligent display that can handle commercial applications such as ticketing, ATM,...

Products : Electronics & Computers
Single-Board RIO

National Instruments (Austin, TX) now offers NI Single- Board RIO devices for deploying embedded control and data acquisition applications. The eight sbRIO- 96xx devices combine an embedded real-time processor, reconfigurable field-protgrammable gate array (FPGA), and analog and digital I/O on a single printed circuit board...

Products : Electronics & Computers
High-Speed Development Tool

The MPLAB® ICD 3 from Micro - chip Technology Inc. (Chandler, AZ) is a cost-effective, high-speed development tool that supports in-circuit programming and debugging of Microchip's Flash-based 8-bit PIC® microcontrollers (MCUs), 16- and 32- bit MCUs, and 16-bit dsPIC® Digital Signal Controllers (DSCs)....

Products : Electronics & Computers
Wireless Ethernet Port Adapters

Based either on Bluetooth or Wireless LAN 802.11 technology, the Rugged Ethernet Port Adapters from connectBlue (Chicago, IL) are well suited for all Ethernet-based devices and systems in need of wireless connectivity. The products improve wireless coexistence without damaging the Bluetooth conformity or the...

Products : Electronics & Computers
Standalone LXI Digitizers

Agilent Technologies Inc. (Santa Clara, CA) now offers standalone high-resolution digitizers with LXI connectivity for R&D and manufacturing engineers. The Agilent L4532A 2- channel and L4534A 4-channel digitizers are high-performance LXI digitizers that offer simultaneous sampling at up to 20 MS/s, and with 16-bit...

Products : Electronics & Computers
Embedded Database

Empress Software (Beltsville, MD) has announced that the Empress Ultra Embedded Database V10.20 works on Windows 7 Beta. Windows 7 Beta is Microsoft's next-generation operating system for PC users. The embedded database features an Intel Atom board with 2GB of memory. Empress V10.20 for Windows functions after adding Java,...

Features : Photonics/Optics
Wafer Level Camera Technology

Film cameras were traditionally manufactured by discrete assembly, which means each component was fabricated as an individual item, tested if necessary, and then assembled into the final working product. The advent of solid state imaging did little to change this approach. The film was merely replaced by a...

Application Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Measuring the Color and Appearance of Special-Effect Paint

Manufacturers that design, formulate and apply coatings have struggled for years to find a rigorous and easy-to-use method that reliably measures the color and appearance of special-effect paints. Companies tried to relate measurements taken with handheld spectrophotometers that collect...

Products : Photonics/Optics
Product of the Month: Mini Fiber Laser Transmitter

RPMC (O’Fallon, MO) has introduced the new Manlight ML1550-PL-R-OEM mini laser transmitter for LIDAR, telemetry, or range finding applications. The ML1550-PL-R-OEM has a compact size of 90 × 70 × 15 mm. The pulsed fiber laser provides short to ultra short pulse duration, with 2ns to 50ns...

Products : Photonics/Optics
Digital High-Speed Camera

The Phantom® v310 digital high-speed camera from Vision Research (Wayne, NJ) offers users a wide aspect ratio and a top speed of 3,400 frames-per-second (fps) at the camera’s maximum resolution of 1280 x 800. At reduced resolution, the v310 can record at speeds up to 500,000 fps. The camera is suitable for...

Products : Photonics/Optics
Line Scan Camera

The DiViiNA line scan camera from e2v (Cedex, France) is a cost-effective industrial inspection camera that features 1024, 2048, and 4096 pixel sensors, running at 40 MHz and outputting 8 bits on Camera Link. The camera can be set through a flexible and easy serial control, operated with a two tap Camera Link base configuration,...

Products : Photonics/Optics
Illumination Design Software

LightTools® 6.2 illumination design and analysis software from Optical Research Associates (Pasadena, CA) is for applications ranging from LEDs to displays and luminaires. A backward ray tracing capability reduces the time needed to design and analyze systems such as sources, luminaires, and projectors. The...

Products : Photonics/Optics
Thru-Beam Sensors

UltraFrameTM self-contained thru-beam sensors from Balluff (Florence, KY) are ideal for error-proofing, process monitoring, and general automation tasks in a number of environments. The UltraFrame sensors’ one-piece housings contain both emitter and receiver elements with pre-aligned optics, providing easy...

Products : Photonics/Optics
Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscope

Novelx (Lafayette, CA) introduces the mySEM® compact field emission scanning electron microscope (SEM) for imaging and characterizing nanoscale objects and materials. In a compact design that installs easily, the mySEM is optimized for low-voltage operation and delivers sub-10nm imaging capabilities....

Products : Photonics/Optics
PbSe Thermal Imaging Array

The LIRA5S lead selenide (PbSe) thermal imaging array from Cal Sensors (Santa Rosa, CA) is sensitive in the 1.0 to 5.5μm wavelength region and has state-of-the art integrated electronics. LIRA5S can be programmed for use in high-speed thermal imaging applications, including hot-spot detection in manufacturing and...

Products : Photonics/Optics
Laser Diode Controller

VueMetrix (Sunnyvale, CA) has released the Vue-LV-15, a 15A high performance, low-cost laser diode controller based on a powerful microprocessor and proprietary current control algorithm. The Vue-LV-15 features an all digital control system that uses a precise crystal oscillator time base for direct computer control of its...

Products : Photonics/Optics
Fiber Coupled Laser Modules

FiberLight fiber coupled laser modules from Modulight (San Jose, CA) are for applications in medical, industrial, defense, and research activities. The FiberLight products are based on the company’s broad-area laser bars, from which the laser emission is coupled to a single output fiber with high efficiency....


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