Special Coverage

NASA Supercomputer Simulations Reveal 'Noisy' Aerodynamics
Robotic Gripper Cleans Up Space Debris
Soft Robot “Walks” on Any Terrain
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Using Microwaves to Produce High-Quality Graphene
Transducer-Actuator Systems for On-Machine Measurements and Automatic Part Alignment
Wide-Area Surveillance Using HD LWIR Uncooled Sensors
Heavy Lift Wing in Ground (WIG) Cargo Flying Boat
Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems
Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems
NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space

Gas Sensing System Employing Raman Scattering

The detection and characterization of molecular gases in a sample is a relatively difficult challenge. Usually, this task is relegated to expensive and time-consuming processes like mass spectrometry and gas chromatography. Furthermore, numerous industrial applications require such gas-phase analysis for pollution and process control; for example, in large, natural-gas-fired turbine electricity generators, large quantities of natural gas are mixed with air and burned. Because natural gas comes from a variety of sources, the composition of the gas changes often. If the composition of natural gas were known a-priori, turbine efficiency could be improved by adjusting the fuel/air mixture and other operating parameters. This control capability requires measurement of the components of the natural gas to better than 0.1% accuracy, with the measurement being performed at least once every second. There is currently no commercially available sensor or sensing system that can measure all of the natural-gas components in one second.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors

Brookhaven National Laboratory

Opened in 1947 on the former site of the U.S. military's Camp Upton in New York, Brookhaven National Lab's (BNL) initial mission centered on the peaceful exploration of the atom. Particle accelerators, leading chemistry and biology experiments, and visionary scientists soon joined research reactors, and Brookhaven began innovation and exploration. The Lab's new mission is to perform basic and applied research including nuclear and high-energy physics, physics and chemistry of materials, nanoscience, energy and environmental research, national security and nonproliferation, neurosciences, structural biology, and computational sciences. Over its history, Brookhaven Lab has housed three research reactors, one-of-a-kind particle accelerators, and other facilities.

Posted in: Articles, Research Lab

AUGMENTED REALITY: Beyond Gaming to Real-World Solutions

Ask a stranger off the street what Virtual Reality (VR) is or how it works, and most people will have some inclination of what the technology entails; however, ask that same person about Augmented Reality (AR), and the answers are less likely to be easily gained. Maybe someone will talk about the gaming aspect of the technology, or its earliest incarnation in the failed Google Glass.

Posted in: Articles, Data Acquisition, Simulation Software

Absorbent Polymer Reinforcing Fiber

Absorbent polymers can be used, for instance, to absorb hydrocarbons from an aqueous medium such as the absorption of oil from water. In some configurations, conventional absorbent polymers are contained within a permeable material; for example, conventional spill “socks” and booms can hold an absorbent polymer within a fabric to enable the absorbent polymer to be applied directly to the site of interest. Moreover, conventional absorbent booms can float on a water surface to help contain a spill from spreading beyond the boom. This application, however, requires the absorbent polymer to be contained within a permeable membrane or fabric.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials

MSET Industrial Early Warning System

System breakdowns in modern industrial environments can result in millions of dollars in lost time and productivity, and even the loss of life and property. In the utilities industry — where the continuous operation of coolant pumps is essential — the breakdown of a single pump can result in a loss of as much as $10 million in downtime.

Posted in: Briefs, Software

Wireless Temperature Sensor Having No Electrical Connections, and Sensing Method for Use

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed a robust wireless temperature sensor that does not require an electrical connection. The temperature sensor is built on NASA's SansEC sensor platform, which takes advantage of measuring dielectric changes. The temperature sensor is damage-tolerant, wireless, flexible, precise, and inexpensive. One promising application is for tire temperature sensors.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors

Lightweight, Crack-Resistant, Silk Composite Sensor

New lightweight, energy-saving composites that won't crack or break even after prolonged exposure to environmental or structural stress are needed in industries such as civil infrastructure for bridges and buildings, consumer products, and aerospace. To help make that possible, a method was developed to embed a nanoscale damage-sensing probe into a lightweight composite made of epoxy and silk. The probe, known as a mechanophore, could speed up product testing, and potentially reduce the amount of time and materials needed for the development of many kinds of new composites.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors

Compact, Lightweight, Athermal, Nanocomposite Telescopes with Freeform Optics

Small space missions such as CubeSats frequently require telescopes with highly sophisticated optical systems that are also low in mass and cost. The very limited spacecraft volume and mass limits also preclude adjustments to maintain critical alignment with change in temperature. Existing systems, especially those that employ folded optical paths with freeform optics, are expensive to fabricate. The optics, and support and metering structures, are also heavy due to the use of high-density material such as glass, aluminum, or nickel.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics

TiBor Skin Composite Coatings

TiBor Skin is a two-part technology that creates toughened, corrosion- and wear-resistant composite structures. The technology consists of coatings or surface materials for application on metals, plus methods of applying these materials. It also provides methods of integrating the applied coatings with their substrates to form composite structures, the surfaces of which wear and corrode at rates much lower than those currently experienced in the industry.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials

Airborne Sense-and-Avoid Radar Panel

Although unmanned aerial systems (UAS) have proven increasingly useful in a variety of applications, their widespread usage within the National Airspace System is limited because of regulatory restrictions on their access to shared airspace.

Posted in: Briefs, Aeronautics, Aerospace

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