Special Coverage

How Model Rockets Launch Tomorrow's Engineers
Lost in Space: Smart Spacesuits Feature 'Home' Button
With a Commercial Printer, Researchers Manufacture Motion Sensors in Bulk
NASA Supercomputer Simulations Reveal 'Noisy' Aerodynamics
Is It Hot in Here? New Double-Sided Fabric Will Find Your 'Comfortable' Temperature
Sound-Off: Thermoset Composites vs. Traditional Metals
Electric ‘Smart’ Paper Picks Up on Pipe Leaks
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

New Products: December 2017 Motion Design

Corrosion-Resistant Valve

GF Piping Systems (Irvine, CA) introduced a corrosion-resistant pneumatic diaphragm valve for highly corrosive dosing and open/close applications. The Type 604/605 pneumatically actuated dosing valve is designed and tested to surpass two million lifecycles. The 1/2” (d20) size 604/605 valve is available in PVC, CPVC, PROGEF Standard PP, and SYGEF; in standard PVDF body materials with a wide variety of end connections; and custom assemblies. The valve is pressure-rated at 90 psi unidirectional with operating temperatures ranging from -4 to 284 °F, depending on body material. A threaded bonnet design eliminates both the need for metallic body bolts and re-torqueing after hot line shutdowns. Oversized pneumatic ports decrease cycle time to maintain accurate dosing with minimal overrun.

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Posted in: Products, Board-Level Electronics, Electronic Components, Electronics & Computers, Motion Control, Motors & Drives, Positioning Equipment, Sensors
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Paper-Folding Techniques Expand Compacted Spacecraft

Origami has once again inspired engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Besides aesthetic beauty, the Japanese tradition of paper-folding addresses a persistent problem faced by JPL engineers: how do you pack the greatest amount of spacecraft into the smallest volume possible?

Posted in: Briefs, Motion Control
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Webb Telescope Actuators Move with Microscopic Accuracy

The James Webb Space Telescope will be the most powerful space telescope ever built. With a 21-foot diameter, the telescope’s primary mirror is six times larger than the one used by the Hubble Space Telescope. In order for such a large mirror to travel into space, it has to be broken up into multiple segments; in this case, 18 of them. But for the 18 to act as one primary mirror, they have to be adjusted while in orbit.

Posted in: Briefs, Motion Control
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LEARNING TO CRAWL: Origami Robot Moves Like an Earthworm

A team of engineers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign built a new kind of crawler robot. The wheel-less design takes inspiration from two unconventional sources: origami and the earthworm. Assistant professors Aimy Wissa and Sameh Tawfick, along with a team of graduate and undergraduate students, used “Kresling” paper-folding principles to create buildingblock actuators (Figure 1).

Posted in: Articles, Materials, Motion Control, Motors & Drives, Automation, Robotics
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Device-Free Motion Tracing Using WiFi Signals

Fine-grained human motion tracing — the ability to trace the trajectory of a moving human hand or leg, or even the whole body — is a general capability that is useful in a wide variety of applications. It can be used for gesture recognition and virtual touch-screens (e.g. Kinect-style natural user interfaces), activity recognition, monitoring of young infants and the elderly, or security applications such as intruder detection. Motivated by these applications, depth-sensing-based systems have been developed to implement motion tracing capabilities in cameras; however, these devices are limited because they have a constrained field of view (around 2 to 4 m range with a 60-degree aperture), and do not work in non-line-of-sight scenarios, preventing their use in many applications such as whole-home activity recognition, security, and elderly care.

Posted in: Briefs, Imaging
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Rubber Material Enables Scratch-Proof Surfaces

The slippery state caused by water or oil is called superlubricity — where there is basically no friction on a surface. In graphene, this superlubricity state comes from atomic orbitals that compose carbon atoms. To generate friction, some orbitals must overlap and heat, or some energy must be released. Graphene does not require this process; rather, it spontaneously slides on top of other layers, but does not release heat. Graphene, which is 300 times stronger than steel, becomes mechanically weaker and can easily break.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials
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Zero-Power Radio Receiver

There are several different types of wireless radio frequency identification (RFID) tags that are truly zero-power radios. Currently, most unpowered wireless RFID tags only have a range of a few meters. There are longrange, low-powered tags that draw energy either from a battery or some other form of localized power. A passive, or zero-power, radio receiver uses no direct electrical power, but makes sole use of the power available from a transmitter via the radio spectrum.

Posted in: Briefs, Communications
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Ultrathin Semiconductor Materials “Rust” to Insulate Circuitry

Silicon has several qualities that have led it to become the bedrock of electronics. One is that it features a very good “native” insulator — silicon dioxide, or silicon rust. Exposing silicon to oxygen during manufacturing gives chip makers a way to isolate their circuitry. Other semiconductors do not “rust” into good insulators when exposed to oxygen, so they must be layered with additional insulators — a step that introduces engineering challenges. Two new ultrathin materials share that trait, making them promising materials for electronics of the future.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials
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System Integrates High-Speed Data and Wireless Power Transfer

Sources of wireless power — such as wireless cellphone charging pads — require near-physical contact with the pad, limiting the usefulness of a truly wireless power source. Recent work has extended wireless power to mid-range, which can supply power at inches to feet of separation. Most of these wireless power systems have only focused on the power problem, not the data that needs to accompany smart devices.

Posted in: Briefs, Communications
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Detector System for High-Resolution Imaging

A large-area detector without any dead space capable of handling a large dynamic range does not currently exist. Current large-area detectors have dead zones created by abutting several modules together. These detectors are counting detectors, which are good only for low-flux operations. Other integrating detectors currently being developed are also modular assemblies with dead areas, and are expandable in only one direction (as these are only two-side-buttable).

Posted in: Briefs, Imaging
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