Flexible, Printable Electronics for Sensor Arrays

Printable electronics — flexible circuitry that is deposited on some type of plastic substrate — has been a major area of research for decades. But the ability to print the substrate itself greatly increases the range of devices the technique can yield.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers
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Sample Holder for Evaluating Thin Film Sensor Materials in Gaseous Environments

Thin film gas sensors are small, lightweight, and relatively easy to operate; however, the testing of these thin film gas sensors is difficult in harsh environments due to the exposure of critical components to the harsh environment. A need exists for the ability to test thin film gas sensor materials for their response to analytes of interest in a variety of environments, including harsh environments. Currently, a sample holder does not exist that will allow the testing of thin film gas sensor materials in harsh environments. Many of the thin film gas sensors require electrical and mechanical connections in order to operate. Harsh environments tend to degrade many of these connections, compromising sensor performance and shortening sensor lifetime. A sensor holder that provides exposure of the thin film sensor material to the harsh environment, while protecting the electrical and mechanical connections, is needed. The advantages of such a sample holder are that the sensors can be used in a wider range of environments (temperature, humidity, etc.), and a wider range of analytes can be evaluated (hydrazine, ammonia, hydrogen, etc.).

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping
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Single Event Upset Suppression System (SEUSS)

Electronic devices are getting smaller and more energy-efficient, meaning that they are more susceptible to single event upsets (SEUs) — malfunctions caused by particles in the atmosphere interfering with electronic systems. The need increases as these devices get smaller, since particles that cause these upsets can even come from the packages that house the devices. This is especially prevalent in the aerospace industry, since working at higher altitudes means increased exposure to cosmic ray particles.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers
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Piezoelectric Actuator with Dual Horns Separately Controllable to Drive Miniature Vehicles Along a Single Axis

Actuators are a critical driver of all the mechanisms used in space, and improvements of their operation mechanism enhance mission capabilities. The disclosed invention is a new type of actuator that simultaneously drives dual mechanisms (e.g., rotors, wheels, etc.) at opposite sides of a piezoelectric stack using the generated vibrations. The actuator consists of dual-sided horns and is capable of operating ratcheting mechanisms through walls.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation
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Desktop Status

The purpose of the Desktop Status application is to collect processor, memory, and storage usages of a computer running the Microsoft Windows 7 operating system, and record these data with time stamps to files at a user-defined time interval. A graphical user interface (GUI) captures users' inputs and displays them on a plot for informational purposes. Microsoft Windows' Task Manager program, a prior art that is included in the Windows operating system, has the capability to collect processor and memory usages and display them on a graph, but cannot write the raw data values to files with time stamps at regular time intervals.

Posted in: Briefs, Software
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Diffusion-Bonded CVC SiC for Large UVOIR Telescope Mirrors and Structures

In 2012, the National Research Council called for a new generation of astronomical telescopes to enable discovery of habitable planets, facilitate advances in solar physics, and enable the study of faint structures around bright objects by developing high-contrast imaging and spectroscopic technologies to provide unprecedented sensitivity, field of view, and spectroscopy of faint objects. Large-aperture, lightweight mirrors for UV, Optical and IR (UVOIR) telescopes answer this need. NASA requires low-cost, ultra-stable, large-aperture, normal incidence mirrors with low mass-to-collecting-area ratios. Potential UV/optical missions require 4- to 8- or 16- meter monolithic or segmented primary mirrors with active/passive alignment and control of normal-incidence imaging systems with <10 nm RMS surface figures.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping
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Device for and Method of Computer Intrusion Anticipation, Detection, and Remediation

Initially, relatively powerful computers were constructed as unique mainframes operated by larger corporations on isolated networks. Then, computers with modest amounts of computing power were made available to individuals as standalone personal computers. The computing power of personal computers and the applications for which they could be used were increased by networking them with other computers throughout the world using ancillary devices (e.g., servers, routers, links, switches, hubs, etc.). An arrangement into which computer and ancillary devices are configured is called a topology. There are many different types of topologies (e.g., bus, ring, star, tree, mesh, etc.).

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers
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Crab Crawl Maneuver for Independently Steerable Wheeled Platforms

An industrial-class excavator was developed for use on the Moon and perhaps on Mars. The model mobility platform uses Ackerman Steering with active drives on all six wheels, and steering on the corners. A faulty sequence of wheel steering and driving commands resulted in undocumented behaviors in a simulation and rendering program that appear to have actual applicability to surface operations. Quite by accident, it was discovered that by applying power and steering to the wheels in a complex pattern, the excavator could move laterally, hard to starboard. The intended command was “reverse,” and the execution was a seemingly random turning and driving of all of the simulated six wheels. The faulty behavior was employed to remove the robotic platform when it was stuck on rocks, and enabled the platform to “scoot” side-ways, successfully disentangling from the rocks. The method drove the wheels in the direction of the intended motion, while steering them in a sweeping motion, and the apparent motion resembles swimming.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation
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Integrated Three-Dimensional Module Heat Exchanger for Power Electronics Cooling

Critical elements in the operation of electric drive systems are power electronics and power semiconductor packages. Improving thermal management of power electronics can help reduce the cost, weight, and volume of electric drive systems, and thus increase market acceptance. The power semiconductor packaging must provide the necessary electrical connections, while at the same time enabling heat removal from the semiconductor devices such as insulated gate bipolar transistors (IGBTs) and diodes.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers
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Forging Graphene into Three-Dimensional Shapes

Graphene is a relative to graphite, which consists of millions of layers of graphene, and can be found in common pencil tips. Since graphene was isolated in 2004, researchers have learned to routinely produce and handle it. Graphene can be used to make electronic and optoelectronic devices such as transistors, photodetectors, and sensors.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping
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