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

Specialized Sensors Perform in Extreme Environments

Demand for sensors that can operate in extreme conditions is increasing, in response to an overall industry trend toward additional product performance testing and monitoring. It takes an extremely durable design to make reliable measurements in extreme conditions, which may include high or cryogenic temperatures, aggressive chemicals, high pressures, or high radiation. The article reviews the distinct advantages and disadvantages of sensor technologies used to measure position or displacement in these difficult environments.

Posted in: White Papers, Sensors

Are you confident in a vehicle's cyberattack defenses?

Our second story in today's INSIDER featured a reader's question about cybersecurity standard SAE J3061. What do you think? Are you confident in a vehicle's cyberattack defenses?

Posted in: Question of the Week, Automotive

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, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Integrated circuits, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Integrated circuits, Plastics

Injection Molding Service Saves Time and Money for Spring Manufacturer

Proto Labs
Maple Plain, MN

As products get smaller, their components need to follow suit, and springs are no exception. In a variety of industrial applications, flat-wire wave springs are replacing traditional coil springs. The reason is that a wave spring is half the height of a coil spring, yet can often perform the same job as the coil spring — deflect the same amount of weight under the same load — saving valuable space and, in most cases, weight as well.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Articles, Manufacturing & Prototyping

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, Sensors and actuators, Sensors and actuators, Gases, Mountings, Test equipment and instrumentation

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, Electromagnetic compatibility, Electronic equipment, Electromagnetic compatibility, Electronic equipment, Radiation protection

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

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, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Human machine interface (HMI), Displays, Displays

Contacts for Hi-Rel Connectors: Comparing Technologies

Contact design is critical to the performance of any connector — especially for devices that must function in harsh environments where extremes of temperature, shock, and vibration are to be encountered. Yet there are many different contact styles, and each supplier will claim an advantage. This article aims to set out clearly and concisely the merits and drawbacks of each of the main styles.

Posted in: Articles, Products, Fastening, Joining & Assembly, Mechanical Components, Finite element analysis, Connectors and terminals, Connectors and terminals, Durability, Reliability, Durability, Reliability

Mineral Analyzer Shakes Answers Out of Soil and Rocks

On the Curiosity rover, a tool called CheMin (Chemistry and Mineralogy) is helping scientists determine what minerals make up the Martian landscape, and whether single-celled or more complex organisms could once have thrived there. CheMin sends an X-ray beam through tiny samples of Martian soil or rock, recording how the beam scatters as it bounces against atomic planes of the different minerals contained within. The technique, called X-ray powder diffraction (XRD), has been around for a long time, but the tools commonly used were not practical for a robotic mission millions of miles from the nearest human hands.

Posted in: Spinoff, Articles, Robotics, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Soils, Robotics, Test equipment and instrumentation

The U.S. Government does not endorse any commercial product, process, or activity identified on this web site.