A comprehensive library of technical briefs from engineering experts at NASA and major government, university, and commercial laboratories covering all aspects of innovations in electronics, software, photonics, imaging, motion control, automation, sensors, test, materials, manufacturing, mechanical, and mechatronics.

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Hybrid Architecture Active Wavefront Sensing and Control

A method was developed for performing relatively high-speed wavefront sensing and control to overcome thermal instabilities in a segmented primary mirror telescope [e.g., James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) at L2], by using the onboard fine guidance sensor (FGS) to minimize expense and...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Aerogel-Positronium Technology for the Detection of Small Quantities of Organic and/or Toxic Materials

The Ps-aerogel system [Ps is positronium (an electron-positron-hydrogen-like atom)] has been evaluated and optimized as a potential tool for planetary exploration missions. Different configurations of use were assessed, and the results provide...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Carbon-Nanotube-Based Chemical Gas Sensor

Conventional thermal conductivity gauges (e.g. Pirani gauges) lend themselves to applications such as leak detectors, or in gas chromatographs for identifying various gas species. However, these conventional gauges are physically large, operate at high power, and have a slow response time.

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Graphene-Based Reversible Nano-Switch/ Sensor Schottky Diode

This proof-of-concept device consists of a thin film of graphene deposited on an electrodized doped silicon wafer. The graphene film acts as a conductive path between a gold electrode deposited on top of a silicon dioxide layer and the reversible side of the silicon wafer, so as to...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Inductive Non-Contact Position Sensor

Optical hardware has been developed to measure the depth of defects in the Space Shuttle Orbiter’s windows. In this hardware, a mirror is translated such that its position corresponds to the defect’s depth, so the depth measurement problem is transferred to a mirror-position measurement problem. This is...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
High-Temperature Surface-Acoustic-Wave Transducer

Aircraft-engine rotating equipment usually operates at high temperature and stress. Non-invasive inspection of microcracks in those components poses a challenge for the non-destructive evaluation community. A low-profile ultrasonic guided wave sensor can detect cracks in situ. The key feature of...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Grid-Sphere Electrodes for Contact With Ionospheric Plasma

Grid-sphere electrodes have been proposed for use on the positively biased end of electrodynamic space tethers. A grid-sphere electrode is fabricated by embedding a wire mesh in a thin film from which a spherical balloon is formed. The grid-sphere electrode would be deployed from compact...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Robust Optimization Design Algorithm for High-Frequency TWTs

Traveling-wave tubes (TWTs), such as the Ka-band (26-GHz) model recently developed for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, are essential as communication amplifiers in spacecraft for virtually all near- and deep-space missions. This innovation is a computational design algorithm that,...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Optimal and Local Connectivity Between Neuron and Synapse Array in the Quantum Dot/Silicon Brain

This innovation is used to connect between synapse and neuron arrays using nanowire in quantum dot and metal in CMOS (complementary metal oxide semi-conductor) technology to enable the density of a brainlike connection in hardware. The hardware...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Enabling IP Header Compression in COTS Routers via Frame Relay on a Simplex Link

NASA is moving toward a network-centric communications architecture and, in particular, is building toward use of Internet Protocol (IP) in space. The use of IP is motivated by its ubiquitous application in many communications networks and in available commercial...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Ka-Band SiGe Receiver Front-End MMIC for Transponder Applications

A fully integrated, front-end Ka-band monolithic microwave integrated circuit (MMIC) was developed that houses an LNA (low noise amplifier) stage, a down-conversion stage, and output buffer amplifiers. The MMIC design employs a two-step quadrature down-conversion architecture,...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Method and Circuit for In-Situ Health Monitoring of Solar Cells in Space

This innovation represents a method and circuit realization of a system designed to make in-situ measurements of test solar-cell operational parameters on orbit using readily available high-temperature and high-ionizing-radiation-tolerant electronic components. This...

Briefs : Software
BGen: A UML Behavior Network Generator Tool

BGen software was designed for auto-generation of code based on a graphical representation of a behavior network used for controlling automatic vehicles. A common format used for describing a behavior network, such as that used in the JPL-developed behavior-based control system, CARACaS [“Control...

Briefs : Software
Platform for Post-Processing Waveform-Based NDE

Signal- and image-processing methods are commonly needed to extract information from the waves, improve resolution of, and highlight defects in an image. Since some similarity exists for all waveform-based nondestructive evaluation (NDE) methods, it would seem that a common software platform...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Electrochemical Hydrogen Peroxide Generator

Two-electron reduction of oxygen to produce hydrogen peroxide is a much researched topic. Most of the work has been done in the production of hydrogen peroxide in basic media, in order to address the needs of the pulp and paper industry. However, peroxides under alkaline conditions show poor...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Fabrication of Single, Vertically Aligned Carbon Nanotubes in 3D Nanoscale Architectures

Plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) and high-throughput manufacturing techniques for integrating single, aligned carbon nanotubes (CNTs) into novel 3D nanoscale architectures have been developed. First, the PECVD growth technique ensures...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Process To Create High-Fidelity Lunar Dust Simulants

A method was developed to create high-fidelity lunar dust simulants that better match the unique properties of lunar dust than the existing simulants. The new dust simulant is designed to more closely approximate the size, morphology, composition, and other important properties of lunar dust...

Briefs : Materials
Lithium-Ion Electrolytes Containing Phosphorous-Based, Flame-Retardant Additives

Future NASA missions aimed at exploring Mars, the Moon, and the outer planets require rechargeable batteries that can operate over a wide temperature range (–60 to +60 °C) to satisfy the requirements of various applications. In addition, many of these...

Briefs : Materials
Straight-Pore Microfilter With Efficient Regeneration

A novel, high-efficiency gas particulate filter has precise particle size screening, low pressure drop, and a simple and fast regeneration process. The regeneration process, which requires minimal material and energy consumption, can be completely automated, and the filtration performance can...

Briefs : Materials
Determining Shear Stress Distribution in a Laminate

A “simplified shear solution” method approximates the through-thickness shear stress distribution within a composite laminate based on an extension of laminated beam theory. The method does not consider the solution of a particular boundary value problem; rather, it requires only knowledge...

Briefs : Materials
InGaP Heterojunction Barrier Solar Cells

A new solar-cell structure utilizes a single, ultra-wide well of either gallium arsenide (GaAs) or indium-galliumphosphide (InGaP) in the depletion region of a wide bandgap matrix, instead of the usual multiple quantum well layers. These InGaP barrier layers are effective at reducing diode dark current,...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Tele-Robotic ATHLETE Controller for Kinematics —TRACK

TRACK is a specialized controller for the All-Terrain Hex-Limbed Extra-Terrestrial Explorer Robot (ATHLETE), which has six limbs with six kinematic degrees of freedom each. TRACK is a 1/8-scale sensed but un-actuated model of one ATHLETE limb (see figure), designed to be used as a...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Self-Adjusting Liquid Injectors for Combustors

A class of self-adjusting injectors for spraying liquid oxidizers and/or fuels into combustion chambers has been proposed. The proposed injectors were originally intended for use in rocket-engine combustion chambers, but could also be used to improve control over flows of liquid propellants in other...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Three-Wheel Brush-Wheel Sampler

A new sampler is similar to a common snow blower, but is robust and effective in sample collection. The brush wheels are arranged in a triangle shape, each driven by a brushless DC motor and planetary gearhead embedded in the wheel shaft. Its speed can be varied from 800–2,000 rpm, depending on the surface...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Handling Qualities Prediction of an F-16XL-Based Reduced Sonic Boom Aircraft

A major goal of the Supersonics Project under NASA’s Fundamental Aeronautics program is sonic boom reduction of supersonic aircraft. An important part of this effort is development and validation of sonic boom prediction tools used in aircraft design. NASA Dryden’s...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Heterodyne Interferometer Angle Metrology

A compact, high-resolution angle measurement instrument has been developed that is based on a heterodyne interferometer. The commonpath heterodyne interferometer metrology is used to measure displacements of a reflective target surface. In the interferometer setup, an optical mask is used to sample the...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Optical Modification of Casimir Forces for Improved Function of Micro- and Nano-Scale Devices

Recently, there has been a considerable effort to study the Casimir and van der Waals forces, enabled by the improved ability to measure small forces near surfaces. Because of the continuously growing role of micro- and nano-mechanical devices, the...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Aligning Astronomical Telescopes via Identification of Stars

A proposed method of automated, precise alignment of a ground-based astronomical telescope would eliminate the need for initial manual alignment. The method, based on automated identification of known stars and other celestial objects in the telescope field of view, would also...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Generation of Optical Combs in a WGM Resonator From a Bichromatic Pump

Optical combs generated by a monolithic resonator with Kerr-medium can be used in a number of applications, including orbital clocks and frequency standards of extremely high accuracy, such as astronomy, molecular spectroscopy, and the like. The main difficulty of this...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Large-Format AlGaN PIN Photodiode Arrays for UV Images

A large-format hybridized AlGaN photodiode array with an adjustable bandwidth features stray-light control, ultra-low dark-current noise to reduce cooling requirements, and much higher radiation tolerance than previous technologies. This technology reduces the size, mass, power, and cost of...

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