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.

Sublimation is a major cause of degradation of thermoelectric power generation systems. Most thermoelectric materials tend to have peak values at the temperature...

Briefs: Materials
Silica/Polymer and Silica/Polymer/Fiber Composite Aerogels

Aerogels that consist, variously, of neat silica/polymer alloys and silica/polymer alloy matrices reinforced with fibers have been developed as materials for flexible thermal-insulation blankets. In comparison with prior aerogel blankets, these aerogel blankets are more durable and less...

Briefs: Materials
High-Temperature Solid Lubricant Coating

NASA PS400 is a solid lubricant coating invented for high-temperature tribological applications. This plasma-sprayed coating is a variant of the previously patented PS304 coating, and has been formulated to provide higher density, smoother surface finish, and better dimensional stability.

A proposed direct-current electromagnetic pump for circulating a molten alkali metal alloy would be smaller and lighter and would demand less input power, relative to currently...

There is a need for effective sample handling tools to deliver and sort particles for analytical instruments that are planned for use in future NASA missions....

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Durable Tactile Glove for Human or Robot Hand

A glove containing force sensors has been built as a prototype of tactile sensor arrays to be worn on human hands and anthropomorphic robot hands. Whereas the force sensors of a prior force-sensing glove are mounted on the outside, the force sensors of this glove are mounted inside, in protective...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Automated Desalting Apparatus

Because salt and metals can mask the signature of a variety of organic molecules (like amino acids) in any given sample, an automated system to purify complex field samples has been created for the analytical...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Suppressing Loss of Ions in an Atomic Clock

An improvement has been made in the design of a compact, highly stable mercury-ion clock to suppress a loss of ions as they are transferred between the quadrupole and higher multipole ion traps. Such clocks are being developed for use aboard spacecraft for navigation and planetary radio science. The...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Simplified Vicarious Radiometric Calibration

A measurement-based radiance estimation approach for vicarious radiometric calibration of spaceborne multispectral remote sensing systems has been developed. This simplified process eliminates the use of radiative transfer codes and reduces the number of atmospheric assumptions required to perform...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Phase-Conjugate Receiver for Gaussian-State Quantum Illumination

An active optical sensor probes a region of free space that is engulfed in bright thermal noise to determine the presence (or absence) of a weakly reflecting target. The returned light (which is just thermal noise if no target is present, and thermal noise plus a weak reflection of...

An improved method of making an electronic oscillator track the frequency of an atomic-clock resonance transition is based on fitting a theoretical nonlinear curve to measurements at...

Leak detection and location remain a common problem in NASA and industry, where gas leaks can create hazardous conditions if not quickly detected and corrected. In order to...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Submonolayer Quantum Dot Infrared Photodetector

A method has been developed for inserting submonolayer (SML) quantum dots (QDs) or SML QD stacks, instead of conventional Stranski-Krastanov (S-K) QDs, into the active region of intersubband photodetectors. A typical configuration would be InAs SML QDs embedded in thin layers of GaAs, surrounded by...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Ionization-Assisted Getter Pumping for Ultra-Stable Trapped Ion Frequency Standards

A method eliminates (or recovers from) residual methane buildup in getter-pumped atomic frequency standard systems by applying ionizing assistance. Ultra-high stability trapped ion frequency standards for applications requiring very high reliability, and/or low...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Phase-Array Approach to Optical Whispering Gallery Modulators

This technology leverages the well-defined orbital number of a whispering gallery modulator (WGM) to expand the range of applications for such resonators. This property rigidly connects the phase variation of the field in this mode with the azimuthal angle between the coupling...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Fiber-Optic Continuous Liquid Sensor for Cryogenic Propellant Gauging

An innovative fiber-optic sensor has been developed for low-thrust-level settled mass gauging with measurement uncertainty

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Measurement of the Length of an Optical Trap

NASA Glenn has been involved in developing optical trapping and optical micromanipulation techniques in order to develop a tool that can be used to probe, characterize, and assemble nano and microscale materials to create microscale sensors for harsh flight environments. In order to be able to...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Mode Tracker for Mode-Hop-Free Operation of a Laser

A mode-tracking system that includes a mode-controlling subsystem has been incorporated into an external-cavity (EC) quantum cascade laser that operates in a mid-infrared wavelength range. The mode-tracking system makes it possible to perform mode-hop-free wavelength scans, as needed for...

Briefs: Information Technology
Physical Invariants of Intelligence

A program of research is dedicated to development of a mathematical formalism that could provide, among other things, means by which living systems could be distinguished from non-living ones. A major issue that arises in this research is the following question: What invariants of mathematical models of the...

Briefs: Information Technology
Rocket-Plume Spectroscopy Simulation for Hydrocarbon-Fueled Rocket Engines

The UV-Vis spectroscopic system for plume diagnostics monitors rocket engine health by using several analytical tools developed at Stennis Space Center (SSC), including the rocket plume spectroscopy simulation code (RPSSC), to identify and quantify the alloys from the...

Briefs: Information Technology
Research on Spoken Dialogue Systems

Research in the field of spoken dialogue systems has been performed with the goal of making such systems more robust and easier to use in demanding situations. The term “spoken dialogue systems” signifies unified software systems containing speech-recognition, speech-synthesis, dialogue management, and...

Briefs: Information Technology
Injecting Errors for Testing Built-in Test Software

Two algorithms have been conceived to enable automated, thorough testing of Built-in test (BIT) software. The first algorithm applies to BIT routines that define pass/fail criteria based on values of data read from such hardware devices as memories, input ports, or registers. This algorithm...

Briefs: Information Technology
Guidance and Control System for a Satellite Constellation

A distributed guidance and control algorithm was developed for a constellation of satellites. The system repositions satellites as required, regulates satellites to desired orbits, and prevents collisions.

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Dedicated Deployable Aerobraking Structure

A dedicated deployable aerobraking structure concept was developed that significantly increases the effective area of a spacecraft during aerobraking by up to a factor of 5 or more (depending on spacecraft size) without substantially increasing total spacecraft mass. Increasing the effective aerobraking...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Portable Health Algorithms Test System

A document discusses the Portable Health Algorithms Test (PHALT) System, which has been designed as a means for evolving the maturity and credibility of algorithms developed to assess the health of aerospace systems. Comprising an integrated hardware-software environment, the PHALT system allows systems...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Technique for Performing Dielectric Property Measurements at Microwave Frequencies

A paper discusses the need to perform accurate dielectric property measurements on larger sized samples, particularly liquids at microwave frequencies. These types of measurements cannot be obtained using conventional cavity perturbation methods, particularly for...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Progress in Development of the Axel Rovers

Progress has been made in the development of a family of robotic land vehicles having modular and minimalist design features chosen to impart a combination of robustness, reliability, and...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Compact, Lightweight Servo-Controllable Brakes

Compact, lightweight servo-controllable brakes capable of high torques are being developed for incorporation into robot joints. A brake of this type is based partly on the capstan effect of tension elements, which is described by the well known equation

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Robotic Arm Manipulator Using Active Control for Sample Acquisition and Transfer, and Passive Mode for Surface Compliance

A robotic arm that consists of three joints with four degrees of freedom (DOF) has been developed. It can carry an end-effector to acquire and transfer samples by using active control and comply with surface topology in a...

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