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 : Materials
Metal Standards for Waveguide Characterization of Materials

Rectangular-waveguide inserts that are made of non-ferromagnetic metals and are sized and shaped to function as notch filters have been conceived as reference standards for use in the rectangular- waveguide method of characterizing materials with respect to such constitutive...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Ultra-Large Solar Sail

UltraSail is a next- generation ultra-large (km2 class) sail system. Analysis of the launch, deployment, stabilization, and control of these sails shows that high-payload-mass fractions for interplanetary and deep-space missions are possible. UltraSail combines propulsion and control systems developed for...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Cooperative Three-Robot System for Traversing Steep Slopes

Teamed Robots for Exploration and Science in Steep Areas (TRESSA) is a system of three autonomous mobile robots that cooperate with each other to enable scientific exploration of steep terrain (slope angles up to 90°). Originally intended for use in exploring steep slopes on Mars that...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Assemblies of Conformal Tanks

Assemblies of tanks having shapes that conform to each other and/or conform to other proximate objects have been investigated for use in storing fuels and oxidizers in small available spaces in upper stages of spacecraft. Such assemblies might also prove useful in aircraft, automobiles, boats, and other terrestrial...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Microfluidic Pumps Containing Teflon® AF Diaphragms

Microfluidic pumps and valves based on pneumatically actuated diaphragms made of Teflon® AF polymers are being developed for incorporation into laboratory-on-a-chip devices that must perform well over temperature ranges wider than those of prior diaphragm-based microfluidic pumps and valves....

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Transparent Conveyor of Dielectric Liquids or Particles

The concept of a transparent conveyor of small loose dielectric particles or small amounts of dielectric liquids has emerged as an outgrowth of an effort to develop efficient, reliable means of automated removal of dust from solar cells and from windows of optical instruments. This concept...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Multi-Cone Model for Estimating GPS Ionospheric Delays

The multi-cone model is a computational model for estimating ionospheric delays of Global Positioning System (GPS) signals. It is a direct descendant of the conical-domain model, which was described in “Conical-Domain Model for Estimating GPS Ionospheric Delays” (NPO-40930), Software...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Progress Toward a Compact, Highly Stable Ion Clock

There was an update on the subject of two previous NASA Tech Briefs articles: “Compact, Highly Stable Ion Clock” (NPO-43075), Vol. 32, No. 5 (May 2008), page 63; and “Neon as a Buffer Gas for a Mercury-Ion Clock” (NPO-42919), Vol. 32, No. 7 (July 2008), page 62. To recapitulate: A...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
High-Sensitivity GaN Microchemical Sensors

Systematic studies have been performed on the sensitivity of GaN HEMT (high electron mobility transistor) sensors using various gate electrode designs and operational parameters. The results here show that a higher sensitivity can be achieved with a larger W/L ratio (W = gate width, L = gate length) at...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
On the Divergence of the Velocity Vector in Real-Gas Flow

A theoretical study was performed addressing the degree of applicability or inapplicability, to a real gas, of the occasionally stated belief that for an ideal gas, incompressibility is synonymous with a zero or very low Mach number. The measure of compressibility used in this study is...

Briefs : Information Technology
Integrated Risk and Knowledge Management Program — IRKM-P

The NASA Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD) IRKM-P tightly couples risk management and knowledge management processes and tools to produce an effective “modern” work environment. IRKM-P objectives include: (1) to learn lessons from past and current programs (Apollo,...

Briefs : Information Technology
Constructing LDPC Codes From Loop-Free Encoding Modules

A method of constructing certain low-density parity-check (LDPC) codes by use of relatively simple loop-free coding modules has been developed. The subclasses of LDPC codes to which the method applies includes accumulate-repeat-accumulate (ARA) codes, accumulate-repeat-check-accumulate...

Briefs : Information Technology
LDPC Codes With Minimum Distance Proportional to Block Size

Low-density parity-check (LDPC) codes characterized by minimum Hamming distances proportional to block sizes have been demonstrated. Like the codes mentioned in the immediately preceding article, the present codes are error-correcting codes suitable for use in a variety of wireless...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
MMICs With Radial Probe Transitions to Waveguides

A document presents an update on the innovation reported in “Integrated Radial Probe Transition From MMIC to Waveguide” (NPO-43957), NASA Tech Briefs Vol. 31, No. 5 (May 2007), page 38. To recapitulate: To enable operation or testing of a monolithic microwave integrated circuit (MMIC), it is...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Tests of Low-Noise MMIC Amplifier Module at 290 to 340 GHz

A document presents data from tests of a low-noise amplifier module operating in the frequency range from 290 to 340 GHz — said to be the highest-frequency low-noise, solid-state amplifier ever developed. The module comprised a three-stage monolithic microwave integrated circuit (MMIC)...

Briefs : Information Technology
Extending Newtonian Dynamics to Include Stochastic Processes

A paper presents further results of continuing research reported in several previous NASA Tech Briefs articles, the two most recent being “Stochastic Representations of Chaos Using Terminal Attractors” (NPO-41519), [Vol. 30, No. 5 (May 2006), page 57] and “Physical Principle for...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Instruments for Imaging From Far to Near

The acronym “CHAMP” (signifying “camera, hand lens, and microscope”) denotes any of several proposed optoelectronic instruments that would be capable of color imaging at working distances that could be varied continuously through a range from infinity down to several millimeters. As in any optical...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Reflectors Made From Membranes Stretched Between Beams

Lightweight cylindrical reflectors of a proposed type would be made from reflective membranes stretched between pairs of identically curved and identically oriented end rails. In each such reflector, the curvature of the two beams would define the reflector shape required for the intended...

Briefs : Imaging
Mid-Infrared Reflectance Imaging of Thermal-Barrier Coatings

An apparatus for mid-infrared reflectance imaging has been developed as means of inspecting for subsurface damage in thermal-barrier coatings (TBCs). The apparatus is designed, more specifically, for imaging the progression of buried delamination cracks in plasma-sprayed...

Briefs : Imaging
Improving the Visible and Infrared Contrast Ratio of Microshutter Arrays

Three device improvements have been developed that dramatically enhance the contrast ratio of microshutters. The goal of a microshutter is to allow as much light through as possible when the shutters are in the open configuration, and preventing any light from passing...

Briefs : Imaging
Improved Scanners for Microscopic Hyperspectral Imaging

Improved scanners to be incorporated into hyperspectral microscope-based imaging systems have been invented. Heretofore, in microscopic imaging, including spectral imaging, it has been customary to either move the specimen relative to the optical assembly that includes the microscope or...

Briefs : Materials
Large-Format Carbon Nanotube Sheets Fabricated With Chemical Vapor Deposition

Carbon nanotube (CNT) sheets, yarns, and their derivative products are beginning to emerge in the marketplace. A productive and scalable manufacturing method utilizes a chemical vapor deposition process for making very-large-format CNT non-woven, textile-like sheets...

Briefs : Materials
Filtering Water by Use of Ultrasonically Vibrated Nanotubes

Devices that could be characterized as acoustically driven molecular sieves have been proposed for filtering water to remove all biological contaminants and all molecules larger than water molecules. Originally intended for purifying wastewater for reuse aboard spacecraft, these devices...

Briefs : Software
Computer Code for Nanostructure Simulation

Due to their small size, nanostructures can have stress and thermal gradients that are larger than any macroscopic analogue. These gradients can lead to specific regions that are susceptible to failure via processes such as plastic deformation by dislocation emission, chemical debonding, and interfacial...

Briefs : Materials
Improvements in Production of Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes

A continuing program of research and development has been directed toward improvement of a prior batch process in which single-walled carbon nanotubes are formed by catalytic disproportionation of carbon monoxide in a fluidized-bed reactor. The overall effect of the improvements has...

Briefs : Materials
Progress Toward Sequestering Carbon Nanotubes in PmPV

A report reopens the discussion of “Sequestration of Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes in a Polymer” (MSC-23257), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 31, No. 12 (December 2007), page 38. To recapitulate: Sequestration of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) in molecules of...

Briefs : Materials
Functionalizing CNTs for Making Epoxy/CNT Composites

Functionalization of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) with linear molecular side chains of polyphenylene ether (PPE) has been shown to be effective in solubilizing the CNTs in the solvent components of solutions that are cast to make epoxy/CNT composite films. (In the absence of solubilization, the...

Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Parallel-Processing CMOS Circuitry for M-QAM and 8PSK TCM

There has been some additional development of parts reported in “Multi-Modulator for Bandwidth-Efficient Communication” (NPO-40807), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 32, No. 6 (June 2009), page 34. The focus was on

Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Circuit for Driving Piezoelectric Transducers

The figure schematically depicts an oscillator circuit for driving a piezoelectric transducer to excite vibrations in a mechanical structure. The circuit was designed and built to satisfy application-specific requirements to drive a selected one of 16 such transducers at a regulated amplitude and...

Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Board Saver for Use With Developmental FPGAs

A device denoted a board saver has been developed as a means of reducing wear and tear of a printed-circuit board onto which an antifuse field-programmable gate array (FPGA) is to be eventually soldered permanently after a number of design iterations. The need for the board saver or a similar device...