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
Integrated Miniature Arrays of Optical Biomolecule Detectors

Integrated miniature planar arrays of optical sensors for detecting specific biochemicals in extremely small quantities have been proposed. An array of this type would have an area of about 1 cm2. Each element of the array would include an optical microresonator that would...

Photonics Tech Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Inter-Symbol Guard Time for Synchronizing Optical PPM

An inter-symbol guard time has been proposed as a means of synchronizing the symbol and slot clocks of an optical pulse-position modulation (PPM) receiver with the symbol and slot periods of an incoming optical PPM signal. (Such synchronization is necessary for correct identification of...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Device for Measuring Low Flow Speed in a Duct

A multiple-throat venturi system has been invented for measuring laminar flow of air or other gas at low speed (1 to 30 cm/s) in a duct while preserving the laminar nature of the flow and keeping the velocity profile across the duct as nearly flat as possible. While means for measuring flows at...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Measuring Thermal Conductivity of a Small Insulation Sample

An instrumentation system for direct measurement of the thermal conductivity of a small sample of a highly insulating material has been devised. As used here, (1) “small” signifies having dimensions of the order of two centimeters — significantly less than the sizes of specimens...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Alignment Jig for the Precise Measurement of THz Radiation

An alignment jig (see figure) places a THz horn and power detector at the proper locations with respect to the focal points of a conic reflector in order to couple total power of the THz source radiating out of its horn into the power detector for precise measurement of its power. A...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Autoignition Chamber for Remote Testing of Pyrotechnic Devices

The autoignition chamber (AIC) performs by remotely heating pyrotechnic devices that can fit the inner diameter of the tube furnace. Two methods, a cold start or a hot start, can be used with this device in autoignition testing of pyrotechnics. A cold start means extending a pyro -...

Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
T/R Multi-Chip MMIC Modules for 150 GHz

Modules containing multiple monolithic microwave integrated-circuit (MMIC) chips have been built as prototypes of transmitting/receiving (T/R) modules for millimeter-wavelength radar systems, including phased-array radar systems to be used for diverse purposes that could include guidance and avoidance of...

Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Some Improvements in Utilization of Flash Memory Devices

Two developments improve the utilization of flash memory devices in the face of the following limitations: (1) a flash write element (page) differs in size from a flash erase element (block), (2) a block must be erased before its is rewritten, (3) lifetime of a flash memory is typically...

Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
GPS/MEMS IMU/Microprocessor Board for Navigation

A miniaturized instrumentation package comprising a (1) Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver, (2) an inertial measurement unit (IMU) consisting largely of surface-micromachined sensors of the microelectro-mechanical systems (MEMS) type, and (3) a microprocessor, all residing on a single...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Multi-Modulator for Bandwidth-Efficient Communication

A modulator circuit board has recently been developed to be used in conjunction with a vector modulator to generate any of a large number of modulations for bandwidth-efficient radio transmission of digital data signals at rates than can exceed 100 Mb/s. The modulations include quadrature...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Microwave Power Combiners for Signals of Arbitrary Amplitude

Schemes for combining power from coherent microwave sources of arbitrary (unequal or equal) amplitude have been proposed. Most prior microwave-power-combining schemes are limited to sources of equal amplitude.

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Airborne Antenna System for Minimum-Cycle-Slip GPS Reception

A system that includes a Global Positioning System (GPS) antenna and associated apparatus for keeping the antenna aimed upward has been developed for use aboard a remote-sensing-survey airplane. The purpose served by the system is to enable minimum-cycle-slip reception of GPS signals...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Device Acquires and Retains Rock or Ice Samples

The Rock Baller is a sample acquisition tool that improves sample retention. The basic elements of the Rock Baller are the tool rotation axis, the hub, the two jaws, and the cutting blades, which are located on each of the jaws. The entire device rotates about the tool rotation axis, which is...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Pneumatic Haptic Interfaces

Haptic interfaces in the form of arrays of balloonlike pneumatic actuators are being developed to provide tactile feedback from (1) remote-manipulator hands, tools on the tips of robot arms, and other, similar devices to (2) the hands of human operators. Like other haptic interfaces, these have numerous potential...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Cryogenic Feedthrough Test Rig

The cryogenic feedthrough test rig (CFTR) allows testing of instrumentation feedthroughs at liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen temperature and pressure extremes (dangerous process fluid) without actually exposing the feedthrough to a combustible or explosive process fluid. In addition, the helium used (inert gas),...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Two-Step Plasma Process for Cleaning Indium Bonding Bumps

A two-step plasma process has been developed as a means of removing surface oxide layers from indium bumps used in flip-chip hybridization (bump bonding) of integrated circuits. This process has considerable commercial potential in that flip-chip hybridization is used in the manufacture...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Tool for Crimping Flexible Circuit Leads

A hand tool has been developed for crimping leads in flexible tails that are parts of some electronic circuits — especially some sensor circuits. The tool is used to cut the tails to desired lengths and attach solder tabs to the leads. For tailoring small numbers of circuits for special applications,...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Improved Assembly for Gas Shielding During Welding or Brazing

An improved assembly for inert-gas shielding of a metallic joint is designed to be useable during any of a variety of both laser-based and traditional welding and brazing processes. The basic purpose of this assembly or of a typical prior related assembly is to channel the flow of a...

Briefs : Materials
Polyimide-Foam/Aerogel Composites for Thermal Insulation

Composites of specific types of polymer foams and aerogel particles or blankets have been proposed to obtain thermal insulation performance superior to those of the neat polyimide foams. These composites have potential to also provide enhanced properties for vibration dampening or acoustic...

Briefs : Materials
Yb₁₄MnSb₁₁ as a High-Efficiency Thermoelectric Material

Yb14MnSb11 has been found to be well-suited for use as a p-type thermoelectric material in applications that involve hot-side temperatures in the approximate range of 1,200 to 1,300 K. The figure of merit that characterizes the thermal-to-electric...

Briefs : Software
Converting CSV Files to RKSML Files

A computer program converts, into a format suitable for processing on Earth, files of downlinked telemetric data pertaining to the operation of the Instrument Deployment Device (IDD), which is a robot arm on either of the Mars Explorer Rovers (MERs). The raw downlinked data files are in comma-separated-value...

Briefs : Software
Service Management Database for DSN Equipment

This data- and event-driven persistent storage system leverages the use of commercial software provided by Oracle for portability, ease of maintenance, scalability, and ease of integration with embedded, client-server, and multi-tiered applications. In this role, the Service Management Database...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Chemochromic Hydrogen Leak Detectors

At NASA, hydrogen safety is a key concern for space shuttle processing. Leaks of any level must be quickly recognized and addressed due to hydrogen’s lower explosion limit. Chemochromic devices have been developed to detect hydrogen gas in several embodiments. Because hydrogen is odorless and colorless and...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Compatibility of Segments of Thermoelectric Generators

A method of calculating (usually for the purpose of maximizing) the power-conversion efficiency of a segmented thermoelectric generator is based on equations derived from the fundamental equations of thermoelectricity. Because it is directly traceable to first principles, the method provides...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
JPL Greenland Moulin Exploration Probe

A probe was designed to investigate the moulins (melt water drainage channels on an ice cap) and ice-hydrology interaction in the Greenland Ice Cap. By using commercially available components, the strong and reliable system has been developed that has a high-definition video recording element, is...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Complementary Barrier Infrared Detector

The complementary barrier infrared detector (CBIRD) is designed to eliminate the major dark current sources in the superlattice infrared detector. The concept can also be applied to bulk semiconductor-based infrared detectors. CBIRD uses two different types of specially designed barriers: an electron...

Briefs : Materials
Room-Temperature Ionic Liquids for Electrochemical Capacitors

A document discusses room-temperature ionic liquids (RTILs) used as electrolytes in carbon-nanotube-based, electrochemical, double-layer capacitors. Unlike the previous electrolyte (EtNB4 in acetonitrile), the RTIL used here does not produce cyanide upon thermal decomposition and does...

Briefs : Materials
Ultra-Lightweight Self- Deployable Nanocomposite Structure for Habitat Applications

A document discusses self-deployable, rigidized structures that are ultra-lightweight and have gas barrier properties, space durability, and high impact resistance. Developed here are microcellular-foamed sandwich structures made from nanocomposite shape memory...

Briefs : Green Design & Manufacturing
JPL Greenland Moulin Exploration Probe
A probe was designed to investigate the moulins - melt water drainage channels on an ice cap - and ice-hydrology interaction in the Greenland Ice Cap. By using commercially available components, the strong and reliable system has a high-definition video recording element, is lightweight, and has buoyancy that...
Briefs : Energy
Chemochromic Hydrogen Leak Detectors
Because hydrogen is odorless and colorless and poses an explosion hazard, there is an emerging need for sensors to quickly and accurately detect low levels of leaking hydrogen in fuel cells and other advanced energy-generating systems in which hydrogen is used as fuel. Simple, color-changing sensors have been...

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