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
Composite Solid Electrolyte Containing Li+- Conducting Fibers

Improved composite solid polymer electrolytes (CSPEs) are being developed for use in lithium-ion power cells. The matrix components of these composites, like those of some prior CSPEs, are highmolecular- weight dielectric polymers [generally based on polyethylene oxide (PEO)]. The...

Briefs : Materials
Electrically Conductive Anodized Aluminum Surfaces

Anodized aluminum components can be treated to make them sufficiently electrically conductive to suppress discharges of static electricity. The treatment was conceived as a means of preventing static electric discharges on exterior satin-anodized aluminum (SAA) surfaces of spacecraft without...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Rapid-Chill Cryogenic Coaxial Direct- Acting Solenoid Valve

A commercially available cryogenic direct-acting solenoid valve has been modified to incorporate a rapid-chill feature. In the original application for which this feature was devised, there is a requirement to ensure that at all times, the valve outlet flow consists entirely or mostly...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Variable-Tension-Cord Suspension/Vibration-Isolation System

A system for mechanical suspension and vibration isolation of a machine or instrument is based on the use of Kevlar (or equivalent aromatic polyamide) cord held in variable tension between the machine or instrument and a surrounding frame. The basic concept of such a tensioned-cord...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Techniques for Connecting Superconducting Thin Films

Several improved techniques for connecting superconducting thin films on substrates have been developed. The techniques afford some versatility for tailoring the electronic and mechanical characteristics of junctions between superconductors in experimental electronic devices. The techniques...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Versatile Friction Stir Welding/Friction Plug Welding System

A proposed system of tooling, machinery, and control equipment would be capable of performing any of several friction stir welding (FSW) and friction plug welding (FPW) operations. These operations would include the following:

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Mixed-Salt/Ester Electrolytes for Low-Temperature Li⁺ Cells

Electrolytes comprising, variously, LiPF6 or LiPF6 plus LiBF4 dissolved at various concentrations in mixtures of alkyl carbonates and alkyl esters have been found to afford improved low-temperature performance in rechargeable lithium-ion...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Miniature Bipolar Electrostatic Bipolar Electrostatic

The figure presents a concept of a bipolar miniature electrostatic ion thruster for maneuvering a small spacecraft. The ionization device in the proposed thruster would be a 0.1-micronthick dielectric membrane with metal electrodes on both sides. Small conical holes would be micromachined...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Miniature Electrostatic Ion Thruster With Magnet

A miniature electrostatic ion thruster is proposed that, with one exception, would be based on the same principles as those of the device described in the previous article, “Miniature Bipolar Electrostatic Ion Thruster” (NPO-21057). The exceptional feature of this thruster would be that, in...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Miniature Free-Space Electrostatic Ion Thrusters

A miniature electrostatic ion thruster is proposed for maneuvering small spacecraft. In a thruster based on this concept, one or more propellant gases would be introduced into an ionizer based on the same principles as those of the device described in the earlier article, “Miniature Bipolar...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Miniature Oxidizer Ionizer for a Fuel Cell

A proposed miniature device for ionizing the oxygen (or other oxidizing gas) in a fuel cell would consist mostly of a membrane ionizer using the same principles as those of the device described in the earlier article, “Miniature Bipolar Electrostatic Ion Thruster” (NPO-21057). The oxidizing gas...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Miniature Ion-Mobility Spectrometer

The figure depicts a proposed miniature ion-mobility spectrometer that would be fabricated by micromachining. Unlike prior ion-mobility spectrometers, the proposed instrument would not be based on a time-of-flight principle and, consequently, would not have some of the disadvantageous characteristics of prior...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Miniature Ion-Array Spectrometer

The figure depicts a proposed miniature ion-mobility spectrometer that would share many features of design and operation of the instrument described in the immediately preceding article. The main differences between that instrument and this one would lie in the configuration and mode of operation of the filter...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Rapid Development of Process Control Systems Using a Model-Based Approach

Developing a control system rapidly and cost effectively requires a disciplined approach that exposes design limitations early so they can be corrected before the costs and schedule go out of control. A trial-and-error development approach is utilized primarily when the...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Promoted-Combustion Chamber With Induction Heating Coil

An improved promoted-combustion system has been developed for studying the effects of elevated temperatures on the flammability of metals in pure oxygen. In prior promoted-combustion chambers, initial temperatures of metal specimens in experiments have been limited to the temperatures of...

Briefs : Medical
Thermal Spore Exposure Vessels

Thermal spore exposure vessels (TSEVs) are laboratory containers designed for use in measuring rates of death or survival of microbial spores at elevated temperatures. A major consideration in the design of a TSEV is minimizing thermal mass in order to minimize heating and cooling times. This is necessary in order...

Briefs : Medical
Enumerating Spore-Forming Bacteria Airborne With Particles

A laboratory method has been conceived to enable the enumeration of:

Cultivable bacteria and bacterial spores that are, variously, airborne by themselves or carried by, parts of, or otherwise associated with, other airborne particles; and Spore-forming bacteria among all of the...
Briefs : Information Technology
Sequence Detection for PPM Optical Communication With ISI

A method of sequence detection has been proposed to mitigate the effects of inter-slot interference and inter-symbol interference (both denoted "ISI") in the reception of M-ary pulse-position modulation (PPM) optical signals. The method would make it possible to reduce the error rate for...

Briefs : Information Technology
Algorithm for Rapid Searching Among Star-Catalog Entries

An algorithm searches a star catalog to identify guide stars within the field of view of a telescope or camera. The algorithm is fast: the number of computations needed to perform the search is approximately proportional to the logarithm of the number of stars in the catalog.

Briefs : Information Technology
Expectation-Based Control of Noise and Chaos

A proposed approach to control of noise and chaos in dynamic systems would supplement conventional methods. The approach is based on fictitious forces composed of expectations governed by Fokker-Planck or Liouville equations that describe the evolution of the probability densities of the controlled...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Radio Heating of Lunar Soil To Release Gases

A report proposes the development of a system to collect volatile elements and compounds from Lunar soil for use in supporting habitation and processing into rocket fuel. Prior exploratory missions revealed that H2, He, and N2 are present in Lunar soil and there are some...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Using Electrostriction To Manipulate Ullage in Microgravity

A report proposes to use electrostriction to manipulate the ullage in a tank containing a dielectric liquid in a microgravitational environment. In the original intended application, the liquid would be a spacecraft propellant and the goal would be to force the ullage (comprising...

Briefs : Information Technology
Equations for Scoring Rules When Data Are Missing

A document presents equations for scoring rules in a diagnostic and/or prognostic artificial-intelligence software system of the rule-based inference- engine type. The equations define a set of metrics that characterize the evaluation of a rule when data required for the antecedence clause(s) of...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Pseudorandom Switching for Adding Radar to the AFF Sensor

A document describes the proposed addition of a radar function to the Autonomous Formation Flying Sensor, making possible coarse relative-position control to prevent collisions in the event of failure of one of the spacecraft. According to the proposal, in addition to tracking GPS-like...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Electro-Optical Imaging Fourier-Transform Spectrometer

An electro-optical (E-O) imaging Fourier- transform spectrometer (IFTS), now under development, is a prototype of improved imaging spectrometers to be used for hyperspectral imaging, especially in the infrared spectral region. Unlike both imaging and non-imaging traditional Fourier-...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Holographic Plossl Retroreflectors

Holographic retroreflectors that function equivalently to Plossl eyepieces have been developed and used in free-space optical communication systems that utilize laser beams. Plossl eyepieces are well known among telescope designers. They have been adopted for use as retroreflectors and as focusing elements (for...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
High-Speed Laser Scanner Maps a Surface in Three Dimensions

A scanning optoelectronic instrument generates the digital equivalent of a three-dimensional (X,Y,Z) map of a surface that spans an area with resolution on the order of 0.005 in. (≈0.125mm). Originally intended for characterizing surface flaws (e.g., pits) on space-shuttle...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
MALDI and Biotech Push Nitrogen Laser Development

The Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption and Ionization (MALDI) technique in 1987 led to a renewed interest for the nitrogen laser. MALDI allows large and fragile biomolecules to be desorbed and ionized intact, or with much less fragmentation. The technique increased the upper mass limit for mass...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Electro-Optical Imaging Fourier-Transform Spectrometer

An electro-optical (E-O) imaging Fourier-transform spectrometer (IFTS), now under development, is a prototype of improved imaging spectrometers to be used for hyperspectral imaging, especially in the infrared spectral region. Unlike both imaging and non-imaging traditional Fourier-transform...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Miniature Distillation Column for Producing LOX From Air

The figure shows components of a distillation column intended for use as part of a system that produces high-purity liquid oxygen (LOX) from air by distillation. (The column could be easily modified to produce high-purity liquid nitrogen.) Whereas typical industrial distillation columns...