Tech Briefs

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
Part 1 of a Computational Study of a Drop-Laden Mixing Layer

This first of three reports on a computational study of a drop-laden temporal mixing layer presents the results of direct numerical simulations (DNS) of well-resolved flow fields and the derivation of the large-eddy simulation (LES) equations that would govern the larger scales of a...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Selected Papers on Protoplanetary Disks
Three papers present studies of thermal balances, dynamics, and electromagnetic spectra of protoplanetary disks, which comprise gas and dust orbiting young stars. One paper addresses the reprocessing, in a disk, of photons that originate in the disk itself in addition to photons that originate in the stellar...
Briefs : Physical Sciences
Module for Oxygenating Water Without Generating Bubbles

A module that dissolves oxygen in water at concentrations approaching saturation, without generating bubbles of oxygen gas, has been developed as a prototype of improved oxygenators for water-disinfection and water-purification systems that utilize photocatalyzed redox reactions. Depending...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Multisensor Arrays for Greater Reliability and Accuracy

Arrays of multiple, nominally identical sensors with sensor-output-processing electronic hardware and software are being developed in order to obtain accuracy, reliability, and lifetime greater than those of single sensors. The conceptual basis of this development lies in the statistical...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Integrated-Optic Oxygen Sensors

Compact optical oxygen sensors with self-calibration capabilities are undergoing development. A sensor of this type features a single-chip, integrated-optic design implemented by photolithographic fabrication of optical waveguides in a photosensitive porous glass. The porosity serves as both a matrix for retention...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Hybrid Piezoelectric/Fiber-Optic Sensor Sheets

Hybrid piezoelectric/fiber-optic (HyPFO) sensor sheets are undergoing development. They are intended for use in nondestructive evaluation and long-term monitoring of the integrity of diverse structures, including aerospace, aeronautical, automotive, and large stationary ones. It is anticipated that...

Briefs : Information Technology
Hybrid Image-Plane/Stereo Manipulation

Hybrid Image-Plane/Stereo (HIPS) manipulation is a method of processing image data, and of controlling a robotic manipulator arm in response to the data, that enables the manipulator arm to place an end-effector (an instrument or tool) precisely with respect to a target (see figure). Unlike other...

Briefs : Information Technology
Partitioning a Gridded Rectangle Into Smaller Rectangles

A relatively simple algorithm, devised for use in an imagedata- compression application, partitions a rectangular pixelated image (or any other rectangle on which a regular rectangular grid has already been superimposed) into a specified number of smaller rectangles, hereafter denoted...

Briefs : Information Technology
Digital Radar-Signal Processors Implemented in FPGAs

High-performance digital electronic circuits for onboard processing of return signals in an airborne precipitation - measuring radar system have been implemented in commercially available field - programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). Previously, it was standard practice to downlink the...

Briefs : Materials
Improved Method of Purifying Carbon Nanotubes

An improved method of removing the residues of fabrication from carbon nanotubes has been invented. These residues comprise amorphous carbon and metal particles that are produced during the growth process. Prior methods of removing the residues include a variety of processes that involved the use of...

Briefs : Materials
Patterned Growth of Carbon Nanotubes or Nanofibers

A method and apparatus for the growth of carbon nanotubes or nanofibers in a desired pattern has been invented. The essence of the method is to grow the nanotubes or nanofibers by chemical vapor deposition (CVD) onto a patterned catalyst supported by a substrate.

Briefs : Materials
Lightweight, Rack-Mountable Composite Cold Plate/Shelves

Rack-mountable composite-material structural components that would serve as both shelves and cold plates for removing heat from electronic or other equipment mounted on the shelves have been proposed as lightweight alternatives to allmetal cold plate/shelves now in use. A proposed cold...

Briefs : Software
Open-Source Software for Modeling of Nanoelectronic Devices

The Nanoelectronic Modeling 3-D (NEMO 3-D) computer program has been upgraded to open-source status through elimination of license-restricted components. The present version functions equivalently to the version reported in “Software for Numerical Modeling of Nanoelectronic Devices”...

Briefs : Software
Software for Generating Strip Maps From SAR Data

Jurassicprok is a computer program that generates strip-map digital elevation models and other data products from raw data acquired by an airborne synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) system. This software can process data from a variety of airborne SAR systems but is designed especially for the GeoSAR...

Briefs : Software
Calibration Software for Use With Jurassicprok

The Jurassicprok Interferometric Calibration Software (also called “Calibration Processor” or simply “CP”) estimates the calibration parameters of an airborne synthetic- aperture-radar (SAR) system, the raw measurement data of which are processed by the Jurassicprok software described in the...

Briefs : Software
Software Processes SAR Motion-Measurement Data

Motion Measurement Processor (MMP) is one of three computer programs that are used together in the operation of a terrainmapping dual-frequency interferometric synthetic-aperture-radar (SAR) system. The other two programs — Jurassicprok and Calibration Processor — are described in the two...

Briefs : Software
Software for Probabilistic Risk Reduction

A computer program implements a methodology, denoted probabilistic risk reduction, that is intended to aid in planning the development of complex software and/or hardware systems. This methodology integrates two complementary prior methodologies: (1) that of probabilistic risk assessment and (2) a...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
SiC-Based Miniature High-Temperature Cantilever Anemometer

The figure depicts a miniature cantilever- type anemometer that has been developed as a prototype of compact, relatively nonintrusive anemometers that can function at temperatures up to 600 °C and that can be expected to be commercially mass-producible at low cost. The design of this...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Inlet Housing for a Partial-Admission Turbine

An inlet housing for a partial-admission turbine has been designed to cause the inlet airflow to make a smooth transition from an open circular inlet to an inlet slot. The smooth flow is required for purposes of measuring inlet flow characteristics and maximizing the efficiency of the turbine.

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Passivating Stainless Steel Parts

Maximizing the natural corrosion resistance of parts and components machined from stainless steels. It can make the difference between satisfactory performance and premature failure. Incorrectly performed, passivation can actually induce corrosion.

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Laboratory Apparatus Generates Dual-Species Cold Atomic Beam

A laser cooling apparatus that generates a cold beam of rubidium and cesium atoms at low pressure has been constructed as one of several intermediate products of a continuing program of research on laser cooling and atomic physics. Laser-cooled atomic beams, which can have temperatures...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Laser Ablation of Materials for Propulsion of Spacecraft

A report describes experiments performed as part of a continuing investigation of the feasibility of laser ablation of materials as a means of propulsion for small spacecraft. In each experiment, a specimen of ablative material was mounted on a torsion pendulum and irradiated with a laser...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Lightweight Thermoformed Structural Components and Optics

A technique that involves the use of thermoformed plastics has been developed to enable the design and fabrication of ultra-lightweight structural components and mirrors for use in outer space. The technique could also be used to produce items for special terrestrial uses in which...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Laser-Induced-Fluorescence Photogrammetry and Videogrammetry

An improved method of dot-projection photogrammetry and an extension of the method to encompass dot-projection videogrammetry overcome some deficiencies of dot-projection...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Coastal Research Imaging Spectrometer

The Coastal Research Imaging Spectrometer (CRIS) is an airborne remote sensing system designed specifically for research on the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of coastal waters. The CRIS includes a visible-light hyperspectral imaging subsystem for measuring the color of water, which...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Growing High-Quality InAs Quantum Dots for Infrared Lasers

An improved method of growing high-quality InAs quantum dots embedded in lattice-matched InGaAs quantum wells on InP substrates has been developed. InAs/InGaAs/InP quantum dot semiconductor lasers fabricated by this method are capable of operating at room temperature at wavelengths...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Threaded Hardware Offers Fastening Options for Metal and Plastic Components

For every challenge that may arise when attaching metal or plastic components, a hardware solution usually can be found. When permanently installed threaded hardware is specified as a solution to provide strong, reliable, and reusable threads in an assembly, users can...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Membrane-Based Water Evaporator for a Space Suit

A membrane-based water evaporator has been developed that is intended to serve as a heat-rejection device for a space suit. This evaporator would replace the current sublimator that is sensitive to contamination of its feedwater. The design of the membrane-based evaporator takes advantage of...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Compact Microscope Imaging System With Intelligent Controls

The figure presents selected views of a compact microscope imaging system (CMIS) that includes a miniature video microscope, a Cartesian robot (a computer- controlled three-dimensional translation stage), and machine-vision and control subsystems. The CMIS was built from commercial...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Chirped- Superlattice, Blocked- Intersubband QWIP

An AlxGa1—x As/GaAs quantum-well infrared photodetector (QWIP) of the blocked-intersubband-detector (BID) type, now undergoing development, features a chirped (that is, aperiodic) superlattice. The purpose of the chirped superlattice is to increase the quantum efficiency of the device.