Tech Briefs

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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: Photonics/Optics

Nitrogen lasers have been used for more than 15 years in life science and forensic applications and will continue to play a role in many scientific and industrial applications. But...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics

A method of adaptive signal processing has been proposed as the basis of a new generation of interferometric optical profilometers for measuring surfaces. Many current optical...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics

Faced with increasing demand, manufacturers of power devices, microdisplays, and high-brightness light-emitting diodes (HB-LEDs) are focusing on tightening manufacturing...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Improved Photon-Emission-Microscope System

An improved photon-emission-microscope (PEM) instrumentation system has been developed for use in diagnosing failure conditions in semiconductor devices, including complex integrated circuits. This system is designed primarily to image areas that emit photons, at wavelengths from 400 to 1,100 nm,...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Improved Traps for Removing Gases From Coolant Liquids

Two documents discuss improvements in traps for removing noncondensable gases (e.g., air) from heat-transfer liquids (e.g., water) in spacecraft cooling systems. Noncondensable gases must be removed because they can interfere with operation. A typical trap includes a cylindrical hydrophobic...

Briefs: Medical

Cochlear implants have been used successfully to provide auditory information for bilaterally profoundly deaf patients. This is achieved by electrically...

Briefs: Semiconductors & ICs

Improved low-resistance, semitransparent back contacts, and a method of fabricating them, have been developed for solar photovoltaic cells that are made from thin films of I-III-VI2...

Briefs: Information Technology

A method of automation, and a system of computer hardware and software to implement the method, have been invented to assist en-route air-traffic controllers in the issuance of...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) — autonomous or remotely controlled pilotless aircraft — have been recently thrust into the spotlight for military applications, for homeland security,...

Briefs: Medical
Production of Tuber-Inducing Factor

A process for making a substance that regulates the growth of potatoes and some other economically important plants has been developed. The process also yields an economically important by-product: potatoes.

Briefs: Medical

The vacuum-assisted, constant-force exercise device (VACFED) has been proposed to fill a need for a safe, reliable exercise machine that would provide constant loads that could range from 20 to...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

The figure shows the LEMUR IIb, which is a modified version of the LEMUR II — the second generation of the Limbed Excursion Mechanical Utility Robot (LEMUR). Except as described below,...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Controlling Herds of Cooperative Robots

A document poses, and suggests a program of research for answering, questions of how to achieve autonomous operation of herds of cooperative robots to be used in exploration and/or colonization of remote planets. In a typical scenario, a flock of mobile sensory robots would be deployed in a previously...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers

The figure depicts a unit that contains a rotary-position or a rotary-speed sensor, plus electronic circuitry necessary for its operation, all enclosed in a single housing with a shaft...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers

Infrared image sensors based on high density rectangular planar arrays of nano tunnel junctions have been proposed. These sensors would differ fundamentally from prior infrared...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Programmable Pulse-Position- Modulation Encoder

A sensor system was proposed that would monitor spaceflight bioreactor parameters. Not only will this technology be invaluable in the space program for which it was developed, it will find applications in medical science and industrial laboratories as well.

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Universal Controller for Spacecraft Mechanisms

An electronic control unit has been fabricated and tested that can be replicated as a universal interface between the electronic infrastructure of a spacecraft and a brushless-motor (or other electromechanical actuator) driven mechanism that performs a specific mechanical function within the overall...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
The Flostation — an Immersive Cyberspace System

A flostation is a computer-controlled apparatus that, along with one or more computer(s) and other computer-controlled equipment, is part of an immersive cyberspace system. The system is said to be “immersive” in two senses of the word: (1) It supports the body in a modified form neutral...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers

A digital-signal- processing algorithm (somewhat arbitrarily) called “SUMPLE” has been devised as a means of aligning the outputs of multiple receiving radio antennas in a large...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping

Submarine design typically follows American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) code, which establishes properties such as hull thickness, frame stiffness, and porthole and hatch design. During...

Briefs: Semiconductors & ICs

A single-chip CMOS-based (complementary-metal-oxide-semi-conductor-based) transmit/receive (T/R) module is being developed for L-band radar systems. Previous T/R module implementations required multiple...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Catalytic-Metal/ PdOₓ/SiC Schottky-Diode Gas Sensors

Miniaturized hydrogen- and hydrocarbon- gas sensors, heretofore often consisting of Schottky diodes based on catalytic metal in contact with SiC, can be improved by incorporating palladium oxide (PdOx, where 0≤x≤1) between the catalytic metal and the SiC.

Briefs: Materials

A methodology has been devised for designing cure cycles to be used in the fabrication of matrix/fiber composite parts (including laminated parts). As used here, “cure cycles”...

Briefs: Software
Quantum Entanglement Molecular Absorption Spectrum Simulator

Quantum Entanglement Molecular Absorption Spectrum Simulator (QE-MASS) is a computer program for simulating twophoton molecular-absorption spectroscopy using quantum-entangled photons. More specifically, QE-MASS simulates the molecular absorption of two quantum-entangled photons...

Briefs: Software
FuzzObserver

Fuzzy Feature Observation Planner for Small Body Proximity Observations (FuzzObserver) is a developmental computer program, to be used along with other software, for autonomous planning of maneuvers of a spacecraft near an asteroid, comet, or other small astronomical body. Selection of terrain features and estimation of the position...

Briefs: Software
Internet Distribution of Spacecraft Telemetry Data

Remote Access Multi-mission Processing and Analysis Ground Environment (RAMPAGE) is a Java-language server computer program that enables near-real-time display of spacecraft telemetry data on any authorized client computer that has access to the Internet and is equipped with Web-browser...

Briefs: Software
Semi-Automated Identification of Rocks in Images

Rock Identification Toolkit Suite is a computer program that assists users in identifying and characterizing rocks shown in images returned by the Mars Explorer Rover mission. Included in the program are components for automated finding of rocks, interactive adjustments of outlines of rocks,...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Compact, Precise Inertial Rotation Sensors for Spacecraft

A document describes a concept for an inertial sensor for measuring the rotation of an inertially stable spacecraft around its center of gravity to within 100 microarc- seconds or possibly even higher precision. Whereas a current proposal for a spacecraft-rotation sensor of this accuracy...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics

University of Texas at Austin and Omega Optics, Austin, Texas

For decades, silicon has not been considered a favorable material for manipulating light. Electrical Engineering...

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