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 : Electronics & Computers
Integrated Electrode Arrays for Neuro-Prosthetic Implants

Arrays of electrodes integrated with chip-scale packages and silicon-based integrated circuits have been proposed for use as medical electronic implants, including neuro-prosthetic devices that might be implanted in brains of patients who suffer from strokes, spinal-cord injuries, or...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Common/Dependent-Pressure-Vessel Nickel-Hydrogen Batteries

The term "common/dependent pressure vessel" (C/DPV) denotes a proposed alternative configuration for a nickel-hydrogen battery. The C/DPV configuration is so named because it is a hybrid of two prior configurations called "common pressure vessel" (CPV) and...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
High-Energy-Density Capacitors

Capacitors capable of storing energy at high densities are being developed for use in pulse-power circuits in such diverse systems as defibrillators, particle-beam accelerators, microwave sources, and weapons. Like typical previously developed energy-storage capacitors, these capacitors are made from pairs of...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Eroding Potentiometers

Eroding potentiometers have been devised for measuring the time-dependent positions of char fronts advancing through layers of insulating material subject to intense heating from one side. In the original application, the material layers of interest are thermal insulators in rocket motors and the heat comes from firing of...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Fabricating Composite-Material Structures Containing SMA Ribbons

An improved method of designing and fabricating laminated composite-material (matrix/fiber) structures containing embedded shape-memory-alloy (SMA) actuators has been devised. Structures made by this method have repeatable, predictable properties, and fabrication processes can...

Briefs : Information Technology
Optimal Feedback Control of Thermal Networks

An improved approach to the mathematical modeling of feedback control of thermal networks has been devised. Heretofore software for feedback control of thermal networks has been developed by time-consuming trial-and-error methods that depend on engineers' expertise. In contrast, the present approach...

Briefs : Information Technology
Designing Facilities for Collaborative Operations

A methodology is emerging from efforts to design a mission operations facility.

A methodology for designing operational facilities for collaboration by multiple experts has begun to take shape as an outgrowth of a project to design such facilities for scientific operations of the planned...

Briefs : Information Technology
Artifacts for Calibration of Submicron Width Measurements

Artifacts that are fabricated with the help of molecular-beam epitaxy (MBE) are undergoing development for use as dimensional calibration standards with sub-micron widths. Such standards are needed for calibrating instruments (principally, scanning electron microscopes and scanning probe...

Briefs : Materials
Process for Encapsulating Protein Crystals

A process for growing protein crystals encapsulated within membranes has been invented. This process begins with the encapsulation of a nearly saturated aqueous protein solution inside semipermeable membranes to form microcapsules. The encapsulation is effected by use of special formulations of a...

Briefs : Materials
Mixed Conducting Electrodes for Better AMTEC Cells

Electrode materials that exhibit mixed conductivity (that is, both electronic and ionic conductivity) have been investigated in a continuing effort to improve the performance of the alkali metal thermal-to-electric converter (AMTEC). These electrode materials are intended primarily for use on...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Mechanical Amplifier for a Piezoelectric Transducer

A mechanical amplifier has been devised to multiply the stroke of a piezoelectric transducer (PZT) intended for use at liquid helium temperatures. Interferometry holds the key to high angular resolution imaging and astrometry in space. Future space missions that will detect planets around other...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Swell Sleeves for Testing Explosive Devices

A method of testing explosive and pyrotechnic devices involves exploding the devices inside swell sleeves. Swell sleeves have been used previously for measuring forces. In the present method, they are used to obtain quantitative indications of the energy released in explosions of the devices under...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Propulsion Flight-Test Fixture

NASA Dryden Flight Research Center's new Propulsion Flight Test Fixture (PFTF), designed in house, is an airborne engine-testing facility that enables engineers to gather flight data on small experimental engines. Without the PFTF, it would be necessary to obtain such data from traditional wind tunnels, ground test...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Subsonic and Supersonic Effects in Bose-Einstein Condensate

A paper presents a theoretical investigation of subsonic and supersonic effects in a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC). The BEC is represented by a time-dependent, nonlinear Schroedinger equation that includes terms for an external confining potential term and a weak interatomic repulsive...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Microscale Thermal-Transpiration Gas Pump

A recent addition to the growing class of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) is a single stage of a Knudsen compressor. This device was fabricated and tested to demonstrate the feasibility of Knudsen compressors as miniature vacuum pumps for future portable scientific instruments. The attributes of...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Compact Instruments Measure Helium-Leak Rates
Compact, lightweight instruments have been developed for measuring small flows of helium and/or detecting helium leaks in solenoid valves when the valves are nominally closed. These instruments do not impede the flows when the valves are nominally open. They can be integrated into newly fabricated...
Briefs : Physical Sciences
Improved Measurement of Coherence in Presence of Instrument Noise

A method for correcting measured coherence spectra for the effect of incoherent instrument noise has been developed and demonstrated. Coherence measurements are widely used in engineering and science to determine the extent to which two signals are alike. The signals may come from...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Instrument for Measuring Temperature of Water

A pseudo-Brewster- angle infrared radiometer has been proposed for use in noncontact measurement of the surface temperature of a large body of water (e.g., a lake or ocean). This radiometer could be situated on a waterborne, airborne, or spaceborne platform.

Briefs : Information Technology
Navigating a Mobile Robot Across Terrain Using Fuzzy Logic

A strategy for autonomous navigation of a robotic vehicle across hazardous terrain involves the use of a measure of traversability of terrain within a fuzzy-logic conceptual framework. This navigation strategy requires no a priori information about the environment. Fuzzy logic was...

Briefs : Software
Software for Replicating Data Between X.500 and LDAP Directories

X500/LDAP Directory Replication Utility is a computer program for replicating information between X.500 and LDAP directories. [X.500 is an international standard for on-line directory services. LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) is a simple directory access protocol.] The...

Briefs : Software
LabVIEW Serial Driver Software for an Electronic Load

A LabVIEW-language computer program enables monitoring and control of a Transistor Devices, Inc., Dynaload WCL232 (or equivalent) electronic load via an RS- 232 serial communication link between the electronic load and a remote personal computer. (The electronic load can operate at constant...

Briefs : Software
The Technical Work Plan Tracking Tool

The Technical Work Plan Tracking Tool is a web-based application that enables interactive communication and approval of contract requirements that pertain to the administration of the Science, Engineering, Analysis, and Test (SEAT) contract at Johnson Space Center. The implementation of the application has...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
High-Temperature Switched-Reluctance Electric Motor

An eight-pole radial magnetic bearing has been modified into a switched-reluctance electric motor capable of operating at a speed as high as 8,000 rpm at a temperature as high as 1,000 °F (Å540 °C). The motor (see figure) is an experimental prototype of starter-motor/ generator...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Using ERF Devices To Control Deployments of Space Structures

A report proposes devices containing electrorheological fluids (ERFs) damper for controlling deployments of lightweight, flexible structures in outer space. The structures would include spring members that could be wound or compressed for compact stowage during transport. The ERF based...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
120-GHz HEMT Oscillator With Surface-Wave-Assisted Antenna

Two monolithic microwave integrated circuits (MMICs) have been designed and built to function together as a source of electromagnetic radiation at a frequency of 120 GHz. One of the MMICs is an oscillator and is the highest-power 120-GHz oscillator reported thus far in the literature....

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
80-GHz MMIC HEMT Voltage-Controlled Oscillator

A voltage-controlled oscillator (VCO) that operates in the frequency range from 77.5 to 83.5 GHz has been constructed in the form of a monolithic microwave integrated circuit (MMIC) that includes high-electron-mobility transistors (HEMTs). This circuit is a prototype of electronically tunable signal...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Linear Back-Drive Differentials

Linear back-drive differentials have been proposed as alternatives to conventional gear differentials for applications in which there is only limited rotational motion (e.g., oscillation). The finite nature of the rotation makes it possible to optimize a linear back-drive differential in ways that would not be...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Distributing Digital Signals to Multiple Destinations

Digital signal fanout is a very common requirement in testing, experimentation, and systems integration. Unlike radio frequency signals, high-speed digital signals cannot be simply split or "teed" off to multiple destinations. Even with a matched-impedance splitter, the resulting amplitude...

Briefs : Motion Control
Improved Multiple-DOF SAW Piezoelectric Motors

Surface-acoustic-wave (SAW) piezoelectric motors of a proposed type would be capable of operating in multiple degrees of freedom (DOFs) simultaneously and would be amenable to integration into diverse structures and mechanisms. These motors would be compact and structurally simple and would not...

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