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 : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Molten-Carbonate Oxidation of Solid Waste

The molten-carbonate oxidation (MCO) process shows promise as a means of safe disposal and/or recycling of solid waste. The MCO process is being developed for use in regenerative life-support systems in outer space, but may also prove useful in managing institutional, industrial, and/or municipal solid...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Water-Jet/Ultrasonic Removal and Real-Time Gauging of Paint

An improved robotic water-jet system for stripping paint from a ship or other large metallic structure is undergoing development. In addition to utilizing a high-pressure water jet to remove paint and a robotic crawler to scan the jet along the painted structure, the system utilizes...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Hermetic Wafer Bonding by Use of Microwave Heating

Microwave heating is the basis of a simple technique for quickly and gently bonding two metallized dielectric or semiconductor wafers to each other. The technique can be used, for example, to bond a flat, gold-coated silicon wafer to another gold-coated silicon wafer that is flat except for a...

Briefs : Medical
"Breathprint" Analysis of Microbial Communities

A technique for assessing changes in the densities and compositions of communities of microorganisms in environmental samples is based partly on redox chemistry. Suspensions of microbes from environmental samples are inoculated into 95-well microtiter plates. Each well contains an initially...

Briefs : Medical
Macroextraction for Purification of Nucleic Acids

A technique for extracting samples of ribonucleic acid (RNA) and deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) for use in diagnosing and studying infectious and genetic diseases has been developed. The technique enables the concentration and purification of nucleic acids from large (in comparison with older...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Simple Fiber-Optic Coupling for Microsphere Resonators

Simple fiber-optic couplers have been devised for use in coupling light into and out of the "whispering-gallery" electromagnetic modes of transparent microspheres. The need for this type of coupling arises in conjunction with the use of transparent microspheres as compact, high-Q (where Q is...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Surface Gratings for Optical Coupling With Microspheres

A diffraction grating consisting of a periodic gradient in the index of refraction of a thin surface layer has been shown to be effective as a means of far-field coupling of monochromatic light into or out of the "whispering-gallery" electromagnetic modes of a transparent microsphere. This...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
High-Performance Micromachined Linear Arrays of Thermopiles

Linear arrays of thermopile infrared detectors made of high-performance thermoelectric materials have been fabricated on silicon substrates by micromachining processes. Such detector arrays can be useful in dispersive spectrometers for chemical analyses, including exhaust and...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Dual-Target, Single-Laser Metrological System

A single-laser-based, heterodyne optoelectronic system that measures the displacements of two targets along the same lines of sight has been developed. Heretofore, it would have been necessary to construct a two-target laser metrological system as two partly or wholly independent subsystems, each...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Spatially Modulated Prism Interferometer

A spatially modulated prism interferometer (SMPI) has been developed that overcomes the complexities of traditional interferometers and the inherent limitations of diffraction gratings, dispersion prisms, and spectral selection filters. Applications include atmospheric sounding, geologic mapping,in-situ...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Optics for Compact, High-Performance Imaging Spectrometers

Several high-fidelity imaging spectrometers have been designed with convex diffraction gratings for wavelengths ranging from the ultraviolet to the thermal infrared. All the designs are telecentric and can be combined with a flat-field, three-mirror anastigmatic telescope that also...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Determining Particle Sizes From Scattered-Photon Statistics

A method of determining sizes of particles suspended in liquids and engaging in Brownian motion involves statistical analysis of counts of photons of laser light scattered by the particles. The method can be implemented by a compact, portable apparatus that can be used, for example, in...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Snapshot SEM Imaging of Moving MEMS Structures

A stroboscopic scanning electron microscope (SEM) has been proposed as a means of generating still or slow-motion pictures of moving structures in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). Such imaging is used in characterizing the dynamics of MEMS; characterization of the dynamics is a critical...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
A Mass-Spectrometer System for Detecting Gas Leaks

The Hydrogen Umbilical Mass Spectrometer (HUMS) consists of an integrated sample delivery system, a commercial mass-spectrometer-based gas analyzer, and a set of calibration gas mixtures traceable to NIST (National Institute for Standards and Technology). The system, except for the calibration...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Imaging Lidar System Would Map Surface Heights

A proposed optoelectronic system based on imaging-lidar and differential-altimetry techniques would generate data equivalent to a height map of a surface area. Originally conceived for use in determining spatial-frequency characteristics of ocean waves with high temporal resolution, the system...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
CMOS Image Sensors Capable of Time-Delayed Integration

Complementary metal oxide/semiconductor (CMOS) image sensors would be capable of operation in a time-delayed-integration (TDI) mode. Heretofore, the only semiconductor electronic image sensors capable of TDI have been charge-coupled devices (CCDs), which have dominated the image-sensor...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
High-Speed Image Compression via Optical Transformation

A proposed method of compressing image data would exploit the well-known capability of a converging lens to generate the Fourier transform of an image by purely optical means, in much less time than is needed to compute the discrete Fourier transform of a sampled image by use of digital...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
High-Speed Optical Image Compression at Lower Power

In an alternative to the optical image-compression method of the preceding article, the Fourier transform of the input image would be formed on the output plane by white-light holography, instead of by laser holography. The principal advantage of the alternative method would be decreased power...

Briefs : Information Technology
Algorithms for Recognition of Objects in Color Stereo Images

Algorithms have been developed to enable a robotic vision system to recognize, in real time (at a rate between 0.5 and 2 frames per second), known objects lying on the ground. In the original intended application, the algorithms would be executed by off-the-shelf computer hardware...

Briefs : Information Technology
A Metric for Visual Quality of Digital Video

DVQ (which stands for "digital video quality") is a metric for evaluating the visual quality of digitized video images. Other video-quality metrics have been proposed, but it appears that each of them (1) may be based on mathematical models that are not related closely enough to the characteristics of...

Briefs : Software
Infrastructure Software for Mining Image Data Bases

Diamond Eye is a computer program that enables a user equipped with only a personal computer, web-browser software, and a network connection to analyze large collections of scientific image data. The system is based on a distributed applet/server architecture that provides platform-independent...

Briefs : Software
Software for Rapid Processing and Display of Earth Data

Digital Earth Workbench is a computer program that facilitates retrieval of Earth-related imagery and viewing of the imagery on either an ordinary computer video screen or a virtual-reality (head-tracked stereoscopic) display system. Examples of imagery that can be processed by this...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Micromachined Broad Band Light Sources

A novel micromachined incandescent light source has been designed and fabricated to operate at temperatures exceeding 2,500 K. The high-temperature, tungsten filament-based source has a high-brightness, broad spectral band emission. The monolithic design allows for ease of incorporation with on-chip...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Automatic Bias Compensation in GPS Receivers

A technique of automatic bias compensation has been devised to correct errors caused by variations among electronic components in Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers that use the coarse/acquisition (C/A) GPS code. Even though there are large government and commercial markets for such GPS...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Ceramic Ribbons as Waveguides at Millimeter Wavelengths

Theoretical calculations verified by experiments have shown that suitably designed ribbons made of alumina can serve as low-loss dielectric waveguides for electromagnetic radiation at frequencies from 30 to 300 GHz. Prior to this development, low-loss waveguides for this frequency range...

Briefs : Software
Multithreading Program for Retrieval of Optical Phase Fields

A multithreading computer program performs phase-retrieval and -unwrapping calculations to extract accurate image phase maps from noisy image magnitude fields generated by adaptive optics. [As used here, "phase retrieval" signifies the calculation of phase map modulo 2µ, while...

Briefs : Software
Software for Analyzing Earth/Spacecraft Radio Interference

The Spectral Analysis Tool (SAT) computer program assists in analysis of interference between radio signals in Earth/spacecraft communications. SAT provides an easy-to-use interactive graphical interface with a menu for selecting among the following utility subprograms: an editor for...

Briefs : Materials
"Smart Coatings" for In Situ Monitoring of Engine Components

"Smart coatings" denotes a class of high-temperature-resistant, multilayer, thin (total thickness < 10 µm) films that contain predominantly planar layers of sensor circuitry sandwiched between tough, protective, electrically insulating layers. These films are being developed to...

Briefs : Materials
Aggregate-Search Approach for Planning and Scheduling

Several algorithms developed for use in automated planning and scheduling of sets of interdependent activities employ aggregation techniques to increase the efficiency of searching for temporal assignments that are legal in the sense that they do not violate constraints. In the...

Briefs : Materials
Improvements in Electroformed Copper Alloys

Some success has been achieved in a development program directed toward improving the mechanical properties of electroformed copper-alloy structural components. Typical of such components are bundles of tubes and other heat-exchange devices that have complex shapes. Electroforming of copper alloys is...

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Solving Complex Measurement Problems with PXI

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NASA Discusses Advances in Photonics for Space and Commercial...

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Using Portable Scenarios and Coverage Metrics to Ensure...

Upcoming Webinars: Robotics, Automation & Control

Impact of Autonomous and Electric Vehicles in New Product...

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Autonomous Vehicles Sensors: How to Ensure They Work Well and...