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
High-Temperature Pressure Sensors Made From Silicon Carbide

Pressure sensors that contain thin diaphragms made from the 6H polytype of silicon carbide (6H-SiC) have been developed. These are prototypes of pressure sensors for use at high temperatures in engines, power plants, material-processing systems, and numerous other applications.

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Piezoelectric Igniter/Pressure-Sensor Devices

Piezoelectric devices that would serve as spark plugs, power generators for spark plugs, and/or pressure sensors have been proposed for use in internal-combustion engines. Unlike conventional spark plugs, these devices would function without need for wire connections to external high-voltage sources....

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Tunable HTS/Ferroelectric Microstrip Band-Pass Filters

Electrically tunable microstrip two-pole band-bass filters for a center frequency near 19 GHz and a 4-percent bandwidth have been designed, fabricated, and demonstrated to be functional. These filters are suitable for use in the front ends of K-band communication receivers that operate at...

Briefs : Materials
Reducing Methanol Crossover in CH3OH-Fuel-Cell Membranes

Improved polymer electrolyte membranes for direct methanol fuel cells can be made by impregnating the baseline membrane material with cross-linked polystyrene (a copolymer of styrene and divinylbenzene). The baseline membrane material is a perfluorosulfonic acid-based hydrophilic,...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Inflatable Wing Leading Edges for High Lift and Deicing

Computational simulations and wind-tunnel tests have demonstrated the feasibility of using inflatable boots on the leading edges of airplane wings, both as devices to increase lift and as pneumatic deicing actuators. Assuming success in further research and development, the first...

Briefs : Information Technology
Expert System To Develop Job Standards

The Job Standards Development System is a user-friendly expert system that (1) helps users select an appropriate work measurement methodology to develop job standards (or the less formal job time estimates) and (2) leads the users through the steps necessary to use a work time estimating technique to...

Briefs : Information Technology
Further Developments in Web Interactive Training

Three innovative computer programs for training and testing personnel at Kennedy Space Center have been developed under the aegis of the Web Interactive Training (WIT) project. The WIT project exploits the capabilities afforded by the Internet and by state-of-the-art multimedia data-presentation...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Using Narrow-Band Data Links in Locating Lightning Strikes

A method of preprocessing lightning-measurement waveforms has been devised to reduce the bandwidth needed to transmit data for computing the locations of lightning strikes. The method is used in a system in which electric fields and electric-field derivatives induced by lightning are...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Centralized Electronic Reporting of Material-Science Tasks

The Materials Science Division (MSD) at Kennedy Space Center is developing a computer system to maintain a material-science data base coupled with a user-friendly interface on the World Wide Web. The system is designed to eliminate the need for time-consuming and expensive distribution...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Nonintrusive Flow-Measurement System

A nonintrusive flow-measurement system based on ultrasonics has been developed to replace a system based on turbine flowmeters. A turbine flowmeter must be mounted in line with a pipe; this raises the possibility of leakage at the flowmeter/pipe joints, and the flowmeter unavoidably perturbs the flow....

Briefs : Materials
Composite-Material Heat Sink for Printed-Circuit Boards

A laminated composite-material plate has been developed for use as a lightweight heat sink and mechanical support for rigid printed-circuit boards (PCBs) that hold surface-mounted electronic components. This composite-material plate is intended to replace a conventional aluminum heat-sink...

Briefs : Information Technology
Post-Processing Satellite Image Data in Secondary Schools

Never before have secondary schools been able to post-process raw satellite data, and now they can do it in real time. This is credited to advances in technology that have recently made the necessary equipment simple, inexpensive, powerful, and available enough for any school to fit into...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Return-Link Processor PCI Card

The return-link processor card (RLP) performs all of the fundamental data-processing functions involved in the return of satellite telemetry, in real time at rates up to 400 Mb/s, using industry-standard interface circuitry and connectors with standard sizes and shapes. Previously, four cards, each containing a...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
GFSSP — Program for Analyzing Flows in a Complex Network

The Generalized Fluid System Simulation Program (GFSSP) version 2.01 is a general-purpose computer program for analyzing steady-state and time-dependent flowrates, pressures, temperatures, and concentrations in a complex flow network. The program is capable of modeling phase changes,...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Software for Processing Data in Particle-Image Velocimetry

PIVPROC is a computer program for processing data in particle-image velocimetry (PIV), which is a method of determining a flow velocity field from images of small seed particles that are entrained in the flow and that are illuminated by laser pulses at known intervals of time. PIVPROC...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Current-Mode Dark-Level Subtraction in LWIR Imaging

A complementary metal oxide/semiconductor (CMOS) focal-plane readout circuit for an imaging array of long-wavelength infrared (LWIR) photodetectors effects in-pixel current-mode subtraction of the dark-level component of each photodetector output. The dark-level signal is subtracted before the...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
High-Power, Wideband Laser-Diode Transmitter Module

A prototype compact, rugged optomechanical module contains a high-power, wideband laser-diode transmitter. The laser diode is of a commercial single-quantum-well AlGaAs type. Each laser diode of this type is manufactured for a specific nominal wavelength in the range from 810 to 860 nm; the...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Segmented-Cold-Cathode Display Panels

Display panels based largely on the principles of proximity-focused image-intensifier tubes have been proposed as alternatives to cathode-ray tubes (CRTs) and other conventional devices for wide displays. A panel of the proposed type would afford the high brightness and wide viewing angle (almost 180°) of...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Method of Measuring Encircled Energy for Imaging Optics

The radial distribution of energy within an image, called encircled energy, is a classical measure of the quality of the optical system producing that image. An improved method for measuring encircled or enclosed energy for imaging optical systems makes use of precisely micromachined...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Telescope for Imaging and Laser Communication

Miniature, single-aperture optoelectronic instruments called "multi-function telescopes" are being developed for use in both scientific observations and laser communications aboard microspacecraft that are expected to be launched in the next few years. These instruments could also be adapted to...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Optically Transparent Patch Antennas

Optically transparent patch antennas have been invented for use in communication systems at frequencies of the order of a few gigahertz. These antennas can be mounted on windows of buildings and vehicles, on computer video monitors, on solar photovoltaic panels, and on other convenient supports; this is an...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Improved Thermoelectric Converter Units and Power Generators

Improved thermoelectric converter units (TCUs) and radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) that contain them have been undergoing development for use as small, lightweight sources of electricity at potentials up to 5 V and power at levels up to 40 mW. These RTGs are intended...

Briefs : Motion Control
Axial Force as Indication of Alignment of Threaded Fasteners

A developmental technique for automated alignment of threaded fasteners involves the use of the axial force between the fasteners as an indication of alignment. The technique was conceived as a means to guide a robot that is required, for example, to join a bolt with a nut.

Briefs : Materials
Organic/Inorganic Coats for Packaging of Microelectronics

A method for protective packaging of multichip modules and related assemblies of microelectronic circuitry involves coating the assemblies with composite organic/inorganic layers only 1 to 2 mils (0.025 to 0.05 mm) thick. The method is suitable for a variety of advanced packages of...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Quick Guide to MSAT

A report presents additional information on the Mechanical System Design/Analysis Tool (MSAT) computer program, which was reported in "Program for Designing a Mechanical System" (LEW-16710, NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 23, No. 9 (September 1999), page 32. To recapitulate: MSAT is a user-friendly, multidisciplinary software system...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Updates on Optical Diagnosis of Fuel Spray Patterns

A collection of three reports presents an expanded discussion of the topic of "Optical Diagnostics of High-Pressure Liquid Fuel Sprays" (LEW-16701),NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 23, No. 3 (March 1999), page 18a. The reports describe experiments in which fuel sprays representative of those in...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Boundary-Layer Rake of Pitot Tubes for Flight Testing

A boundary-layer rake of pitot tubes has been designed and built for installation on a flight-test fixture (FTF) on the NASA Dryden F-15B, which is a two-seat version of the F-15 high-performance, supersonic, all-weather fighter airplane. This boundary-layer rake will be used in...

Briefs : Motion Control
Small-Stroke, High-Frequency Reciprocating Pump

A proposed reciprocating pump would operate at a small stroke and would contain no sliding parts. The oscillatory motion of a piston in the pump could be provided by a magnetostrictive actuator, for example.

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Time-Parallel Solutions of Linear PDEs on a Supercomputer

A paper describes the mathematical basis and some applications of a class of massively parallel algorithms for finite-difference numerical solution of some time-dependent partial differential equations (PDEs) on massively parallel supercomputers. In a radical departure from the...

Briefs : Software
Software for Setting Up Equipment for Testing Rocket Engines

A computer program has been developed to shorten the time needed to set up electronic instrumentation for a hot-fire test of a rocket engine. The instrumentation in question is a modular, partly computer-controlled apparatus, the modules of which contain amplifiers and other...

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