Physical Sciences

Electrochemical Systems Generate Ozone and Ozonated Water

Improved electrochemical systems for generating ozone (in gaseous form and/or dissolved in water) have been invented for use in disinfection and in industrial processes in which the unique, highly oxidizing chemical properties of ozone are needed. More accurately, these systems generate oxygen along with high (relative to prior systems) concentrations of ozone and, optionally, with hydrogen as a byproduct. These systems contain no pumps and very few moving or wearing components, and the only inputs needed to operate these systems are electric energy and water supplied at mild pressure. Moreover, these systems can readily be designed and constructed on any scale (e.g., from research laboratory to industrial) to suit a wide variety of applications.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Product development, Fabrication, Chemicals, Gases

Solar Simulator for a Portable Solar-Absorptance Instrument

A special-purpose solar simulator includes (1) a tungsten lamp that serves as a gray-body radiator with a temperature of 3,200 K and (2) a mosaic of filters such that the filtered lamp output has the same normalized spectral irradiance as that of sunlight outside the atmosphere of the Earth. This solar simulator is intended for use as the illuminator in a portable instrument that measures solar absorptances and total emittances of samples of materials.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Sun and solar, Test equipment and instrumentation

Portable Instrument Detects Very Dilute Airborne Organics

A small, lightweight, low-power instrument, denoted a proton-transferreaction/ ion-mobility spectrometer (PTR-IMS) has been developed for detecting airborne organic compounds at concentrations in the sub-parts-per-billion range. Instruments like this one could be used on distant planets (such as Mars) to search for trace organic compounds indicative of life as well as numerous potential terrestrial uses: A few examples include medical applications (e.g., analyzing human breath to detect compounds associated with certain deadly diseases such as lung cancer and cirrhosis of the liver), lawenforcement applications (detecting airborne traces of explosives and drugs), environmental monitoring (detecting airborne pollutants and toxins), and military applications (detecting chemical warfare agents).

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Spectroscopy, Spectroscopy, Air pollution, Volatile organic compounds, Diagnosis, Chemicals, Materials identification

Quantum Mechanics of Harmonic Oscillator in External Fields

A report presents a theoretical study of a harmonic oscillator in homogeneous or nonhomogeneous externally applied electric and/or gravitational fields. The standard quantum-mechanical formalism for a simple harmonic oscillator, starting with the Hamiltonian and the associated creation and annihilation operators, is modified to incorporate the additional terms representing the external fields. The correspondingly modified solutions of the Schroedinger equation are derived.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Research and development, Test procedures

Effect of Gravitation on Noninteracting Trapped Fermions

A report presents a theoretical study of the thermodynamics of an ultralow-temperature gas of fermions that interact with a gravitational field and with an externally imposed trapping potential but not with each other. The gravitational field is taken to define the z axis and the trapping potential to be of the form (m/2) (ωxx2+ωyy2+ωzz2), where m is the mass of a fermion; x, y, and z are Cartesian coordinates originating at the center of the trap; and the ω values denote effective harmonic- oscillator angular frequencies with respect to motion along the respective coordinate axes. The single-particle energy is found from the solution of the time-dependent Schroedinger equation for a Hamiltonian that includes kinetic energy plus the gravitational and trapping potentials. The equation for the single-particle energy is combined with Fermi statistics to obtain equations for the chemical potential, internal energy, and specific heat of the gas; the number of trapped fermions; and the spatial distribution of fermions at zero temperature. The equations reveal the ways in which the Fermi energy, the specific heat, and the shape of the Fermion cloud are affected by the gravitational field and the anisotropy of the trapping field.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Thermodynamics, Thermodynamics, Gases

New Technique Improves Cirrus Cloud Characterization

A new technique for retrieving cirrus properties from radiometric measurements at submillimeter wavelengths has been developed. The technique can accurately measure the amount of ice present in cirrus clouds, determine the median crystal size, and constrain crystal shape. The retrieval algorithm improves upon prior algorithms by also retrieving middle and upper tropospheric water-vapor profiles in concert with cloud properties. This joint-analysis method corrects for retrieval errors introduced by water vapor in and near the cloud.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Mathematical models, Radar, Radar, Humidity, Weather and climate

Study of Inertial and Gravitational Masses of a Boson

A report presents a theoretical study of the relationship between the inertial mass (mi) and gravitational mass (mg) of a self-interacting neutral scalar boson in a heat bath. The question of whether these masses differ arises in modern physics. In quantum field theory, the mass of a particle appears as a parameter that, as a result of interaction with fields, is changed to a renormalizable, physically reliable value (mR). The interaction of a particle with fields also has a thermal character. Thus, a boson in a heat bath in a gravitational field gains an acceleration different from the gravitational acceleration. The study utilizes a simple approximate Lagrangian model that is well suited for analysis of temperature- and gravitation-related effects.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Mathematical models, Measurements, Thermal testing

Metal/Dielectric Color Filters for Flat Panel Displays

A report expands on the proposal described in “Low-Absorption Color Filters for Flat Panel Display Devices” (NPO-20435) NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 23, No. 12 (December 1999), page 34. To recapitulate: The dye pixel color filters in a conventional liquid-crystal or other display device would be replaced with interference filters, which are less absorptive, and optics would be configured so that light reflected from the filters would be reused as illumination. The overall effect would be to increase brightness and efficiency. The present report adds specificity by proposing that the interference filters be of the type described in “Metal/Dielectric-Film Interference Color Filters” (NPO-20217), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 23, No. 2 (February 1999), page 70: Each filter would be made of three thin metal films interspersed with two thin dielectric films. In comparison with conventional multilayer all-dielectric filters, the proposed filters would contain fewer layers, and therefore could be fabricated more easily and at lower cost.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Displays, Displays, Product development, Fabrication, Metals

Multiphase-Flow Model of Fluidized-Bed Pyrolysis of Biomass

A report presents additional information about the subject matter of “Model of Pyrolysis of Biomass in a Fluidized- Bed Reactor” (NPO-20708) NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 25, No. 6 (June 2001), page 59. The model is built on equations for the dynamics of three components — gas, sand, and biomass — partly by taking suitable ensemble averages of the coupled conservation equations for the gas, and for the biomass and sand particles. Equations for exchanges of mass, momentum, and energy between phases are included. Equations for transport of the solid phase are closed by use of separate distribution functions for sand and biomass particles. Interparticle collisions are described in the framework of the kinetic theory of dense gases, using inelastic- rigid-sphere models.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Mathematical models, Soils, Biomaterials, Gases

Tiger Fibers for Enhanced Optical Sensing of Volatiles

Improved fiber-optic transducers, denoted tiger fibers, have been proposed for sensing volatile compounds. Tiger fibers are so named because, as described below, their sensitive portions would be coated with periodically alternating stripes of different polymers, reminiscent of a tiger’s stripes.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Fiber optics, Sensors and actuators, Fiber optics, Sensors and actuators, Performance upgrades, Coatings Colorants and Finishes, Coatings, colorants, and finishes

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