Sensors/Data Acquisition

Photo-Acoustic Chemical Detector

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed a photo-acoustic sensing-based laser vibrometer for the measurement of ambient chemical species. The technology allows for detection of sub-part-per-billion (ppb) levels of ambient trace gases and chemical species, with an order of magnitude more sensitivity than similar technologies. Among other applications, the technology could be used for the detection of explosives and hazardous or toxic chemicals.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors, Instrumentation, Test & Measurement, Lasers, Lasers, Chemicals, Vibration, Vibration, Hazardous materials, Test equipment and instrumentation
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Ultra-High-Speed Fiber Optic Sensor Detects Structural Damage in Real Time

A research group including members from Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Japan Society for the Promotion of Science has developed a real-time, fiber-optic, distributed sensing system for strain and temperature. The system requires light injection from only one end of the fiber, and can achieve a sampling rate of 100 kHz, an improvement of more than 5,000 times the conventional rate.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors, Body structures, Fiber optics, Sensors and actuators, Fiber optics, Sensors and actuators, Diagnostics
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Piezoelectric Field Disturbance Sensing System and Method

The invention developed is a piezoelectric stimulus-response quantification-based gravimeter (PEG). The PEG takes a completely innovative approach towards utilization of the piezoelectric element — quantifying the gravitational effects on them. In this way, the piezoelectric element can: (1) generate an electric charge in response to mechanical deformation, and (2) be mechanically deformed by applying electric charges. This is known as the converse-piezoelectric effect. Piezoelectric elements can be used to precisely inject energy for exciting vibratory frequencies within the element and housing, enabling the element to be used for quantifying subsequently produced electrical output. The gravimeter is capable of measuring numerous other types of physical quantities such as thermal, magnetic, electrical, electromotive, electromagnetic,and electro-static fields, and provide static and structural information.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors, Measurements, Vibration, Vibration, Test equipment and instrumentation
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Low-Cost RFID Torque and Tension Sensing Tag System

This technology is a low-cost RFID-based torque and tension sensor for high-performance fasteners, such as bolts, that are used in sophisticated high-tech equipment and systems. It offers the ability to remotely and quickly verify that a given fastener is torqued properly, resulting in potential cost-savings over the life of the fastener and its host system. The technology is also extremely low-cost compared to current torque sensing wrenches and comparable technologies. This asset management tool offers performance and safety improvements as well. The motivation behind this invention was the catastrophic event in which a NOAA satellite sustained heavy damage after falling from a Turn-Over-Cart (TOC). The root cause was a configuration change in which 24 bolts had not been secured properly to the TOC. With this NASA invention, the quality assurance, tension monitoring, and configuration management associated with proper torqueing of fasteners will be largely automated, therefore providing a higher degree of safety.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors, Remote sensing, Remote sensing, Radio-frequency identification, Fasteners
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SpinDx™ Lab on a Disk

Currently, when a patient arrives at the hospital or doctor's office feeling ill, they are first examined by the doctor, sent to a blood lab where vials of blood are taken, and then sent home to wait for results. This approach often means patients must wait days or weeks to get results. During that waiting period, they are not receiving treatment, which can be a critical factor for cancer, heart attack, or stroke patients.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Diagnosis, Medical equipment and supplies, Test equipment and instrumentation
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Low-Power, Special-Purpose Chip for Speech Recognition in Electronics

Automatic speech recognition is on the verge of becoming the chief means of interacting with computing devices. To address this, MIT researchers have built a low-power chip specialized for automatic speech recognition. Whereas a cellphone running speech recognition software might require about 1 Watt of power, the new chip requires between 0.2 and 10 milliwatts, depending on the number of words it has to recognize. That probably translates to a power savings of 90 to 99 percent, which could make voice control practical for relatively simple electronic devices, including power-constrained devices that harvest energy from their environments, or go months between battery charges.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors, Integrated circuits, Integrated circuits, Human machine interface (HMI), Sound quality, Sound quality
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Method Improves Accuracy of Imaging Data

Research by the University of Chicago provides scientists looking at single molecules or into deep space a more accurate way to analyze imaging data captured by microscopes, telescopes, and other devices. The method, known as single-pixel interior filling function (SPIFF), detects and corrects systematic errors in data and image analysis used in many areas of science and engineering.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Data management, Research and development
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Automation System Manages Critical Gas Distribution Process

Part of the TDK group of companies, Headway Technologies (Milpitas, CA) is a semiconductor manufacturer of memory and drive head technologies, and designs and manufactures recording heads for high-performance hard disk drives.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors, Semiconductor devices, Semiconductor devices, Automation, Gases
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Floating Ultrasonic Transducer Inspection System and Method for Nondestructive Evaluation

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed a Floating Ultrasonic System for improved nondestructive testing. Most ultrasonic scanners require an external liquid coupling agent (e.g., water, gel, oil) to make a good contact between the probe and the surface being scanned; however, some surfaces are sensitive to moisture and/or contamination created by these agents. NASA created the Floating Ultrasonic System to address this issue. NASA's technology is based on a momentary touching scheme where a vibrating probe comes in contact with the structure for fractions of a second while performing measurements, giving the probe the appearance of floating across a surface. The design allows for the easy movement of the probe over surfaces being inspected without the use of a liquid couplant between the probe and the surface. Initial test results have also shown NASA's system to have performance comparable to that of liquid-couplant-based ultrasonic scanners.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors, Vibration, Vibration, Inspections, Non-destructive tests, Test equipment and instrumentation
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Will UAVs improve how we monitor the environment?

This week's Question: Last week's TechBriefs.com story from the SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing 2017 conference in Anaheim revealed new ways of detecting leaks in natural gas pipelines. Panelists from industry, academia, and government demonstrated how miniaturized sensing platforms, and the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) hosting them, can improve the detection of hazardous gas leakage. What do you think? Will UAVs improve how we monitor the environment?

Posted in: Question of the Week, Aerospace, Aviation, Fiber Optics, Lasers & Laser Systems, Optical Components, Optics, Photonics, Data Acquisition, Sensors
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