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Sensors
Sensors
Mechanical or electronic devices used to measure or receive stimulus in the form of light, temperature, pressure, sound, radiation level, or the like, convert that stimulus into an electronic signal and transmit the signal to a measuring or control instrument.
Collage of applications for this technology--bridges, buildings, oil rigs, cargo, and robotics
Adaptive Spatial Resolution Enables Focused Fiber Optic Sensing
This technology can be applied to most optical frequency domain reflectometry (OFDR) fiber optic strain sensing systems. It is particularly well suited to Armstrong's FOSS technology, which uses efficient algorithms to determine from strain data in real time a variety of critical parameters, including twist and other structural shape deformations, temperature, pressure, liquid level, and operational loads. How It Works This technology enables smart-sensing techniques that adjust parameters as needed in real time so that only the necessary amount of data is acquired—no more, no less. Traditional signal processing in fiber optic strain sensing systems is based on fast Fourier transform (FFT), which has two key limitations. First, FFT requires having analysis sections that are equal in length along the whole fiber. Second, if high resolution is required along one portion of the fiber, FFT processes the whole fiber at that resolution. Armstrong's adaptive spatial resolution innovation makes it possible to efficiently break up the length of the fiber into analysis sections that vary in length. It also allows the user to measure data from only a portion of the fiber. If high resolution is required along one section of fiber, only that portion is processed at high resolution, and the rest of the fiber can be processed at the lower resolution. Why It Is Better To quantify this innovation's advantages, this new adaptive method requires only a small fraction of the calculations needed to provide additional resolution compared to FFT (i.e., thousands versus millions of additional calculations). This innovation provides faster signal processing and precision measurement only where it is needed, saving time and resources. The technology also lends itself well to long-term bandwidth-limited monitoring systems that experience few variations but could be vulnerable as anomalies occur. More importantly, Armstrong's adaptive algorithm enhances safety, because it automatically adjusts the resolution of sensing based on real-time data. For example, when strain on a wing increases during flight, the software automatically increases the resolution on the strained part of the fiber. Similarly, as bridges and wind turbine blades undergo stress during big storms, this algorithm could automatically adjust the spatial resolution to collect more data and quickly identify potentially catastrophic failures. This innovation greatly improves the flexibility of fiber optic strain sensing systems, which provide valuable time and cost savings to a range of applications. For more information about the full portfolio of FOSS technologies, see DRC-TOPS-37 or visit https://technology-afrc.ndc.nasa.gov/featurestory/fiber-optic-sensing
Gas Composition Sensing Using Carbon Nanotube Arrays
An array of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) in a substrate is connected to a variable-pulse voltage source. The CNT tips are spaced appropriately from the second electrode maintained at a constant voltage. A sequence of voltage pulses is applied and a pulse discharge breakdown threshold voltage is estimated for one or more gas components, from an analysis of the current-voltage characteristics. Each estimated pulse discharge breakdown threshold voltage is compared with known threshold voltages for candidate gas components to estimate whether at least one candidate gas component is present in the gas. The procedure can be repeated at higher pulse voltages to estimate a pulse discharge breakdown threshold voltage for a second component present in the gas. The CNTs in the gas sensor have a sharp (low radius of curvature) tip; they are preferably multiwall carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) or carbon nanofibers (CNFs), to generate high-strength electrical fields adjacent to the current collecting plate, such as a gold plated silicon wafer or a stainless steel plate for breakdown of the gas components with lower voltage application and generation of high current. The sensor system can provide a high-sensitivity, low-power-consumption tool that is very specific for identification of one or more gas components. The sensors can be multiplexed to measure current from multiple CNT arrays for simultaneous detection of several gas components.
Gas Refinery Pipes
Detection Of Presence Of Chemical Precursors
These needs are met by this invention, which provide easy stem and associated method for detecting one or more chemical precursors (components) of a multi-component explosive compound. Different carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are loaded (by doping, impregnation, coating, or other functionalization process) for detecting of different chemical substances that are the chemical precursors, respectively, if these precursors are present in a gas to which the CNTs are exposed. After exposure to the gas, a measured electrical parameter (e.g. voltage or current that correlate to impedance, conductivity, capacitance, inductance, etc.) changes with time and concentration in a predictable manner if a selected chemical precursor is present, and will approach an asymptotic value promptly after exposure to the precursor. The measured voltage or current are compared with one or more sequence soft heir reference values for one or more known target precursor molecules, and a most probable concentration value is estimated for each one, two, or more target molecules. An error value is computed, based on differences of voltage or current for the measured and reference values, using the most probable concentration values. Where the error value is less than a threshold, the system concludes that the target molecule is likely. Presence of one, two, or more target molecules in the gas can be sensed from a single set of measurements.
Punta Santa Domingo, Mexico
Sodium LIDAR for Spaceborne Missions
The instrument consists of a high-energy laser transmitter at 589 nm and highly sensitive photon counting detector that allows for range-resolved atmospheric-sodium-temperature profiles. The atmospheric temperature is deduced from the linewidth of the resonant fluorescence from the atomic sodium vapor D2 line as measured by the tunable laser. A high power energy laser allows for some daytime sodium LIDAR observations when used with a narrow bandpass filter based on etalon or atomic sodium Faraday filters with ~5 to 10 pm optical bandwidth.
Sensor
Gas Sensors Based on Coated and Doped Carbon Nanotubes
A typical sensor device includes a set of interdigitated microelectrodes fabricated by photolithography on silicon wafer or an electrically insulating substrate. In preparation for fabricating the SWCNT portion of such a sensor, a batch of treated (coated or doped) SWCNTs is dispersed in a solvent. The resulting suspension of SWCNTs is drop-deposited or injected onto the area containing the interdigitated electrodes. As the solvent evaporates, the SWCNTs form a mesh that connects the electrodes. The density of the SWCNTs in the mesh can be changed by varying the concentration of SWCNTs in the suspension and/or the amount of suspension dropped on the electrode area. To enable acquisition of measurements for comparison and to gain orthogonality in the sensor array, undoped SWCNTs can be similarly formed on another, identical set of interdigitated electrodes. Coating materials tested so far include chlorosulfonated polyethylene. Dopants that have been tested include Pd, Pt, Au, Cu and Rh nanoparticle clusters. To date, the sensor has been tested for NO2, NH3, CH4, Cl2, HCl, toluene, benzene, acetone, formaldehyde and nitrotoulene.
Collage of cryogenic humid environments
Enhanced Fabrication Improves Temperature Sensing in Cryogenic Humid Environments
This technology was developed to improve Armstrong's multi-patented FOSS system, which has long been used to measure temperature and liquid levels in cryogenic environments. When the sensing system's fibers trapped humidity from the surrounding environment before their submersion into cryogenic liquids, the moisture adversely affected outputs. A new manufacturing process solves this problem, increasing reliability and accuracy not only of NASA's FOSS but also any fiber optic sensing system. How It Works Armstrong has developed a two-step process to assemble the sensors. First, the bare sensor fiber is inserted into an oven to expel all moisture from the fiber coating. Then, the moisture-free fiber is placed inside a humidity-controlled glove box to prevent it from absorbing any new moisture. While inside the glove box, the fiber is inserted into a loose barrier tubing that isolates the fiber yet is still thin enough to provide adequate thermal transfer. The tubing can be further purged with various gases while it is inside the glove box to provide additional moisture isolation. This innovation is particularly useful for fiber optic systems that measure temperature and that identify any temperature stratifications within cryogenic liquids. Why It Is Better This process seals sensor fibers from environmental moisture, enabling fiber optic sensing systems to operate reliably in humid environments. The innovation eliminates erroneous readings that can occur due to moisture collection on the fiber sensors. For more information about the full portfolio of FOSS technologies, see DRC-TOPS-37 or visit https://technology-afrc.ndc.nasa.gov/featurestory/fiber-optic-sensing
Beamforming RFID Retroreflector technology being demonstrated.
RFID Tag for Long Range and Wide Coverage Capabilities
The RFID Tag with Long Range and Wide Coverage Capabilities technology allows a RFID tag to direct a RFID reader beam signal back in the direction of arrival. This technology requires no added power to provide telemetry for long range readers by using multiple beams instead of one narrow beam signal. Each of the predetermined number of beams is typically associated with a unique identification number to derive bearing information. This innovation is suited for IC-based RFID tags as well as Surface Acoustics Wave (SAW) tags, which are useful for extreme environments. The technology improves the ability to obtain telemetry (quantity, location, or sensor information) without GPS over a distant range. When the tag reports its identification, it also provides angular information to the source, which makes this technology useful for navigation and mapping applications. Because the technology provides an estimated angle between the signal antenna and the surface of each tag, the technology is able to triangulate the position of a mobile item identified with a RFID tag. The same innovation can be integrated to a RFID reader in order to enhance its range and distribute power to passive tags. The innovation has commercial applications in construction, oil and gas, seaport/harbor management, Internet of Things (IoT) and many more industries.
Front image
Electrical Response Using Nanotubes on a Fibrous Substrate
A resistor-type sensor was fabricated which has a network of cross-linked SWCNTs with purity over 99%. An ordinary cellulose paper used for filtration was employed as the substrate. The filter paper exhibits medium porosity with a flow rate of 60 mL/min and particle retention of 5-10m. The roughness and porosity of the papers are attractive because they increase the contact area with the ambient air and promote the adhesion to carbon nanotubes. The SWCNTs were functionalized with carboxylic acid (COOH) to render them hydrophilic, thus increasing the adhesion with the substrate. The functionalized SWCNTs were dispersed in dimethylformamide solution. The film composed of networks of cross-linked CNTs was formed using drop-cast coating followed by evaporation of the solvent. Adhesive copper foil tape was used for contact electrodes. Our sensors outperformed the oxide nanowire-based humidity sensors in terms of sensitivity and response/recovery times.
Change in Elevation Over Greenland
Real-Time LiDAR Signal Processing FPGA Modules
The developed FPGA modules discern time-of-flight of laser pulses for LiDAR applications through the correlation of a Gaussian pulse with a discretely sampled waveform from the LiDAR receiver. For GRSSLi, up to eight cross-correlation engines were instantiated within a FPGA to process the discretely sampled transmit, receive pulses from the LiDAR receiver, and ultimately measure the time-of-flight of laser pulses at 20-picosecond resolution. Engine number is limited only by the resources within the FPGA fabric, and is configurable with a constant. Thus, potential time-of-flight measurement rates could go well beyond the 200-KHz mark required by GRSSLi. Additionally, the engines have been designed in an extremely efficient manner and utilize the least amount of FPGA resources possible.
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