electrical and electronics
Double Sided Si(Ge)/Sapphire/III-Nitride Hybrid Structures
III-nitride devices are commonly made on sapphire substrates today for various commercial electronic and optoelectronic applications. Thus, this innovation relates directly to the combination of devices on opposite sides of the sapphire substrate. One possible device combination is to have LEDs one side and solar cells on the other, such as for displays.
information technology and software
The Estimated Spectrum Adaptive Postfilter (ESAP)
ESAP looks into the decoded JPEG image and determines the location of the edges of the image. An edge is the spatial transition from lets say, a human face to a landscape background or the silhouette or cartoon of a person or object. In the areas away of the edges, ESAP performs adaptive filtering to remove the pixelation (or blocking artifacts) created by highly compressed JPEG images. In general, ESAP improves both, the subjective visual quality of highly compressed JPEG images, as well as their objective quality measure known as the Peak-Signal-to-Noise Ratio (PSNR), as compared to baseline JPEG images. It does this without requiring any additional overhead in the data stream.
mechanical and fluid systems
Micro scale electro hydrodynamic (EHD) modular cartridge pump
NASA GSFCs EHD pump uses electric fields to move a dielectric fluid coolant in a thermal loop to dissipate heat generated by electrical components with a low power system. The pump has only a few key components and no moving parts, increasing the simplicity and robustness of the system. In addition, the lightweight pump consumes very little power during operation and is modular in nature. The pump design takes a modular approach to the pumping sections by means of an electrically insulating cartridge casing that houses the high voltage and ground electrodes along with spacers that act as both an insulator and flow channel for the dielectric fluid. The external electrical connections are accomplished by means of commercially available pin and jack assemblies that are configurable for a variety of application interfaces. It can be sized to work with small electric components or lab-on-a-chip devices and multiple pumps can be placed in line for pumping greater distances or used as a feeder system for smaller downstream pumps. All this is done as a one-piece construction consolidating an assembly of 21 components over previous iterations.
information technology and software
Reconfigurable Image Generator and Database Generation System
The system, the Reconfigurable Image Generator (RIG), consists of software and a hardware configuration, and a Synthetic Environment Database Generation System (RIG-DBGS). This innovative Image Generator (IG) uses Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) technologies and is capable of supporting virtually any display system. The DBGS software leverages high-fidelity real-world data, including aerial imagery, elevation datasets, and vector data. Through a combination of COTS tools and in-house created applications, the semi-automated system can process large amounts of data in days rather than weeks or months, a disadvantage of manual database generation. A major benefit of the RIG technology is that existing simulation users can leverage their investment in existing real-time 3D databases (such as OpenFlight) as part of the RIG system.
Variable Visibility Glasses for Instrument Flight Training
The technology combines electroactively controlled liquid crystal lenses with a means for determining the pilots head position. When the pilots head is positioned to look outside the front or side windscreens, the lenses restrict light transmission. When the pilots head is lowered to view the instrument panel or other cockpit displays, the lenses allow light transmission so that the view of the instruments is unimpeded. Light transmission through the lenses can be selectively controlled by the system, ranging from 0.1% to 10%. The lenses are mounted in conventional eyeglass frames. The frames include a detection system to determine the position and orientation of the pilots head. Circuits within the frames activate the lenses to restrict light transmission when the pilots head is oriented to look out the windscreen. A PC, linked to the aircraft flight computer or altimeter, is also in the control loop and turns off the system to allow unimpeded visibility when the aircraft is below 200 feet or for other specified conditions. The technology readiness level of this invention is at stage seven with a prototype having been tested.
mechanical and fluid systems
Feedthrough for Severe Environments and Temperatures
Space and ground launch support related hardware often operate under extreme pressure, temperature, and corrosive conditions. When dealing with this type of equipment, it is frequently necessary to run wiring, tubes, or fibers through a barrier separating one process from another with one or both operating in extreme environments. Feedthroughs used to route the wiring, tubes, or fibers through these barriers must meet stringent sealing and leak tightness requirements. This affordable NASA feedthrough meets or exceeds all sealing and leak requirements utilizing easy-to-assemble commercial-off-the-shelf hardware with no special tooling. The feedthrough is a fully reconfigurable design; however, it can also be produced as a permanent device. Thermal cycling and helium mass spectrometer leak testing under extreme conditions of full cryogenic temperatures and high vacuum have proven the sealing capability of this feedthrough with or without potting (epoxy fill) on the ends. Packing material disks used in the construction of the device can be replaced as needed for rebuilding a given feedthrough for another job or a different set of feeds if potting is not used for the original feedthrough build. (Potting on one or both sides of the sleeve provides double or triple leak sealing protection). Variable Compression Ratio (VCR) connectors were adapted for the pressure seal on the feedthrough; however, any commercial connector can be similarly adapted. The design can easily be scaled up to larger (2" diameter) and even very large (12" or more) sizes.
electrical and electronics
Nanostructure-Based Vacuum Channel Transistor
A planar lateral air transistor was fabricated using standard silicon semiconductor processing. The emitter and collector were sub-lithographically separated by photoresist ashing, with the curvature of the tip controlled by the thermal reflow of the photoresist. The gap can be shrunk as small as 10nm using this process. Since the nanogap separating the emitter and collector is smaller than the electron mean free path in air, vacuum is not needed. The present structure exhibits superior gate controllability and negligible gate leakage current due to adoption of the gate insulator. The device has potential for high performance and low power applications; also, since vacuum as the carrier transport medium is immune to high temperature and radiation, the proposed nanotransistors are ideal for extreme environments. Process and layout refinements such as coating a low work function material on the emitter, reducing the overlap area and optimizing the oxide thickness can potentially improve the cut-off frequency well into the THz regime.
power generation and storage
Relaxor Piezoelectric Single Crystal Multilayer Stacks for Energy Harvesting Transducers (RPSEHT)
Energy management is one of the most challenging issues in the world today. Accordingly, various energy harvesting technologies have gained attention, including harvesting energy from ambient vibration sources using piezoelectric materials. However, conventional piezoelectric energy harvesting transducer (PEHT) structures have effective piezoelectric constants that are lower than about 10^4 pC/N, (resonant mode). These low piezoelectric constants lead to conventional PEHTs not being able to harvest electric power effectively. Further, for a specific vibration/motion source, it would be advantageous to maximize the mechanical energy captured from the vibration structure into the piezoelectric device and to convert a greater fraction of that mechanical energy into electrical energy more efficiently. This invention is a system and method using multistage force amplification of piezoelectric energy harvesting transducers (MFAPEHTs) to increase the effective piezoelectric constant to >10^6 pC/N and to increase the mechanical energy input to the device. The invention utilizes 33 mode PZT to permit maximum coupling between the input mechanical energy with the piezoelectric material, and multilayer construction of single crystal PMN-PT material to significantly amplify the voltage/charge generation and storage from the applied mechanical force.
Improved Ground Collision Avoidance System
This critical safety tool can be used for a wider variety of aircraft, including general aviation, helicopters, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) while also improving performance in the fighter aircraft currently using this type of system. <strong>Demonstrations/Testing</strong> This improved approach to ground collision avoidance has been demonstrated on both small UAVs and a Cirrus SR22 while running the technology on a mobile device. These tests were performed to the prove feasibility of the app-based implementation of this technology. The testing also characterized the flight dynamics of the avoidance maneuvers for each platform, evaluated collision avoidance protection, and analyzed nuisance potential (i.e., the tendency to issue false warnings when the pilot does not consider ground impact to be imminent). <strong>Armstrong's Work Toward an Automated Collision Avoidance System</strong> Controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) remains a leading cause of fatalities in aviation, resulting in roughly 100 deaths each year in the United States alone. Although warning systems have virtually eliminated CFIT for large commercial air carriers, the problem still remains for fighter aircraft, helicopters, and GAA. Innovations developed at NASAs Armstrong Flight Research Center are laying the foundation for a collision avoidance system that would automatically take control of an aircraft that is in danger of crashing into the ground and fly it—and the people inside—to safety. The technology relies on a navigation system to position the aircraft over a digital terrain elevation data base, algorithms to determine the potential and imminence of a collision, and an autopilot to avoid the potential collision. The system is designed not only to provide nuisance-free warnings to the pilot but also to take over when a pilot is disoriented or unable to control the aircraft. The payoff from implementing the system, designed to operate with minimal modifications on a variety of aircraft, including military jets, UAVs, and GAA, could be billions of dollars and hundreds of lives and aircraft saved. Furthermore, the technology has the potential to be applied beyond aviation and could be adapted for use in any vehicle that has to avoid a collision threat, including aerospace satellites, automobiles, scientific research vehicles, and marine charting systems.
Model-Based Prognostics For Batteries
This invention relates to the prediction of the remaining useful life of an object in use. It develops a mathematical model to describe battery behavior during individual discharge cycles as well as over its cycle life. The models used to estimate the remaining useful life of batteries are linked to the internal electro-chemical processes of the battery. The effects of temperature and load have been incorporated into the models. Model validation studies were conducted using data from a series of battery cycling experiments at various thermal and electrical loading conditions. Subsequently, the model has been used in a particle filtering framework to make probabilistic predictions of remaining useful life for individual discharge cycles as well as for cycle life.