electrical and electronics
Microfabrication process for building x-ray absorbers
A thin (0.3 um) e-beam evaporated gold absorber is supported by small gold stems that are electroplated from the temperature sensor and substrate upward. The process is kept at temperatures less than 65C to prevent plastic deformation of the photoresist stem template. This is accomplished by using no reflow of the mold photoresist, curing the absorber-masking photoresist with UV exposure and a long, low temperature bake instead of a standard high temperature bake, and etching of the absorber using a wet chemistry at room temperature instead of the high temperature ion mill step. The completed absorber stops x-rays of energy less than 1 keV with high efficiency in the evaporated gold top layer, thermalizes the absorbed energy rapidly, and conducts heat to the temperature sensing part of a microcalorimeter via the electroplated support stems.
Passive Smart Container
Passive Smart Container system comprises four major components: RFID circuits embedded in or around the container, an antenna and RF distribution system, and an interrogator/reader. The system uses passive RFID circuits placed on a bulk item container to track consumption and quantify items as the items are removed, added or replaced in the container. The antenna is strategically integrated with the lid or elsewhere in or around the container and is constantly coupling RFID signals to/from the RFID circuits. The circuits reply with information regarding the fill level in the container. A processor connected to the reader/interrogator can infer the fill level according to which RFID circuits respond and the magnitude and phase of the returned signals. The technology is compatible with the EPCglobal Class-1 Generation-2 RFID standard. This setup can be modified to track all kinds of items, large and small, making this technology suitable and applicable to an array of commercial fields. RFID is a disruptive technology that has made a large impact on several industries, especially in supply chain and asset management. Passive Smart Container is well positioned to tap into this growing market. Its ability to account for discrete items as well as liquids and bulk goods that were deemed impossible or impractical to tag makes this technology relevant for an array of applications and industries.
Biomarker Sensor Arrays for Microfluidics Applications
This invention provides a method and system for fabricating a biomarker sensor array by dispensing one or more entities using a precisely positioned, electrically biased nanoprobe immersed in a buffered fluid over a transparent substrate. Fine patterning of the substrate can be achieved by positioning and selectively biasing the probe in a particular region, changing the pH in a sharp, localized volume of fluid less than 100 nm in diameter, resulting in a selective processing of that region. One example of the implementation of this technique is related to Dip-Pen Nanolithography (DPN), where an Atomic Force Microscope probe can be used as a pen to write protein and DNA Aptamer inks on a transparent substrate functionalized with silane-based self-assembled monolayers. But it would be recognized that the invention has a much broader range of applicability. For example, the invention can be applied to formation of patterns using biological materials, chemical materials, metals, polymers, semiconductors, small molecules, organic and inorganic thins films, or any combination of these.
Estimation of Alga Growth Stage and Lipid Content Growth Rate
This invention, provides a method using light in different wavelength ranges to estimate (i) algae growth stage and (ii) algae growth rates in media (e.g., fresh water or marine water). Absorption of light is measured for a beam having a specified light intensity in each of two or more specified narrow wavelength ranges. Optionally, light absorption is corrected for absorption in the same wavelength range by the medium. Then absorption of light is compared with a reference set of absorption values for the algae at different growth stages. Algorithm is applied to determine differences between measured absorption values and reference absorption values to estimate growth stage. Compensation for light reflection from a liquid (absent algae) is similar. Lipid content of the algae is measured at each of a selected set of growth stages. The estimated growth stage is correlated with a time variable to estimate time for initiation of growth of algae under specified conditions. One or more relevant environmental parameters (light intensity or wavelength, temperature, or nutrients) is varied in the growth medium for the algae and the time required for their grow this determined and related to the system described here.
Powder Handling Device for Analytical Instruments
This invention is a system and associated method for causing a fine-grained powder in a sample holder to undergo at least one of three motions (vibration, rotation or translation) at a selected motion frequency in order to expose a statistically relevant population of grains in random orientation to a diffraction or fluorescent source. One or more measurements of diffraction, fluorescence, spectroscopic interaction, transmission, absorption and/or reflection can be made on the sample, using x-rays or light in a selected wavelength region. In one embodiment, the invention allows the relaxation of sample preparation and handling requirements for powder X-ray Diffraction (pXRD). The sample, held between two thin plastic windows, undergoes granular convection similar to a heated liquid, causing the individual grains to move past a collimated X-ray beam in random orientation over time. The result is an X-ray diffraction pattern having the correct diffracted intensities without a requirement for specialized mechanical motions. A major improvement over conventional sample preparation and handling techniques for pXRD is the potential to characterize larger grain-size material, resulting in a significant relaxation of the constraints on sample preparation (grinding). The powder handling system as described extends the range of useful grain sizes for XRD/ X-ray fluorescence (XRF) from a few micrometers (m) to several hundred m. Inclusion of the powder handling system enables automated instruments such as CheMin, a robotic XRD/XRF instrument designed and developed by NASA, to analyze as-received or coarsely powdered samples on NASAs Mars Science Laboratory rover, or in extreme, toxic or hazardous environments on Earth.
materials and coatings
Holey Carbon Allotropes
This invention is for scalable methods that allows preparation of bulk quantities of holey nanocarbons with holes ranging from a few to over 100 nm in diameter. The first method uses metal particles as a catalyst (silver, copper, e.g.) and offers a wider range of hole diameter. The second method is free of catalysts altogether and offers more rapid processing in a single step with minimal product work-up requirements and does not require solvents, catalysts, flammable gases, additional chemical agents, or electrolysis. The process requires only commercially available materials and standard laboratory equipment; and, it is scalable. Properties that can be controlled include: surface area, pore volume, mechanical properties, electrical conductivity, and thermal conductivity.
Algae Photobioreactor Using Floating Enclosures With Semi-Permeable Membranes
The photobioreactors allow light to enter through their transparent upper surface and optimizes the efficiency of light utilization with a light-reflective lower surface inside. Deployed in the marine environment, the gradient between the freshwater inside the system and the saltwater outside drives forward osmosis. The water removed through semi-permeable (forward osmosis) membranes is cleaned as it is released into the marine environment. In addition, this process concentrates nutrients in the algae medium to stimulate growth, and concentrates the algae to facilitate harvesting. The harvested algae can be used to make biofuels, fertilizer, animal food, or other products. The photobioreactors are intended for use in naturally or artificially protected marine environments with small waves and gentle currents. The system can also be used in artificial brine pools and freshwater basins or reservoirs, however in freshwater the forward osmosis feature cannot be used.
materials and coatings
This durable, transparent, nano-textured coating can be applied via a wet chemistry process to variety of rigid and flexible surfaces by spin coating, brush application, or spray application, making it applicable for many purposes beyond space flight and aeronautical applications. The coatings unique nano-textured surface and overcoat reduces surface energy and contact surface area, giving the coating anti-contamination and self cleaning properties that minimize dust, liquid, and ice accumulation on its surface, similar to a leaf on the Lotus plant. The coating is low outgassing, stable in vacuum, and can survive harsh spaceflight environments. Depending on requirements, the Lotus Coating can be tailored to fit the specific needs of a project or customer. This customization makes the Lotus system far more adaptive, allowing for a more diverse range of applications.
mechanical and fluid systems
Green Precision Cleaning
NASA's Precision Green Cleaning invention was developed to clean flight tubing. The technology has potential to be useful to industries where IPA is commonly used to clean tubing and piping, or potentially where other water-cleaning applications are used. Such industries may include Aerospace, Pharmaceutical, Bioprocessing, and Food and Beverage. Precision Green Cleaning may also be used to clean microelectronics equipment, parts and surfaces.
Hypergol Leak Detection Sensor
Hypergol detection is difficult due to the low level of detection required, the time response of the sensors, and the reactivity of the commodity. Hypergolic fuels often stick to the inside of sampling lines or react with water, affecting the level of detection possible with traditional sensors. Area sensors can be used to monitor wide areas but require the commodity to reach the sensor in a quantity that can be detected. KSCs technology allows the hypergol sensors to be molded into nearly any type of shape that is required. The extrusion techniques used to manufacture the sensors allow both powders and liquids to be incorporated into the polymer matrices. When applied directly to piping and container valves, seams, and joints, hypergol leaks trigger an instantaneous color change on the sensor indicating the precise location of the leak. This makes localizing and repairing leaks much quicker and easier for maintenance technicians. When located directly over a leak, the chemochromic pigment used in the sensor traps the hypergol and prevents it from escaping into the surrounding atmosphere. These sensors are designed to be easy to replace and to have a low cost of implementation. If used as a tape, the sensor can be designed to have several layers to protect it from environmental conditions or to utilize reusable adhesive to allow repositioning of the sensor.