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
Floating Piston Valve
Instead of looking to improve current valve designs, a new type of valve was conceived that not only addresses recurring failures but could operate at very high pressures and flow rates, while maintaining high reliability and longevity. The valve design is applicable for pressures ranging from 15-15,000+ psi, and incorporates a floating piston design, used for controlling a flow of a pressurized working fluid. The balanced, floating piston valve design has a wide range of potential applications in all sizes and pressure ranges. The extremely simple design and few parts makes the design inherently reliable, simple to manufacture, and easy to maintain. The valve concept works with soft or hard metal seats, and the closing force is easily adjustable so that any closing force desired can be created. The fact that no adjustment is required in the design, ensures valve performance throughout valve life and operation. This valve has many unique features and design advantages over conventional valve concepts: - The largest advantage is the elimination of the valve stem and any conventional actuator, reduces physical size and cost. - It is constructed with only 5 parts. - It eliminates the need for many seals, which reduces failure, downtime and maintenance while increasing reliability and seat life. - The flow path is always axially and radially symmetric, eliminating almost all of the flow induced thrust loads - even during transition from closed to open.
Streamlined Liquid Level Sensing Using Fiber Optics
Armstrong has developed a robust fiber optic–based sensing technology that offers extraordinary accuracy in liquid level measurements. The sensing system uses fiber optic Bragg sensors located along a single fiber optic cable. These sensors actively discern between the liquid and gas states along a continuous fiber and can accurately pinpoint the liquid level. <strong><i>How It Works</strong></i> The technology uses a resistive heater wire bundled with the optical fiber. The heater is pulsed to induce a local temperature change along the fiber, and the fiber Bragg grating data is used to monitor the subsequent cooling of the fiber. The length of fiber in the liquid cools more rapidly than the portion of the fiber in the gas above the liquid. The measurement system accurately establishes the location of this transition to within 1/4-inch. <strong><i>Why It Is Better</strong></i> Armstrong's liquid level sensing technology was originally developed to measure cryogenic liquid levels in rockets, and it represents a significant advancement in the state of the art in this application. Conventional methods for measuring cryogenic liquid levels rely on cryogenic diodes strategically placed along a rod or rack. The diodes are mounted in pre-selected, relatively widely spaced positions along the length of a rod; this configuration provides limited, imprecise data. Furthermore, each diode on the rod has two wires associated with it, which means a single system may require a large number of wires, making installation, connectivity, and instrumentation cumbersome. Armstrong's novel technology provides liquid measurements with much greater precision, achieving measurements at 1/4-inch intervals. Furthermore, the streamlined system uses just two wires, which greatly simplifies installation and instrumentation. Due to its extraordinary accuracy and ease of use, Armstrong's measurement system offers important advantages for a wide range of applications beyond cryogenic liquids. <strong><i>In Addition</strong></i> Researchers have developed a new manufacturing process that improves the ability of fiber optic sensing systems to measure temperature and liquid levels when operating in humid environments. The process involves eliminating moisture from the optical fiber coating, then completing the sensor assembly within humidity-controlled conditions. The resulting sensor hardware provides precise and accurate measurements even when operating in a humid environment. <b><i>For more information about the full portfolio of FOSS technologies, see DRC-TOPS-37 or visit <a href=https://technology-afrc.ndc.nasa.gov/featurestory/fiber-optic-sensing>https://technology-afrc.ndc.nasa.gov/featurestory/fiber-optic-sensing</a></b></i>