Progress Toward Carbon-Nanotube Arrays for Probing Cells

Progress has been reported in research oriented toward the goal of fabricating arrays of interconnected single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) that could serve as probes for measuring localized events within living cells. As used here, "interconnected" signifies mechanically and electrically connected to patterned metal films (interconnections) that lead to contact pads, which, in turn, enable electrical connection to external electronic instrumentation. This research poses a high economic risk because it entails pushing several technological disciplines beyond their present limits. There is no previously reported combination of fabrication techniques and processes for producing carbon nanotubes that have the required properties at the required positions and orientations on patterned metal films.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Architecture, Sensors and actuators, Biological sciences, Fabrication, Metals, Nanomaterials

Toward High-Performance Neural Control of Prosthetic Devices

A program of basic and applied research in neuroscience is dedicated to (1) advancing fundamental understanding of how the human brain plans and executes arm movements and (2) designing and building high-performance neural prostheses for controlling arm prostheses. The basic-research part of the program involves experiments on non-human primates by use of techniques of chronic-electrode-array electrophysiology, computational neuroscience, theoretical neuroscience, and observations of reaching behavior. The appliedresearch part of the program includes, as part of the effort to develop neural prostheses, an effort to decode (that is, to extract scientifically and prosthetically useful signals from) neural activity in real time, use the signals generated in the decoding process to move computer cursors, and utilize the knowledge thus gained to design and validate high-performance neural-prosthetic algorithms.

Posted in: Briefs, Medical, Mathematical models, Nervous system, Prostheses and implants, Biomechanics

Progress Toward Cell-Directed Assembly of Nanostructures

During 2007, progress was made on several fronts in a research program oriented toward developing capabilities for biocompatible and biomimetic self-assembly of nanostructures that could perform desired functions as interfaces between biological and nanotechnological systems ("bio/nano" interfaces). These capabilities are expected to contribute, in turn, to development of new classes of biotic/abiotic materials and to understanding of responses of cells to diseases, injuries, stresses, and therapies. The approach followed in this research has been one of striving to understand and exploit celldirected assembly (CDA).

Posted in: Briefs, Medical, Research and development, Assembling, Biomaterials, Nanotechnology

Advances Toward Development of "Smart Dust" Biosensors

Progress has been made toward meeting several technical challenges in a continuing effort to develop “smart dust” sensors for remote detection of chemical and biological agents. Until now, the state of the art of laboratory-on-a-chip devices has been typified by microfluidic cartridges variously mounted in or connected to desktop or handheld devices. Smart dust sensors would be smaller: they would be submillimeter-sized devices, the implementation of which would necessitate levels of miniaturization and integration heretofore known only in biological systems.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Downsizing, Remote sensing, Chemicals, Biohazards

Structural Composite Batteries

A continuing program of research and development is devoted to the design, fabrication, and testing of polymeric composite- material devices that are multifunctional in the sense that they both store electrochemical energy and bear mechanical loads. It is anticipated that if designed to exhibit sufficient structural and energy efficiencies, these devices could enable significant reductions in the weights of systems in which they could be used, by supplanting electrically inert structural components and conventional batteries while providing supplementary power for lightload applications.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Aircraft structures, Body structures, Batteries, Energy storage systems, Composite materials, Polymers

Mechanical Aspects of Structural Composite Batteries

In furtherance of the development described in the immediately preceding article, an experimental study focusing on mechanical aspects of structural composite batteries was performed. In this study, battery component materials, battery components, and fully assembled structural composite batteries were subjected to tensile tests. Limited electrochemical tests were also performed.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Aircraft structures, Body structures, Batteries, Energy storage systems, Composite materials, Test procedures

Sensor Validation Using Nonlinear Minor-Component Analysis

Aconcept of sensor validation using nonlinear minor-component analysis (NLMCA) has been proposed as a theoretical basis of a sensor fault-detection-and isolation (FDI) module in a fault-tolerant control system of an aircraft jet engine or other complex physical plant. As used here, "sensor validation" signifies, loosely, analysis of the readouts of all the sensors in such a system for the purpose of identifying which (if any) sensors are faulty and, if possible, the magnitudes of the faults. Once a fault in a sensor or any other component was detected and isolated, the fault-tolerant control system would automatically reconfigure itself to compensate for the effect of that and any other faults so as to maintain acceptable (or as nearly acceptable as possible) control performance of the plant even in the presence of the faults. In the case of a faulty sensor, the system would utilize any available analytical redundancy among all sensor signals to estimate the value of the physical quantity desired to be measured by that sensor, and that value would then be used for feedback control.

Posted in: Briefs, Information Technology, Finite element analysis, On-board diagnostics, Sensors and actuators

Enlightened Multiscale Simulation of Biochemical Networks

A continuing research project is dedicated to development of mathematical and software infrastructure in support of post genomics research in systems biology. One near-term objective of the project is to contribute to deeper understanding of the organizational principles of biological networks. A distinguishing theme of this project is a focus on scalable methods of robustness and theoretically sound methods of the use of experimental data to validate (or invalidate) models; this theme stands in contrast to the heretofore prevalent theme of relying purely on simulation.

Posted in: Briefs, Information Technology, Mathematical models, Computer software / hardware, Biological sciences, Product development, Research and development

Single Board Computer

VersaLogic Corp. (Eugene, OR) offers the Sidewinder, a single board computer (SBC) designed to complement their existing EBX product line. The Sidewinder is a reliable fanless design featuring a robust array of onboard I/O functions including 8-channel 12- bit analog input, and 32- channel digital I/O. The RoHS-compliant Sidewinder includes VersaLogic’s proprietary SPX™ expansion interface that allows users to easily add a wide range of low-cost I/O options to the platform.

Posted in: Products, Products, Electronics & Computers

Boundary Scan Test System

ASSET InterTech (Richardson, TX) has expanded its ScanWorks® system by adding signal integrity analysis applications that support Intel's next-generation embedded instrumentation technology, Intel® IBIST (Interconnect Built In Self Test). ASSET's ScanWorks environment with support for IBIST consists of software applications for validating and analyzing signal integrity on buses through margining and BERT techniques. ScanWorks interfaces to embedded instruments to validate boardlevel and system-level designs that feature high-speed buses such as PCI Express and Intel's QuickPath interconnect. The system features a suite of fault diagnostic tools.

Posted in: Products, Products, Electronics & Computers