Scaling of Flight Tests of Unmanned Air Vehicles

A program of research has addressed a methodology of scaling of flight tests of unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) intended primarily for military use in observing and/or attacking targets on the ground. The main goal of this research is to make it possible to design a model UAV that is suitable for evaluating the performance of a given real UAV or family of UAVs. This research also demonstrates the use of results of computational simulations and ground hardware experiments on models of vehicles other than UAVs to predict performances of UAVs prior to conducting flight tests.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Flight tests, Unmanned aerial vehicles

Small-Scale Combustion-Chamber Testing Facility

A small-scale combustion-chamber testing facility has been designed and partly built for use in evaluating advanced combustor designs for future gas turbine engines. The specific model combustor for which the facility was designed is an approximation of a planar section of an ultra-compact combustor (UCC). In the full-scale UCC (Figure 1), vanes in an annular cavity are positioned and oriented to cause the combustion gases to flow in a spiral pattern and the resulting centripetal acceleration in the cavity is utilized to increase the speed of combustion and thereby make it possible to design the combustion chamber to be shorter than would otherwise be necessary. In the model combustor, the spiral aspect of the flow is approximated by means of a small flow of air directed perpendicular to a main flow. The design of the facility and the model combustor provides access for off-axis optical (including visual) observation and measurement of cavity-vane interactions. The facility can also be used to test many other combustor models.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Combustion chambers, Test facilities

Interactive DataWall

The Interactive DataWall (IDW) is a computer-driven, high-definition display, large enough to be visible simultaneously to multiple observers, that presents information from multiple sources and exploits advanced techniques of human/computer interaction and data fusion. The IDW originally was intended for collaborative use by a group of Air Force decision-makers who must consider large amounts of dynamic information (e.g., information pertinent to targeting during battle). Sources of displayed and otherwise utilized information can include sensors on terrestrial vehicles, sensors aboard satellites, databases, and video feeds from remote locations.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Data acquisition and handling, Human factors, Displays, Collaboration and partnering

Miniature Semiconductor Diodes as Pumps and Motors

Experiments have shown that when a miniature semiconductor diode floats in an aqueous solution and an alternating electric field is applied, (1) the diode rectifies the alternating potential induced between the electrodes, and (2) the resulting pulsating DC potential gives rise to an electro-osmotic flow in the vicinity of the diode and associated force that orients the diode along the electric-field direction, and propels the diode through the water. The propulsive force on the diode is along the electricfield direction and can be toward the cathode or the anode end, depending on the precise nature of the surface charge on the diode and the chemical composition of the solution. It has been proposed to exploit this phenomenon in developing microscale and nanoscale pumps and motors for diverse purposes. The proposal is not as radical as it might first seem: Electro-osmosis in applied DC electric fields has been used to pump liquids in microfluidic devices.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Semiconductor devices, Pumps

Optical-Fiber Infrasound Sensors

Optical-fiber infrasound sensors (OFISs) are being developed for detecting acoustic pressures in the frequency range from a few millihertz to a few hertz. As explained below, these sensors were conceived to overcome some of the limitations of prior infrasound sensors based on pipe filters connected to microbarographs.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics, Fiber optics, Sensors and actuators, Acoustics

Study of Membrane Optics for Lightweight Space Telescopes

Astudy has been performed to establish a foundation for the analysis, design, and further development of inplane- actuated deformable membrane mirrors for lightweight spaceborne telescopes. It is envisioned that the telescopes, having typical mirror diameters of 20 m or larger, would be stowed compactly for launch and transport, then deployed in orbit around the Earth for use in surveillance of the Earth and in exploration of deep space.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics, Mirrors, Optics, Test equipment and instrumentation

Implantable Electrochemical Sensors for Metabolic Monitoring

Arrays of electrochemical sensors that include specially coated (as described below) gold electrodes on flexible polyimide sheets have been fabricated and tested in a continuing effort to develop biocompatible, surgically implantable electrochemical-sensor arrays for continuous measurement of concentrations of analytes that play major roles in human and animal metabolism. The effort thus far has been oriented particularly toward developing sensors for monitoring one analyte — glucose — to enable improved treatment of diabetic patients. It is planned to extend this effort to the fabrication and testing of sensors for monitoring lactate and pyruvate and, eventually, to implement the concept of a single array that contains sensors for monitoring glucose, lactate, and pyruvate.

Posted in: Briefs, Medical, Sensors and actuators, Medical, health, and wellness

Portable Simulator for Training in Robot-Assisted Surgery

Aportable apparatus is being developed as a means of training surgeons in robot-assisted surgery, including laparoscopic and other forms of minimally invasive surgery. The apparatus can be characterized as a virtual reality system that includes not only a computer and a visual display subsystem, but also an electromechanical subsystem with which a surgeon in training can interact as though interacting with a console of the type used to control a laparoscopic, endoscopic, or other surgical robot.

Posted in: Briefs, Medical, Simulation and modeling, Surgical procedures, Robotics

Imaging System for Characterizing Materials and Processes

Ahigh-performance digital imaging system has been assembled to provide enhanced capabilities for characterizing materials and processes. Highspeed imaging is needed for observation and analysis of such fast dynamic processes as impact fracture (including ballistically induced fracture) in advanced composite materials, dynamic deformation of materials, and hydrodynamic instabilities in jets. Because these dynamic processes occur at diverse temporal and spatial scales, there is a need for an imaging system that can operate at correspondingly diverse frame rates, spatial resolutions, and magnifications, and that is capable of recording various numbers of image frames.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Imaging

Progress in Research on Bacteria-Powered Motors

Progress has been made on several fronts in research on biomotors and especially on microscopic motors powered by bacteria. The progress consists mostly of advances in the art of attaching motile bacterial cells to surfaces in specific, pre-designed microarrays.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Bacteria