Tech Briefs

Next-Generation Spectrometers for Rapid Analysis of Complex Mixtures

Molecules have internal motions that are characteristic of their structure and identity. These motions can be studied by spectroscopy in different regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. Molecular spectra can be used as a “fingerprint” to unambiguously state whether or not a particular chemical is present and in what amount. As such, small portable spectrometers are frequently used as components of chemical sensors.

Posted in: Briefs, Aerospace, Defense, Physical Sciences, Sensors and actuators, Medical, health, and wellness, Chemicals, Hazardous materials, Test equipment and instrumentation

Wireless Vital Signs Monitor for Trauma Patients

A miniature, portable wireless vital signs monitor (MWVSM), called Mini-medic™, could aid in the triage and diagnosis of trauma patients with and without traumatic brain injury (TBI). The MWVSM consists of two components, both of which are the approximate size and weight of a cellphone: one is a sensor that is placed either on the forehead or the fingertip of a patient, and the other is a monitor that receives a wireless signal transmitted up to 100 m carried by the medic.

Posted in: Briefs, Aerospace, Defense, Medical, Sensors and actuators, Medical, health, and wellness, Head injuries

Analysis of an In-Ear Dosimeter for a Single Hearing Protection Device

US national and many international hearing conservation programs (HCPs) have adopted a noise exposure criterion of 85 dBA for a time-weighted average of 8 hours, with a 3 dB per doubling exchange rate (safe exposure duration was cut in half for each 3 dB increase in noise level). Military personnel who work in extreme noise environments require high attenuation from hearing protection in order to complete a normal duty day without risk of permanent hearing loss. Improvements to both hearing protection and noise dose monitoring have been consistently recommended and pursued as a means to reduce risk for noise-induced hearing loss.

Posted in: Briefs, Aerospace, Defense, Physical Sciences, Noise, Noise measurement, Protective equipment

Automatic-Alignment Fiber Optic Coupling System for Optimal Signal Transmission

Using the current method of characterizing waveguides manufactured for research in optical communications, it can take up to 8 hours to characterize the waveguides on a single silicon wafer. Using the automatic computer automation system developed, the characterization process has been reduced to less than an hour. After the silicon wafer containing the waveguides is manufactured, the waveguides must be evaluated to determine the optical characteristics of the various waveguides on the silicon wafer.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Optics, Waveguides

Detecting Maritime Radiological/Nuclear Threats with Hybrid Imaging

The SuperMISTI detection system is a hybrid detection, identification, and imaging system for sources of gamma-ray radiation at stand-off distances. The system is based on the Mobile Imaging and Spectroscopic Threat Identification (MISTI) system designed for the Department of Homeland Security. The SuperMISTI system uses the high-resolution spectra of high-purity germanium (HPGe) detectors to detect and identify gamma-ray sources as well as coded aperture technology, and lower-cost NaI detectors to image and localize the detected sources. The system utilizes a modular design to allow the detection/identification and the imaging/ localization portions to be used separately or together, depending on the situation.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Imaging, Marine vehicles and equipment

Testing Particle Counters for Detection of Fuel Contamination

Fuel quality assurance is accomplished by conducting periodic fuel sampling for the condition monitoring of aviation fuel by detecting, measuring, and reporting the levels of contaminants in the fuel. Current methods have several drawbacks including operator subjectivity, lack of detailed analysis, limitations in providing reliable data, and the turnaround time needed to get the test results.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Aviation fuels, Quality assurance, Test procedures

Manufacturing Robotic Tools for Piping Inspection and Repair

Fleet piping systems are complex, space-constrained systems that are difficult to inspect using standard external inspection techniques. Pipe lagging, as well as limited space, makes external access prohibitively expensive and difficult. A robotic tool was developed that will deliver a sensor package capable of real-time corrosion/erosion and pipe wall measurements. Implementation of this system will allow for fleet preventative maintenance (PM), ensuring that possible failures are detected and replaced before they occur.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Sensors and actuators, Fleet management, Maintenance, Repair and Service Operations, Tools and equipment, Robotics, Inspections