Tech Briefs

Circuit Models for Robust, Adaptive Neural Control

This project seeks to reproduce the neural circuits used by the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans for locomotion. Caenorhabditis elegans is a small (~1.2 millimeter) nematode found in rotting fruit in many parts of the world. It feeds on bacteria and is neither parasitic nor pathogenic. Although capable of sexual reproduction, most laboratory strains reproduce primarily as self-fertilizing hermaphrodites, with each adult hermaphrodite producing approximately 300 progeny (Figure 1).

Posted in: Briefs, Aerospace, Physical Sciences, Instrumentation, Test & Measurement

Pulsed Microwave Plasma Instrumentation for Investigation of Plasma-Tuned Multiphase Combustion

Strategies to control solid rocket propellant regression rate require a robust throttling technique applicable to high performance propellant formulations. Currently, several methods to control and throttle either motors or subscale propellant strands exist, including chamber pressure control (e.g. pintle nozzles or rapid depressurization quench), infrared laser irradiation of the burning surface to increase burning rates, development of inherently unstable combustion chamber geometries (producing either local pressure or velocity perturbations), and electrically sensitive hydroxylammonium nitrate (HAN)-based formulations in which burning rate is controlled by a voltage potential. However, these techniques are limited in that they either can only be used with low flame temperature (low specific impulse) propellants, result in low propulsion system mass fraction (pintle), are only capable of producing a single perturbation, or are formulation specific.

Posted in: Briefs, Aerospace, Energy, Materials, Power Transmission, Propulsion, RF & Microwave Electronics, Instrumentation

Synthetic Aperture Radar for Helicopter Landing in Degraded Visual Environments

The development of sensors to assist helicopter landing in degraded visual environments (DVEs) is currently an important US Army requirement addressing the Survivability of Future Vertical Lift Platforms program, one of the Army's modernization priorities.

Posted in: Briefs, Aerospace, Data Acquisition, Detectors, Sensors

Novel Characterization Methods for Anisotropic and Mixed-Conduction Materials

State-of-the-art electronic and optoelectronic devices require electronic materials with specialized properties that cannot be characterized with standard methods, or that must be characterized with extra precision. As a result of this research, the following new materials characterization methods have been developed:

Posted in: Briefs, Aerospace, Computers, Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Photonics

Microstructural and Mechanical Characterization of 2-D and 3-D SiC/SiNC Ceramic-Matrix Composites

The purpose of this endeavor was to investigate the effect of 3-D weave architecture on PIP-processed ceramic-matrix composites (CMC). Microstructural studies were performed to document the resulting microstructure and mechanical testing was performed to determine the high-temperature durability of the five different variants of SiC/SiNC CMC investigated.

Posted in: Briefs, Aerospace, Imaging, Ceramics, Composites, Materials, Mechanical Components

Evaluation of Peel Ply Surface Preparation of Composite Surfaces for Secondary Bonding

Lightweight composite structures offer significant long-term cost-saving opportunities for the U.S. Army as replacements for traditional metal structures. However, high-strength economical bonding processes must be developed to join composites in order for them to be viable replacements. The Army is exploring approaches, also under evaluation in the commercial aerospace industry, to reduce the process steps associated with composite bonding.

Posted in: Briefs, Aerospace, Defense, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Ceramics, Materials, Metals, Joining & Assembly, Mechanical Components

Enhanced Contacts for Inverted Metamorphic Multi-Junction Solar Cells Using Carbon Nanotube Metal Matrix Composites

In order to address issues related to mechanical and vibrational stresses that are commonly experienced in mounting, launch, and deployment of spacecraft, metal matrix composite (MMC) electrodes were fabricated with carbon nanotubes (CNTs) as reinforcement. The research plans were centered on first developing and selecting appropriate processes for fabricating CNT-MMCs based on characterization of their material properties, followed by optimizing MMC designs based on electrical testing under stress. Efforts in the program were also directed toward implementing the CNT-MMCs into solar cell device processing in a process compatible with standard clean room procedures.

Posted in: Briefs, Aerospace, Defense, Energy, Energy Efficiency, Energy Storage, Renewable Energy, Solar Power, Materials, Metals, Mechanical Components, Nanotechnology, Measuring Instruments, Test & Measurement