Tech Briefs

Network-Enabled Resource Devices

Network Enabled Resource Devices (NERDs) combine the most common electronic components used in robotic applications into a standard electronics box with "plug-n-play" capabilities. Risk reduction efforts, systems testing and integration, and modifying the functionality of evolving systems becomes greatly simplified by standardizing core hardware and software components; in many cases, minimal software modifications are required to adapt an existing NERD for an emergent application.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers
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Cleaning and Protecting Large Mirrors Using a Polymer Solution

Cleaning and protecting optics is a challenge — contamination must be removed without damaging the surface. Preventing recontamination for extended periods of time after cleaning was unattainable prior to use of polymer strip coat films. The SLRSC Western Range Depot Optics Group, WRDOG, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, is a pioneer in the cleaning and protection of precision glass optics, lenses, and large mirrors using polymer solution technology.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics, Mirrors, Coatings Colorants and Finishes, Polymers
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Software-Defined Radios for Urban and Indoor Navigation

Software-defined radios (SDRs) are being developed to provide positioning and communication (POSCOMM) services inside buildings and tunnels, under tree canopies, and in other environments in which local radio- communication systems are accessible but Global Positioning System (GPS) signals are not present or are degraded. These SDRs could be especially helpful for teams of first responders (e.g., firefighters), and military personnel operating in urban settings. These SDRs are capable of navigating by use of GPS signals and can switch over to time-of-arrival (TOA) pseudolite navigation when GPS signals become unavailable, provided that signals from suitably placed TOA pseudolite transmitter nodes are available.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers
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Conjugated Polymers Having High Charge-Carrier Mobilities

A three-year research project encompassed multiple studies of (1) polymer semiconductors that exhibit relatively high electric-charge- carrier mobilities and (2) applications of these polymers in electronic (including optoelectronic and nanoelectronic) devices. Although these polymers are of broad importance to all polymer semiconductor devices — including light-emitting diodes, photovoltaic cells, photodetectors, and electrophotographic imaging devices — the focus in this project was largely upon the use of these polymers in thin-film transistors, organic light-emitting diodes, and related light-emitting transistors.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers
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Incorporating Functional Fillers into Silicone Elastomer Systems

Silicones can be developed into fluids, gels, adhesives, elastomers, and resins designed with unique properties that make them ideal for specific application uses in the defense and aerospace industries. Silicones are most widely known for their ability to maintain elastomeric properties in extreme conditions, but an additional benefit of these materials is the ability to incorporate large amounts of fillers that can impart properties such as electrical and thermal conductivity, and radar-absorbing characteristics. Silicone materials appear in a wide variety of material compositions, and this broad range of material compositions makes silicone a viable option to endless numbers of optic applications.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Optics, Composite materials, Elastomers, Materials properties, Silicon alloys
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Gold-Based Nanoparticle Liquids for Electronic Applications

Electrically conductive, solventless nanoparticle liquids, consisting of gold nanoparticles chemically functionalized with large organic molecular groups, have been investigated for potential utility in electronic and electrical applications. These and other solventless nanoparticle liquids, including electrically nonconductive ones, have been topics of recent research directed toward understanding and exploiting their unusual properties. The most obvious unusual property is that a collection of nanoparticles of this type can flow in a liquid-like fashion, notwithstanding the absence of free solvent molecules. By modifying the attractive and repulsive forces between the nanoparticles through modifications of the surface chemistry of the organic ligands, the properties of the resulting nanoparticle liquids can be tailored for specific applications.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials
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Dimensional Stabilization of Composite Space Structures

A research project has yielded progress on several fronts toward the goal of minimizing thermal and aging distortions of composite-material (specifically, polymer- matrix/graphite-fiber) outer-space structures that are required to retain precise dimensions and shapes. The achievements of this project are also applicable to terrestrial composite-material structures to the extent to which various environmental effects can be properly taken into account. Examples include effects of expansion caused by absorption of atmospheric moisture (similar to effects of purely thermal expansion) and effects of outgassing of volatile constituents of polymers (effects of out-gassing are more pronounced in the outer-space vacuum).

Posted in: Briefs, Materials
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