MEMs

3D-Printed Turbine Extends Drone Power

A cooled, radial gas turbine was developed that provides thousands of hours of electricity to an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), a significant improvement to current UAV turbines that only operate a few hundred hours before wearing out.

To create the small, intricate design with internal air passages, engineers used selective laser melting, which builds metal parts layer by layer.

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Posted in: News, Defense
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De-Icing Without Power or Chemicals

A buildup of ice on an airplane wing can cause catastrophic failure. But preventing that buildup usually requires energy-intensive heating systems or chemical sprays that are environmentally harmful. A new system, based on a three-layered material, collects solar radiation, converts it to heat, and spreads that heat around so that the melting is not just confined to the areas exposed directly to the sunlight.

Once applied, it requires no further action or power source. It can even do its de-icing work at night using artificial lighting. The three layers, all made of inexpensive commercially available material, are bonded together, and then bonded to the surface that needs to be protected.

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Posted in: News, Defense
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NASA and Alaska Airlines Test Fuel-Saving Software

The Traffic Aware Strategic Aircrew Requests (TASAR) project, a partnership between NASA and Alaska Airlines, is testing NASA’s Traffic Aware Planner (TAP) software that merges and evaluates an unprecedented combination of real-time flight data to provide pilots with optimized flight path options.

Route optimization through TASAR offers a number of benefits, such as saving fuel and flight time, and helping pilots make better, more informed route requests to air traffic controllers. On five of its first six flights with Alaska Airlines, TAP software made reroute recommendations that reduced flight time or saved fuel, and more often than not, both.

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Posted in: News, Defense
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Recycled Water Bottles Could Help Avoid Military Supply Snags

Soldiers on the battlefield or at remote bases often have to wait weeks for vital replacement parts. Now scientists report they have found a way to fabricate many of these parts within hours under combat conditions using water bottles, cardboard and other recyclable materials found on base as starting materials for 3D printing. They say this ‘game-changing’ advance could improve operational readiness, reduce dependence on outside supply chains, and enhance safety.

“Ideally, soldiers wouldn’t have to wait for the next supply truck to receive vital equipment,” Nicole Zander, Ph.D., says. “Instead, they could basically go into the cafeteria, gather discarded water bottles, milk jugs, cardboard boxes and other recyclable items, then use those materials as feedstocks for 3D printers to make tools, parts and other gadgets.”

Posted in: News, Defense, 3 D Printing & Additive Manufacturing, Materials, Plastics
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Army to Purchase Additional Soldier Borne Sensor Systems

For soldiers in combat, situational awareness – knowing where the enemy is and where friendly forces are – is critical.

To help soldiers maintain situational awareness, the U.S. Army submitted a draft Request for Proposal for Soldier Borne Sensors, which will have two components – an unmanned aerial vehicle and a ground control station. With a camera in the air vehicle, soldiers will be able to see further and around obstacles that they previously wouldn't be able to see in near-real-time.

Posted in: News, Defense, Robotics, Data Acquisition, Detectors, Sensors
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New Computer Chips Could Improve Nuclear Detection Capability

A cross-disciplinary team of chemists and physicists from Washington University in St. Louis is building a better computer chip to improve detection and surveillance for the illegal transport of nuclear materials at U.S. borders. The work is part of a new, five-year, $10 million collaboration in low-energy nuclear science led by Texas A&M University. Under the new program, called CENTAUR, Robert J. Charity, research professor of chemistry, and Lee G. Sobotka, professor of chemistry and of physics, both in Arts & Sciences, are testing a novel neutron detection strategy and a related chip. The chip is being developed with long-time collaborator George Engel, a professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Roughly two dozen scientists across all partner universities will be involved in CENTAUR, along with their affiliated research groups. One of the center’s major contributions will be research and development expertise related to neutron detectors, which are relevant for both basic low-energy nuclear science and nuclear security applications.

Posted in: News, Defense, Detectors, Sensors
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Augmented Reality Simplifies Aircraft Inspection

The Air Force Research Laboratory is using augmented reality to simplify and expedite nondestructive inspection of aircraft. This approach eliminates the need to scan several displays and/or hard copies in parallel. In this way, inspectors can increase their focus on the process at hand.

Users of this inspection capability can navigate and customize the display with a set of simple verbal commands and hand gestures while following menu prompts visible in the augmented reality field of view. As the technology becomes more advanced, the team will seek to make the wearable device smaller and, in its most ideal form, integrate it into safety glasses.

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Spatial Resolution and Contrast of a Focused Diffractive Plenoptic Camera

The concept of an imaging system that captures both spatial and spectral information has existed for a while. An example of one such imaging system that encodes both location and wavelength into an image is a Fourier Transform Spectrometer (FTS).

Posted in: Briefs, Aerospace
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Integrated Magneto-Optical Devices for On-Chip Photonic Systems

The magneto-optical (MO) oxide layer consists of (Bi,Y)3Fe5O12 or BiYIG, bismuth garnet. This material was selected because it has a better figure of merit than the CeYIG previously used, especially at lower wavelengths (1310 nm vs. 1550 nm). A top-down deposition process was developed in which BiYIG/YIG stacks are grown on the Si waveguide with YIG on top. The stack is annealed at 800°C/5 min to crystallize both layers, with the YIG templating the BiYIG leading to garnet phases rather than other oxides, and the BiYIG is directly on the Si waveguide. Initial attempts led to a film with Bi oxide phases, because the Bi was in excess and could not escape during the anneal as occurs in Si/YIG/BiYIG stacks. Hence the composition was adjusted to include slightly more Fe, which yielded films with only garnet peaks.

Posted in: Briefs, Aerospace
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Low Power Optical Phase Array Using Graphene on Silicon Photonics

Despite enormous advances in integrated photonics over the last decade, an efficient integrated phase delay remains to be demonstrated. This problem is fundamental – most monolithic thin film deposition relies on centro symmetric materials (such as silicon, silicon dioxide, silicon nitride), which by definition do not have an electro-optic effect. Such materials have been shown to be excellent transparent materials, however they are either optically passive, or rely on very small plasma dispersion effect or power-hungry thermo-optic effect for tunability. These phase change materials have losses associated due to heating or carrier injection in the waveguides. This research shows that graphene can be used to provide electro-optic properties to traditionally passive optical materials.

Posted in: Briefs, Aerospace
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