Physical Sciences

Frangible Polymer Circuit Acts as Tamper Sensor

Originally begun as an investigation to detect attempts to tap into an electrical cable, the emergence of modern encryption hardware rendered impractical attempts to protect communication media such as a cable.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Computer software / hardware, Cryptography, Cyber security, Integrated circuits, Polymers

Detector Module for Testing Silicon Carbide Semiconductor Devices

Long-term stress testing of silicon carbide (SiC) semiconductor devices is required to determine suitability for power electronics applications. During testing, preventable catastrophic failures can occur due to drift in steady-state operation or transients that shift the device outside of its safe operating range. Both steady-state and transient drift are easily monitored values including temperature, on-state resistance, voltage, and current, as well as others. By measuring and reacting to shifts in these values, device damage can be minimized.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Power electronics, Semiconductor devices, Fatigue, Silicon alloys, Test equipment and instrumentation

Advanced Lithium Ion Systems for Military Vehicles

The higher energy and power density of Li-Ion battery technology offers a significant reduction in the weight and volume for hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) battery systems compared to lead acid and nickel metal hydride technologies. Saft’s High Power Li-ion battery technology has demonstrated specific power of over 6,000 W/kg under continuous discharge, and a pulse discharge of 8,000 to 12,000 W/kg.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Lithium-ion batteries, Hybrid electric vehicles, Military vehicles and equipment

MEMS-Based Optical Limiter

Protecting optical sensors and detectors against excessive input signals is not only important for dealing with unintentional overloads, but also central for protecting sensors against intentional high-intensity sources such as flares or laser beams directed as countermeasures against the sensor system. In prior work, a microelectromechanical system (MEMS)-based, all optically driven deformable mirror was designed and fabricated. In this work, an optical limiter using this optically addressed, deformable mirror is proposed and designed.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Mirrors, Microelectricmechanical device, Optics, Sensors and actuators

Reducing Thicknesses of PbZrₓTi₁₋ₓO₃ Films in Capacitors

A document describes experiments performed to determine effects of reducing the thicknesses of films of lead zirconate titanate (PbZrxTi1-xO3, wherein 0<x<1) used as ferroelectric dielectric layers in some capacitors. The fabrication of specimen capacitors for the experiments involved numerous steps, including spin-coating of PbZrxTi1-xO3-precursor sol-gel solutions onto bottom Pt electrode layers on silicon substrates, heat treatments to covert the sol-gel coats to PbZrxTi1-xO3, and deposition of top Pt electrode layers on the PbZrxTi1-xO3 layers. Various spin rates and solution compositions were used to obtain various PbZrxTi1-xO3- film thicknesses and compositions. Current responses of specimens to applied voltage waveforms were measured to characterize the specimens in terms of capacitance, hysteresis, and polarization. It was concluded that thicknesses of PbZrxTi1-xO3 films could be reduced to between 1,800 and 2,200 A while retaining ferroelectric performance adequate for a proposed development in which nanoelectromechanical switches containing PbZrxTi1-xO3 films would be integrated with complementary metal oxide/semiconductor transistors. One of the sol-gel solutions, characterized by x = 0.45 and a molarity of 0.367, was found to be the most promising for further work to improve performance at thicknesses < 1,800 A.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Capacitors, Transistors, Fabrication, Ferrous metals and alloys, Silicon alloys

Tightly Coupled INS, GPS, and Imaging Sensors for Precision Geolocation

To address the issue of poor georegistration performance for small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), navigation and target-location accuracy improvements achievable by tightly integrating an image-based feature-tracking algorithm with Global Positioning System (GPS) and a consumer-grade inertial navigation system (INS) sensor are being investigated. The image-aiding algorithms add to the solution across a wide variety of terrain types, thus allowing for additional estimates of camera position and orientation in the dynamic adjustment.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Mathematical models, Imaging, Navigation and guidance systems, Unmanned aerial vehicles

Measurement of Transient Heat Flux and Surface Temperature Using Embedded Temperature Sensors

A report describes approximate solutions for surface temperature and heat flux for two embedded temperature sensors. The solutions were verified and the range of validity was established using several methods including comparisons with an exact analytical solution for a linear problem and a numerical calculation for a non-linear problem.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Mathematical models, Sensors and actuators, Thermal testing

Considerations of Aeroacoustics in Turbojet-Engine Testing

A study of the aeroacoustics of a turbojet-engine test cell has been performed as one step in the development of a computational aeroacoustics capability (CAA) that could provide guidance for the design and operation of such cells. Ground testing of turbojet engines in test cells necessarily involves very high acoustic amplitudes, often severe enough to cause damage to test-cell equipment and to engines under test. Heretofore, the acoustic responses of test cells containing energetic jets have been poorly understood and generally unpredictable. The CAA capability is intended to enable prediction of deleterious acoustic events, making it possible to design test cells and choose operating conditions to prevent damage and thereby avoid the costly interruption of test schedules.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Acoustics, Turbojet engines, Performance tests, Aerodynamics

Imaging and Spectral Measurements of Explosions

A document describes experiments performed to investigate rates of delivery of energy onto targets from different explosive formulations. The experiments were designed to measure relative positions of blast fireballs and leading shock fronts; determine whether different explosive formulations exhibit unique spectral signatures; determine temperatures of gases and solids near fireball surfaces; and measure rates of heating as functions of time. In the experiments, unconfined explosions were observed using time-resolved laser shadowgraphy, spectrometry integrated over the first 50 ms following initiation, time-resolved three-wavelength pyrometry, and time-resolved heat-flux measurements.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Measurements, Imaging, Fire, Impact tests, Thermal testing

Miniature Rotorcraft Flight Control Stabilization System

Autonomous rotorcraft provide improved capability in performing military missions such as reconnaissance, targeting, border patrol, and environmental sensing. A common difficulty in applying miniature rotorcraft to these areas is the complexity and specialization of the control. In general, rotorcraft have extreme vibration that make miniature inertial measurement difficult. Sources of vibration include the main rotor, tail rotor, and blade flapping dynamics. Typical sensors include MEMS accelerometers, which are sensitive to vibration. Inclusion of alternative and or redundant sensors may be used to reduce vibration sensitivity and add useful additional feedback.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences