News | Mar 2, 2018

Weekly Tech Roundup: Electronically Identifying Bumps in the Road, Non-invasive Corrosion Detector

One of these eight inventions could give your business a leg up in the sensor tech marketplace

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Defense scientists and engineers are continuously developing technologies that advance detection and measurement to increase our safety and capabilities.

TechLink added eight new inventions that could give your business a leg up in the sensor tech marketplace. Here are the details on this week’s technology roundup:

Electronically Identifying Bumps in the Road

Drivers are on the lookout for obstacles, but due to visibility, traffic congestion, driver distraction, and a host of other reasons, they are often unavoidable. In 2016, AAA reported that pothole damage cost U.S. drivers $15 billion in vehicle repairs over the previous five years or $3 billion annually. And, at the dawn of driverless vehicles, it is likely that these numbers will rise.

The Army has a significant interest in protecting a large fleet of vehicles, and they have developed an electronic detector of road damage.

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Non-invasive Corrosion Detector

Current methods for detecting and measuring the rate of corrosion are non-quantitative, non-predictive, and require visual observation of the surfaces. These methods often result in increased costs due to performing maintenance operations before they are necessary or not soon enough. In either case, the costs could be significantly reduced if maintenance could be performed at the most optimum time.

The Navy has developed, tested, and patented a technology for a non-invasive corrosion sensor, making it possible to detect and quantify corrosion in real-time.

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Radar Combining Synthetic Aperture Mode with Moving Target Identification

Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) is a form of radar that is used to create two- or three-dimensional images of objects, such as landscapes, and requires a wide bandwidth waveform. SAR uses the motion of the radar antenna over a target region to provide finer spatial resolution than conventional beam-scanning radars. SAR is typically mounted on a moving platform such as a plane. In contrast, moving target indication (MTI) is a radar technique that discriminates a target against background. It describes a variety of ways to find moving objects, like aircraft, and filter out unmoving ones, like hills or trees. Differing demands require that SAR and MTI be performed either sequentially or using separate systems.

Air Force scientists and engineers have developed a method and device to generate SAR and MTI data at the same time.

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Wireless Sensor Network Synchronization

Recent advances in the development of low-cost, low-power, multifunctional sensor nodes have led to the development of wireless sensor networks (WSN) that collect and share data. WSN consist of a large number of randomly deployed or self-organized sensors in places without a pre-defined network infrastructure, such as a disaster relief or search and rescue area. Further, these networks have extended research capabilities in a wide range of applications including medical, environmental, and military operations.

One critical component in the operation of WSN is clock synchronization, as it provides a common timeframe to different nodes. As the utility and demand for wireless sensor networks increases, the broad application of time synchronization will become more prevalent as the requirement for data exchange increases. Navy scientists and engineers have developed a method for synchronizing sensors in a wireless network.

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Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

Unmanned aerial systems (UAS) are becoming common and useful tools for surveillance, providing visible or non-visible sensing of remote or dangerous areas, as well as performing many other tasks.

Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) 

Unmanned aerial systems (UAS) are becoming common and useful tools for surveillance, providing visible or non-visible sensing of remote or dangerous areas, as well as performing many other tasks. Primary designs are either fixed-wing or rotary-wing. The benefits of the former are speed, coverage area, payload capacity, and ease of operation.  Benefits of the latter are hover capability and maneuverability.

Navy researchers have combined these two operating modes into one platform to leverage the advantages of both.

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Chemical Detection in a Small, Inexpensive, Handheld Platform

Benchtop Raman spectrometers are analytical tools for the detection or identification of unknown solids and liquids. The extension of this technology to handheld systems for trace concentrations of vapor-phase chemicals is extremely important for applications ranging from breath analysis to environmental monitoring and chemical warfare agent detection. But the miniaturization of gas-phase detection systems is hindered by the extremely weak Raman signal generated from a dilute vapor over short interaction lengths.

As a solution, Navy researchers have developed a handheld device that is capable of trace gas analyte identification.

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Measuring Thermal Conductivity of Nano-scale Materials

Thermal conductivity is an important material property used to determine the appropriateness of materials for specific purposes. High thermal conductivity materials are used in electronics or turbines while low thermal conductivity materials such as polystyrene are used in furnaces as insulators. There are many ways to measure the thermal conductivity of most materials but with the advent of nano-materials, these methods have proven to be inadequate because nano-scale thermophysical properties of materials are markedly different from their macro-scale properties.

Air Force scientists and engineers have addressed this technology gap with the development of an apparatus for performing thermal conductance measurements on a wide variety of ultra-small specimens.

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Mounting Device for Underwater Sonar Elements

The low-frequency underwater acoustic transducers utilize miniature class V flextensional drivers, commonly known as ‘cymbals,’ as the active elements in the projector. It is often desirable to deploy a large number of these transducers in a planar array in order to provide a thin acoustic projector having a high acoustic source level. However, mounting transducers in an array creates damping problems across acoustic elements and abnormal acoustic responses.

To address the issues of placing cymbal transducers in an array, Navy scientists and engineers have developed a novel mounting system.

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Is your business interested in one of these hot technologies? Get in touch with TechLink’s experts for no-cost licensing assistance. Looking for something else? Search our extensive database of technology.

Up next: How to license technology from defense laboratories

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