Principal Investigator, Steven Powell, with experiment package. See story below
Rocket Investigates Effects on Satellite Signals
Researchers are discovering how the physics of the aurora borealis affect satellite signals on Earth. A NASA-funded collaborative research team led by Steven Powell, Cornell senior engineer in electrical and computer engineering, launched a sounding rocket on February 18 from Alaska’s Poker Flat Research Range to collect data straight from the heart of the aurora.
The project – the Magnetosphere-Ionosphere Coupling in the Alfven resonator mission – involves 60 scientists, engineers, technicians and graduate students. From Cornell are Powell; David Hysell, co-investigator and professor of earth and atmospheric sciences; Robert Miceli and Brady O’Hanlon, graduate engineering students; and Mark Psiaki, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. Mission researchers from NASA, Dartmouth College, the University of New Hampshire, the University of Oslo , Southwest Research Institute and the University of Alaska Fairbanks are also involved.
“We’re investigating what’s called space weather,” says Powell. “Space weather is caused by the charged particles that come from the sun and interact with the Earth’s magnetic field. We don’t directly feel those effects as humans, but our electronic systems do.”
The 46-foot Terrier-Black Brant rocket was sent arcing through the aurora 202 miles above Earth, sending a stream of real-time data back before landing 200 miles downrange. Instruments on board sampled electrons in the upper atmosphere that are affected by electromagnetic Alfven waves. These waves are thought to be a key driver of discrete aurora – the typical, well-defined shimmering lights that stretch across the horizon.
The rocket payload separated into two parts once launched. One extended antennae to measure electric fields generated by the aurora, other antennae and sensors to measure electrons and ions interacting with the Earth’s magnetic field. In this period of high sun activity (solar maximum), gases from the sun are likely interfering with GPS transmissions, satellite Internet and other signals.
Harris Names Coleman Winner of Fellow Award
J. Roger Coleman has been named the 2012 recipient of the Harris Corp. Fellow Award – the company’s highest recognition for engineering.
Coleman, a senior scientist with Harris Government Communications Systems in Melbourne, Florida, is being recognized for his expertise in high dynamic range receiver architectures, advanced synthesizer design, RF frequency converters, and waveform generation for radar applications. Coleman has been a Harris employee for 42 years. He has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and holds numerous patents in RF phase detection and synthesizers.
In addition to the selection of the Harris Fellow, activities during the week included the announcement of other awards for significant technical and engineering accomplishment, cost improvement innovation, and for publication of technical papers.
Pentagon Tests Electromagnetic Railguns
The U.S. Navy is testing a railgun program in the form of a prototype launcher. An electromagnetic railgun is a weapon that uses electricity to fling projectiles at exceptionally high rates of speed. The projectiles exit the barrel of the railgun so quickly that they don’t actually require explosives to destroy a target – the kinetic energy alone does the task.
“This is the next step toward a future tactical system that will be placed on board a ship some day,” Roger Ellis, the program manager of EM Railgun confirmed.
The EM railgun slated for testing later this year is a long-range weapon that uses magnetic fields created by high electrical currents to accelerate a projectile, which is a sliding metal conductor between two rails. The projectile can be launched at 4500 to 5600mph. The new industry-built EM railgun boasts an extended range and higher velocity than some of the previous railgun prototypes the Navy has already tested.
The first EM railgun launcher – a 32MJ device – was manufactured by BAE Systems and delivered on January 30. A second demonstrator prototype, built by General Atomics, is to be delivered later this year.
Robert Van Buskirk of RF Micro Devices Retires
RF Micro Devices, Inc. of Greensboro, North Carolina, a global leader in the design and manufacture of high-performance radio frequency components and compound semiconductor technologies, reports the retirement of Bob Van Buskirk, corporate VP of RFMD’s Compound Semiconductor Group (CSG).
Van Buskirk has been a member of the RFMD executive staff since 2007. He joined RFMD with the acquisition of Sirenza Microdevices, where he had been president and CEO. He led the integration of Sirenza and was instrumental in the formation of CSG and RFMD’s Multi-Market Products Group (MPG).
“I consider myself fortunate to have been a part of the formation of both MPG and CSG and to have worked at RFMD with many of the most talented professionals in the RF industry,” Van Buskirk said.
Argon Cleaning Helps Trapped Ions Chill Out
Trap cleaning in progress is shown in this colorized photo.
The reliability of trapped-ion quantum information systems – a promising candidate technology for an eventual quantum computer – can be dramatically improved by giving the trap electrodes a good scrub.
That’s the conclusion of PML researchers who found that cleaning the electrode surfaces of a room-temperature, gold-film trap with a beam of argon ions produced a 100-fold decrease in thermal jitter of the trapped ions, a phenomenon often called anomalous heating because the exact origin is unknown. That heating is a serious problem for ion trappers worldwide and is impeding progress in the use of ions as dependably controllable qubits, the quantum counterparts of digital bits.
The situation is critical, the scientists report, because “deterministic entanglement and multi-qubit logic gates require precise control of the ions’ collective motion.” But the frequency of the noise typically overlaps the frequencies of the ions’ motional modes, causing errors.
“The most difficult operations occur in multi-qubit quantum gates,” says coauthor David Wineland of PML’s Time and Frequency Division. “If there’s even a single quantum of motion absorbed during this gate operation, the gate becomes useless.”
After several successive cleaning cycles with an argon ion mill, Hite and colleagues conducted measurements on a trapped beryllium ion, and found that the heating rate had been reduced by two orders of magnitude, from about 7000 motion quanta per second to about 60 per second. A trap failure prevented continuation of the experiments. But “we’re certainly going to pursue the subject,” Wineland says.
Electromagnetic Systems Manufacturer to Expand
North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue reports that Kendrion FAS Controls Inc., a manufacturer of electromagnetic systems, will expand its operations in Cleveland County. The company plans to create 57 jobs and invest $7.3 million over the next three years in Shelby. The project was made possible in part by a $228,000 grant from the One North Carolina Fund.
“My first priority is creating jobs,” said Gov. Perdue. “Our state has a top-notch business climate, strong workforce and job training programs that advanced manufacturers like Kendrion need to be globally competitive.”
Kendrion FAS Controls is a subsidiary of Germany-based Kendrion Binder Magnete GmbH, which is wholly owned by Netherlands-based Kendrion N.V.
Kendrion acquired the FAS Controls Inc. plant in Shelby in December 2011. That facility currently employs more than 200 people. In addition to their numerous global facilities, Kendrion also operates U.S. plants in Indiana and Georgia.
Scintera Selected for LTE Rollout in Korea
Scintera Networks, Inc. of Sunnyvale, California, a leading provider of mixed signal semiconductors for wireless communications, reports that Scintera’s RF power amplifier linearization technology has been selected for use in wireless infrastructure systems as part of Korea Telecom’s (KT) deployment of 4G LTE services.
Scintera’s SC1889 and SC1887 products are being deployed by KT in its latest 3G and 4G infrastructure RF remote radio units. These radio units are used to provide new 4G LTE services while maintaining support for existing 3G systems. Scintera’s technology enabled KT’s suppliers to rapidly develop power efficient and cost-effective radio units while meeting their stringent performance and quality requirements. These systems will allow KT to quickly deploy its LTE network and expand coverage for subscribers throughout Korea.
The SC1889 and SC1887 solutions enable wireless infrastructure vendors to rapidly develop efficient linear transmitters necessary for 3G and 4G cellular networks.
Cleantech for Corrosion & Bio-Fouling Control
Singapore-based Ecospec reports the first corrosion and bio-fouling control system leveraging patented Ultra-Low Frequency (ULF) electromagnetic wave technology. This technology reduces energy consumption and lowers maintenance and operational costs with less environmental impact than alternate methods. With its first commercial installations demonstrating positive results, the award-winning company now makes this combined offering of its EIMag and BioMag systems available to coastal and off-shore industries worldwide.
Ecospec’s EIMag system is the first corrosion control offering to use ULF electromagnetic waves to promote a self-regenerating, protective magnetite layer around submerged metal structures. When combined with BioMag (Ecospec’s ULF bio-fouling control system), the two fully protect against corrosion and bio-fouling in the most environmentally-friendly and cost-effective way available.
The EIMag system is able to achieve the full Corrosion Protection International Acceptance Criteria of -800mV (against a Ag/AgCl electrode).
Shimifrez Opens Toronto Operations
Shimifrez Inc. of Ontario, Canada, provider of photo chemically etched metal components services, has opened a new manufacturing operation north of Toronto to provide reliable photo chemical machining (PCM) services in Canada and internationally.
The scope of Shimifrez’s activities in chemical etching and electro-forming is far reaching and can include creating critical components for aircrafts and instrumentation to meshes/grids, semi-conductor lead frames, nozzle heads, RFI/EMI shielding, bipolar plates for hydrogen fuel cell applications to consumer products such as ornaments and jewelry.
State of the art production machinery and trade secrets ensure components work to the most exacting tolerances. Components can be manufactured in stainless steel, brass, nickel alloys, copper, beryllium copper, phosphor bronze and aluminum.
RF Surgical’s Detection to Be Used by Duke
RF Surgical Systems, Inc. of Bellevue, Washington, the market leader in retained surgical items (RSI) detection, says Duke University Medical Center has implemented the RF Assure™ Detection System in all of its operating rooms. The RF Assure System employs RF detection technology to identify and prevent the presence of surgical sponges, gauze or towels inside a patient’s body following a surgical procedure.
RF Assure features a detection mat placed under the patient on the surgical table. Prior to closure, the system is used to conduct a scan of the surgical site and alert operating room staff if material such as gauze or a sponge remains inside a patient’s body. RF Assure is also used to verify that the manual count of surgical materials conducted by the operating room staff is accurate, or to locate any materials that are unaccounted for. With this real-time detection, clinicians are able to efficiently prevent a RSI as well as unnecessary X-rays and repeat surgeries without interrupting workflow, potentially lowering anesthesia time for patients.
Linear Technology Acquires Dust Networks
Linear Technology Corp. of Milpitas, California, a leader in high performance analog integrated circuits, has acquired Dust Networks, Inc., a leading provider of low power wireless sensor network (WSN) technology. The acquisition of Dust Networks, based in Hayward, California, will enable Linear to offer a complete high performance wireless sensor networking solution. Dust Networks’ low power radio and software technology complements Linear’s strengths in industrial instrumentation, power management and energy harvesting technology.
Dust Networks’ proven, low power wireless sensor network technology extends Linear’s product portfolio into key growth areas in industrial process control, data acquisition and energy harvesting.
Dust Networks’ ultralow power wireless systems complements Linear’s analog and digital sensor interface ICs, and energy harvesting power management products in applications where measurement of physical parameters has traditionally been impractical or impossible.
Antennaless RFID Could Track Metal and Liquids
Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) at North Dakota State University, Fargo.
Tracking and identifying metal objects can prove difficult for some RFID systems. A patent-pending technology developed by a research team at the Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) at North Dakota State University, Fargo, could solve these problems. The antennaless RFID tag developed at CNSE could help companies track products as varied as barrels of oil to metal cargo containers.
Researchers at the NDSU Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering have developed a patent-pending novel approach with an antennaless RFID tag, allowing for an inexpensive and manufacturable product tracking solution that meets EPCglobal Standards.
The CNSE research team includes Cherish Bauer-Reich, research engineer; Dr. Michael Reich, senior research engineer; and undergraduate electrical engineering student Layne Berge.
The antennaless RFID tag technology was developed at NDSU CNSE with support under Grant Number N00189-10-C-Z055, awarded by the U.S. Department of Defense, Office of Naval Research.
IES Expands Its Successful CE Certification Team
In February, IES of Bristol, U.K., appointed Martin Wood CE-marking manager. Wood brings 20 years’ EMC experience in testing and fault rectification to IES. He joins the engineering services specialist from one of the U.K.’s leading EMC testing houses.
Martin’s appointment reinforces IES’s position in CE compliance, a legal requirement for all products sold in the EU. The CE mark indicates compliance with the European minimum safety standards.
Martin’s responsibilities include in-house EMC testing and maintenance of LVD (Low Voltage Directive) and safety requirements. Martin will support customers who need CE testing for the EU marketplace. In particular, he’ll communicate the vital message that suppliers must integrate CE Testing into manufacturing and supply-systems early to avoid the costs and difficulties later.
CNST Collaboration Produces Ultra-Short Pulses
Researchers from the NIST Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology and Purdue University have designed and fabricated an on-chip microresonator that converts continuous laser light into ultra-short pulses consisting of a mix of well-defined frequencies, a technology with applications in advanced sensors, communications systems, and metrology. In the new approach, infrared light from a continuous laser enters a chip through a single optical fiber and is directed into an 80 µm-diameter silicon nitride ring. The microscale ring acts as a nonlinear optical resonator with a defined set of resonances that remit the light in a set of evenly spaced frequencies. These are called comb lines because they resemble teeth on a comb when represented on a frequency graph. The light is then collected through another optical fiber and sent to a pulse shaper to control the phase of each individual frequency line.
The research team demonstrated that an optical frequency comb generated on-chip in this way can be highly coherent, meaning that individual comb lines remain synchronized with each other for long periods of time. Moreover, the phases of the comb lines can be adjusted to compress the light into a train of ultra-short pulses. The high repetition rate of the pulses produced by the on-chip microresonators may enable their use for improving the performance of electron microscopes.
Pasternack Launches New Website
Pasternack Enterprises, Inc. of Irvine, California, a leading ISO 9001:2008 manufacturer and international supplier of custom and standard RF, microwave and fiber optic products, has an innovative new website to coincide with the company’s 40th anniversary.
The new website (www.pasternack.com) is designed to accommodate visitors’ individual preferences for RF, microwave and fiber optic product searches. Product wizards, parameter search and filtered navigation have been developed to provide quick and accurate methods to locate any of the 30,000+ available parts. With three ways to find Pasternack products, visitors to the website will be able to choose the methods that work best for their search.
Additional features of the website include improved product names, high-definition product photos, a streamlined shopping cart and much more. RF, microwave and fiber optic industry professionals will be able to find, compare and purchase Pasternack products more efficiently than on the previous website.
Agilent Microarrays Used in Prenatal Study
These four images communicate the general mechanism for oligo synthesis via inkjet printing. A: the first layer of nucleotides is deposited on the activated microarray surface. B: growth of the oligos is shown after multiple layers of nucleotides have been precisely printed. C: close-up of one oligo as a new base is being added to the chain, which is shown in figure D.
Agilent Technologies Inc. of Santa Clara, California, reports its microarrays were used in a landmark research study on prenatal samples. The three-year study was designed to evaluate the accuracy, efficacy and potential advantages of using microarray analysis as compared with conventional karyotyping. Agilent SurePrint CGH microarrays and analysis software were used for the majority sample cohort of 4,400 samples.
Researchers from Emory University, Baylor College of Medicine, Columbia University and Signature Genomics took part in the study. The results were presented in February at a meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine. One part of the study focused on the comparison with karyotypes. A second part focused on evaluating analytical performance.
Agilent was the primary contributor of microarrays and reagents to this study, as 71% of samples were run on Agilent SurePrint CGH microarrays, with Agilent software used for data analysis. Agilent assisted the investigators from the prenatal study group in developing the arrays used in the study.
Raytheon Awarded Naval Power System Contract
Raytheon Co. of Tewksbury, Massachusetts, has been awarded a $10 million contract from Naval Sea Systems Command to develop a pulsed power system that will enable projectiles to reach great distances without the use of an explosive charge or rocket motor.
The contract for the preliminary design of a pulse forming network (PFN) is part of a larger effort by the U.S. Navy to develop a weapon system for use on naval warships to defend and attack with pinpoint accuracy.
The PFN is a large power system providing the electromagnetic energy for the railgun projectile, which will travel up to 220 miles in less than six minutes and exit the atmosphere before hitting its target at a velocity of 5,000 feet per second.
Bal Seal Achieves ISO/TS 16949 Certification
Bal Seal Engineering, Inc. of Foothill Ranch, California reports its certification to ISO/TS 16949, a standard that sets strict quality requirements for suppliers to the automotive industry.
Bal Seal, a manufacturer of sealing, connecting, conducting and EMI/RFI shielding components, received the certification following a year-long process that involved an exhaustive audit of the systems it employs to design, produce and deliver its products.
ISO/TS 16949 is an automotive industry standard for a quality management system that is recognized and accepted throughout the automotive supply chain. It applies to the design, development, production, installation and servicing of automotive products. Based on ISO 9001 and certification rules issued by the International Automotive Task Force, it examines a supplier’s process efficiency, product quality and ability to produce timely deliveries.