Tag Archives: Test & measurement

X-rays from Copper Source Set New Gold Standard for Measuring Industrial Materials

By Alison Gillespie – Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have produced and precisely measured a spectrum of X-rays using a new, state-of-the-art machine. The instrument they used to measure the X-rays took 20 years to develop, and will help scientists working at the agency make some of the world’s most accurate measurements of materials for use in everything from bridges to pharmaceuticals.

The process of building the instrument for making the new measurements was painstaking. “This new specialized precision instrument required both a tremendous amount of mechanical innovation and theoretical modeling,” said James Cline, project leader of the NIST team that built the machine.

“That we were able to dedicate so many years and such high-level scientific expertise to this project is reflective of NIST’s role in the world of science.” more> https://goo.gl/e0zrET

How Ethernet Will Get to 400Gbps

By Lynnette Reese – The IEEE 802.3bs standard for 400Gbps is on track to be ratified and released late this year. Higher speed technologies tend to get driven to adoption as soon as they are available.

In 2004, 10Gbps was the leading edge. In 2010 40Gbps Ethernet and 100Gbps were introduced. How did we get this far, so fast?

The present group is leveraging a parallel lane structure to get to 400Gbps. For electrical interfaces the fastest speeds in the spec will be 50Gbps. When discussing optical fiber transmission, then the variation depends on the distance that one requires.

Technically, 400Gbps is not possible without switching away from non-return-to-zero modulation (also known as NRZ-type) encoding, the encoding scheme that everyone thinks of when they visualize Ethernet communication and other serial data transmission schemes.

NRZ data is encoded into a binary pattern with fixed voltage levels. A binary 0 is represented by the lower voltage level; the higher voltage level indicates binary 1. In 1000base-T Ethernet, the stream of 0s and 1s is driven at a 1000 bits per second (1Gbps) transmission rate.

At present, the physical “wall” of streaming 0s and 1s for single lane electrical interfaces is 25 Gbps, found in the standards as 802.3bj across backplanes and cables, and 802.3bm across chip-to-chip and chip-to-module interfaces.

In May 2016, an IEEE 802.3 task force formed to develop a single-lane 50 Gbps Ethernet standard. The 802.3bs standard, which defines 400Gbps in aggregate, will use an encoding scheme called PAM4 (4-Level Pulse Amplitude Modulation) to reach 50Gbps per channel. PAM4 is an encoding scheme that doubles the bit rate by providing four signal levels in the space of the two that NRZ presently provides. PAM4 cleverly divides the least significant bit (LSB) signal level in half and adds it to the signal of the most significant bit (MSB). more> https://goo.gl/fcDF8f

Developing the APTitude to Design New Materials, Atom-by-Atom

By Paul Blanchard – Up to now, our technological progress has largely been a matter of trial and error. We make something new, evaluate its performance, then alter some part of the fabrication process and see whether it performs better or worse, all without direct knowledge of what is changing at the atomic level.

But if we could see what’s going on at that scale—if we could map out each individual atom and understand the role that it plays—we could create new and better materials not through blind experimentation, but through design.

For all that we’ve been able to accomplish while ignoring them, the fact is that individual atoms matter. The speed of a transistor, the efficiency of a solar cell, and the strength of an I-beam are ultimately determined by the configuration of the atoms inside. Today, new and improved microscopy techniques are getting us closer and closer to the goal of being able to see each and every atom within the materials we make—a very exciting prospect.

Over the past three years, I’ve been lucky enough to be part of a team working with one such new and improved microscopy technique, a method called 3-D atom probe tomography, or APT for short. APT is very different from conventional microscopy—at least, the sort of microscopy that I’m accustomed to. In conventional microscopy, we shine a beam of light particles or electrons on our specimen, whatever it is we want to look at, and create a magnified image using lenses or by mapping how our beam bounces off it.

In atom probe tomography, on the other hand, we don’t just look at our specimen—we literally take it apart, atom-by-atom. more> https://goo.gl/c0VdE3

Updates from GE

This Ship Has Sailed: U.S. Navy Commissions An All-Electric Stealth Destroyer Zumwalt For Service
By Tomas Kellner – The U.S. Navy has commissioned for service the USS Zumwalt, its largest and most advanced stealth destroyer. The ceremony took place in Baltimore on Saturday (Oct 15).

The Navy estimates the 15,600-ton vessel can hit a target at a range of more than 60 miles. It also has a wave-piercing tumblehome design and a unique superstructure that make it less visible to enemy radar at sea.

The ship is equally innovative below deck. Traditionally, the Navy powered its vessels with gas turbines driving controllable pitch propellers through large and complex gearboxes. But the new destroyer has on board a 78-megawatt power station supplying electricity to an advanced integrated power system (IPS). GE Marine designed the system, which powers giant GE induction motors connected directly to the propeller shafts and routes electricity to a vast array of sensors, weapons, radar and other critical systems on board.

As a result, the ship will have nearly 10 times as much available power as its predecessors. In fact, the Zumwalt could become the first ship carrying next-generation weapons such as electromagnetic railguns, which use a strong electromagnetic pulse, rather than gunpowder, to shoot projectiles. “We’re no longer restricting the engines to provide propulsion power only,” Adam Kabulski, director for naval accounts at GE Power Conversion, told GE Reports.

“This design allows you to send electric power wherever you need it. You can access many megawatts in a short amount of time and convert it into energy. It’s instantaneous.”

The system is also highly redundant. Instead of the typical three-phase motors, the Zumwalt’s advanced induction motors have 15 phases. Kabulski said that by simply reversing the direction of the rotating magnetic field in the motor, for example, the shaft can turn in the opposite direction to give astern power. more> https://goo.gl/9WVdnz

Updates from Boeing

Shhh… The New 737 MAX Redefines a Quiet Airplane
Boeing – “The noise safety standards are becoming increasingly stringent as people start to live closer to airports,” said Barry St. Germaine, a Boeing Test & Evaluation (BT&E) pilot.

“We will not be able to fly into certain airports if we don’t meet the noise requirements, so tests like this ensure we continue to maintain the current market and gain access to new markets around the world,” he said.

The 737 MAX is designed to be 40 percent quieter than today’s Next-Generation 737. Community noise testing is intended to validate that design. more> https://goo.gl/DtYV7H

Updates from Boeing

The KC-46A: Air Refueling in 3D
Boeing – On January 24th, Boeing and U.S. Air Force aircrews successfully completed the KC-46A tanker’s first refueling flight in the skies above Washington state. Following takeoff from Boeing Field in Seattle, the KC-46A test team worked through a series of test points before smoothly offloading 1,600 pounds of fuel to an F-16 fighter aircraft flying at 20,000 feet.

The KC-46A that accomplished the refueling milestone will soon begin refueling a number of other military aircraft as well, including a C-17, F/A-18, A-10 and AV-8B. Also known as EMD-2, the tanker made its first flight September 25, 2015 and has now completed 32 flights.

The KC-46A is a multirole tanker Boeing is building for the U.S. Air Force that can refuel all allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures and can carry passengers, cargo and patients. Overall, Boeing plans to build 179 KC-46 aircraft for the U.S. Air Force. more> boeing.com/innovation/

Hardware-in-the-Loop Test Comes to Autonomous Cars

By Charles Murray – An expanded hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) test system promises to offer a better way to test engineering’s most complex products, from defense aircraft to autonomous cars.

Introduced at this week’s NIWeek 2016 show in Austin, TX, the turnkey HIL Simulators product essentially consists of a new chassis that works with the company’s existing HIL platform. Its open, modular architecture is targeted at high-current applications that need to simulate complex sensor data from such sources as cameras, radar, and RF signals.

For big original equipment manufacturers, such as the automakers, the new HIL simulators offer a more cost-effective way to test their most complex products. “The alternative to HIL is field testing,” Noah Reding, senior business segment manager for real-time test at National Instruments, told Design News.

“In field testing, they need prototype vehicles, which can cost a half-million dollars. And they need test tracks, which can cost $100,000 per day. HIL can significantly reduce cost, because it allows them to do it in the lab.” more> http://goo.gl/QygUSD

Nature’s Way to Relieve Stress Inspires Designs for Nearly Indestructible Bridges

By Elizabeth Montalbano – Emeritus Professor Wanda Lewis in the School of Engineering at the University of Warwick has been studying how nature relieves stress for 25 years, taking an approach called “form-finding,” a process of shaping an object, or a structure, by loads applied to it

This process is different than engineering methods that start from an assumed shape and then check the stresses and displacements in a structure under an applied load, she said.

Form-finding enables the design of rigid structures that follow a strong natural form, structures that are sustained by a force of pure compression or tension without bending stresses, Lewis said. These stresses are the main points of weakness in structures and what causes bridges to fail or buckle under weight or stress and cause damage or even collapse.

“In form-finding, we go in the opposite direction — the shape of the structure is not known initially, it is found by the application of load and involves repetitive calculations to find a shape that is in equilibrium with all forces,” she said. more> http://goo.gl/xHtqjI

5 Mistakes to Avoid in Product Development

By Mitch Maiman – Mistakes are a part of life and certainly part of the learning process.

Here are some of the key mistakes observed in hundreds of product development teams.

In the heat of the project, it is easy to lose sight of the complete nature of the requirements that need to be driven into the product being developed. Often, these oversights are not discovered until late in the development process. The design may be so far along that missing features cannot practically be incorporated.

Best case, correcting for the missing requirements may be quite costly in terms of schedule or development budget. Missing requirements can play havoc with trying to control product cost projections, as well. more> http://goo.gl/xcA5vR

Black-hole computing

By Sabine Hossenfelder – After you die, your body’s atoms will disperse and find new venues, making their way into oceans, trees and other bodies.

But according to the laws of quantum mechanics, all of the information about your body’s build and function will prevail. The relations between the atoms, the uncountable particulars that made you you, will remain forever preserved, albeit in unrecognizably scrambled form – lost in practice, but immortal in principle.

There is only one apparent exception to this reassuring concept: according to our current physical understanding, information cannot survive an encounter with a black hole.

Stephen Hawking‘s [2, 3] discovery of black-hole evaporation has presented theoretical physicists with a huge conundrum: general relativity says that black holes must destroy information; quantum mechanics says it cannot happen because information must live on eternally.

Both general relativity and quantum mechanics are extremely well-tested theories, and yet they refuse to combine. more> https://goo.gl/UVPfVy