Lego-like pneumatics are a
It looks like a Lego™building block that kids play with, but this new type of valve manifold from Pneutronics Inc. (Hollis, NH) is no toy. It could change the way medical equipment is made smaller and lighter. This patent-pending manifold works with the company's miniature 8-×9-×23-mm X-Valve (see Design News , March 6, 2000 issue, p. 183) at pressures up to±30 psi. Overall length×width×height dimensions for an entire X-System valve station, including manifold, valve, and fittings, are a mere 1.25×0.315×0.93 inches. Making a six-part valve and manifold system this small is only the beginning of the story though. Because the manifold snaps, rather than screws, together with the valve and other X-System components, it simplifies and speeds assembly. And since the manifold is made from a thermoplastic elastomer, it weighs only 0.02 lb per station. Plus, the manifold and valves are modular, off-the-shelf products, so design engineers get customized systems faster, without the long lead times typically associated with machined or special-order manifolds. The X-System also has a response time that is less than 10 msec. "The modules can be configured to meet most pneumatic logic arrays," says Andy Weiss, a Pneutronics engineer who helped develop the new valve system. He says the elastomer base is molded and has fewer functional parts and fewer potential leak points than other valves. "The use of thermoplastic elastomers allows manifold modules to be more forgiving of tolerances," adds Weiss. The modules flex to meet valve ports by as much as 0.003 inch. The X-System is designed to reduce the size and weight of medical equipment such as portable blood chemistry equipment, blood-pressure monitoring devices, and oxygen systems. Weiss notes that the configurable systems are also appropriate for animatronics, analytical equipment, and industrial applications such as trace gas monitoring, paint spray systems, and HVAC control systems. For more information, contact Parker Hannifin, Pneutronics Div., 26 Clinton Dr., Unit 103, Hollis, NH 03049; call (603) 595-1500; fax (603) 595-8080; or visit www.pneutronics.com .
Although computer chips are enabling faster communications these days, data is ultimately transferred only as fast as the slowest link in the chain. Currently, that weak link is the PCI bus. PCI-X, the fastest PCI bus, passes data at a rate just under 9 Gbytes/sec.
A new architecture called InfiB and passes data at speeds up to 48 Gbytes/ sec. The InfiBand Trade Association is a consortium of companies involved with the architecture's development. The first silicon products using InfiBand are expected out in the first quarter of 2001. Visit http://www.infinibandta.org .
New solar cell
panels power Space Station
Astronauts aboard the Space Station are charged up these days, thanks in part to Sheila Bailey's hard work. The senior scientist with the Photovoltaic and Space Environment Branch of NASA Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field in Cleveland, OH is one of several NASA scientists that helped develop the two 38-ft long x 239-ft wide solar panels installed on the Space Station this winter. The new solar cells help improve the longevity of the panels thanks to improvements in the cell. The new cell structure coating is made of gallium-indium phosphate on gallium arsinide on germanium that resists oxidation. Previous versions of solar cells used silicon oxide coatings and silver interconnects that degraded in the upper-atmosphere oxygen. The new panels contain 66,000 photovoltaic cells and will generate an additional 65 kW for the station. Future projects at NASA include calibrating solar cells for research and commercial products on board satellites. For information on the space station, go to www.space flight.nasa.gov/realdata/sightings/. For more information on Landman's research, e-mail Uzi.Landman@physics.gatech.edu , call (404) 894-3368, or fax (404) 894-7747.