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The JPL's Nondestructive Evaluation and Advanced Actuators (NDEAA) Technologies lab is involved with innovative research and development (R&D) for space applications and technology transfer to other fields. It was established by Dr. Yoseph Bar-Cohen in May 1991 and it is part of his JPL's Advanced Technologies Group for which he is the Supervisor. Dr. Bar-Cohen and his Group members are internationally leading scientists in the field of electroactive materials and related mechanisms. The members of his Group are Dr. Mircea Badescu, Dr. Xiaoqi Bao, Dr. Zensheu Chang, Dr. Shyh-Shiuh Lih, and Dr. Stewart Sherrit. In addition, through the JPL Educational Outreach Program professors, visiting scientists and students are participating in various studies at this lab. The topics of R&D include novel actuators (mostly using electroactive ceramics and polymers), drilling and sampling systems, transducers, sensors, robotic mechanisms and NDE methods. The group conducts analytical modeling, development, design and fabrication of novel mechanisms and devices, performance testing and characterization as well as analysis that involve mechanical, electrical, magnetic and thermal parameters and interactions.

The mechanisms that were developed at the NDEAA Lab are driven by elastic waves, mechanical vibrations and/or electroactive materials. Examples of these mechanisms include the ultrasonic/sonic driller/corer (USDC) that uses low preload and is developed for planetary sampling, deep drilling, high-temperature drilling, probing, sensing and in situ analysis making it a Lab-on-a-Drill. Also, they developed ultrasonic and surface acoustic wave motors and piezoelectric pumps that are driven by traveling flexural waves, This lab made major contributions to the field of electroactive polymers for use as actuators (artificial muscles) and, thru various forums, is mentoring the activity worldwide. Other technologies that are being explored include Haptic interfaces, high power ultrasound for medical treatment, ferroelectric source that generates various radiations and charged particles, wireless high power transmission, biomimetic technologies and geophysical probing using elastic waves. In addition to planetary applications, the developed devices and mechanisms have potential terrestrial applications for medical, commercial, construction and others. These efforts involve technical cooperation with scientists and engineers at various universities, research institutes, medical centers and industry in the USA and internationally. Further, the Nov. 2001 issue of the NASA Tech Briefs covered Dr. Bar-Cohen and NDEAA in a "Who's Who in NASA" article.

NDEAA Lab Website

Ultrasonic/Sonic Driller/Corer
The USDC is a drill that is being developed as a sampler for future NASA missions. It is driven by a piezoelectric stack actuator and it excites vibrations that are transformed into a hammering action for rocks breaking below the bit. The drill requires relatively low preload allowing drilling on bodies with low gravity. The drill is being developed for many applications including deep drilling via a wireline Auto-Gopher. A prior design was demonstrated to reach 1.76-m deep in ice at Lake Vida, Antarctica.

This pump employs a novel volume displacing mechanism using flexural traveling waves that acts peristaltically and eliminates the need for valves or physically moving parts. This pump is being developed for planetary instruments and space applications.

Noninvasive Medical Diagnostics and Treatment Research
Research is underway to investigate the various operative characteristics of high intensity ultrasound. To confine the wave, focused transducers are used, where high and low frequencies are modulated to take advantage of the focusing capability of high frequencies with the power that can be induced by low frequencies.

WorldWide Electroactive Polymer Actuators
In 1999, Dr. Bar-Cohen posed a challenge to the worldwide research and engineering community to develop a robotic arm that is actuated by artificial muscles to win an armwrestling match against a human opponent. The first Armwrestling Match between EAP actuated Robot and Human (AMERAH) was held on March 7, 2005 as part of the 2005 SPIE Annual International EAPAD (EAP Actuators & Devices) Conference.

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