Products of Tomorrow: August 2017

This column presents technologies that have applications in commercial areas, possibly creating the products of tomorrow. To learn more about each technology, see the contact information provided for that innovation.

Posted in: Articles, Batteries, Electronics, Coatings & Adhesives, Materials, Batteries, Batteries, Ceramics, Coatings Colorants and Finishes, Coatings, colorants, and finishes, Corrosion, Electrolytes, Insulation, Rescue and emergency vehicles and equipment
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Products of Tomorrow: June 2017

This column presents technologies that have applications in commercial areas, possibly creating the products of tomorrow. To learn more about each technology, see the contact information provided for that innovation.

Posted in: Articles, Electronics, Materials, Plastics, Additive manufacturing, Elastomers, Materials properties, Plastics, Semiconductors
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Virtual Fabrication and Assembly Documentation

Over the years, the term “virtual” has become associated with many different domains. Virtual machines are now commonplace as a substitute for physical laptops or desktops, allowing for the emulation of computer systems. Of course, virtual reality is in the news daily as new headsets, apps, and games provide a substitute for images and sounds, allowing for the simulation of a three-dimensional environment. In the printed circuit board (PCB) space, some fabrication and assembly information such as artwork, drill, netlist, test, and component placement have been conveyed virtually to manufacturing for more than 30 years.

Posted in: Articles, Electronics & Computers, Documentation, Assembling, Fabrication
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PRINTED ELECTRONICS: THE FUTURE IS FLEXIBLE

Chances are that most of us have used a printed electronic device, whether it's a security tag on a piece of clothing, or a plastic badge used to open the door of our workplace. Printable electronics have diverse potential applications in flexible solar cells, batteries, sensors, lighting products, medical diagnostic devices, drug delivery devices, smart packaging and clothing, and displays. Following are several innovative applications incorporating printable electronics.

Low-Cost Printable Electronics Fabrication

The need for low-cost and environmentally friendly processes for fabricating printable electronics and biosensor chips is rapidly growing. NASA has developed a unique approach for an atmospheric pressure plasma-based process for fabricating printable electronics and functional coatings. This system involves aerosol-assisted, room-temperature printing in which an aerosol carrying the desired material for deposition is introduced into a cold plasma jet operated at atmospheric pressure.

Posted in: Articles, Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Electronic equipment, Sensors and actuators, Electronic equipment, Sensors and actuators, Additive manufacturing, Magnetic materials, Nanomaterials
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Nasa Processing Technologies Enable Advanced Computing Applications

Embedded processing technologies developed at NASA field centers are enabling the use of next-generation computer-controlled instruments and spacecraft, including SpaceCubes, integrated photonics modems, and new ways to manufacture computer components.

SpaceCube Processors

Next-generation spacecraft instruments are capable of producing data at rates of 108 to 1011 bits per second, and both their instrument designs and mission operations concepts are severely constrained by data rate and volume. SpaceCube™ enables these next-generation missions.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Electronic Components, Electronics & Computers, Photonics, Avionics, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Data exchange, Avionics, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Data exchange, Spacecraft
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2016 Create the Future Design Contest

The 2016 Create the Future Design Contest — sponsored by COMSOL, Mouser Electronics, and Tech Briefs Media Group (publishers of NASA Tech Briefs) — recognized innovation in product design in seven categories: Aerospace & Defense, Automotive/Transportation, Consumer Products, Electronics, Machinery/Automation/ Robotics, Med ical, and Sustainable Technologies. In this special section, you’ll meet the Grand Prize Winner, as well as the winners and Honorable Mentions in all seven categories, chosen from over 1,100 new product ideas submitted from a record 71 countries. To view all of the entries online, visit www.createthefuturecontest.com.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Automotive, Defense, Electronics, Alternative Fuels, Energy, Renewable Energy, Green Design & Manufacturing, Medical, Patient Monitoring, Automation, Robotics, Design processes, Collaboration and partnering
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2016 Create the Future Contest: Automotive & Transportation Category Winner

CASTROL REINVENTS THE OIL CHANGE WITH NEXCEL

Krishan Arora, Mike Baker, Glenn Barber, Peter Brett, Ross Dewhurst, Melvyn Dover, John Gamston, Steven Goodier, Annie Leeson, Vincent Panel, Ben Russell, Alessandra Scotese, Oliver Taylor, Julian Von Thungen-Reichenbach-Evans, Chris Wilks, John Ward-Zinski, and Roy Williamson

Castrol, Oxford, UK

Castrol’s NEXCEL system is a sealed oil cell that contains both the engine oil and the oil filter, so it can be easily removed and replaced by hand in about 90 seconds versus 20 minutes for a conventional oil change. The sealed cell ensures that used oil is collected and handled safely, facilitating enhanced recycling and reuse of the waste oil into high-quality lubricants through a dedicated re-refining process.

Posted in: Articles, Automotive, Thermal Management, Recycling Technologies, Design processes, Engine lubricants, Maintenance, Repair and Service Operations, Maintenance, repair, and service operations
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2016 Create the Future Design Contest: Electronics Category Winner

1,000X BETTER DATA COMPRESSION AND REAL-TIME DECODING OF HIGH-RESOLUTION MAPS

Shaun McWherter, Mark Skoog, and Jamie Willhite, NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center, Edwards, CA; and Loyd Hook, University of Tulsa, OK

This NASA-developed data-compression technology is capable of encoding massive amounts of data into a package more than 1,000 times smaller than with standard compression, which can transform the use of digital terrain maps (DTMs) in restricted environments such as tablets, smartphones, and embedded systems. Created at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center, the software system integrates innovative encoding and decoding algorithms to provide a 5,000:1 compression ratio and rapid/continuous decompression in constrained computing situations. It enables users to access and create customized DTMs from a variety of data sources using a single graphical user interface.

Posted in: Articles, Electronics, Cartography, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Cartography, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Data management
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NASA’s Pursuit of Power

Advances in batteries and propulsion enable innovations in both terrestrial and deep-space power applications.

Advances in Capacitor Materials

Electrochemical capacitors, or supercapacitors, have gained intense interest as an alternative to traditional energy storage devices. Applications for supercapacitors range from plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) to backup power sources. While the power density of supercapacitors surpasses that of batteries, commercially available batteries have a significantly higher specific energy density.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Power Management, Propulsion, Batteries, Energy storage systems, Ultracapacitors and supercapacitors, Batteries, Energy storage systems, Ultracapacitors and supercapacitors, Nanomaterials, Spacecraft
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Teaching Computers to Understand Human Languages

Researchers at the University of Liverpool have developed a set of algorithms that will help teach computers to process and understand human languages.

While mastering natural language is easy for humans, it is something that computers have not yet been able to achieve. Humans understand language through a variety of ways – for example this might be through looking up words in a dictionary, or by associating it with words in the same sentence in a meaningful way. The algorithms will enable a computer to act in much the same way as a human would it encounters an unknown word. When the computer encounters a word it doesn’t recognize or understand, the algorithms mean it will look up the word in a dictionary (such as the WordNet), and try to guess what other words should appear with this unknown word in the text.

Posted in: Articles, Electronics & Computers
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