UpFront

Rubber-Band Electronics

What if the testing done at hospitals could be conducted in the patient’s home, office, or car? Scientists foresee a time when medical monitoring devices are integrated into the human body to track vital signs. But electronics are too rigid. Researchers at Northwestern University developed a design that allows electronics to bend and stretch to more than 200 percent their original size. The key is a combination of a porous polymer and liquid metal. A highly porous 3D structure was created using a polymer material, poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS), that can stretch to three times its original size. Then they placed a liquid metal (EGaIn) inside the pores, allowing electricity to flow consistently even when the material is excessively stretched. The result is a material that is both highly stretchable and extremely conductive.

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App of the Month: Idea Sketch

Idea Sketch lets you easily draw a diagram, map, or flow chart and convert it to a text outline, and vice versa. It can be used for brainstorming new ideas, illustrating concepts, and more. There’s no drawing required — just enter your text and move the shapes around. Idea Sketch is available free for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/idea-sketch/id367246522?mt=8

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A New Spin on Antifreeze

Harvard researchers have invented a way to keep any metal surface free of ice and frost. The treated surfaces quickly shed even tiny, incipient condensation droplets or frost simply through gravity. The discovery has direct implications for a wide variety of metal surfaces such as those used in refrigeration systems, wind turbines, aircraft, marine vessels, and the construction industry.

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Open For Business: NASA Launches Tech Transfer Portal

In an effort to accelerate technology transfer from NASA into the hands of American businesses, industry, and the public, the agency’s new Technology Trans fer Portal is open for business. The portal provides an Internet-based, onestop front door to the agency’s unique intellectual property assets available for technology transfer.

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App of the Month: Spacecraft 3D

Spacecraft 3D uses animation to show how spacecraft can maneuver and manipulate their outside components. Presently, the app features two NASA missions: the Curiosity Mars rover and the twin GRAIL spacecraft Ebb and Flow currently orbiting the Moon. Spacecraft 3D is among the first augmented-reality apps for Apple devices. Augmentedreality provides users a view of a real-world environment where elements are improved by additional input. Spacecraft 3D uses the iPhone or iPad camera to overlay information on the device's main screen. The app instructs users to print an augmented reality target on a standard sheet of paper. When the device's camera is pointed at the target, the spacecraft chosen by the user materializes on screen.

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NASA’s “Game-Changing” Technologies

When you think of what types of technologies are developed within NASA, the term “game-changing” often comes to mind. Now, NASA has created a new office that focuses on these technologies. The Game Changing Development (GCD) Program Office at Langley Research Center (Hampton, VA) seeks to identify and rapidly mature innovative/ high-impact capabilities and technologies. The GCD Program Office is headed by Steve Gaddis, program executive at the Office of the Chief Technologist. Find out more about the GCD Program in this month’s Who’s Who at NASA interview with Steve on page 10. Watch a video about the new program on Tech Briefs TV at www.techbriefs.com/tv/gcdprogram.

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NASA Begins an Era of Curiosity

NASA’s most advanced Mars rover, Curiosity, touched down on the Red Planet at 1:32 am EDT on August 6, ending a 36-week flight and beginning a two-year investigation. The one-ton rover landed in Gale Crater at the foot of Mount Sharp, a mountain three miles tall and 96 miles in diameter. During its mission, Curiosity will investigate whether the region ever offered conditions favorable for microbial life.

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