Special Coverage

Iodine-Compatible Hall Effect Thruster
Precision Assembly of Systems on Surfaces (PASS)
Development of a Novel Electrospinning System with Automated Positioning and Control Software
2016 Create The Future Design Contest Open For Entries
Clamshell Sampler
Shape Memory Alloy Rock Splitter
Deployable Extra-Vehicular Activity Platform (DEVAP) for Planetary Surfaces
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Relativistic Ion Tracks (RITRACKS)

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas Once astronauts venture beyond Earth’s protective atmosphere, they are exposed to the high-energy charged particles of galactic cosmic rays (GCR) and solar particle events (SPE), and secondary protons and neutrons. GCR are composed of ions, the great majority of which are protons (≈87%) and helium nuclei (≈12%). The heavy ions of atomic number greater than 2 comprise only a small fraction of the charged particles in the GCR, but they contribute significantly to the radiation dose and dose equivalent over time. Because of their ionization patterns in biomolecules, cells and tissues are distinct from terrestrial radiation, the resulting biological effects are poorly understood, and the health risks of these radiations are subject to large uncertainties.

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Medical Oxygen Concentrator for Microgravity Operation

Only ambient air and DC energy are required to operate the system. John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio Supplemental oxygen delivery systems are vital to provide a critical life support respiratory function. Whether they are used for patients suffering from lung diseases or other illnesses, or astronauts donning an oxygen mask during a toxic spill or fire on a spacecraft, lightweight and portable oxygen delivery systems are in high demand. A lightweight portable oxygen concentrator was developed that can produce 1 to 6 lpm of pulse oxygen in a noiseless system that can be worn on the user’s hip or in a shoulder sling.

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Lateral Displacement Device for Blood Cell Separation

This device has side microchannels where the particles are separated and collected. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas Separation of particles based on size is one of the essential components in biochemical analysis, environmental assays, and industrial and biomedical applications. Filtration is one of the most frequently used techniques to separate particles. A mechanical filter can be used to remove, filter, or collect particles. This filtering and collection of particles can be used for sampling of particles, chemical detection, and/or biological cell analysis.

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Using a Blood Clot in Microfluidic Valving Applications

This type of valve is satisfactory for most microfluidic applications for on-chip blood analysis. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas The lack of reliable microvalves impedes many lab-on-a-chip applications for blood analysis. On the other hand, blood clotting — the formation of solid blood aggregate to stop bleeding — provides a natural valving mechanism. It is therefore very attractive to use this mechanism for microfluidic control when blood is available. In fact, the blood clot has many interesting mechanical properties. For example, the fibrin fibers in blood clots have extensibility as high as 330% and an elastic modulus around 8 MPa. However, the study of implementing blood clots as an engineering material, especially in the MEMS area, is lacking.

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Drug-Encapsulated Prosthetic Enhancement

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas This invention places a drug delivery system inside a prosthetic implant to circumvent the physical issues encountered after fitting the implant. Implants being relatively large in size would be able to house the drug-carrying device inside them without compromising the structural integrity or the functionality of the prostheses. Capsules containing multiple reservoirs filled with different drugs could be released simultaneously. This application could further be extended to using such drug-carrying capsules in cardiovascular stents through which slow and sustained release of drugs could be achieved to prevent inflammation in the short term, and restenosis in the long term. Once the capsule has drained out, the drug inside will remain in the implant and can be considered a part of the implant for the future. The implant reservoir may also be refilled via minor surgery until needed.

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Portable Resting State Detection System Using Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy

Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia The ability to distinguish between high and low levels of task engagement is important for detecting and preventing performance decrements during safety-critical operational tasks in the real world. Examples of such tasks include commercial aviation, monitoring for air traffic control, executing spacewalks, performing surgery, and driving. Since accident-causing errors can be made even by skilled professionals, the ability to monitor cognitive state measures for low levels of task engagement in real time could be useful for developing an “early warning system” for detecting and preventing performance errors before they occur.

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Ultrasound Competence Test Metrics

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas Diagnostic medical ultrasound requires psychomotor skill in image acquisition and cognitive skill in image interpretation. There is a lack of an objective, quantitative, and standardized method to assess psychomotor skill. In traditional radiology and cardiology training programs, physicians are certified based on duration of training and number of procedures performed. However, assessment of trainee skill is now mandated by the worldwide shift toward competencebased medical education. The benefits of skill assessment are: 1) it provides trainees with feedback on their progress, 2) faculty can identify which trainees require additional help, and 3) hospitals have a standard for credentialing.

Posted in: Briefs, Tech Briefs, Patient Monitoring

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