October 2017

News : Automotive
Sound-Off: How Can the SAE J3061 Standard Prevent Automotive Hacks?

In 2015, two security researchers demonstrated the remote hacking of a Jeep Cherokee. What guidance exists to prevent these kinds of automotive cyberattacks? A Tech Briefs...

News : Energy
Researchers See a Bright Future for ‘See-Through’ Solar Cells

Michigan State University researchers say a new transparent solar panel technology is right outside your door. Or more precisely: inside your window. The completely clear...

News : Aerospace
A Q&A with Orbital ATK: Exploring the Roots of Rocketry

At Orbital ATK, Mark Ogren works on the preliminary design of the company’s propulsion technologies, including targets, interceptors, or space launch vehicles. Ogren spoke with Tech...

Blog : Robotics, Automation & Control
Trick or Treat: Spooky Space Sounds from NASA, and 7 Techs that Creep and Crawl

Getting into the Halloween spirit, NASA released a collection of the spookiest sounds ever recorded by the agency's spacecraft instruments. Captured radio emissions reveal whistling helium, howling planets, and other mysterious noises from the depths of space.

Question of the Week : Energy
Will transparent solar technologies supply a significant amount of US energy?

Today's lead INSIDER story features a report on transparent solar cell technology. The authors believe see-through solar cells have the potential of supplying...

INSIDER : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Soft Robotic Gripper Manipulates Objects Without Training

An engineering team at the University of California San Diego has designed and built a gripper that can pick up and manipulate objects without needing to see them and without being...

INSIDER : Robotics, Automation & Control
Vacuum System Powers Modular Soft Robot

Researchers at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland have created the first functional robot powered entirely by vacuum. It is made up of soft building blocks that move by having air sucked out of them. The robot can be reconfigured to perform different tasks, like climbing...

INSIDER : Robotics, Automation & Control
Multi-Legged Robot Reconfigures in Real Time

Scientists at Disney Research, Pittsburgh, PA have developed a modular, reconfigurable legged robot named Snapbot that can move forward, interact with its environment, and perform other tasks...

News : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Sound-Off: How Do Automotive OEMs Detect Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)?

A technique known as Selected Ion Flow Tube Mass Spectrometry (SIFT-MS) instantly analyzes air down to part-per-trillion (ppt) concentrations. The SIFT-MS technology can be used to test vehicles for emissions and volatile organic compounds, including irritants, toxins,...

Question of the Week : Energy
Will conformal batteries improve electronics design?

Today’s lead INSIDER story featured a conformal battery that bends to meet specific device shapes. What do you think?

Who's Who : Materials
Dr. Haimei Zheng, Staff Scientist, Materials Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA

Dr. Zheng and her team of scientists from Berkeley Lab and Nanyang Technical University in Singapore made metal-organic spongy photocatalysts that convert carbon dioxide (CO2) to carbon monoxide (CO) in the presence of...

News : Medical
Creating the Future: A New Way to Join Arteries

A novel, pencil-sized device now provides surgeons with an alternative to traditional methods of suturing arteries. The Arterial Everter, Medical Category winner of the 2017 “Create the Future” Design Contest, will reduce operation times, according to the technology’s inventor.

News : Software
Sound-Off: How to Model Electric Bus Implementation

To reduce costs and eliminate air pollution, many cities are exploring the benefits of electric buses. Before electrified fleets take the road, however, officials will require a test run. The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) used a modeling approach.

News : Energy
Creating the Future: A Conformal Battery Takes Shape – Any Shape

Electronics design is often limited by the shape of the battery – a critical, but frequently uncompromising product component. A new kind of battery conforms to meet the...

INSIDER : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Breathalyzer Replaces Blood Test

In the future, breathalyzers will not just be used by police checking for alcohol intoxication, but also for testing the condition of athletes, and for people who want to lose weight. When exactly the body begins burning fat can now be determined by analyzing, for example, biomarkers in the blood or urine....

INSIDER : Test & Measurement
Measuring Volcanic Emissions from Space

Before volcanoes erupt, there are often warning signs. Using remote sensing to detect rising carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide emissions without endangering people or equipment would greatly increase...

INSIDER : Sensors/Data Acquisition
New Generation of Fluorescence-Based Sensors

Researchers have designed and tested a series of plasmonic nanoantenna arrays that could lead to the development of a new generation of ultrasensitive and low-cost fluorescence sensors that could be used to monitor water quality.

News : Photonics/Optics
When Stars Collide: LIGO Detects Gravitational Waves from ‘Kilonova’ Light Show

In the galaxy NGC 4993, located approximately 130 million light-years from Earth, two neutron stars collided. And, for the first time, scientists detected...

Question of the Week : Energy
Will the "Create the Future" reactor help power plants reduce their carbon-dioxide emissions?

Developers of a "HI-Light" chemical reactor were awarded top honors in this year’s 'Create the Future' Design Contest. The grand-prize-winning...

News : Robotics, Automation & Control
Creating the Future: An Industrial Robot Climbs to the Top

Petrochemical and liquid gas companies require a regular inspection of a vessel's welds and wall thicknesses — a dangerous task given the hazardous environment. A climbing robot, category winner in the 2017 “Create the Future” Design Contest, is potentially up to the challenge.

News : Materials
Sound-Off: How to Repair Parylene Coatings

Conformal coatings like Parylene protect a variety of components, including LEDs, sensors, and circuit card assemblies. If a board component needs to be replaced, however, how easily can the Parylene be removed?

Question of the Week : Aerospace
In 10 years, will brain-controlled UAVs support critical applications?

In this week’s INSIDER story, researcher Panagiotis Artemiadis predicted that we will see an increase in brain-controlled UAVs within the next ten years. The mind-controlled drones, according to the Arizona State University professor, will play critical application roles as...

News : Aerospace
Drone Control: How the Human Brain Can Guide Robotic Swarms

Who needs a keyboard, a mouse, or a joystick? A researcher from Arizona State University wants to command machines with the human brain.

Question of the Week
Would you use MatchPoint?

This week’s INSIDER story featured a gesture-recognition technology that transforms everyday objects into remote controls. What do you think? Would you use MatchPoint?

Products : Software
Product of the Month: October 2017

ANSYS, Canonsburg, PA, introduced ANSYS® Discovery Live™ simulation software that allows engineers to immediately examine the impact of their design changes. Users can pose what-if questions upfront in the design process to rapidly explore thousands of design options and receive immediate feedback. The...

News : Energy
This Year’s ‘Create the Future’ Contest Winner: A Highlight in Carbon-Dioxide Conversion

Developers of a “HI-Light” chemical reactor were awarded top honors in this year’s "Create the Future" Design Contest. The...

News : Imaging
Gesture Recognition: How to Turn Any Object into a Remote Control

A new gesture-recognition technology from Lancaster University can make a remote control out of your coffee mug — or most everyday objects, for that matter.

News : Automotive
Sound-Off: Do Electric Vehicles Produce High-Frequency Noise?

Many structural factors contribute to automotive noise, whether the vehicle is electric or has an internal combustion engine. In a webinar this week titled, “The Art of NVH Attenuation,” an attendee asked Dr. Pranab Saha, a consultant and expert in acoustics, noise, and vibration...

Question of the Week : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Will "print-and-go" structures lead to printable robots?

As seen in this week's Tech Briefs TV video, MIT researchers envision many possibilities for devices that self-fold without external stimuli.

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
PC-Board-Mountable Corrosion Sensors

Corrosion is a pervasive and expensive problem in applications ranging from construction to microelectronics. Corrosion has been widely studied in theories, and empirical studies exist for common materials, material combinations, and myriad environmental conditions. In order for microelectronic devices to...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Gas Sensing System Employing Raman Scattering

The detection and characterization of molecular gases in a sample is a relatively difficult challenge. Usually, this task is relegated to expensive and time-consuming processes like mass spectrometry and gas chromatography. Furthermore, numerous industrial applications require such gas-phase analysis...

Articles : Research Lab
Brookhaven National Laboratory

Opened in 1947 on the former site of the U.S. military's Camp Upton in New York, Brookhaven National Lab's (BNL) initial mission centered on the peaceful exploration of the atom. Particle accelerators, leading chemistry and biology experiments, and visionary scientists soon joined research reactors, and Brookhaven...

Articles : Sensors/Data Acquisition
AUGMENTED REALITY: Beyond Gaming to Real-World Solutions

Ask a stranger off the street what Virtual Reality (VR) is or how it works, and most people will have some inclination of what the technology entails; however, ask that same person...

Briefs : Materials
Absorbent Polymer Reinforcing Fiber

Absorbent polymers can be used, for instance, to absorb hydrocarbons from an aqueous medium such as the absorption of oil from water. In some configurations, conventional absorbent polymers are contained within a permeable material; for example, conventional spill “socks” and booms can hold an absorbent...

Briefs : Software
MSET Industrial Early Warning System

System breakdowns in modern industrial environments can result in millions of dollars in lost time and productivity, and even the loss of life and property. In the utilities industry — where the continuous operation of coolant pumps is essential — the breakdown of a single pump can result in a loss of as...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Wireless Temperature Sensor Having No Electrical Connections, and Sensing Method for Use

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed a robust wireless temperature sensor that does not require an electrical connection. The temperature sensor is built on NASA's SansEC sensor platform, which takes advantage of measuring dielectric changes. The...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Lightweight, Crack-Resistant, Silk Composite Sensor

New lightweight, energy-saving composites that won't crack or break even after prolonged exposure to environmental or structural stress are needed in industries such as civil infrastructure for bridges and buildings, consumer products, and aerospace. To help make that possible, a method was...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Compact, Lightweight, Athermal, Nanocomposite Telescopes with Freeform Optics

Small space missions such as CubeSats frequently require telescopes with highly sophisticated optical systems that are also low in mass and cost. The very limited spacecraft volume and mass limits also preclude adjustments to maintain critical alignment with change in...

Briefs : Materials
TiBor Skin Composite Coatings

TiBor Skin is a two-part technology that creates toughened, corrosion- and wear-resistant composite structures. The technology consists of coatings or surface materials for application on metals, plus methods of applying these materials. It also provides methods of integrating the applied coatings with their...

Briefs : Aerospace
Airborne Sense-and-Avoid Radar Panel

Although unmanned aerial systems (UAS) have proven increasingly useful in a variety of applications, their widespread usage within the National Airspace System is limited because of regulatory restrictions on their access to shared airspace.

Articles : Electronics & Computers
Connectors Link Data Networks for Orion and Industry

Spinoff is NASA's annual publication featuring successfully commercialized NASA technology. This commercialization has contributed to the development of products and services in the fields of health and medicine, consumer goods, transportation, public safety, computer technology, and...

Briefs : Software
Robust Mesh Update Method for Grid Motion Problems

Over the past several decades, one class of problems in computational fluid dynamics (CFD) that has undergone substantial development involves movement of the fluid domain boundary. The problem class exists when the fluid domain boundary is either explicitly time-dependent, or is known a priori...

Briefs : Aerospace
Aircraft Engine Exhaust Nozzle System for Jet Noise Reduction

A system of nozzles and pylons that redistributes jet exhaust noise sources upstream to reduce jet noise has been developed. Certain aircraft configurations install the propulsion engines above the wing or tail surfaces, or above the fuselage, or in some cases above the structure that...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Plasma-Assisted Catalytic Reverse Water Gas Shift Reactor

For improving CO2 conversions for a low-temperature CO2 methanation process, a mechanism of using reverse water gas shift (RWGS) reaction as an intermediate step to generate the more reactive CO species for the methanation process was developed. The challenge was to...

Briefs : Materials
Customizable Recyclable Launch Packaging

NASA is developing a sustainable in-space manufacturing ecosystem by providing both the capability to create 3D printer filament from currently used packaging material as well as the development of new, high-performance packaging architectures created with materials that are well suited for use in 3D...

Briefs : Materials
Self-Lubricating Hard Coatings for Extreme Environments

NASA’ s space goals include a permanent presence on the Moon and an expedition to Mars. The success of habitats and vehicles on the Moon and Mars — and ultimately, of the human exploration of and permanent human presence on the Moon and Mars — is critically dependent on the correct...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Folding-Tube Deployable Solar Array

Future space missions incorporating solar electric propulsion (SEP) will require large solar arrays that are an order of magnitude larger than the current state of the art for deployable arrays. This invention is a structural concept for such an array, and was designed to enable large arrays that package...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Polymeric Thermal History Sensor

Items such as food and pharmaceuticals exposed over time to temperatures outside the specified range can pose a serious health risk. Determining the heat exposure history of these items is a key step in addressing these issues. In particular, there is a need for determining when an item has been exposed to...

Briefs : Software
An Upwind Parabolized Navier-Stokes Solver (UPS) for Supersonic and Hypersonic Flow Simulation, Version 6.1

The simulation of high-speed flow involves unique challenges such as the treatment of strong flow gradients associated with shock waves and expansion fans, as well as the modeling, at hypersonic speeds, of air chemistry effects. However,...

Briefs : Aerospace
Multi-Fidelity Simulator (MFS)

Many next-generation air traffic algorithms may be formed by learning algorithms or dynamic programming techniques. These techniques form their solutions through iterative methods where the efficacy of a proposed solution needs to be evaluated for every round of iteration. In complex air traffic scenarios, often...

Briefs : Aerospace
Using Aerial Towing to Study Sonic Booms

Researchers at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC) recently completed a study of the feasibility of aerial towing an unpiloted, sub-scale vehicle to supersonic flight conditions to examine the sonic boom that is produced — or, preferably, not produced.

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Vented Launch Vehicle Adapter for a Manned Spacecraft With “Pusher” Launch Abort System

A Launch Vehicle Adapter (LVA) was developed that provides a structural interface between a Commercial Crew Vehicle (CCV) Crew Module/Service Module Spacecraft (CM/SM) and an expendable launch vehicle. It also provides a means to control the exhaust plume...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Delayed Latching Mechanism

Uncontrolled and rapid movement of equipment and people through security gates has been a major problem for security personnel. In situations pertaining to facility security, it is desirable to delay the passage of...

Briefs : Software
Efficient Two-Dimensional Solution Methods for the Navier-Stokes Equations

ARC2D is a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) program for two-dimensional airfoil and simply connected geometries. The program uses implicit finite-difference techniques to solve two-dimensional Euler equations and Navier-Stokes equations. It is based on the Beam and...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
High-Resolution, Coherent, Dual-Tip Scanning Probe Microscope

The scanning tunneling microscope (STM) has become one of the most powerful tools used in studying the surface structure of electrically conducting solid-state materials at an atomic resolution. Since its conception, the STM has had the greatest impact in the field of modern surface...

Briefs : Software
Using SysML to Model Layered System Interfaces

To produce accurate system architecture descriptions, it is essential to be able to describe interfaces between system elements at different levels of abstraction and from different perspectives at the same time. For example, the connection from system A to system B may be viewed at a high level as...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Multifunctional Hot Structure (HOST) Heat Shield

Traditional heat shield design isolates the functions of the thermal protection system (TPS) from the underlying load-carrying structure. This is due to the use of brittle TPS material that cannot carry the structural loads and that ablate during planetary entry. To isolate the TPS, the...

Articles : Lighting
Products of Tomorrow: October 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...

Briefs : Software
Pegasus 5.2 Software for Automated Pre-Processing of Overset CFD Grids

Pegasus software is used as a pre-processor for overset-grid Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations. It provides the hole-cutting and connectivity information between structured overset grids. The main features of the software include automated hole-cutting...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Fast, Sensitive Hydrogen Sensor

Hydrogen is a promising potential fuel for cars, buses, and other vehicles, and can be converted into electricity in fuel cells. It already is used in medicine and space exploration, as well as in the production of industrial chemicals and food products.

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Feed Mechanism and Method for Feeding Minute Components

Electrical circuits such as printed wiring boards or hybrid microcircuits designed to utilize surface mount electrical components are commonly assembled by computer-controlled automated...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Vibration-Dampening Pedestal for MEMS

Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) are critical devices for various highly sensitive applications; however, the development and potential fielding of these next-generation smart systems is currently impeded by the inability to satisfy the stringent performance standards for precision and control. These...

Briefs : Materials
Self-Healing, Self-Lubricating Tribofilm

Tribologists have developed a diamond-like film that is generated by the heat and pressure of an automotive engine. The ultra-durable, self-lubricating tribofilm — a film that forms between moving surfaces — can be made to develop self-healing, diamondlike carbon (DLC) tribofilms. The film generates...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Fiber-Optic Environmental Radiation Dosimeter

An all-optical, fiber-optic-coupled remote radiation sensor was developed using luminescent, copper-doped quartz material. The key to the technology is the doped quartz material, which produces a luminescence signal that is directly proportional to the radiation dose.

Briefs : Materials
Functionally Graded Metal-Metal Composite Structures

NASA Langley Research Center has developed a functionally graded metal-metal composite structure. The structure is created using a method that avoids deleterious reactions between the different metal constituents, as would be observed via conventional melt processing. The results are unique...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Compact, Portable Device for Structural Vibration Reduction

Tuned mass dampers are used worldwide to mitigate vibrations in structures like buildings and bridges where excessive movement can be alarming or even sickening to occupants. The...

Application Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Simulation Helps Samsung Deliver Safer, More Efficient Lithium-Ion Battery Packs
Siemens PLM Software
Plano, TX
www.plm.automation.siemens.com

The use of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries has made the electric vehicle (EV) a...

Briefs : Motion Control
Robotic Inspector Traverses Water Pipes

Today's water distribution systems lose an average of 20 percent of their supply because of leaks. Current leak-detection systems are expensive and slow to operate, and they don't work well in systems that use wood, clay, or plastic pipes. A robotic system developed by researchers at MIT could provide a...

Products : Motion Control
New Products: October 2017 Motion Design

Torque Motor

ThinGap (Camarillo, CA) has developed the first member of a new motor family of high peak torque density brushless PM motors that reach over 20 Nm/Kg. The frameless LSI 105 torque motor model is 105 mm OD (4.125 inches) and 25.4 mm (1.0 inch) long. Continuous torque reaches over 2Nm...

Briefs : Motion Control
Robotic Gripper Cleans Up Space Debris

Large amounts of existing space debris pose a threat to satellites, space vehicles, and astronauts aboard those vehicles. However, cleaning up the debris is problematic. For example, suction cups don't work in a vacuum, and traditional sticky substances like tape are largely useless because the chemicals...

Briefs : Motion Control
Computational Tool Simplifies Creating Machines That Bend

Replacing rigid joints and linkages with mechanisms that bend offers a number of potential advantages, even as it makes designing devices more difficult. A computational design tool developed by Disney Research promises to make this transition from rigid to compliant mechanisms easier....

Articles : Motion Control
Selecting the Correct Actuator

The need for actuators has grown exponentially. Nearly everywhere you look you can see pneumatic, hydraulic, or electric actuator systems at work in an endless variety of applications. There are many stereotypes surrounding these three types of motion systems, and while some of the ideas may stand true, many of the...

Briefs : Motion Control
Electromagnetic Actuator Decouples Linear and Rotary Motions

A lightweight module for rapid, accurate, and versatile positioning of semiconductor chips features a novel electromechanical actuator that can move objects both linearly and rotationally. The technology was developed by researchers at the A*STAR Singapore Institute of Manufacturing...

Articles : Motion Control
MOTOR DRIVES: Build or Buy

Every system design presents a unique set of specifications regarding cost, space, time-to-market, and other factors. Designers must therefore make tradeoffs to meet these requirements, such as opting for a higher priced component to meet a stringent space constraint. For a motion application, design engineers can...

Articles : Motion Control
Inch vs. Metric Ball Screws: Are You Asking the Right Questions?

Because ball screws are available in both inch and metric dimensions, designers sometimes begin the specification process by selecting a product family based on the unit of measure. This decision may prematurely exclude the ideal product for the application and lead to significant...

Application Briefs : Motion Control
Nano-Motion Stages Rely on High-Precision Encoders for Accuracy and Repeatability

ALIO Industries designs and builds very high precision automation stages for nano-level manufacturing and research applications, including microlithography, medical devices, and micro-machine tools. In this world where a misalignment of one micron might as well be...

Briefs : Motion Control
Wireless Magnetic Field Powers Folding Robots

Folding robots based on origami have emerged as an exciting new frontier of robotic design. However, they generally require onboard batteries or a wired connection to a power source, making them bulkier and clunkier than their paper inspiration and limiting their functionality. A team of researchers...

Briefs : Motion Control
Harmonic Air Motor Offers Very High Efficiency

Currently available air motors have many advantages over electric motors. They are more compact, lighter-weight, instantly reversible without sparking, create no heat buildup, are undamaged by stalling or overloading, and supply extremely broad torque and speed range. Generally available commercial...

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