October 2018

The need for Ethernet-based communication within the factory has grown over the past 10 years. Detailed information about the tasks and performance of machines at every stage is...

A technique was developed to quickly teach robots novel traversal behaviors with minimal human oversight. The technique allows mobile robot platforms to navigate autonomously in...

In today’s fast-paced industrial settings, speed and efficiency are key. Reducing time spent on sourcing, installing, and testing motion control systems can play a big...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Popcorn-Driven Robotic Actuators

When heated, popcorn can expand more than 10 times in size, change its viscosity by a factor of 10, and transition from regular to highly irregular granules with surprising force. These unique qualities can...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Robotic Modules Modify Their Environment for Specific Tasks

Given the exact parameters of the task at hand, a robot can assemble a car door or pack a box faster and more efficiently than a human, but such purpose-built machines are not...

The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), under construction atop 8,737-foot El Peñón peak in northern Chile, is a partnership project of the National...

Products : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
New Products: October 2018 Motion Design
Multi-Voltage Motors

Simotics SD Pro low-voltage motors from Siemens (Munich, Germany) are suited for mains-fed operation or with a converter for voltages up to 690 volts. There is generally...

Technology Leaders : Electronics & Computers
Key Considerations When Selecting a Connector Solution

Electronics industry trends develop and change, technologies emerge and improve, and new applications bring new requirements and challenges. While this obviously has an impact on the...

Researchers have developed a method to simultaneously control diverse optical properties of dielectric waveguides by using a two-layer coating, each layer with a...

A team led by UCSD has built a stretchable electronic patch that can be worn on the skin like a bandage and used to wirelessly monitor a variety of physical and electrical...

Researchers have 3D-printed an array of light receptors on a hemispherical surface. This discovery could lead to a “bionic eye” that could someday help blind people see or sighted...

Products : Materials
New on the Market: October 2018
Temperature Transmitters

The Sitrans TH320/420 and TR320/420 WirelessHART (Highway Addressable Remote Transducer Protocol) temperature transmitters from Siemens, Erlangen, Germany, are available for...

Articles : Photonics/Optics
Products of Tomorrow: October 2018

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...

The exhaust heat recovery system (EHRS) in an automobile captures the thermal energy from exhaust and transfers it to the engine coolant. As the car warms up,...

A technique that enables on-demand control of composite behavior could enable a variety of new capabilities for future rotorcraft design, performance, and maintenance. The focus of the research was on...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Power Line Detection System for Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Electrical power lines pose a serious crash hazard to helicopters and other air-based vehicles, especially small aerial vehicles such as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). This is because power lines are so widespread, hard to see, and strung at roughly the same height above the ground at...

Articles : Green Design & Manufacturing
NASA at 60: 1958-2018 Decades of Discovery

For six decades, NASA has led the peaceful exploration of space, making discoveries about our planet, our solar system, and our universe. At home, NASA research has made great advances in aviation,...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Configuration Enables RFID Tags to Work as Sensors

The detection and localization of gas releases, such as methane from leaking natural gas pipelines or nitrogen oxides from failing electrical equipment, require high sensitivity to the target gas and insensitivity to non-target gases. Infrared (IR) absorption spectroscopy gives highly specific...

Articles : Aerospace
NASA at 60: The First A

The first “A” in NASA stands for aeronautics — the science of travel through the air. It's as much about flying on airplanes and arriving safely at a destination as it is about astronauts in space. NASA's roots...

NASA's Langley Research Center, in collaboration with Michigan State University (MSU), has developed a microphone array that...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Optical Mass Sensor for Multi-Phase Flows

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center is offering opportunities for its new fiber optic mass flow sensor system. Capable of measuring multi-phase flows in a pipe, the technology is minimally invasive,...

Briefs : Green Design & Manufacturing
Bio-Renewable Process Creates “Green” Plastic

Plastics are often derived from petroleum, contributing to reliance on fossil fuels, and driving harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

In 1951, the first nuclear reactor in Idaho was built, starting a legacy at what is now Idaho National Laboratory (INL). INL is the site where 52 pioneering nuclear reactors were designed and...

It is often desirable to sense the angular position of a rotating part. Numerous kinds of rotation sensors have been developed over the years; one type is a capacitive sensor, where a...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Engineering Soft Materials that Mimic Neural Tissue

A process for engineering next-generation soft materials with embedded chemical networks that mimic the behavior of neural tissue lays the foundation for soft active matter with highly...

When hit with light, semiconductors (materials that have an electrical resistance in between that of metals and insulators) generate an electric current....

Articles : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
NASA at 60: Celebrating Success

Over the past 60 years, NASA scientists and engineers have developed many advanced technologies and processes. But NASA has also partnered with industry, using commercially available products to complete its missions. Here, some of those companies join NASA in celebrating these collaborative successes.

Articles : Robotics, Automation & Control
NASA at 60: From Space to Earth

The benefits of NASA's space exploration efforts are not limited to the cosmos. NASA technologies provide innovative solutions for people around the world. NASA missions have generated thousands of spinoffs...

Photons, or units of light, are faster than electrons and could, therefore, process information faster from smaller chip structures. A switch was designed that bypasses a...

Briefs : Communications
Air Traffic Management (ATM) System

As the demand for air transportation increases, the capacity of the current U.S. ATM system will eventually be stressed to its limits. New technologies in communication, navigation, and surveillance (CNS),...

Optical fibers have been traditionally produced by making a cylindrical object called a preform — essentially, a scaled-up model of the fiber — and then heating it. Softened...

Computer processors have continued to shrink down to nanometer sizes where there can be billions of transistors on a single chip. This phenomenon is described under Moore's Law, which...

Imagine trying to use a computer that looks and acts like no computer you've ever seen. There is no keyboard or screen. Code designed for a normal computer is useless. The...

It's common to see line-shaped clouds in the sky, known as contrails, trailing behind the engines of a jet airplane. What's not always visible is a vortex coming off of the tip of each wing — like...

Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Polymer Nanofiber-Based Reversible Nano-Switch/Sensor Schottky Diode (nanoSSSD) Device

Innovators at NASA's Glenn Research Center have developed a unique nano-structure device that operates as a nano-switch/sensor for detecting toxic gases and ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Conventional microsensors are limited by their short life, high cost and...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Fabricating Battery Electrodes Using 3D Printing

Additive manufacturing (3D printing) can be used to manufacture porous electrodes for lithium-ion batteries, but because of the nature of the manufacturing process, the design of these...

Researchers have demonstrated the ability to create amorphous metal (metallic glass) alloys on large scales using 3D printing technology. Metallic glasses lack the crystalline...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Soft, Pliable, 3D Stretchable Electronics

By stacking and connecting layers of stretchable circuits on top of one another, soft, pliable 3D stretchable electronics were fabricated that can pack a lot of functions while staying thin and small...

5 Ws : Manufacturing & Prototyping
5 Ws of Electronic Stickers
Who

Billions of objects ranging from smartphones and buildings, to machine parts and medical devices, to furniture and office supplies — any object that has a need to communicate with or sense other...

NASA Spinoff : Manufacturing & Prototyping
3D Printer Aims to Accelerate Materials Development

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...

Origami manufacturing has led to considerable advances in the field of foldable structures with innovative applications in robotics, aerospace, and metamaterials; however, existing origami are either...

Wearable technologies are exploding in popularity in both the consumer and research spaces, but most of the electronic sensors that detect and transmit data from wearables are made of hard,...

Briefs : Software
Algorithm Enables Drones to Work in a Coordinated Approach

An algorithm was developed that enables a team of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to communicate and work toward a common goal. The tool could be used to improve security or capture images simultaneously over a large area.

Products : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Product of the Month: October 2018

SEGGER Microcontroller Systems, Gardner, MA, introduced emPack, a complete operating system for IoT devices and embedded systems. It is delivered in source code for 8-, 16-, and 32-bit...

Question of the Week : Test & Measurement
Are You Currently Using Mechanical Test Equipment to Measure Strain?

One way to measure strain and deformation in a material is through digital image correlation and non-contact sensors. Next week, in a live webinar presentation, speakers from Trilion Quality Systems and MTS Systems Corp. will review how customers have used their imaging and...

Rivers Ingersoll spoke with Tech Briefs about why it is so important to have an up-close understanding of the hummingbird and nectar bat.
Question of the Week : Medical
Can Digital-Health Apps Reliably Change Patient Behavior?

Last week on TechBriefs.com, a reader had the following question for our medical-device expert:

The grand-prize-winning nanotechnology coating imparts anti-reflection and water-repellency capabilities to surfaces made of silicon, glass ,and some plastics, including Teflon.
Robert Holmes spoke with Tech Briefs about his path from "amateur" astronomer to NASA pro.
Podcasts : Imaging
Here's an Idea: Asteroids
To spot asteroids requires a community — one made up of everyone from NASA professionals to amateur astronomers to engineers at government labs.
Question of the Week : Aerospace
What NASA Spin-Off Stands Out to You?

NASA technologies have led to many of the commercial products and innovative solutions we use every day, from memory foam and freeze-dried foods to exercise equipment and water purifiers. The October issue of Tech Briefs showcased a number of these NASA spinoffs.

Read the Tech Briefs feature article,...

A new solution, applied like paint, cools down rooftops, buildings, water tanks, vehicles, and even spacecraft.

A tool developed by Dartmouth computer science graduate students tackles a widespread hardware hacking threat. They are coming to grips with a design flaw that ultimately falls into the province...

Students at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) developed Dense Object Nets (DON), a system that lets robots inspect random objects and visually...

How will the use of AR and virtual prototypes impact the role of automotive parts manufacturers? A reader asks our expert.
Question of the Week : Materials
Will Paint-On coatings Become a Popular Way to Cool Down Buildings?

Our lead INSIDER story today featured a paint-on polymer that cools down buildings, through a process known as passive daytime radiative cooling.

Read the article, and let us know what you think.

This week’s Question: Will Paint-On coatings Become a Popular Way...

Carl Yee invented a new kind of "Invisible Ink," so he could print paper without the guilt.

An MIT-developed technology monitors blood glucose levels without needles or a finger prick. Early results show that the noninvasive technology measures blood glucose levels as...

An unexpected source recently identified a global Martian dust storm. The source was an actuator, or motor, that powers a lid to a funnel that takes in samples of powdered...

Richard Duke spoke with Tech Briefs about the nature of the space-junk problem — and how his team plans to fix it.
Question of the Week : Green Design & Manufacturing
Would You Use Carl Yee’s ‘Disappearing Ink?’

Our second INSIDER story today features a purposefully “lousy ink” – one that slowly fades after being printed. The gradual disappearance of the ink allows the paper to be used again and again.

Read the article, and let us know what you think.

This week's Question: Would...

Have you heard of "fatbergs?" Researcher Asha Srinivasan explains how her team is turning masses of fat, oil, and grease into biofuel.

Webcasts

Upcoming Webinars: Photonics/Optics

High-Powered Directed Energy Laser Projects: Destroy the Target,...

Upcoming Webinars: Photonics/Optics

Optical Coating Design

Upcoming Webinars: Manufacturing & Prototyping

Rapid Decompression and Sealed Containers: Why Choose Magnet...

Upcoming Webinars: Motion Control

Advantages of Smart Servo Steppers vs. Smart Brushless Servos

Upcoming Webinars: Manufacturing & Prototyping

Large Cable, Large Problems: Considerations for Innovation

Upcoming Webinars: Robotics, Automation & Control

Collaborative Robots: Are They as Safe as They Sound?