December 2017

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Modular Fixturing for Assembly and Welding Applications

Researchers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center have developed new modular fixtures for holding metal in place during the assembly and welding of cylindrical and conical sections...

Briefs : Aerospace
Portable Runway Intersection Display and Monitoring System

Developed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, the subject technology is a portable airport runway/taxiway intersection lighting system and signage designed to prevent incursions. This proposed runway incursion prevention solution aids in the management and prevention of airport...

Modernization of the National Airspace System (NAS) will involve future air traffic management (ATM) concepts of operation and technology frameworks that rely on...

A spectral transmission-reflectance-intensity (TRI) analyzer was developed that attaches to a smartphone and analyzes patient blood, urine, or saliva samples as reliably as...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
On-line Phased Array Ultrasonic Testing (PAUT) System for Friction Stir Welding (FSW)

Friction Stir Welding (FSW) is a relatively new solid-state welding process, and many industries are now relying on this technique to produce advanced structures. Industries employing this technique include, but are not limited to, aeronautical, motor vehicle,...

NASA Langley Research Center has developed a method to create Sequential/Simultaneous Multi-Metallized Nanocomposites (S2M2N) via supercritical fluid (SCF) sequential or...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Low-Cost, Long-Lasting Valve Seal

This technology is designed to protect against leaks in solenoid, check, manual, and relief valves, as well as disconnects and regulators.

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center has developed a new,...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Non-Collinear Valve Actuation System

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center scientists have invented a novel valve actuator where the primary actuating system and return spring system are arranged non-collinearly. In the past, valve actuators...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Novel Vent Design Features Variable Flow Control and Rain Protection

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center scientists have designed a vent that can be useful for purging closed compartments, while preventing backflow and foreign object entry. The technology uses a system of configurable devices to provide variable flow control and prevent water,...

Briefs : Aerospace
Three-Dimensional Radiation Ray-Tracing for Hypersonic Entry Vehicles

Shock layer radiation is a form of aerodynamic heating that becomes significant at some entry velocities, depending on the vehicle trajectory and the planet’s atmosphere. Radiation heating is commonly computed with an appropriate method known as the tangent slab approximate...

Briefs : Aerospace
Flap Edge Noise Reduction Fins

NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed aircraft flap tip modifications that reduce noise produced during approach and landing. The modifications are rigid open lattice (honeycomblike) and fin structures...

Briefs : Aerospace
Separation Assurance Framework for ACES Simulation

National Airspace (NAS)-wide simulations provide modeling to emulate tens of thousands of flights for full days of traffic in the U.S. They allow system-level research to be conducted for the simulated airspace, and are currently being used by NASA, FAA, and industry to study interactions,...

The Create the Future Design Contest has helped stimulate and reward engineering innovation over the past 16 years, drawing more than 14,000 product designs from engineers, students, and...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Novel Design of an Orifice Control Element

An orifice element is commonly used in liquid rocket engine test facilities either as a flow metering device, a damper for acoustic resonance, or to provide a large reduction in pressure over a very...

Articles : Test & Measurement
Products of Tomorrow: December 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...

NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed a new technology for measuring the junction temperature of laser diode arrays (LDAs) that...

As new concepts need to be investigated, and a wide range of operating conditions has to be considered, the design of new products and processes must push the limits of...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Apparatus and Method to Test Abrasion Resistance of Material Using Airborne Particulate

Prior art techniques for testing abrasion resistance, such as the Taber test and the Bayer test, typically use a rubbing or scratching mechanism to test materials for abrasion resistance; specifically, either an abrasive material is rubbed across the test...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Electrochemically Enhanced Mechanical Polishing of Optics

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center astrophysicists are developing better instruments to measure high-energy X-rays zipping about space when viewed from above the Earth’s atmosphere. Scientists at MSFC adapted a novel method for material removal and super-polishing to the mandrel...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Miniature Airborne Particle Mass Monitor

Particulate matter (PM) exposure and health effects have become top U.S. environmental research agenda items over the past decade. Environmental epidemiological studies rely on information from both...

NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed a deployable and stowable mechanical design for filling the cavity behind the leading-edge slat (i.e., slat cove) when it is extended upon landing an aircraft....

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Lower-Chatter Friction Pull Plug Welding (FPPW)

Friction Pull Plug Welding (FPPW) is the process necessary to plug the hole that is left behind as a friction stir weld (FSW) joint is completed and the pin tool of the welder retracts from the...

Facility Focus : Medical
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, WA, has been operated by Battelle and its predecessors since the lab’s inception in 1965. For more than 50...

NASA Spinoff : RF & Microwave Electronics
GPS Correction Technology Lets Tractors Drive Themselves

Spinoff is NASA’s annual publication featuring successfully commercialized NASA technology. This commercialization has contributed to the development of products and services in the...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Personal Air Sampler for Collecting Airborne Aerosol Particulates for Molecular Analysis by Size

Air sampling is used to collect samples of airborne particles present in an environment. Analyses of the air samples can provide information concerning potential exposure to harmful respirable agents. Bioaerosol sampling can be used to identify...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Wallops Arc-Second Pointer (WASP)

The Wallops Arc Second Pointer (WASP) is a balloon-borne attitude control system capable of pointing a telescope or instrument with accuracy and stability down to the arc second, or 1/3600 of a degree of angular measurement. When a high-powered telescope is integrated with WASP, it provides a highly precise...

Briefs : Aerospace
Orion Guidance, Navigation, and Control Flight Software

The Orion Spacecraft is NASA’s vehicle for manned exploration outside of low Earth orbit. At the center of the Guidance, Navigation & Control (GN&C) subsystem is the GN&C Flight Software (FSW) that executes on the Vehicle Management Computers (VMCs). This software receives...

Researchers at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) have created the first functional robot powered entirely by vacuum. It is made of soft building blocks that move by having air sucked...

Deciding between a gantry and a robot for your application isn’t always as clear-cut as it may seem. To automate a simple, yet time-consuming and potentially dangerous task in...

Articles : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Trends in Hydraulic Filtration

Proper filtration plays an important role in ensuring that hydraulic systems operate trouble-free. High-performance filters maintain the cleanliness of the hydraulic fluid over its entire service life. In...

The launch, landing, and overall mission of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) is arguably one of the most daring — and successful — space exploration endeavors ever...

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...

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

Products : Electronics & Computers
New Products: December 2017 Motion Design
Corrosion-Resistant Valve

GF Piping Systems (Irvine, CA) introduced a corrosion-resistant pneumatic diaphragm valve for highly corrosive dosing and open/close applications. The Type 604/605...

Origami has once again inspired engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Besides aesthetic beauty, the Japanese tradition of paper-folding addresses a persistent problem...

The James Webb Space Telescope will be the most powerful space telescope ever built. With a 21-foot diameter, the telescope’s primary mirror is six times larger than the one used by...

Articles : Robotics, Automation & Control
LEARNING TO CRAWL: Origami Robot Moves Like an Earthworm

A team of engineers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign built a new kind of crawler robot. The wheel-less design takes inspiration from two unconventional...

Fine-grained human motion tracing — the ability to trace the trajectory of a moving human hand or leg, or even the whole body — is a general capability that is useful in a wide variety of...

The slippery state caused by water or oil is called superlubricity — where there is basically no friction on a surface. In graphene, this superlubricity state comes from atomic orbitals that...

Briefs : Communications
Zero-Power Radio Receiver

There are several different types of wireless radio frequency identification (RFID) tags that are truly zero-power radios. Currently, most unpowered wireless RFID tags only have a range of a few meters. There are longrange, low-powered tags that draw energy either from a battery or some other form of localized power. A...

Silicon has several qualities that have led it to become the bedrock of electronics. One is that it features a very good “native” insulator — silicon dioxide, or...

Briefs : Communications
System Integrates High-Speed Data and Wireless Power Transfer

Sources of wireless power — such as wireless cellphone charging pads — require near-physical contact with the pad, limiting the usefulness of a truly wireless power source. Recent work has extended wireless power to mid-range, which can supply power at inches to feet of...

A large-area detector without any dead space capable of handling a large dynamic range does not currently exist. Current large-area detectors have dead zones created by abutting several modules...

Briefs : Green Design & Manufacturing
KSC Weather Data Archive

The Spaceport Weather Data Archive provides a fully searchable database of weather data gathered at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Not only can the user easily retrieve data and download it, but the user can also view graphically the weather data on a map overlay. The data are...

A device has been developed that is capable of relatively lengthy unattended operations and high sampling frequency of underwater environmental data anywhere in the world. The...

Moving target indication (MTI) methodologies are essential tools to detect, locate, recognize, and track the moving targets of interest in a movie or video sequence. Different MTI methodologies can be...

A new high-isolation RF circulator provides enhanced detection ranges (radar) and improved reception (communications) by reducing signal leakage and undesirable internal reflections between...

WiFi signals are everywhere. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or drones) are expected to become a larger part of everyday life. A new methodology was developed for high-resolution,...

Engineers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center have developed a machine-to-machine (M2M) network navigation protocol to enable spacecraft to perform autonomous navigation and positioning,...

Briefs : Materials
Aluminum Alloy for High-Temperature Applications

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center originally developed a high-performance piston alloy to meet U.S. legislative restrictions on vehicular exhaust hydrocarbon emissions. NASA 398 aluminum alloy exhibits excellent tensile and fatigue strength at elevated temperatures. NASA 398 alloy also offers...

Briefs : Materials
Strong, Self-Healing Rubber

Self-healing hydrogels rely on water to incorporate reversible bonds that can promote healing. Engineering self-healing properties in dry materials, such as rubber, has proven more challenging because rubber is...

Briefs : Green Design & Manufacturing
Electromagnetic Mop (EMop) for Oil Spill Cleanup

The spillage of oil into the environment is an ongoing concern. Marine oil spills draw much attention because the oil harms marine animals and floral life. Current methods to aid in cleaning up the oil include containment booms, oil skimmers, and dispersants. Chemical dispersants are a tradeoff...

Collier Research Corp.
Newport News, VA
HyperSizer.com

When the Stratolaunch aircraft rolled out of the Mojave, CA Air and Space Port hangar this spring in...

Briefs : Materials
Multi-Functional Yarns and Fabrics with Anti-Microbial, Anti-Static, and Anti-Odor Characteristics

Prior art fabrics used to manufacture military combat uniforms typically are made from yarns comprised of a blend of cotton and nylon fibers. This blend supports dyeing and printing techniques that use a combination of acid and vat dyes to impart a...

Briefs : Green Design & Manufacturing
Detecting Low-Level Harmful Substances in a Large Volume of Fluid

There are many applications requiring the detection and concentration of harmful substances in a fluid; for example, detecting the presence and concentration of a microbial pathogen in a source of drinking water such as a lake, reservoir, river, stream, storage tank, water main,...

Briefs : Green Design & Manufacturing
Flood Impact Analysis Tool

NASA Langley resides in an area prone to tidal flooding. During events that were expected to lead to flooding, there were requests for maps showing the predicted flood level and what infrastructure may be impacted,...

Briefs : Imaging
Image-Based User Authentication

In other user authentication systems, a user authenticates identity by selecting a particular image that is then matched to a previous choice. This invention enables greater security for access control systems by combining facial recognition technology with a user authentication question.

A paper-thin, flexible device was created that can generate energy from human motion, and can act as a loudspeaker and microphone. The transducer is ultrathin, flexible, scalable, and...

Application Briefs : Aerospace
Sensor Assists NASA with Wearable CO2 Monitor
SST Sensing Ltd.Coatbridge,
UK
www.sstsensing.com

Studies show that heightened carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations can have an adverse effect on the human metabolism,...

NASA’s Mehdi Khorrami explains how he uses high-performance computing to handle one of the FAA’s biggest complaints: aircraft noise.
News : Automotive
Sound-Off: How Should Universities Prepare Tomorrow’s Vehicle Designers?
The skill set for tomorrow’s automotive designer? A combination of traditional engineering, physical sciences, mathematics, and, more than ever, ethics.

Dr. Beyah and a team of researchers from Georgia Tech and Rutgers University have developed a three-layer system to verify that components produced using...

Blog : Software
Will Ethics Training be Essential for Tomorrow's Design Engineers?

In our second INSIDER story, Patti Kreh demonstrated that colleges and universities will need to take an "interdisciplinary" approach to train the design engineers of the future.

"What we're seeing is the need for the blending of disciplines – a combination of...

If you ask engineers about their early days, many can't avoid talking about a favorite toy: the model rocket.
Question of the Week
Did You Ever Launch Model Rockets?

Our lead story today emphasized the inspirational role of the model rocket. What do you think? Did you ever launch model rockets?

Products
Product of the Month: December 2017
Boothroyd Dewhurst, Wakefield, RI, announced Design for Manufacturing (DFM) Concurrent Costing Version 3.0.
News : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Lost in Space: Smart Spacesuits Feature 'Home' Button

During a routine spacewalk, astronauts can easily lose their sense of orientation and direction. Creators of a new kind of spacesuit aim to address the challenge — with the push of a...

Imagine a tire that could heal after being punctured or a rubber band that never snapped.

A team of researchers from the University of Houston has reported a breakthrough in stretchable electronics that can serve as an artificial skin, allowing a robotic hand to sense the...

Researchers from the University of Houston and China have reported a new type of electronic device that can be triggered to dissolve through exposure to water molecules in the...

Researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and Ohio State's College of Engineering have developed a new technology: Tissue Nanotransfection or TNT. It can generate any...

The “Internet of Things” links a variety of devices, from computers and industrial machines to heart monitors and robots. The interconnection also leads to some...

During the historic Apollo 11 mission, the astronauts, mission control specialists, and back-room support staff did plenty of communicating. The University of Texas at Dallas launched a project to make all of the moon-mission audio accessible.
Question of the Week
Would you use "Printed Wi-Fi?"

This week, Tech Briefs TV featured an additive-manufacturing technology from the University of Washington.

INSIDER : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Printing a Better Actuator

One technology uses magnetic fields to generate mechanical work. The other enhances the magnetic properties of 3D-printed materials. Combined, they could lead to efficient, economical production of magnetic...

A vortex in the atmosphere can churn with enough power to create a typhoon. But more subtle vortices form constantly in nature. Many of them are too small to be seen with the naked eye....

A Tech Briefs reader asks our expert to compare three 3D-printing techniques.
INSIDER : RF & Microwave Electronics
Radar Sees Through Walls – By Seeking Symmetry
Using a narrow band of microwave frequencies, researchers at Duke University found a new way to see on the other side of the wall.

With another year of Tech Briefs almost in the books, it's time to look at our most-read news articles of 2017.

Top stories included a look back at the life of Robert Goddard, and a look forward to...

For years many engineers have assumed that you cannot encode more than one holographic image in a single surface — at least without losing resolution. Caltech researchers made the idea a reality.
Is the future electric? A reader asks an expert from Mercedes-Benz.

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?

Trending Stories

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INSIDER: Robotics, Automation & Control

Foldable Robots for Future Moon Mission

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Blood Test Detects Multiple Types of Cancer

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping

Electrochemical Hydrogen Peroxide Generator