December 2019

Question of the Week : Materials
Can Gels Stop Wildfires?

A preventive treatment developed by Stanford researchers could greatly reduce the incidence and severity of wildfires. The cellulose-based, gel-like fluid protects against fires and stays on target vegetation through rain, wind, and other environmental exposure. Watch the demo on Tech Briefs TV.

Tech Talks : Automotive
An Advanced Solution for Hydrodynamic Film Challenges

Seals are responsible for nearly one-quarter of all lost mechanical energy in traditional transmissions, and manufacturers have increasingly turned to new low-friction transmission seals to save fuel, lower emissions, and extend the operating life of industrial powertrains. This 20-minute...

Blog : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
How to Fix Satellites — With Satellites
How to Fix Satellites — With Satellites
If a satellite breaks in orbit, there's not much that can be done. A professor envisions a new idea for refueling and repair.
How to Fix Satellites — With Satellites
Blog : Electronics & Computers
Countdown: The Top Stories of 2019
Countdown: The Top Stories of 2019

Tech Briefs in 2019 celebrated historic NASA anniversaries, new ways to power electronics, and innovative hacks of our “smartest” technologies.

Countdown: The Top Stories of 2019
On-Demand Webinars : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Metal 3D Printing

Having proven its capability and future potential in producing plastic-based parts, 3D printing has also been progressing steadily in metal. Recent market analysis reports stake material and printer sales in the metal 3D sector to be growing at rates of over 30% and 45%, respectively – fastest among all 3D printing...

INSIDER : Robotics, Automation & Control
Intelligent Microrobot Moves Without A Visible Force

Researchers developed a microrobot that measures a few micrometers across and resembles a paper bird made with origami. It flaps its wings or bends its neck and retracts its head via magnetism. The movements take place within milliseconds; programming of the nanomagnets only takes a few...

On-Demand Webinars : Aerospace
Update on Civil Certification of Multicore Processing Systems in Commercial Avionics

The transition from traditional federated systems to consolidated multicore platforms gives aerospace suppliers a competitive edge. This 60-minute Webinar examines the industry’s remarkable journey bringing multicore processing to avionics systems as well as...

On-Demand Webinars : Robotics, Automation & Control
Collaborative Robot Applications in the Automotive Industry

Smaller, easier to program, quick to implement, and typically one-third the cost of industrial bots, collaborative robots are more than being noticed in the industry. Recently a global director of manufacturing engineering integration at a major automotive OEM was quoted as saying...

INSIDER : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Big Plans to Save the Planet Depend on Nanoscopic Materials Improving Energy Storage
Big Plans to Save the Planet Depend on Nanoscopic Materials Improving Energy Storage

The challenge of building an energy future that preserves and improves the planet is a massive undertaking. Scientists and politicians have recognized the...

Big Plans to Save the Planet Depend on Nanoscopic Materials Improving Energy Storage
INSIDER : RF & Microwave Electronics
Highly Sensitive Diode, Converts Microwaves to Usable Electricity
Highly Sensitive Diode, Converts Microwaves to Usable Electricity

A highly sensitive rectifying element in the form of a nanowire backward diode can convert low-power 100 nanowatt microwaves into usable electricity. The newly developed diode...

Highly Sensitive Diode, Converts Microwaves to Usable Electricity
INSIDER : Power
A New Concept for More Sustainable Batteries
A New Concept for More Sustainable Batteries

A new concept for an aluminum battery has twice the energy density as previous versions, is made of abundant materials, and could lead to reduced production costs and environmental impact. The...

A New Concept for More Sustainable Batteries
Question of the Week : Automotive
Will ‘Unbreakable Batteries’ Find a Place in Electronics and Vehicles?

Increasingly, lithium-ion batteries are supporting portable electronics, electric vehicles, and grid storage.

Blog : Medical
Answering Your Questions: How is a Parylene Conformal Coating Used?
Answering Your Questions: How is a Parylene Conformal Coating Used?
Parylene coatings are being used in the medical industry and even space. Our expert explains why.
Answering Your Questions: How is a Parylene Conformal Coating Used?
News : Wearables
Stretchable and Flexible Biofuel Cell Runs on Sweat
Stretchable and Flexible Biofuel Cell Runs on Sweat

A unique new flexible and stretchable device, worn against the skin and capable of producing electrical energy by transforming the compounds present in sweat, has been developed and...

Stretchable and Flexible Biofuel Cell Runs on Sweat
News : Electronics & Computers
Reconfigurable Electronics Offer Promise for Implantable Devices
Reconfigurable Electronics Offer Promise for Implantable Devices

Medical implants of the future may feature reconfigurable electronic platforms that can morph in shape and size dynamically as bodies change or transform to relocate from one...

Reconfigurable Electronics Offer Promise for Implantable Devices
News : Medical
Soft Wearable Health Monitor Uses Stretchable Electronics
Soft Wearable Health Monitor Uses Stretchable Electronics

A wireless, wearable monitor built with stretchable electronics could allow comfortable, long-term health monitoring of adults, babies, and small children without concern for skin...

Soft Wearable Health Monitor Uses Stretchable Electronics
On-Demand Webinars : Materials
Enhance Product Design and Dependability with Advanced Coating Technologies

For decades, engineers have been tasked with designing new products that are not only smaller and lighter than previous generations, but they must also operate in increasingly challenging environments. These challenges are true in many industries, including Electronics,...

On-Demand Webinars : Green Design & Manufacturing
Rapid, Selective Volatile Emissions Testing for Vehicles and Components

Regulators and consumers demand increasingly lower levels of harmful volatile emissions in motor vehicle passenger cabins, pushing manufacturers toward more comprehensive testing – from component level to finished vehicles – to ensure conformance and avoid costly...

Tech Talks : Medical
New Developments in Catheter Shaft Components – Part 2

This Webinar focuses on advancements in catheter shaft componentry with a deeper dive into film cast technology. Specifically, we will hone in on polyimide and lubricious polyimide.

Blog : Electronics & Computers
In High Temperatures, A New Class of Ceramics Controls Heat Radiation
In High Temperatures, A New Class of Ceramics Controls Heat Radiation
New ceramics expand on ways to more efficiently use heat radiation.
In High Temperatures, A New Class of Ceramics Controls Heat Radiation
INSIDER : Sensors/Data Acquisition
MIT Researchers Employ Low-Cost Sensors to Detect and Track the Origins of Air Pollutants in India.
MIT Researchers Employ Low-Cost Sensors to Detect and Track the Origins of Air Pollutants in India.

At any moment in Delhi, India, a resident might start their car, releasing exhaust that floats into the atmosphere. In northwest India, a...

MIT Researchers Employ Low-Cost Sensors to Detect and Track the Origins of Air Pollutants in India.
INSIDER : Sensors/Data Acquisition
3D-Printed Plastics with High Performance Electrical Circuits
3D-Printed Plastics with High Performance Electrical Circuits

Rutgers engineers have embedded high performance electrical circuits inside 3D-printed plastics, which could lead to smaller and versatile drones and better-performing small...

3D-Printed Plastics with High Performance Electrical Circuits
INSIDER : Test & Measurement
Compact Depth Sensor Inspired by Spiders
Compact Depth Sensor Inspired by Spiders

Inspired by spiders, researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), have developed a compact and efficient depth sensor that could be used onboard...

Compact Depth Sensor Inspired by Spiders
INSIDER : Materials
New Transistor Nanocrystals Are Smaller, Higher Quality, and More Efficient
New Transistor Nanocrystals Are Smaller, Higher Quality, and More Efficient

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have developed a new method for producing atomically thin semiconducting crystals that could one day enable more powerful and...

New Transistor Nanocrystals Are Smaller, Higher Quality, and More Efficient
Question of the Week : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Will Self-Assembling 'M-Blocks' Catch On?

A team at MIT created self-assembling robotic cubes that can climb and roll over each other into set formations.

Articles : Robotics, Automation & Control
Collaborative Automation: It's More Than Just the Cobot
Collaborative Automation: It's More Than Just the Cobot
“Cobots” allow companies of almost any size to automate processes that were previously out of reach.
Collaborative Automation: It's More Than Just the Cobot
Articles : Motion Control
The Role of Sensors in the Evolution of Robotics
The Role of Sensors in the Evolution of Robotics
Sensing technology will help to transform manufacturing floors into the connected factories of the future.
The Role of Sensors in the Evolution of Robotics
Briefs : RF & Microwave Electronics
WiFi-Based Technique Measures Speed and Distance of Indoor Movement
WiFi-Based Technique Measures Speed and Distance of Indoor Movement
A technology uses a combination of WiFi signals and accelerometer technology to track devices in near-real-time.
WiFi-Based Technique Measures Speed and Distance of Indoor Movement
Briefs : Motion Control
Biologically Inspired Artificial Skin Improves Sensory Ability of Robots
Biologically Inspired Artificial Skin Improves Sensory Ability of Robots
A synthetic skin enables robots to sense their own bodies and surroundings
Biologically Inspired Artificial Skin Improves Sensory Ability of Robots
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Self-Contained Wheel Unit
Self-Contained Wheel Unit
Researchers have developed a self-contained wheel unit that combines a wheel and an electric motor.
Self-Contained Wheel Unit
Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Precision Low-Speed Motor Controller
Precision Low-Speed Motor Controller
The technology can be used in commercial motors, robotic systems, and hybrid and electric vehicles.
Precision Low-Speed Motor Controller
Application Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Docking System Enables Safe Rendezvous in Space
Docking System Enables Safe Rendezvous in Space
The ESA has commissioned its industry partners to design a new docking system called the International Berthing and Docking Mechanism (IBDM).
Docking System Enables Safe Rendezvous in Space
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Algorithm Gives Robots a Faster Grasp
Algorithm Gives Robots a Faster Grasp
The algorithm speeds up the planning process that robots use to adjust their grip on objects.
Algorithm Gives Robots a Faster Grasp
Briefs : AR/AI
Artificial Skin Provides Haptic Feedback
Artificial Skin Provides Haptic Feedback
The skin could help rehabilitation and enhance virtual reality by instantaneously adapting to a wearer's movements.
Artificial Skin Provides Haptic Feedback
Products : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
New Products: December 2019 Motion Design
New Products: December 2019 Motion Design
Actuators, Encoders, Gripping Tools, and More
New Products: December 2019 Motion Design
Application Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Valve Position Sensor Protects Switch Boxes from Salt Environment
Valve Position Sensor Protects Switch Boxes from Salt Environment
Salty air the Dutch city of Harlingen causes exposed metal parts to corrode.
Valve Position Sensor Protects Switch Boxes from Salt Environment
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
MMOD Impact Detection and Location
MMOD Impact Detection and Location
This system uses fiber optic strain sensing to detect and locate micrometeoroid/orbital debris.
MMOD Impact Detection and Location
Products : Electronics & Computers
New on the Market: December 2019
New on the Market: December 2019
Adhesives, flame-retardant compounds, vision measurement, and more...
New on the Market: December 2019
Articles : Electronics & Computers
Employing the Electrical Digital Twin to Mitigate Compliance Risk in Aerospace
Employing the Electrical Digital Twin to Mitigate Compliance Risk in Aerospace
With the rise in electrification and design complexity, aerospace original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) need to look for new methodologies to mitigate compliance risk.
Employing the Electrical Digital Twin to Mitigate Compliance Risk in Aerospace
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Superconductivity in a Nickel Oxide Material
Superconductivity in a Nickel Oxide Material
Made with “Jenga chemistry,” the material could help in understanding how high-temperature superconductors work.
Superconductivity in a Nickel Oxide Material
Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Low-Bandwidth Radar Technology Provides Improved Detection of Objects
Low-Bandwidth Radar Technology Provides Improved Detection of Objects

Radar technologies were originally designed to identify and track airborne military targets. Today, they're more often used to detect motor vehicles, weather formations,...

Low-Bandwidth Radar Technology Provides Improved Detection of Objects
Briefs : RF & Microwave Electronics
Enhanced Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Reader
Enhanced Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Reader
The reader uses a frequency multiplexer to boost its ability to accurately locate a greater number of RFID tags.
Enhanced Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Reader
Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Potassium-Oxygen Battery Stores Clean Energy
Potassium-Oxygen Battery Stores Clean Energy

Researchers have developed a more efficient, more reliable potassium-oxygen battery with a cathode that stores the energy produced by a chemical reaction in a metal-oxygen or metal-air battery....

Potassium-Oxygen Battery Stores Clean Energy
5 Ws : Sensors/Data Acquisition
5 Ws of EarEcho
5 Ws of EarEcho
The biometric tool uses modified wireless earbuds to authenticate smartphone users
5 Ws of EarEcho
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Embedded Fiber Optic Sensors (EFOS)
Embedded Fiber Optic Sensors (EFOS)

Current laser interferometry pressure pulse detection techniques use the shock-induced change in index of refraction to track detonation and/or shock fronts in a single fiber optic by reflecting laser...

Embedded Fiber Optic Sensors (EFOS)
Technology Leaders : Electronics & Computers
Development and Analysis of Solid-State Batteries with the COMSOL® Platform
Development and Analysis of Solid-State Batteries with the COMSOL® Platform
As lithium-ion battery production doubles, more viable energy storage solutions are needed.
Development and Analysis of Solid-State Batteries with the COMSOL® Platform
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Li-ion Cell Calorimeter Makes Commercial Lithium Batteries Safer
Li-ion Cell Calorimeter Makes Commercial Lithium Batteries Safer

Innovators at NASA Johnson Space Center have developed a calorimeter that is able to measure the total heat generated when specific types of Lithium-ion (Li-ion) cells are...

Li-ion Cell Calorimeter Makes Commercial Lithium Batteries Safer
Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Continuous Fiber Composite for Use in Gears
Continuous Fiber Composite for Use in Gears
This lightweight material brings strength and durability to complex shapes.
Continuous Fiber Composite for Use in Gears
Facility Focus : Imaging
Facility Focus: NASA John H. Glenn Research Center
Facility Focus: NASA John H. Glenn Research Center
Glenn's research facilities have contributed to decades of technology advances.
Facility Focus: NASA John H. Glenn Research Center
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Packaging for SiC Sensors and Electronics
Packaging for SiC Sensors and Electronics
This packaging provides protection for SiC sensors and electronics in harsh, hightemperature environments.
Packaging for SiC Sensors and Electronics
Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Free-Space Fiber Optic Laser Rod
Free-Space Fiber Optic Laser Rod
This approach removes the limitation on peak power densities that exists for fiber lasers.
Free-Space Fiber Optic Laser Rod
Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Shape Memory Alloy Art (SMArt)
Shape Memory Alloy Art (SMArt)
This hands-on, educational tool highlights the properties of SMA wire.
Shape Memory Alloy Art (SMArt)
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
De-Orbit Device for SmallSats
De-Orbit Device for SmallSats
This retractable de-orbit device facilitates targeted re-entry, attitude and orbital control, and collision avoidance.
De-Orbit Device for SmallSats
NASA Spinoff : Energy
Carbon Capture Process Makes Sustainable Oil
Carbon Capture Process Makes Sustainable Oil
Life support research for astronauts enabled a solution to one aspect of climate change.
Carbon Capture Process Makes Sustainable Oil
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Metallization for SiC Semiconductors
Metallization for SiC Semiconductors
This technology provides simultaneous ohmic contacts and the process to make them.
Metallization for SiC Semiconductors
Briefs : Software
Human Torso Simulator
Human Torso Simulator
The simulator could help in the development of new back braces.
Human Torso Simulator
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Photonic Switch Increases Speed and Efficiency of Light Through Optical Fibers
Photonic Switch Increases Speed and Efficiency of Light Through Optical Fibers
This optical switch controls the direction of light passing through optical fibers faster and more efficiently.
Photonic Switch Increases Speed and Efficiency of Light Through Optical Fibers
Articles : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Products of Tomorrow: December 2019
Products of Tomorrow: December 2019
Products include an aerosol scattering sensor; metal foam; and a new coated drug capsule.
Products of Tomorrow: December 2019
Briefs : Automotive
Chemical Mixture Widens the Temperature Range for Electric Car Batteries
Chemical Mixture Widens the Temperature Range for Electric Car Batteries
A combination of additives shows promise for boosting battery performance in very cold or hot weather.
Chemical Mixture Widens the Temperature Range for Electric Car Batteries
Briefs : Test & Measurement
Technique Uses X-Rays to Detect Defective Computer Chips
Technique Uses X-Rays to Detect Defective Computer Chips
This method also reverse-engineers computer chips to detect the chip’s purpose.
Technique Uses X-Rays to Detect Defective Computer Chips
Briefs : Automotive
Aerogel-Fiber Layered Laminate System
Aerogel-Fiber Layered Laminate System
This multifunctional hybrid laminate composite can be used for residential and commercial construction.
Aerogel-Fiber Layered Laminate System
Briefs : Aerospace
Shape Memory Alloy with Adjustable, Wide-Ranging Actuation Temperatures
Shape Memory Alloy with Adjustable, Wide-Ranging Actuation Temperatures
This invention is a highly stable, heat-treatable, and tunable material.
Shape Memory Alloy with Adjustable, Wide-Ranging Actuation Temperatures
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Device Creates Electricity from Snowfall
Device Creates Electricity from Snowfall
The nanogenerator also acts as a weather station.
Device Creates Electricity from Snowfall
Q&A : Energy
Q&A: Refrigeration by Twisting Fibers
Q&A: Refrigeration by Twisting Fibers
Changing directions of twist and coiling changes whether a material cools or heats.
Q&A: Refrigeration by Twisting Fibers
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Photovoltaic-Powered Sensors
Photovoltaic-Powered Sensors
RFID-based devices work in indoor and outdoor lighting conditions and could transmit data for years before they need to be replaced.
Photovoltaic-Powered Sensors
Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Method Speeds 3D Printing of Millimeter-Sized Imaging Lenses
Method Speeds 3D Printing of Millimeter-Sized Imaging Lenses
The method could impact optical imaging, vision correction, and disease diagnosis.
Method Speeds 3D Printing of Millimeter-Sized Imaging Lenses
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Optically Fixable Shape Memory Polymers
Optically Fixable Shape Memory Polymers
These polymers can combine thermal and optically fixable shape memory.
Optically Fixable Shape Memory Polymers
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Unpowered, Lightweight Ankle Exoskeleton
This low-profile ankle exoskeleton integrates into a shoe and fits under clothing.
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Method Manipulates Electrons and Transmits Information Quantum-Mechanically
Method Manipulates Electrons and Transmits Information Quantum-Mechanically
This technology could lead to the creation of fully functional quantum computers.
Method Manipulates Electrons and Transmits Information Quantum-Mechanically
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Heat-Regulating Material for Next-Generation Space Blanket
Heat-Regulating Material for Next-Generation Space Blanket
Squid skin inspires a new material with heat-regulating properties.
Heat-Regulating Material for Next-Generation Space Blanket
Articles : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Innovators Recognized for Creating the Future 2019
Innovators Recognized for Creating the Future 2019
Top prizes in the 2019 contest were awarded on November 8 in New York City.
Innovators Recognized for Creating the Future 2019
Briefs : Power
Ultra-Thin Layers of Rust Generate Electricity from Flowing Water
Ultra-Thin Layers of Rust Generate Electricity from Flowing Water
When combined with saltwater, rust can be a source of electricity.
Ultra-Thin Layers of Rust Generate Electricity from Flowing Water
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Transport Method Boosts Capacity of Heat Exchangers
Transport Method Boosts Capacity of Heat Exchangers
A simple modification can improve the capability of turbulent heat exchangers by 500%.
Transport Method Boosts Capacity of Heat Exchangers
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Macro-Fiber Composite (MFC) Actuator
Macro-Fiber Composite (MFC) Actuator
This technology has applications in sonar, range measuring, directional-force sensors, flow meters, and vibration/noise sensing and control.
Macro-Fiber Composite (MFC) Actuator
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Adaptive Spatial Resolution Enables Focused Fiber Optic Sensing
Adaptive Spatial Resolution Enables Focused Fiber Optic Sensing
This innovation dynamically provides fast signal processing and precision measurement.
Adaptive Spatial Resolution Enables Focused Fiber Optic Sensing
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Washable Sensor Can Be Woven Into Materials
Washable Sensor Can Be Woven Into Materials
The device could impact composites manufacturing and health monitoring.
Washable Sensor Can Be Woven Into Materials
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Durable Polyimide Aerogels
Durable Polyimide Aerogels
Stronger and flexible, polyimide aerogels provide insulation and structural support.
Durable Polyimide Aerogels
Products : Electronics & Computers
Product of the Month: December 2019 Tech Briefs
Product of the Month: December 2019 Tech Briefs
The GNV-720 and GNV-725 humidity temperature meters from Global Specialties feature three environmental sensors.
Product of the Month: December 2019 Tech Briefs
Question of the Week
Would You Ride in a Flying Car?