February 2017

Question of the Week : Transportation
Can augmented reality reduce "road rage?"

This week’s Question: A new "CarNote" app from the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands aims to use augmented reality to improve the driving experience and reduce "road rage." CarNote's driver-facing periscope lens and transparent display projects information from a smartphone,...

News : Materials
'Tougher-than-Metal' Hydrogels Support New Biomaterials

Scientists from Japan's Hokkaido University have created tough hydrogels combined with woven fiber fabric. The "fiber-reinforced soft composite" fabrics are highly flexible, stronger than metals, and can support a number of potential applications, including artificial ligaments and tendons...

INSIDER : Materials
Mechanical Metamaterials Can Block Symmetry of Motion

Engineers and scientists at the University of Texas at Austin and the AMOLF institute in the Netherlands have invented mechanical metamaterials that transfer motion in one direction while blocking it in the other. The material can be thought of as a mechanical one-way shield that blocks...

INSIDER : Aerospace
Exo-Brake “Parachute” to Enable Safe Return for Small Spacecraft

Engineers at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, CA have been testing its Exo-Brake technology as a simple design that promises to help bring small payloads back through Earth’s atmosphere unharmed. An Exo-Brake is a tension-based, flexible braking device...

INSIDER : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Unified Approach Improves the Accuracy of Five-Axis Machine Tools

Five-axis machine tools are computer-numerically controlled (CNC) machines that can move, cut, or mill a part on five different axes at the same time. Because of inherent geometric errors, manufacturers must make adjustments when calibrating these machines. Several different...

INSIDER : Robotics, Automation & Control
Six-Legged Robots Move Faster with Bipod Gate

Researchers in Lausanne, Switzerland have determined that a bipod gait is the fastest and most efficient way for six-legged robots to move on flat ground, provided they don’t have the adhesive pads used by insects to climb walls and ceilings. This suggests designers of insect-inspired robots should...

Question of the Week : Aerospace
Will packages be effectively delivered by parachute?

This week's Question: Amazon recently filed a patent for parachute-aided delivery of packages. The proposed idea imagines drones releasing parcels from the sky, deploying parachutes to slow their descent and ensure the valuables inside remain intact. To address gusts of wind or unexpected...

News : Energy
Researchers Advance Printable Solar Cell Possibilities

By finding a new way to manufacture low-cost perovskite solar cells, a team at the University of Toronto believes that making solar cells could someday be as easy and inexpensive as printing a newspaper. The researchers' alternative solar technology supports the development of low-cost,...

Question of the Week : Energy
Will "$100-per-killowatt-hours" batteries boost wind and solar energy efforts?

This week’s Question: The Department of Energy (DOE) has set a goal of building a battery that stores energy for less than $100 per kilowatt-hour, making stored wind and solar energy competitive with energy produced from traditional power plants. Today’s lead...

Products : Software
Product of the Month: February 2017

OriginLab, Northampton, MA, released Origin and OriginPro 2017 data analysis and graphing software with more than 100 new features, enhancements, and apps. Features include Trellis plots for creating multi-panel graphs from grouped data, 3D stacked bars and 100% stacked bars with various bar shapes, a set of...

News : Energy
Long-Lasting Flow Battery Advances Renewable Energy Efforts

A new flow battery from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) stores energy in organic molecules dissolved in neutral pH water. Losing only one percent of its capacity per 1000 cycles, the non-toxic, non-corrosive device offers the potential to...

INSIDER : Energy
Electricity Generator Mimics Trees
Electricity Generator Mimics Trees

Iowa State University scientists have built a device that mimics the branches and leaves of a cottonwood tree and generates electricity when its artificial leaves sway in the wind. The device is derived...

Electricity Generator Mimics Trees
INSIDER : Energy
Energy Management System Cuts Hybrid Fuel Consumption by One-Third

Engineers at the University of California, Riverside have taken inspiration from biological evolution and the energy savings garnered by birds flying in formation to improve the efficiency of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) by more than 30 percent.

Question of the Week : Robotics, Automation & Control
Will telepresence drones take off?

This week’s Question: According to a recent application made public last week, Google is hoping to patent a "mobile telepresence system." The proposed drone is designed for collaboration with colleagues from remote locations. The technology will fly indoors and move from room to room, adjusting to...

News : Materials
Light-Absorbent Material Keeps Buildings Cool

Engineers at the University of California San Diego have created a thin, flexible, light-absorbing material that absorbs more than 87 percent of near-infrared light. The technology could someday support the development of solar cells; transparent window coatings to keep cars and buildings cool; and...

INSIDER : Test & Measurement
Data Logger Aids in Development of New Vehicles

A new data logger developed by Fraunhofer researchers simultaneously collects data from vehicles with combustion engines, electric drives, external sensors, and location data, and permits the development of new hybrid and electric vehicles. Once installed in a car, it records all the relevant...

INSIDER : Test & Measurement
High-Altitude Radiation Tests Will Protect Airline Travelers

Imagine you’re sitting on an airplane cruising at 36,000 feet. Just above you, high-energy particles, called cosmic rays, are zooming in from outer space. While we are largely protected from this radiation on the ground, up in the thin atmosphere of the stratosphere, these particles...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Rescue Robot Has Remote Control Function

A group of researchers at Osaka University, Kobe University, Tohoku University, The University of Tokyo, and Tokyo Institute of Technology developed construction robots for disaster relief that solve the various challenges of conventional construction machines used in such situations. Using a prototype...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Small Robot Has Outstanding Vertical Agility

Roboticists at the University of California, Berkeley, have designed a small robot that can leap into the air and then spring off a wall, or perform multiple vertical jumps in a row, resulting in what they claim is the highest robotic vertical jumping agility ever recorded. The agility of the robot...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Interactive Robot Control System and Method of Use

Researchers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC), in collaboration with General Motors and Oceaneering, have designed a state-of-the-art, highly dexterous, humanoid robot: Robonaut 2 (R2). R2 is made up of multiple systems and subcomponents: vision systems, image-recognition systems, sensors,...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Piezoelectric Actuator with Dual Horns that are Separately Controllable to Drive Miniature Vehicles Along a Single Axis

Actuators are a critical driver of all the mechanisms used in space, and improvements of their operation mechanism enhance mission capabilities. The disclosed invention is a new type of actuator that simultaneously drives dual...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Robot Powertrain Moves Toward Energy Autonomy

Inspecting the condition of dykes and other sea defense structures is typically a task for a team of robots. They consume a lot of energy to move across the dykes, perform tests, and communicate the results for six hours a day. Because charging stations are not a realistic scenario, University of...

Briefs : Motion Control
Evaluation Standard for Robotic Research

The Yale-CMU-Berkeley (YCB) Object and Model Set provides universal benchmarks for labs specializing in robotic manipulation and prosthetics. About two years ago, Aaron Dollar, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Yale University, came up with the benchmark idea to...

Articles : Motion Control
The Basics of Encoder Selection

Many small motor applications, such as robotics, industrial equipment, and consumer products, employ digital incremental encoders for feedback sensing. Encoder selection is therefore an important part of the system design process. Choosing the best encoder for the job requires knowledge of the most important...

Articles : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Servo Couplings for High-Tech Systems

Couplings are a critical part of system performance in high-tech applications, yet they are often one of the last components to be specified. Selecting the proper coupling ensures the equipment will meet performance requirements and have a long, trouble-free life. Poor coupling selection can lead to high...

Articles : Motion Control
Metallic Glass Shatters Gear Limitations

Gears play an essential role in precision robotics, and they can become a limiting factor when the robots must perform in space missions. In particular, the extreme temperatures of deep space pose numerous problems for successful gear operation. At NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, CA,...

Articles : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Adding SCADA to a Hydraulic Power Unit

With an increased focus on plant productivity and equipment reliability, Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems have become vital tools to reduce downtime while increasing asset reliability in hydraulic systems. A SCADA system is a computer system that essentially gathers and analyzes...

Application Briefs : Software
PLCs Improve Control of Radio Broadcasts
PLCs Improve Control of Radio Broadcasts

Broadcasting employs the latest technology in many areas, but controlling the broadcast hardware connected to the antenna and the related transmission power, source, and facilities is usually still a...

PLCs Improve Control of Radio Broadcasts
Podcasts
Farzin Amzajerdian, Principal Investigator, Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA

Since 2003, Farzin Amzajerdian has worked on the Navigation Doppler Lidar (NDL), a sensor designed to support safe and precise vehicle landings on Mars and other destinations. The breadbox-sized NDL contains three lasers, a small electronics box, and lenses...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Reliability Testing of High-Power Devices

Before a new high-power semiconductor device can be used for industrial applications, it must be thoroughly tested to determine if it will survive environmental stresses and continue to meet specifications. This is especially true for the latest wide-bandgap semiconductor materials such as silicon...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Electronic Device Monitors the Heart and Recognizes Speech

Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder and Northwestern University have developed a tiny, soft, and wearable acoustic sensor that measures vibrations in the human body, allowing them to monitor human heart health and recognize spoken words. The stretchable device...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Split Laser System for Environmental Monitoring

Environmental monitoring — the assessment of air, water, and soil quality — is highly important to oil and gas exploration companies, landowners, regulatory agencies, municipalities, and any organization measuring emissions and pollutants. The majority of monitoring technologies, however, are...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Measuring Tiny Forces with Light

Photons have no mass, but they have momentum. This allows researchers to use light to push matter around. Scientists at the Physical Measurement Laboratory (PML) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have taken advantage of this property to develop devices that can create and measure minute...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Laser Scanning Technique for Testing Fire-Damaged Concrete

Research at The University of Nottingham (UK) and the University at Ningbo (China) has found that laser scanning is a viable structural safety technique to detect the damaging effects of fire on concrete. Concrete is the most extensively used construction material worldwide with an...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
3D Measurement and Visualization of Displacement and Strain Fields

The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has developed a metrology workbench for the measurement and visualization of displacement and strain fields in three dimensions. The workbench uses two or more cameras to image a specimen, and includes custom software that implements the 3D...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Eddy Current Probe for Surface and Sub-Surface Inspection

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed a novel probe for eddy current sensor applications that improves detection depth and measurement resolution. Although the use of anisotropic magnetoresistive (AMR) sensors in eddy current probes to improve sensitivity at low frequencies and...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Damage Detection System for Flat Surfaces

NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) seeks to license its Multidimensional Damage Detection System for Flat Surfaces technology. The ability to detect damage to composite surfaces can be crucial, especially when those surfaces are enclosing a sealed environment that sustains human life and/or critical...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Wireless Sensing System Using Open-Circuit, Electrically Conductive Spiral-TraceSensor

NASA Langley Research Center researchers have developed a wireless, low-profile sensor that uses a magnetic field response measurement acquisition system to provide power to the sensor and to acquire physical property measurements from it. Unique to...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Variable Permeability Magnetometer Systems and Methods for Aerospace Applications

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed a magnetometer that takes advantage of the unique variable permeability properties of Metglas 2714A magnetic material. By measuring directly the inductive reactance of a simple right circular cylindrical search coil...

Briefs : Materials
Methods for Intercalating and Exfoliating Hexagonal Boron Nitride

Innovators at NASA's Glenn Research Center have developed a number of materials and methods to optimize the performance of nanomaterials by making them tougher, more resistant, and easier to process. Glenn's scientists are generating critical improvements at all stages of...

Briefs : Materials
Method for Fabricating Diamond-Dispersed, Fiber-Reinforced Composite Coating onLow-Temperature Sliding Thrust Bearing Interfaces

Innovators at NASA's Glenn Research Center have developed a method for fabricating a fiber-reinforced diamond composite coating on the surfaces of sliding thrust bearings at low and cryogenic temperatures....

Briefs : Materials
Enhanced Composite Damping Through Engineered Interfaces

Material damping is important in the design of structures as it limits vibration amplitudes, increases fatigue life, and affects impact resistance. This is particularly true for composite materials, which are currently used extensively in applications that experience frequent dynamic...

Briefs : Materials
Mechanoresponsive Healing Polymers

NASA's Langley Research Center is developing an innovative self-healing resin that automatically reacts to mechanical stimuli. Current structural materials are not self-healing, making it necessary to depend on complicated and potentially destructive repair methods and long down times. Unlike other proposed...

Briefs : Materials
Methodology for the Effective Stabilization of Tin-Oxide-Based Oxidation/ReductionCatalysts

NASA Langley researchers, in work spanning more than a decade, have developed a portfolio of technologies for low-temperature gas catalysis. Originally developed to support space-based CO2 lasers, the technology has evolved into an...

Briefs : Materials
Polymer-Reinforced, Non-Brittle, Lightweight Cryogenic Insulation for ReducedLifecycle Costs

The objective of this project was to develop inexpensive structural cryogenic insulation foam that has increased impact resistance for launch and ground-based cryogenic systems. Two parallel approaches were used: a silica-polymer co-foaming...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Photonic Choke-Joints for Dual-Polarization Waveguides

Photonic choke-joint (PCJ) structures for dual-polarization waveguides have been investigated at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center for use in device and component packaging. This interface enables the realization of a high-performance, non-contacting waveguide joint without degrading the...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Smart Optical Material Characterization System and Method

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed an adaptable and powerful interferometric test platform that uniquely enables multi-parameter evaluation of a wide variety of smart optical materials (SOM). The patent-pending SOM characterization system was created to measure the dynamic...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Compact Planar Microwave Blocking Filters

Innovators at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center have designed, fabricated, and characterized absorptive thermal blocking filters for cryogenic microwave applications. The device allows direct integration of the high-frequency signal and microwave readout, and mitigates spurious resonances in the circuit...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
System and Method for Generating a Frequency-Modulated Linear Laser Waveform

NASA's Langley Research Center has made a breakthrough improvement in laser frequency modulation. Frequency modulation technology has been used for surface mapping and measurement in sonar, radar, and time-of-flight laser technologies for decades. Although...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Systems and Methods for Mirror Mounting with Minimized Distortion

The use of larger, lighter, and more precise space optics requires not only a means of manufacture, but also a means of spacecraft integration and performance verification. Engineers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) have demonstrated a process capable of producing a...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Improved Approach to Exoplanet Coronagraphy

Visible nulling coronagraphy and interferometry requires that the wavefront errors be held to unprecedented precision in the presence of environmental disturbances. A Null Diversity algorithm is used to first attain the precision, but it does not execute at high enough temporal bandwidth to hold the...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Apparatus and Method for a Light Direction Sensor

This invention, developed at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, was originally conceived as a high-accuracy, high-sensitivity, bi-axial Sun angle sensor, but has also been proposed for applications involving the general field of precisely measuring the direction in which light travels toward the...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Apparatus and Method for Creating a Photonic Densely Accumulated Ray-Point

NASA's Langley Research Center has discovered a new approach to achieving a laser focal point size much smaller than the wavelength of light used, and smaller than that obtained using conventional micro zone plate lenses. The Photonic Densely Accumulated Ray-poinT...

Briefs : Medical
High-Quality Tissue Formation Method

NASA's Johnson Space Center seeks interested parties for the commercialization of the High Density Spot Seeding (HDSS) method to create 2D and 3D tissue models. This method can potentially be used to develop tissue models for a variety of applications, including wound treatment, therapy, and tissue modeling...

Briefs : Medical
Filtering Molecules with Nanotube Technology

Innovators at NASA's Johnson Space Center have developed a filtration device to eliminate contaminants from water supplies. Originally developed to purify waste-water for reuse aboard the International Space Station, the innovation is applicable to numerous situations on Earth where there is a need to...

Briefs : Medical
3D Biomimetic Platform

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed a method and apparatus to be used for cell culture that combines the effects of microgravity and low-dose radiation. The technology has been developed to simulate the effects of microgravity and chronic radiation exposure to cell culture experiments conducted on the...

Briefs : Medical
Automated Behavior and Cohesion Assessment Tools (ABCAT)

An important consideration of long-duration spaceflight operations is interpersonal dynamics that affect crew cohesion and performance. Flight surgeons have stated the need for unobtrusive monitoring to help detect if crews are having difficulties coping with long-duration spaceflight...

Briefs : Medical
Algorithm Measures Range of Motion and Applies Eccentric and Concentric Loads DuringExercise

Microprocessor-controlled exercise equipment that uses a servomotor has the capability to adjust the applied resistive load based on position, velocity, and acceleration. One method of applying the resistive load consists of applying a greater...

Briefs : Information Technology
Generalized Query Tool for Accessing the Database of the Mars Relay OperationsService (MaROS)

The Generalized Query Tool for accessing the database of MaROS can be utilized in three modes: (1) batch mode where a user's authentication data is inserted directly along with a desired query to the database, (2) interactive mode where a...

Briefs : Information Technology
High-Performance Fault-Tolerant xEmbedded Computing (HPFEC) Benchmark Suite

This work arises out of the Next Generation Space Processor (NGSP) project, a collaborative effort among several NASA centers and the Air Force Research Laboratory. The goal of NGSP is to develop the next generation of radiation-hardened, fault-tolerant,...

Briefs : Information Technology
JPF-NAS Extension of Java Pathfinder

Java PathFinder (JPF) version 7 provides basic support for verifying the distributed Java applications. It can receive a distributed Java application as input that is perceived as multiple Java processes. However, JPF does account for communication between processes of the distributed application, and it thus...

Briefs : Information Technology
Institutional Budgeting Tool (IBT)

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Institutional Budgeting Tool (IBT) was designed and developed to meet the needs of JPL's budget planners, numbering 1,600, who required a robust and state-of-the-art budgeting application. JPL's budgeting process had been constrained by legacy tools that presented usability and...

Briefs : Information Technology
Tubes Standards-Compliant C Header Library

Due to limitations imposed by transistor physics as device geometries continue to get finer and finer, the time when each new generation of processors was clocked faster than its predecessors is largely over. Nevertheless, as individual processor cores get smaller, chip manufacturers have turned instead...

Briefs : Software
Techniques for Conducting Effective Concept Design and Design-to-Cost Trade Studies

Concept design plays a central role in project success for space missions, as the product of concept design effectively locks in the majority of system lifecycle cost. It involves a concurrent investigation of requirements and multiple mission...

Briefs : Software
HyDE Model-Based Diagnosis Engine for Stochastic Hybrid Systems

Model-based diagnosis deals with the problem of diagnosing faults in systems using a model of the system for guidance. This problem is complicated by the presence of hybrid dynamics in the system (continuous evolution of the system interspersed with discrete events like commands to...

Who's Who : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Farzin Amzajerdian, Principal Investigator, Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA

Since 2003, Farzin Amzajerdian has worked on the Navigation Doppler Lidar (NDL), a sensor designed to support safe and precise vehicle landings on Mars and other destinations. The breadbox-sized NDL contains three lasers, a small electronics box, and lenses...

Articles : Electronics & Computers
PRINTED ELECTRONICS: THE FUTURE IS FLEXIBLE

Low-Cost Printable Electronics Fabrication

The need for low-cost and environmentally friendly processes for fabricating printable electronics and biosensor chips is rapidly growing. NASA has developed a unique approach for an atmospheric pressure plasma-based process for fabricating printable...

Articles : Imaging
Laser Vision Helps Package Shippers See Clearly

For more than 25 years, the Hubble Space Telescope has provided stunning photos of the universe unequalled in their depth, detail, and distinction. But in its early days, Hubble wasn't capable of sending back such breathtaking photos. Within weeks of launch, the images beamed back to Earth were...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Use of Beam Deflection to Control an Electron Beam Wire Deposition Process

NASA Langley Research Center researchers have a strong technology foundation in the use of electron-beam (e-beam) deposition for freeform fabrication of complex shaped metal parts. While e-beam wire deposition is of interest for rapid prototyping of metal parts,...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Thermal Stir Welding Process

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center is developing an improved joining technology called thermal stir welding that improves upon fusion welding and friction stir welding. This new technology enables a superior joining method by allowing manufacturers to join dissimilar materials and to weld at high rates. NASA's...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Systems, Apparatuses, and Methods for Using Durable Adhesively Bonded Joints forSandwich Structures

NASA'S Langley Research Center has developed a new adhesively bonded joint concept for curved and flat panel sandwich architectures. A woven preform, inserted into the seam between sandwich panels, provides a larger total bonding area...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Preliminary Design of a Cryogenic Hydrogen Radiation Shield for Human Spaceflight

Human susceptibility to the harsh space radiation environment has been identified as a major hurdle for exploration beyond low-Earth orbit (LEO). High-energy protons and nuclei ions from Solar Energetic Particles (SEPs) and Galactic Cosmic Rays (GCRs) can...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Methods of Making and Using Tubular Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs)

Human-occupied vehicles and autonomous vehicles such as rovers and landers may benefit from the fuel flexibility and high energy density of solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs), compared to batteries and polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) systems. Fuel systems greater than 1 kW are...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Tool Designs for Friction Stir Welding

Friction stir welding (FSW) is a solidstate welding process that shows promise in the aerospace industry. A new system of experimentation has been used to quickly make and screen new tool designs. After conducting a literature review, friction stir tools were designed to optimize material flow around the...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Novel Electrochemical Cell Designs for Simultaneous Production of Methane and Oxygenvia the Electrolysis of Carbon Dioxide and Water

NASA has investigated and demonstrated the simultaneous production of methane (CH4) and oxygen (O2) via the electrolysis of carbon dioxide (CO2) and water...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Eddy Current System and Method for Crack Detection

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed a new eddy current inspection device that probes for cracks in parts of metal structures that are often inaccessible without extensive disassembly. The probe is specially designed for insertion into the cavity of a part to inspect the surrounding...