February 2018

INSIDER : Defense
Origami is Key to Air Force Concepts

For scientists and engineers at the Air Force Research Laboratory, the prospect of using origami to create complex, multi-functional materials from a two-dimensional substrate is a highly attractive...

News : Defense
Blockage Detection System Could Prevent Aircraft Accidents

Acoustic methods have been used for detecting blockages in pipes for many years. Researchers set out to discover if similar methods could be used for real aircraft Pitot tubes, which...

Products : Test & Measurement
Product of the Month: March 2018

Product of the Month

Keysight Technologies, Santa Rosa, CA, introduced the PathWave software platform that integrates design, test, measurement, and analysis to enable product development from...

INSIDER : Electronics & Computers
"Green" Device Generates Electricity from Motion

A wireless triboelectric nanogenerator (W-TENG) generates electricity from motion and vibrations. It consists of a biodegradeable polymer and graphene. When the two materials are brought...

INSIDER : Imaging
Robo-Picker Grasps and Packs

Engineers from MIT and Princeton University have developed a robotic pick-and-place system that consists of a standard industrial robotic arm outfitted with a custom gripper and suction cup. An "object-agnostic"...

Question of the Week : Photonics/Optics
Can Lasers Offer a Viable Charging Option?

Today’s INSIDER featured a laser system from the University of Washington — a technology that can charge a smartphone from across the room.

Blog : Electronics & Computers
How Can Reconfigurable Hardware Secure Connected Cars?
Software is the key; hardware is the door, says Xilinx’s Willard Tu.
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Compact Active Vibration Control System

NASA Langley Research Center has developed a point sensor and piezoelectric actuator system to actively sense and reduce vibrations in flexible structures. The system uses a directional piezoelectric...

Blog : Electronics & Computers
New Uses for Electro-Osmosis, Beyond the Ski Jacket

Beyond the slopes, creators of a moisture-managing, sweat-getting ski jacket envision new places for the “electrified” apparel.

Briefs : Nanotechnology
Advanced Carbon Aerogels for Energy Applications

Carbon aerogels (CAs) are nano-porous carbons comprising a particularly significant class of carbon nano-materials for a variety of sustainable energy applications. Carbon aerogels are...

5 Ws : Data Acquisition
5Ws of the Quanta Image Sensor
Learn the Who, What, Where, When, and Why of the Quanta Image Sensor.
Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Bend- and Twist-Sensing Optical Fiber

A method was developed for concurrently measuring bending and twisting along an optical fiber using only the properties of light guided within the fiber. The method exploits polarization-dependent...

Blog : Automotive
How Will the Rise of Electric Vehicles Impact the Power Grid? An Engineer Simulates the Effects
An energy at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory used computer simulation to project the impact of in-home charging on the grid.
News : Electronics & Computers
How to Charge a Smartphone – Using Lasers

If you forgot your charger today, engineers from the University of Washington have a solution for you — and it’s lasers.

Blog : Medical
'Antibiotic-Eluting Resorbable Tubes' Aim to Transform Pediatric Ear Treatment
Tech Briefs spoke with Dr. Lishan Aklog about an innovative pediatric ear treatment: antibiotic-eluting resorbable ear tubes.
INSIDER : Aerospace
NASA Demonstrates X-ray Navigation in Space

In a technology first, NASA demonstrated fully autonomous X-ray navigation in space. This technology could work in concert with existing spacecraft-based radio and optical systems.

News : Semiconductors & ICs
A Spin on Semiconductors Paves the Way for Brain-Inspired Computing
By integrating storage, memory, and processing into one unit, a new semiconductor device may someday support a computing architecture that mimics the brain.
Question of the Week : Robotics, Automation & Control
Will cockroach-inspired robots support search-and-rescue?

This week’s INSIDER featured a robot that moves like a cockroach. By studying the fundamental principles of object traversal, the technology’s inventors want to apply the idea to search-and-rescue robots. What do you think? Will cockroach-inspired robots support...

News : Motion Control
Agile New Robot Takes ‘Roach’ Approach
A JHU team has developed a prototype robot that steals some moves from a Central American cockroach species known as blaberus discoidalis.
Blog : Software
Your Readers' Choice Products of the Year
The votes are in! See the winners of the Tech Briefs' Readers' Choice Products of the Year.
News : Defense
Sharks on a Plane? Skin Scales Lift Aircraft Design

To improve a flying vehicle, sometimes you have to turn to a reliable model that has been operating for hundreds of millions of years.

Question of the Week : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Would you use color-changing 3D printables?

In today’s INSIDER, MIT researcher Professor Stefanie Mueller said that her laboratory’s color-changing 3D printables support new customizable objects and accessories, as well as opportunities for product designers showing off their prototypes.

News : Manufacturing & Prototyping
A Bright Idea for Reducing Waste: Color-Changing 3D Printables
Professor Stefanie Mueller and fellow researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) are exploring a more efficient way to cut down on print jobs: objects that change color.
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Smart Fabric Stores Information Without Electronics

Conductive thread — embroidery thread that can carry an electrical current — often is combined with other types of electronics to create fabric that lights up or communicates. This...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Algorithm Boosts Speed of 3D Printers

A major drawback to 3D printing is the slow pace of the process, which ensures details are reproduced accurately. The pace of 3D printing is one of the factors that has prevented the technology from finding a broader audience. A new algorithm was developed that boosts the speed at which the printers...

Briefs : Energy
Wireless Charging of Moving Electric Vehicles

If electric cars could recharge while driving down a highway, it would virtually eliminate concerns about their range and lower their cost, perhaps making electricity the standard fuel for vehicles. Researchers have wirelessly transmitted electricity to a nearby moving object, which could advance...

Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Ultra-Strong, Lightweight, Elastic, Electrically Conductive Carbon

The configuration of carbon's electrons allows for numerous self-bonding combinations that give rise to a range of materials with varying properties. For example, transparent, super-hard diamonds and opaque graphite, which is used for both pencils and industrial lubricant, are...

Blog : Imaging
From Sci-Fi to Surgery: New Uses for ‘Floating’ 3D Imagery
A BYU professor and his team have found a way to take the 3D displays of science fiction and make them a reality. A reader asks: Could surgeons use this kind of volumetric display?
Blog : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Shape-Morphing Materials Add 4th Dimension to 3D Printing

3D printing uses computer control to fuse layers of polymers or powders into a three-dimensional object. Rutgers University researchers found a way to add to a fourth dimension –...

Question of the Week : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Would you wear a moisture-managing ski jacket?

Today's INSIDER featured an electronic textile technology designed to keep skiers warm and dry. What do you think? Would you wear a moisture-managing ski jacket?

Briefs : Energy
Cryo-Fluid Capacitor (CFC) for Solid-State Storage and Supply-on-Demand of Cryogenic Fluids

Storage and transfer of fluid commodities such as oxygen, hydrogen, natural gas, nitrogen, argon, etc. are absolute necessities in virtually every industry. These fluids are typically contained in one of two ways: as low-pressure cryogenic liquids, or as...

Articles : Test & Measurement
Don't Let Obsolescence Cause Your Test System to Flatline

If you are testing devices and components that will last a decade or more, and you have to plan technology updates and obsolescence events for test systems that might live even...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Optical Product and Document Security Method

An inexpensive security method for uniquely marking and identifying physical objects such as documents or labels has been developed. This technology uses the mixing of inks in numerous different ratios to print arbitrary marks on a given object. The ink mixture used in a printed mark produces a...

Briefs : Energy
Wearable Solar Thermoelectric Generator

Energy harvesting is a diverse field encompassing many technologies that involve a process that captures small amounts of energy that would otherwise be lost as heat, light, sound, vibration, or...

Products : Electronics & Computers
New on the Market: February 2018

Product of the Month

Fluke Corp., Everett, WA, introduced the Fluke 3560 FC Vibration Sensors and Fluke 3502 FC Gateway for equipment vibration analysis. The sensors enable remote capture of...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Composite Materials Could Improve Respirator Filters

Current gas mask filters counter current threats, but there are large gaps in knowledge about how they do so at the molecular level. Many of the filters were developed to handle a wide...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Ad-Hoc Cache Hierarchies Increase Processing Speed and Reduce Energy Consumption

The efficiency of computer chips has increased by using caches — small, local memory banks that store frequently used data and cut down on time- and...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Additive Manufacturing Unique Serialization

Current methods of identifying a unique part involve adding a unique serial number to the part. There are many reasons that manufactured parts receive a serial number. They enable traceability of a part throughout its lifecycle, and ensure the part is not a counterfeit; however, labels and stamped...

Briefs : Aerospace
Interlaminar Strengthening Concepts for Polymer Matrix Composites

During the last few decades, one of the most prevalent issues associated with the performance of aerospace composite materials has revolved around low interlaminar mechanical properties. The innovations described in this work outline a number of new and improved techniques for...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
External Diagnostic Method to Detect Electrical Charging in Complex Ion Trapping Systems

Electron-ionized atom trapping technology is widely used in mass spectrometry and atomic clocks. The complexity of the trapping configuration operating in an ultra-high vacuum system is driven by demands for ultimate sensitivity, performance, and fundamental...

Briefs : Energy
Inexpensive Method for Manufacturing Supercapacitor Electrodes

Supercapacitors can store and deliver energy faster than conventional batteries. But to realize advanced applications, supercapacitors need better electrodes, which connect the...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Method of Fabricating Ultra-Short-Gate-Length Thin-Film Transistors Using Optical Lithography

The speed of thin-film transistors (TFTs) relates directly to their gate length, which must be kept as short as possible to lower electron transport time between electrodes, and improve its high-frequency response characteristics. Since current density...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
EOS MLS Level 2 Data Processing Software, Version 4

This software reads MLS Level 1 products — the Earth Observing System (EOS) Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS) calibrated measurements of microwave radiance products and operational meteorological data — and produces a set of estimates of atmospheric temperature and composition. The software...

Articles : Communications
The MITRE Corporation

The MITRE Corporation was chartered in 1958 as a private, not-for-profit organization to provide engineering and technical guidance for the federal government. Today, with locations in McLean, VA and Bedford, MA, MITRE...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
SolidSense: Gas Analyzer on a Chip

The SolidSense sensor platform measures all EPA-regulated gas emissions (nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbons), in addition to ammonia, with high accuracy and sensitivity. The chip-scale gas...

Briefs : Materials
Aluminum Electroplating Using Bromide Salts

Corrosion of structural materials is a serious problem for industrial and civil infrastructure worldwide, costing billions of dollars, and hampering gross domestic product. Corrosion also presents...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
The NiceC Programming Language

NiceC is an improved version of ANSI C. It attempts to clean up C as much as possible using syntax translation. A type checker for NiceC is under development. The NiceC programming language is translated to, and fully compatible with, ordinary C. Thus it can be used as a drop-in replacement for C. The main benefits...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
One-Step 3D Printing of Catalysts

While 3D printing has found applications in many areas, its use as a way to control chemical reactions, or catalysis, is relatively new. Current production of 3D catalysts typically involves various methods...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Development of Sodium Lidar for Spaceborne Missions

The metal layers at mesospheric altitudes are excellent tracers of neutral atmosphere dynamics, and have been used since the 1960s to study the chemistry and dynamics of the mesosphere. Ablation from meteors is believed to be the chief source of metals such as Na, Mg, K, Fe, and Ca in the...

Articles : Test & Measurement
Space-Based Bone Scanner Expands Medical Research

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...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
APT Web Tool

Project planning data collected by the Analysis, Planning, and Tracking (APT) system during the planning cycle previously was available to users via an email request to a data administrator who would pull data from the database, format as requested, and respond via email. Access to the data was limited by the availability of the...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Aerosol-to-Liquid Particle Extraction System (ALPES)

Agents that could be used in chemical and biological warfare tend to disperse widely in the air when released. Quickly collecting a concentrated sample of these agents is critical to detecting them before they reach harmful dose levels in the air. Also, methods of detection such as by...

Articles : Green Design & Manufacturing
Products of Tomorrow: February 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...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Conductive, High-Toughness Oxides Deposited by Plasma Spray-Physical Vapor Deposition (PS-PVD)

Oxide coatings deposited in Glenn Research Center's Plasma Spray-Physical Vapor Deposition (PS-PVD) facility can be processed to be mechanically tough (erosion-resistant) and electrically conductive at room temperature. The electrically conductive...

Briefs : Software
Echo Analysis Environment for Analyzing Large, Complex Datasets

Analyzing data piecemeal is usually uninformative. Analysts need tools to evaluate multiple pieces of data simultaneously that are related by a common thread. Identifying that...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Sensor Detects Nuclear Weapon Solvent

A new sensor picks up signatures of tributyl phosphate, a solvent used to enrich uranium, including for use in a nuclear weapon. Enzymes can detect tributyl phosphate signatures, but the lifespan of the enzymes is too short to make them practical for sensors.

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Depth Sensors for Time-of-Flight Imaging

Time of flight is an approach that gauges distance by measuring the time it takes light projected into a scene to bounce back to a sensor. In time-of-flight imaging, a short burst of light is fired...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Optical Method for Detecting Displacements and Strains at Ultra-High Temperatures During Thermo-Mechanical Testing

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed an optical method for detecting displacements and strains at ultra-high temperatures during thermo-mechanical testing. This innovation will provide displacement and strain measurements in...

Briefs : Materials
Superalloy Surface Treatment for Improved Performance of Power Turbines

To produce power more efficiently and cleanly, the next generation of power turbines will have to operate at extreme temperatures and pressures. Currently, single-crystal, nickel-based superalloys are used in such extreme environments. MCrAlY coatings (where M = Co, Ni, or...

Q&A : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Q&A: Dr. Shannon Yee, Assistant Professor of Heat Transfer, Combustion, and Energy Systems at Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA

Using flexible conducting polymers and novel circuitry patterns printed on paper, researchers in Dr. Lee’s laboratory have demonstrated proof-of-concept wearable thermoelectric generators that can harvest...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Solid-State Humidity Sensing Element

Researchers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center have developed a solid-state humidity sensing element that offers ultra-high sensitivity across a wide range of humidity levels. The sensing element is based on a novel ceramic dielectric material that exhibits large changes in capacitance as a function of...

Briefs : RF & Microwave Electronics
Radar Scanner Tests Wind Turbine Blades for Defects

Wind power has become an indispensable part of an environmentally friendly power supply. Therefore, it is important for this growth market that wind turbines become more efficient, more...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Shoebox-Sized Chemical Detector

A chemical sensor prototype was developed that can detect single-fingerprint quantities of substances from a distance of more than 100 feet away, and could be shrunk to the size of a shoebox. The portable...

Briefs : Software
MorphoHawk Mathematic Morphology Software for Image and Data Analysis

Computers and automated systems have accelerated productivity and improved quality and reliability for nearly everything, and are destined to take on increasing roles as time moves on. One major limiting factor for automated systems is their inability to categorize and...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Fourier Transform Spectrometer System

NASA's Langley Research Center and Science Applications International Corporation have developed a method of processing data from Fourier transform spectroscopy (FTS) measurements that improves upon existing methods. This method is simpler, more accurate, faster, and less expensive than previous methods. It...

Articles : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Comparison Between Wave Soldering and Reflow Soldering

As contemporary electronics embrace light weight, increasing efficiency, and high speed, each link of the manufacturing process also conforms to this philosophy, including printed...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
New Optics See More with Less

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center has developed a technology that combines a panoramic refracting optic (PRO) lens with a unique detection system to acquire a true 360-degree field of view. Although current imaging systems can acquire panoramic images, they must use up to five cameras to obtain the full field of...

Application Briefs : Imaging
Optical Bonding of Automotive Smart Surfaces

Behr Hella Thermo Control (BHTC) of Lippstadt, Germany, manufactures automotive interior components. As the demand for smarter cars increases, BHTC encountered a new automotive interior challenge:...

Articles : Semiconductors & ICs
Driver Design in Piezoelectric Motors

For most electrical engineers, the simple term “motor” means one thing: an electromagnetic rotary-motion unit. Engineers who need linear rather than rotary motion consider adding a mechanical linkage...

Application Briefs : Test & Measurement
Simplifying Cloud-Based Remote Access and Data Logging

Smart manufacturing capabilities should be built into machines, particularly those with advanced functionality such as motion control. Even if the factory is not currently connected to...

Briefs : Motion Control
Electrical Requirements for Direct Current Electric Actuators

Servo control systems require accurate control of motion parameters such as acceleration, velocity, and position. This requires a controller that can apply current (torque) to...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Hydraulically Amplified Actuators

Soft robots are made from soft materials that react to applied voltage with a wide range of motions. Such soft robots contain tremendous potential for future applications, as they adapt to dynamic...

Briefs : Motion Control
Metamaterial Converts Linear Compression Forces into a Rotational Movement

Using 3D printers, researchers have created a metamaterial from cubic building blocks that responds to compression forces by a rotation. Usually, this can only be...

Products : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
New Products: February 2018 Motion Design

Ring Motor

ThinGap (Camarillo, CA) introduced the PM model TGO77 large-bore compact ring motor for precision and highspeed applications. The brushless, frameless motor has an outside...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Software Brings Movement to Linear Actuators

Linear actuator manufacturers have a history of strong mechanical design expertise, which is the core of any linear actuation; however, giving motion to modern powered equipment goes beyond a...

Articles : Imaging
Strengthening Data Cabling for Next-Generation Motion Control Applications

The wide variety of industrial applications each independently calls for a level of robustness from the physical (PHY) layer, all the way up to applications. Time...

Briefs : Green Design & Manufacturing
Novel, Solid-State Hybrid Ultracapacitor Battery

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center has developed a solid-state ultracapacitor with a unique combination of high capacitance and battery-like discharge characteristics. The high capacitance in...

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