April 2017

INSIDER : Motion Control
Interface Simplifies Remote Robot Operation

The traditional interface for remotely operating robots employs a computer screen and mouse to independently control six degrees of freedom, turning three virtual rings and adjusting arrows to get the robot into position to grab items or perform a specific task. But for someone who isn’t an expert,...

News : Imaging
How NASA Tracks the Asteroids Flying by Earth

On Wednesday, April 19, an asteroid missed Earth by 1.1 million miles – a distance closer than you might think. This week, Tech Briefs spoke with NASA’s Planetary Defense Officer about the efforts behind tracking this type of flyby.

News : Medical
Creating the Future: Wearable Bands Offer Continuous Blood-Pressure Measurement

The pneumatic cuff, a device traditionally used to measure blood pressure, has had a prominent place in doctors' offices for more than a century. As part of a year-long fellowship at Northwestern University, two clinicians and two engineers teamed up to develop a new...

Question of the Week : Photonics/Optics
Will UAVs improve how we monitor the environment?

This week's Question: Last week's TechBriefs.com story from the SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing 2017 conference in Anaheim revealed new ways of detecting leaks in natural gas pipelines. Panelists from industry, academia, and government demonstrated how miniaturized sensing platforms, and the...

Who's Who : Aerospace
Brooke Thornton, Mission Operations Manager, NASA’s Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA

On February 19, The Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment (SAGE) III instrument launched aboard a cargo capsule to the International Space Station. SAGE III — equipped with a telescope, grating spectrometer, and charge coupled device detector array...

News : Communications
Photonics Breakthrough 'Tunes' Wireless Communications

A chip-scale optical device, developed by a team from the University of Sydney’s Australian Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology, achieves radio frequency signal control at sub-nanosecond time scales. The photonics breakthrough has the potential to provide broader bandwidth...

News : Medical
Silver Bullet Against MRSA: Silver Ion-coated Devices

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections are caused by a type of staph bacteria that has become resistant to the antibiotics used to treat ordinary staph infections. The rise of MRSA infections is limiting the treatment options for physicians and surgeons. Now, an...

News : Medical
Devices Enhance Treatment for Cardiovascular Problems

Two medical devices approved by the FDA within the past year – a miniaturized pacemaker that doesn't have any wires and a coronary stent that gradually dissolves in the body – are showing promise as effective treatments for people with certain heart and vascular problems.

The new...

News : Medical
Study Looks at Powering Medical Implants With Solar Cells

The notion of using solar cells placed under the skin to continuously recharge implanted electronic medical devices is a viable one. Swiss researchers have done the math and found that a 3.6 square centimeter solar cell is all that is needed to generate enough power during winter and...

News : Medical
G-putty Innovation for Medical Devices and Diagnostics

Graphene Flagship researchers from Trinity College Dublin, working with the National Graphene Institute (NGI) at the University of Manchester, have used graphene to make the novelty children's material Silly Putty® (polysilicone) conduct electricity. Using this conductive polymer, they...

Question of the Week : Materials
Will shape memory polymers play a prominent role in non-aerospace applications?

This week's Question: A featured Tech Brief in today's INSIDER highlighted a shape memory polymer from Langley Research Center. Designed initially for morphing spacecraft, the material changes shape when temperature shifts; the thermosetting polymer than returns to...

News : Aerospace
Report from SPIE 2017: Drones Spot Gas Leaks from the Sky

ANAHEIM, CA. During last week’s SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing 2017 conference, panelists from industry, academia, and government demonstrated how miniaturized sensing platforms, and the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) hosting them, can improve the detection of hazardous gas...

Question of the Week : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Will 3D printing of tissue revolutionize healthcare?

This week’s Question: Our lead stories today featured interviews with Chuck Hull, inventor of the 3D printer, and industry expert Terry Wohlers. Though the medical applications for additive manufacturing are still in their early stages, organizations around the world have printed both hard...

Products : Test & Measurement
Product of the Month: April 2017

Astronics Test Systems, Irvine, CA, has introduced the PXIe-1802 arbitrary waveform generator and the PXIe-1803 digitizer that provide test capabilities and measurement accuracy in a compact PXI form factor for aerospace, defense, communications, and other high-reliability applications. The arbitrary waveform...

News : Manufacturing & Prototyping
What's New on TechBriefs.com: 3D Printing's Next Frontier

In 1983, when Chuck Hull was spending nights and weekends building the first 3D printer, he couldn’t have imagined that someone would eventually use the apparatus to build a toaster from ashes.

News : Manufacturing & Prototyping
How 3D Printing Began, Layer by Layer

In 1983, Chuck Hull worked for a small California-based company that used ultraviolet light to turn liquid polymers into hardened, or cured, coatings. Inside the firm’s lab on his nights and weekends, Hull found a way to make UV-curable materials the basis for his Stereolithography Apparatus, patented the...

News : Manufacturing & Prototyping
The 3D Printing Landscape: Then and Now

Frequently used as a design validation and prototyping tool in its early days, the 3D printer now supports a much wider range of applications, from shape-conforming electronics to the creation of printed living tissue. Tech Briefs spoke with industry expert Terry Wohlers about 3D printing's emerging...

Question of the Week : Energy
Can hybrid systems become a mainstream trucking technology?
Can hybrid systems become a mainstream trucking technology?

This week's Question: A lead INSIDER story today focused on an add-on system from Hyliion, based in Pittsburgh, PA, that will help truck fleets to reduce gas emissions and...

Can hybrid systems become a mainstream trucking technology?
News : Photonics/Optics
Researchers Sculpt Optical Micro-Structures

Materials scientists at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering used a new framework to grow sophisticated optical micro-components, including trumpet-shaped assemblages that operate as waveguides.

Briefs : Aerospace
Aircraft Configured for Flight in an Atmosphere Having Low Density

NASA Langley Research Center researchers have developed an airplane capable of being stowed in a confined volume and deployed in a high-altitude environment for extended-duration flight operations in a low-density atmosphere.

Briefs : Materials
Electric Field Activated Shape Memory Polymer Composite

NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed a novel shape memory polymer (SMP) made from composite materials for use in morphing structures. In response to an external stimulus such as a temperature change or an electric field, the thermosetting material changes shape, but then returns...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Method of Mapping Anomalies in Homogenous Material

This innovation builds off of NASA Langley Research Center’s SansEC sensing system. SansEC is an open-circuit, resonant sensor that needs no electrical connections (thus the name SansEC or “without electrical connection”). This technology combines the SansEC circuit with a magnetic field...

Briefs : Software
AMMOS Common Access Manager (CAM)

The Common Access Manager (CAM) software was developed to control access to functions and data for mission control, telemetry, tracking, instrument data, and other ground data system capabilities. The CAM software is used by Advanced Multi-Mission Operations System (AMMOS) and Deep Space Network (DSN)...

Briefs : Materials
Strain-Detecting Composite Materials

NASA Langley Research Center has developed a metallic material that can be embedded into structural alloys to enhance nondestructive evaluation (NDE) of a structure. Current NDE tools, such as eddy current probes and others, can have some difficulties detecting small flaws in certain materials and structures....

Articles : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Products of Tomorrow: April 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 innovation.

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Micro-Fresnel Zone Plate Optical Devices Using Densely Accumulated Ray Points

NASA Langley Research Center has developed a novel approach for a high-density optical data storage system to advance the typical capabilities of an optical data storage system. Operating at any laser wavelength from infrared (IR), visible, ultraviolet (UV), and X-ray...

Briefs : Materials
Compositions Comprising Nickel-Titanium, Methods of Manufacture Thereof, and Articles Comprising the Same

NASA's Glenn Research Center has developed high-temperature solid lubricant materials suitable for foil gas bearings that enable the commercialization of a broad array of revolutionary oil-free gas turbines, compressors, blowers, motors, and...

Briefs : Materials
Preparation of Metal Nanowire Decorated Carbon Allotropes

NASA's Langley Research Center has created a new class of materials based on depositing nanometer-sized metal particles onto carbon allotropes. The method is scalable and relatively simple, and allows for control over the size and distribution of the metal particles in the substrate,...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Controlled Deposition and Alignment of Carbon Nanotubes

NASA Langley Research Center researchers are experts at producing carbon nanotube (CNT)-based sensors for structural health monitoring (SHM). The sensors can be embedded in structures of all geometries to monitor conditions both inside and at the surface of the structure to continuously...

Application Briefs : Test & Measurement
Low-Outgassing Labels Identify Instruments on the International Space Station
Low-Outgassing Labels Identify Instruments on the International Space Station

CILS has developed a computer-printable, durable label for the identification of instruments on the Columbus Space Module, part of the International Space Station...

Low-Outgassing Labels Identify Instruments on the International Space Station
Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Melt Infiltration of SiC/SiC Preforms Using Cr-Si Alloys

The goal of this work was to develop engineered matrix SiC/SiC ceramic composites with crack blunting and self-healing capabilities for 1588 to 1755 K applications. The work optimized the temperature and time conditions for melt-infiltrating SiC/SiC preforms with chromium silicide alloys,...

Briefs : Software
Automating Optimization and Design Tasks Across Disciplines

When tackling modern engineering projects, designers must consider not only engineering parameters, but also such key factors as cost, safety, and environmental impact. To exploit the interactions of these various elements, designers must consider them simultaneously. Unfortunately,...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Method of Making a Composite Panel Having Subsonic Transverse Wave Speed Characteristics

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed an enhanced design for a composite panel with a recessed core. NASA designed it to decrease the radiation efficiency and increase the transmission loss while maintaining load-bearing capability so it could be used...

Application Briefs : Motion Control
Cooling Solution Helps NASA Get Closer to Mars
Cold conditioning system
Aggreko
Houston, TX
281-985-8200
www.aggreko.com
Briefs : Software
Aviation Environmental Design Tool (AEDT)

The Federal Aviation Administration's Aviation Environmental Design Tool (AEDT) is a software system that dynamically models aircraft performance in space and time to estimate fuel consumption, emissions, noise, and air quality assessments. Full-flight gate-to-gate analyses are possible for study sizes...

Briefs : Software
Intelligent Software Enables Design of Greener, More Efficient Construction Vehicles

University of Warwick (UK) engineers are optimizing the fuel economy of next-generation offhighway vehicles by introducing new intelligent power systems for improved engine operation. This could lead to significant fuel savings and fewer carbon emissions for the...

Briefs : Software
Shift: Self-Healing Independent File Transfer

In high-end computing environments, remote file transfers of very large data sets to and from computational resources are commonplace, as users typically are widely distributed across different organizations and must transfer in data to be processed, and transfer out results for further analysis....

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
CUDA Framework for Linear Time-Invariant Control of Adaptive Optics Systems

Current science objectives, such as high-contrast imaging of exoplanets, have led to the development of highorder adaptive optics (AO) systems possessing several thousand deformable mirror (DM) actuators. These systems typically rely on integrator-based control...

Application Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Optical Fiber for NASA's Next Climate-Viewing Satellite
Optical Fiber for NASA's Next Climate-Viewing Satellite
Polymicro Technologies™ optical fiber
Molex
Lisle, IL
1-800-78MOLEX
www.molex.com
Optical Fiber for NASA's Next Climate-Viewing Satellite
Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Arrayed Micro-Ring Spectrometer System and Method of Use

NASA Langley Research Center has developed a novel spectral analysis system that provides rapid multispectral analysis and imaging in a miniaturized system design. Typical spectrometers make use of linear gratings with linear slits or charge-coupled device (CCD) arrays to separate and...

Briefs : Materials
In Situ Mechanical Property Measurements of Amorphous Carbon-Boron Nitride Nanotube Nanostructures

Utilizing the full mechanical capabilities of individual nanotubes is a primary research goal in nanotube reinforced nanocomposite materials. Practical use of these nanomaterials requires creating stable and strong linkages between nanotubes...

Briefs : Materials
Negative Dielectric Constant Material Based on Ion Conducting Materials

NASA Langley Research Center has developed a novel negative dielectric constant material based on ion-conducting materials. A negative dielectric constant material is an essential key for creating metamaterials, or artificial negative index materials (NIMs). NIMs have...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Additively Manufactured Modular Thrust Chamber

Thrust chambers have historically been difficult to manufacture. They require extensive tooling and labor, and are expensive with long lead times. Thrust chambers were designed for manufacture using conventional machining. As a result, designs required multiple pieces to ensure machine tool access...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Resonance-Actuation of Microshutter Arrays

The field of view required for future missions is much larger than for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Researchers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center have created a new actuation scheme to reduce mass and complexity of the microshutters used on the NIRSpec instrument. This new development...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Point Mechanic Piezoelectric Sensor System
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Wireless Electrical Device Using Open-Circuit Elements Having No Electrical Connections

NASA Langley Research Center has developed a wireless, connection-free, open-circuit technology that can be used for developing electrical devices such as sensors that need no physical contact with the properties being measured. At the core of the technology...

Briefs : Software
Designing Stronger Concrete

Plasticity at small scales boosts concrete's utility as the world's most-used material by letting it constantly adjust to stress, decades or centuries after hardening. To find out why, Rice University researchers performed an atom-level computer analysis of tobermorite, a naturally occurring crystalline analog to the...

Briefs : Software
Designing Materials with Reprogrammable Shape and Function

Researchers from Harvard University's John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering have developed a general framework for designing reconfigurable metamaterials — materials whose function is determined by...

Articles : Automotive
Today's Automobile: Supercomputer on Wheels
Today's Automobile: Supercomputer on Wheels

With every passing year, it's getting more difficult to recognize the current crop of passenger vehicles as the descendants of Henry Ford's Model T. Those first mass-produced vehicles didn't even...

Today's Automobile: Supercomputer on Wheels
Briefs : Software
Designing and 3D Printing Customized Insoles for Diabetics

Insoles for diabetics have traditionally been handmade by makers of orthopedic shoes. In the future, these specialist shoemakers will be able to produce insoles more cost effectively using new software and 3D printers.

Briefs : Software
Software Improves Medication Adherence for Heart Stent Patients

MyIDEA (My Interventional Drug-Eluting Stent Education App) software was developed by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) who study data-simplification to improve clinical outcomes. The tablet computer application helps heart patients with drug-eluting stents...

Articles : Aerospace
Vibration Tables Shake Up Aerospace and Car Testing

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 health and medicine, consumer goods, transportation, public safety, computer technology, and...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
A Novel Orbiting Cloud Imager System for IR/UV/ X-Ray Bands

Typically, the cost of a spaceborne imaging system is driven by the size and mass of the primary aperture. Innovative solutions for imagers that are less complex and are lightweight are very desirable. Currently, telescopes such as JWST and ATLAST are very expensive and very...

Briefs : Software
Launch Trajectory Acquisition System (LTAS) Simulator

The objective of the LTAS Simulator application is to transmit one or more streams of simulated LTAS data frames in User Datagram Protocol (UDP) packets to the network. Each LTAS data frame is filled with simulated data values, with each data field determined using several methods: 1)...

Briefs : Software
Inductive Monitoring System Graphical User Interface (IMS GUI) for Processing, Analyzing, and Cleaning Datasets

The Inductive Monitoring System (IMS) software uses data mining techniques to automatically characterize nominal system operation by analyzing archived system data. These nominal characterizations are then used to perform near-realtime...

Briefs : Software
Computer Models Could Help Design Physical Therapy Regimens

After a stroke, patients typically have trouble walking, and few are able to regain the gait they had before suffering a stroke. Researchers funded by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) in Bethesda, MD have developed a computational walking model...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Mechanical Metamaterials 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 easily 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...

Briefs : Motion Control
Portable Superconductivity Systems for Small Motors

Superconductivity, where electrical currents travel unhindered through a material, has many practical uses. It is used in applications extending from MRIs in hospitals to the cavities of particle accelerators. However, practical exploitation of superconductivity also presents many...

Articles : Motion Control
Scanning Performance of Air Bearing Equipped Precision Motion Systems

Scanning is a common technique in applications ranging from high-resolution microscopy to industrial material processing. Scanning involves moving either a workpiece or an optic at a constant velocity while a reading or writing operation takes place. Air bearings are used for...

Briefs : Motion Control
Six-Legged Robots Move Faster with Bipod Gate

Six-legged insects run fastest using a three-legged (tripod) gait where they have three legs on the ground at all times (two on one side of their body and one on the other). The tripod gait has long inspired engineers who design six-legged robots, but researchers at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de...

Articles : Motion Control
Four Ways to improve Production by Understanding the Physics of Servos

There is always a need to increase production in automation applications. Sometimes achieving improvements requires breaking the process down to its fundamental basics. The science behind the technology of servo-based motion control systems should be considered when...

Articles : Motion Control
Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators

Advances in motion control technology have prompted a new debate — do hydraulic cylinders or electric linear actuators offer the best solution for a linear motion application? Hydraulic cylinders provide high force at an affordable cost. Hydraulics are rugged, relatively simple to...

Application Briefs : Motion Control
Custom Brakes Meet the Challenges of Gearless Motor Elevators

A manufacturer of low and high-rise elevators faced a challenge when customers began calling for a flexible elevator to meet the needs of the growing mid-rise, mixed-use building market. The global construction boom of mid-rise buildings can be attributed to several factors....

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Reducing Inaccuracies in Force/Haptic Feedback Systems

Researchers at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center have developed a new technology to reduce inaccuracies in force/haptic feedback devices and systems. Used at NASA in aircraft simulations for force feedback pilot controls, these systems involve a servo motor applying precise force to a...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Exo-Brake Enables Safe Return for Small Spacecraft
Briefs : Motion Control
BiBlade Sampling Chain

The BiBlade sampler has been developed for potentially acquiring samples from the surface of a planetary body. The tool could conceivably be used in both in situ and notional sample return missions to planetary bodies including asteroids, comets, and moons. While the tool was designed for planetary sampling missions, it...

Podcasts : Test & Measurement
Brooke Thornton, Mission Operations Manager, NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA

On February 19, The Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment (SAGE) III instrument launched aboard a cargo capsule to the International Space Station (ISS). Brooke Thornton is in charge of operating and monitoring the payload once it reaches the ISS. SAGE III...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Active Remote Sensing Radiometer
Products : Motion Control
New Products: April 2017 Motion Design

Variable Frequency Drives

Through a new partnership, variable frequency drives (VFDs) from American Control Electronics (South Beloit, IL) will now be offered as a product add-on to Brother Gearmotors’ portfolio of sub-fractional AC gearmotors and reducers. OEMs have access to an optimized VFD...