April 2018

Question of the Week : Materials
Will sponges effectively soak up oil spills?

This week’s lead INSIDER story highlights the Oleo sponge – a reusable material that may someday support oil-spill remediation efforts.

Blog : Electronics & Computers
Answering Your Questions: Is This the End of VME?
Answering Your Questions: Is This the End of VME?
A reader asked our expert: What technology will spell the beginning of the end for the VME embedded computing platform?
Answering Your Questions: Is This the End of VME?
Blog : Green Design & Manufacturing
Reusable ‘Oleo’ Sponge Soaks Up Oil Spills
Reusable ‘Oleo’ Sponge Soaks Up Oil Spills

A reusable sponge from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory cleans up spills – not in the kitchen, but on the coast.

Reusable ‘Oleo’ Sponge Soaks Up Oil Spills
Question of the Week : Materials
Will All-Liquid 3D-Printing lead to ‘Liquid Electronics’?

A recent video on Tech Briefs TV featured an achievement from Berkeley Lab scientists who have developed a way to print all-liquid 3D structures.

News : Robotics, Automation & Control
Answering Your Questions: Are Assistive Robotics Safe for Patients?
Answering Your Questions: Are Assistive Robotics Safe for Patients?
Robotics are increasingly find a role in patient rehabilitation. But are the technologies safe?
Answering Your Questions: Are Assistive Robotics Safe for Patients?
Blog : Medical
Sponge-Inspired XSTAT Device Quickly Seals Gunshot Wounds
Sponge-Inspired XSTAT Device Quickly Seals Gunshot Wounds
With a syringe-like applicator, the XSTAT hemostatic tool injects small, rapidly-expanding sponges into a wound cavity.
Sponge-Inspired XSTAT Device Quickly Seals Gunshot Wounds
Question of the Week : Propulsion
Can a Harpoon Help with Space Clean-Up?

Once released from the International Space Station, the "RemoveDEBRIS" spacecraft will facilitate four demonstrations. One of the ideas: A harpoon. During the scheduled RemoveDEBRIS demo, the spear will be aimed at a target plate made of representative satellite materials.

INSIDER : Electronics & Computers
Fabric-Like Power Source for Wearable Electronics
Fabric-Like Power Source for Wearable Electronics

Scientists have created a customizable, fabric-like power source that can be cut, folded, or stretched without losing its function. The wearable power source, a supercapacitor, works like a...

Fabric-Like Power Source for Wearable Electronics
Question of the Week : Robotics, Automation & Control
Will 'jet-powered' feet support search-and-rescue applications?

Tech Briefs TV this week featured research from the Guangdong University of Technology in China: A team of engineers developed a ducted-fan propulsion system that drives the legs of a bipedal robot. Watch the video, and let us know what you think.

Blog : Green Design & Manufacturing
How to Control Vehicle Emissions: Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) or Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR)?
How to Control Vehicle Emissions: Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) or Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR)?
What's the best platform for controlling vehicle emissions? "It depends!" says one engine expert.
How to Control Vehicle Emissions: Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) or Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR)?
Blog : Electronics & Computers
Answering Your Questions: Lithium-Air Battery vs. Lithium-Ion
Answering Your Questions: Lithium-Air Battery vs. Lithium-Ion
Larry Curtiss answers reader questions about a new kind of lithium-air battery.
Answering Your Questions: Lithium-Air Battery vs. Lithium-Ion
Podcasts : Aerospace
Here's an Idea: Rockets
Here's an Idea: Rockets

On a snowy day in 1926, a physicist named Robert Goddard set out to his Aunt Effie's ranch. What happened next was not your typical day on the farm – Goddard launched the first liquid-propellant rocket.

Here's an Idea: Rockets
INSIDER : Materials
Corrosion Evaluation System Makes "Sense" for Aircraft Coatings
Corrosion Evaluation System Makes

Through a Small Business Innovation Research project with Luna Innovations, the Air Force supported the development of CorRES, an improved system for coating materials...

Corrosion Evaluation System Makes
INSIDER : Aerospace
Flight Control System Virtually Eliminates Pilot Error
Flight Control System Virtually Eliminates Pilot Error

The L1 adaptive flight control system maintains aircraft performance and maneuverability even in the presence of severe failures - ultimately increasing aircraft safety, resilience to...

Flight Control System Virtually Eliminates Pilot Error
Blog : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Aboard SpaceX Cargo Capsule, New Ideas for Getting Rid of Space Junk
Aboard SpaceX Cargo Capsule, New Ideas for Getting Rid of Space Junk
A “RemoveDEBRIS” satellite set to launch today will demonstrate new ideas for clearing out space junk near the International Space Station.
Aboard SpaceX Cargo Capsule, New Ideas for Getting Rid of Space Junk
Question of the Week : Aerospace
Can a 'HAMMER' Protect Us from Asteroids?

Today's lead story featured a theoretical 'HAMMER' spacecraft designed to serve as a kind of asteroid "battering ram," delivering an impact at 22,000 miles per hour.

Products : Motion Control
New Products: April 2018 Motion Design
New Products: April 2018 Motion Design

Mounted Ball Bearings

SKF (Lansdale, PA) launched mounted ball bearing units with industry-standard inch series cast iron housings in several designs, inch or metric insert bearings, and...

New Products: April 2018 Motion Design
Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Control for Molecular Machines
Control for Molecular Machines

Scientists around the world are working on new technologies for the nanofactories of the future, which one day could be used to analyze biochemical samples or produce active medical agents. The required...

Control for Molecular Machines
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Miniature “Pop-Up” Robot Combines Micrometer Precision and High Speed
Miniature “Pop-Up” Robot Combines Micrometer Precision and High Speed

Because of their high precision and speed, Delta robots are deployed in many industrial processes, including pick-and-place assemblies, machining, and welding. Delta...

Miniature “Pop-Up” Robot Combines Micrometer Precision and High Speed
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Load/Position Control of Rigidly Coupled Electromechanical Actuators
Load/Position Control of Rigidly Coupled Electromechanical Actuators

A technique was developed to prevent cross-coupling in systems where two or more linear electromechanical actuators (EMAs) are rigidly connected, and are in danger of...

Load/Position Control of Rigidly Coupled Electromechanical Actuators
Application Briefs : Imaging
NASA's Autonomous Robot Keeps Manufacturing Floors Safe
NASA's Autonomous Robot Keeps Manufacturing Floors Safe

A600-pound spider-like robot, called Spidernaut, was part of a prototype robot team built in 2005 to assemble a solar array on the Moon. The goal was not only to have robots do the...

NASA's Autonomous Robot Keeps Manufacturing Floors Safe
Articles : Photonics/Optics
Protecting Sensitive Instruments with Piezo-Driven Active Vibration Isolation Platforms
Protecting Sensitive Instruments with Piezo-Driven Active Vibration Isolation Platforms

As the need for nano precision has become increasingly important in many fields of research and manufacturing — such as microelectronics fabrication,...

Protecting Sensitive Instruments with Piezo-Driven Active Vibration Isolation Platforms
Articles : Motion Control
Choosing the Right Brake for Robotic Applications
Choosing the Right Brake for Robotic Applications

Industrial robots play an essential role in manufacturing, from assembly, to pick-and-place, to packaging. One of the major risks of robotics — and what OEMs seek to mitigate — is...

Choosing the Right Brake for Robotic Applications
Articles : Robotics, Automation & Control
Industrial Rotary Encoders: Selecting the Right Device for Your Application
Industrial Rotary Encoders: Selecting the Right Device for Your Application

Rotary encoders play important roles in motion control and industrial automation systems, providing control systems with information about the motion of motor...

Industrial Rotary Encoders: Selecting the Right Device for Your Application
Articles : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Cobots and Industrial Robots: Choose the Right Robot for the Job
Cobots and Industrial Robots: Choose the Right Robot for the Job

Automating manufacturing processes is a complex issue, with no one-size-fits-all solution. Robots range from insect-like microrobots to industrial robots powerful enough to...

Cobots and Industrial Robots: Choose the Right Robot for the Job
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Algorithms Analyze Images from Minimal Data

Smartphones and sensors have produced a treasure trove of pictures, many tagged with pertinent information identifying content. Using this vast database of cross-referenced images, convolutional neural networks and other machine learning methods have revolutionized the ability to quickly identify...

Briefs : Motion Control
Autonomous Robotic Self-Righting

Robots are increasingly being used for various applications including search and rescue operations and combat situations. Unfortunately, during the performance of maneuvers, a robot may fall or tip over, preventing it from moving normally. Controlling the robot to successfully right itself can be a difficult and...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Process Enables 3D Printing of Nanoscale Metal Structures
Process Enables 3D Printing of Nanoscale Metal Structures

In 3D printing — also known as additive manufacturing — an object is built layer-by-layer, allowing for the creation of structures that would be impossible to manufacture by...

Process Enables 3D Printing of Nanoscale Metal Structures
Articles : Transportation
Circuit Protection Challenges for Battery Management Systems
Circuit Protection Challenges for Battery Management Systems

The market for higher-voltage automotive systems is expanding. The number of electric vehicles that use battery-powered drive systems having voltage equal to or higher than 48V is...

Circuit Protection Challenges for Battery Management Systems
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Sound Inaudible to Humans Can Be Recorded by Microphones
Sound Inaudible to Humans Can Be Recorded by Microphones

Microphones, from those in smartphones to hearing aids, are built specifically to hear the human voice — humans can’t hear at levels higher than 20 kHz, and microphones max out at...

Sound Inaudible to Humans Can Be Recorded by Microphones
Articles
Demolition Probe Gives Construction Workers a Break
Demolition Probe Gives Construction Workers a Break

Initially designed for use on the Moon, the Electro-Hydraulic Fracturing system — developed at Auburn University with NASA funding — relies upon short, high-pulse power created by...

Demolition Probe Gives Construction Workers a Break
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Handheld Tracking and Communications Device

Leaders of teams such as first responders must maintain situational awareness to effectively react, coordinate, and respond to circumstances that can often become hazardous. Effective communications and positional information of assets, including personnel, are critical to decision-makers in...

Q&A : Transportation
Q&A: Dr. Abhaya Datye Creates a More Powerful Emission-Control Catalyst

Researchers at Washington State University, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and the University of New Mexico have created a catalyst capable of reducing pollutants at the lower temperatures expected in advanced engines. Their work presents a new way to create a more...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
System and Method for Managing Autonomous Entities Through Apoptosis

This NASA innovation is a biologically inspired system management method designed to make sensor webs as well as other autonomous and autonomic systems more self-directing and self-managing. Based on the mechanisms of cell apoptosis, this method ensures safe and correct...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Axial Magnetic Flux Airflow Integrated Compressor-Generator-Motor Turbojet Design

Innovators at the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center have developed a compressor-generator-motor turbojet design concept that integrates the generator with the aerodynamic blade structures of the compression section of turbomachinery. This reduces weight and...

Briefs : Communications
Cup Cylindrical Waveguide Antenna
Cup Cylindrical Waveguide Antenna

NASA Glenn’s cup cylindrical waveguide antenna (CCWA) is a short backfire microwave antenna capable of simultaneously supporting the transmission or reception of two distinct signals having opposite...

Cup Cylindrical Waveguide Antenna
Briefs : Energy
Solar-Powered Device Generates Electricity Through Ion Transport
Solar-Powered Device Generates Electricity Through Ion Transport

By binding photosensitive dyes to common plastic membranes and adding water, chemists have made a new type of solar power generator. The device is similar to familiar silicon...

Solar-Powered Device Generates Electricity Through Ion Transport
Articles : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Products of Tomorrow: April 2018
Products of Tomorrow: April 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...

Products of Tomorrow: April 2018
Briefs : Test & Measurement
High-Speed, High-Resolution Multimode Sensing of Structural Strain and Shape
High-Speed, High-Resolution Multimode Sensing of Structural Strain and Shape

Researchers at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC) have been developing a fiber optic sensing system (FOSS) that represents a major breakthrough in...

High-Speed, High-Resolution Multimode Sensing of Structural Strain and Shape
Briefs : Energy
Cobalt Oxygen-Evolving Catalysts for Clean Solar Fuel

By splitting a water molecule into two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen, scientists can use the Sun’s energy to make a clean fuel. Splitting a water molecule requires a metal catalyst to get the reaction started. Recently, much scientific attention has focused on cobalt, a relatively...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Safe2Ditch Technology
Safe2Ditch Technology

Highly capable small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) provide substantial business opportunity, especially if allowed to operate in the suburban market. Reliability issues force the use of a safety pilot for each vehicle...

Safe2Ditch Technology
Briefs : Nanotechnology
Method Reduces Glass Surface Reflections to Nearly Zero
Method Reduces Glass Surface Reflections to Nearly Zero

Most electronic devices have glass or plastic covers that protect against dust, moisture, and other environmental contaminants, but light reflection from these surfaces can make...

Method Reduces Glass Surface Reflections to Nearly Zero
Briefs : Energy
High-Power Solid-State Power Amplifier System

NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) has developed a High-Power Solid-State Power Amplifier System that combines 1-KW modules (16 amps total) to generate up to 16KW of radio frequency (RF) power from 230 MHz. The NASA device is a first step toward increasing the power of solid-state power amp...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Orangutank Robotic Pipe Traveler
Orangutank Robotic Pipe Traveler

The Orangutank™ is a remote-controlled, tethered robotic platform for traveling from one pipe to another using a network of vertical pipes for support. It combines specialized robotic grippers to provide...

Orangutank Robotic Pipe Traveler
Briefs : Software
Self-Learning Robot Hands Adapt to Grasp Objects
Self-Learning Robot Hands Adapt to Grasp Objects

Anew grasp system with robotic hands works without previously knowing the characteristics of objects, learning by trial and error. The robot features two hands based on human hands in terms of...

Self-Learning Robot Hands Adapt to Grasp Objects
Briefs : Green Design & Manufacturing
High-Voltage Power System for Hybrid Electric Aircraft Propulsion
High-Voltage Power System for Hybrid Electric Aircraft Propulsion

Innovators at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have developed a variable-frequency, alternating current (AC) power system to enable turbo-electric and hybrid electric...

High-Voltage Power System for Hybrid Electric Aircraft Propulsion
Briefs : Energy
Aluminum as a Fuel
Aluminum as a Fuel

Batteries and combustion engines each have distinctive benefits and limitations. Batteries have simple construction and operate silently; however, their energy density (i.e., the energy per unit volume) is poor, and...

Aluminum as a Fuel
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
High-Energy Lithium Flow Cells with Sulfur Anodes

Li-ion batteries offer considerable advantages such as high gravimetric and volumetric energy densities, and good calendar life and shelf life compared to aqueous systems such as Pb-acid, Ni-Cd, and Ni-MH. Various Li-ion chemistries with different Li-intercalating cathodes have attained...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Method Creates Wood Substance Stronger Than Titanium

A new way to treat wood makes it 12 times stronger than natural wood and ten times tougher. The wood substance could be comparable to steel or titanium alloys; it is also comparable to carbon fiber, but much less expensive.

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Technique for Chemically Combining Soft Materials
Technique for Chemically Combining Soft Materials

Every complex human tool has contained multiple materials wedged, tied, screwed, glued, or soldered together. But the next generation of tools, from autonomous squishy robots to flexible...

Technique for Chemically Combining Soft Materials
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Detecting Unauthorized Device Access by Comparing Multiple Independent Spatial-Time Data Sets from Other Devices

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center has developed a method to collect suspicious data and analyze them without extensive costs. A common challenge in complex computer systems is the identification of unauthorized use, which can be...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Robotic Gripper for Satellite Capture and Servicing
Robotic Gripper for Satellite Capture and Servicing

The robotic gripper was developed at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center as part of a robotic satellite servicing mission. The gripping device can be used to autonomously or remotely grasp and...

Robotic Gripper for Satellite Capture and Servicing
Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Method and Associated Apparatus for Capturing, Servicing, and De-Orbiting Earth Satellites Using Robotics

Engineers at Goddard Space Flight Center have overcome limitations plaguing the satellite sector since its inception through the development of a robotic system allowing for the autonomous capture and servicing of in-orbit satellites. By...

Briefs : Materials
Controllable Dry Adhesive for Efficient Climbing Robot
Controllable Dry Adhesive for Efficient Climbing Robot

A small robot with the ability to hoist large loads could have countless applications, not only as a small, inexpensive, disposable, mobile sensor in the realms of search and rescue,...

Controllable Dry Adhesive for Efficient Climbing Robot
Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Secure Optical Quantum Communications

NASA’s Glenn Research Center has developed a method of using entangled-photon pairs to produce highly secure mobile communications that require mere milliwatts of power. Conventional gas Argon-ion laser sources are too large, expensive, and power-intensive to use in portable applications. By contrast,...

Briefs : Energy
Generating Electricity with Energy-Harvesting Yarns
Generating Electricity with Energy-Harvesting Yarns

Researchers have developed yarns that generate electricity when they are stretched or twisted. The “twistron” yarns are constructed from carbon nanotubes — hollow cylinders of carbon...

Generating Electricity with Energy-Harvesting Yarns
Briefs : Imaging
Non-Catalytic Ignition System for High-Performance Advanced Monopropellant Thrusters

Anon-catalytic pyrotechnic ignition system was developed for advanced green monopropellant systems operating with hydroxylammonium nitrate (HAN)-based monopropellant AF-M315E. This technology will provide increased performance and new operating regimes for...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
3D Printer Test Station
3D Printer Test Station

NASA Langley Research Center has developed a test station capable of in-situ testing of material deposition and layer adhesion in an extrusion additive manufacturing process. The technology addresses the problem of...

3D Printer Test Station
Facility Focus : Nanotechnology
Sandia National Laboratories
Sandia National Laboratories

Sandia National Laboratories — headquartered in Albuquerque, MN, with a principal lab in Livermore, CA — is operated and managed by National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, LLC (a wholly owned...

Sandia National Laboratories
5 Ws : Test & Measurement
5 Ws of the iQ Portable Scanner
5 Ws of the iQ Portable Scanner

Who

Doctors, nurses, hospitals, paramedics, and other healthcare professionals; and consumers.

5 Ws of the iQ Portable Scanner
Briefs : Test & Measurement
Noncontact Sensor Measures Density and Speed of Sound of a Liquid in a Pipeline or Vessel

The need for non-invasive, real-time measurement of the density and speed of sound of a liquid led to the development of an ultrasonic sensing technique based upon the reflection of ultrasound at the solid-fluid interface.

Briefs : Motion Control
Thruster-Based Attitude and Translation Control with Minimum Pulse-Count Disturbance Rejection

Thruster-based control typically requires a substantial engineering effort in order to mitigate an important issue: the control system tends to use many thruster pulses to accomplish what a single thruster pulse could do instead. This fundamental...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Selective Access and Editing in a Database

NASA has developed a method and system that provides selective access to different portions of a database by different subgroups of database users. In this system, two or more members of a given access subgroup can simultaneously edit a document accessible to each member. This database system provides...

Briefs : Energy
Flexible, Water-Based Lithium-Ion Batteries
Flexible, Water-Based Lithium-Ion Batteries

Researchers have developed a lithium-ion battery that uses a water-salt solution as its electrolyte — reaching the 4.0- Volt mark for electronics such as laptops — without the fire and...

Flexible, Water-Based Lithium-Ion Batteries
Briefs : Software
Integrated Genomic and Proteomic Information Security Protocol

The evolving nature of the Internet will require continual advances in authentication and confidentiality protocols. Nature provides some clues as to how this can be accomplished in a distributed manner through molecular biology. Cryptography and molecular biology share certain...

Products : Imaging
New on the Market: April 2018
New on the Market: April 2018

Polarization Camera

Lucid Vision Labs, Richmond, BC, Canada, announced the 5-megapixel Phoenix polarization camera that can be used to detect stress or defects in manufacturing of materials such as...

New on the Market: April 2018
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Pressure Sensor Mechanism

The Pressure Sensor Mechanism is designed to measure or monitor tactile pressure. It is based on passive Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) sensor tags and is applicable to a variety of systems. As RFID sensors transmit information wirelessly, they eliminate many challenges associated with traditional wired systems...

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

Product of the Month

Opto 22, Temecula, CA, introduced the groov EPIC® system that incorporates into one unit everything needed to connect and control field and operational devices and...

Product of the Month: April 2018