July 2017

News : Photonics/Optics
Sound-Off: What’s Next for Optical Design Processes?

Mechanical engineers require a variety of tools to ensure the proper design of optical products like cell phones and autonomous vehicle sensor systems. In a presentation titled "Trends Driving Innovations in Optical Product Design," an attendee asked our expert: What will be integrated into...

Question of the Week : Imaging
Do you see augmented reality as a way of improving design processes?

A report last week concluded that the augmented reality (AR) market is expected to grow from $2.39 billion in 2016 to $61.39 billion by 2023. The research from the Hadapsar, India-based analyst firm MarketsandMarkets cites increasing demand for AR devices and applications in...

News : Energy
Future Fashion Statement? New Material Generates Power from Human Motion

Vanderbilt University researchers developed an ultra-thin system that can harvest energy from the slightest of human motions — even sitting. Made from materials five...

INSIDER : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Electromagnetic Actuator Decouples Linear and Rotary Motions

A lightweight module for rapid, accurate, and versatile positioning of semiconductor chips features a novel electromechanical actuator that can move objects both linearly and...

INSIDER : Motion Control
Soft “Vinebot” Excels at Search and Rescue

Inspired by natural organisms like vines that cover distance by growing, researchers at Stanford University have created a soft, tubular robot that lengthens to explore hard-to-reach areas. The vine-like robot can grow across long distances without moving its whole body, which could prove useful in...

News : Robotics, Automation & Control
How the Dragonfly’s Brain Offers Insights for Robotic Vision

By carefully studying the neurons of the dragonfly, University of Adelaide PhD student Joseph Fabian discovered the predator’s keen way of catching its prey. Fabian and his fellow researchers hope to translate the insect’s complex neural processes into advances that support new...

News : Imaging
Sound-Off: How Do a Vehicle’s Imaging Sensors Filter Out Weather, Crosstalk?

A "Geiger-mode" lidar sensor sends out pulses at a high repetition rate (200 kHz), forming an image on the percent of pulses that return. The technology has been used by vehicle manufacturers to support collision avoidance, adaptive cruise control, and other Advanced...

News : Imaging
Are You Using Augmented Reality in the Design Process?

A new report concludes that the augmented reality (AR) market is expected to grow from $2.39 billion in 2016 to $61.39 billion by 2023.

Question of the Week
Can autonomous systems make moral judgments?

Today’s lead INSIDER story highlighted Osnabrück University researchers’ attempts to model morality in self-driving vehicles. What do you think? Can autonomous systems make moral judgments?

News : Automotive
Can Self-Driving Cars be Modeled for Morality?

Imagine a self-driving car making its way down a foggy road that is suddenly blocked by two separate obstacles – is one of them an object? A person? An animal? Would the autonomous vehicle make the right split-second decision on which one to spare? Can algorithms be used to make decisions in...

Products : Photonics/Optics
New Products: July 2017 Photonics & Imaging Insider

Asphere Measurement System

The AspheroCheck UP from TRIOPTICS (Weden, Germany) is designed with a completely automated measurement process that requires no manual...

INSIDER : Photonics/Optics
World’s Brightest Laser Sparks New Behavior in Light

Physicists from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are seeing an everyday phenomenon in a new light. By focusing laser light to a brightness 1 billion times greater than the surface of the sun — the brightest light ever produced on Earth — the physicists have observed changes in a...

INSIDER : Semiconductors & ICs
New Class of ‘Soft’ Semiconductors Could Transform HD Displays

A new type of semiconductor may be coming to a high-definition display near you. Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley...

INSIDER : Semiconductors & ICs
'Magic' Alloy Could Spur Next Generation of Solar Cells

In what could be a major step forward for a new generation of solar cells called "concentrator photovoltaics," University of Michigan researchers have developed a new semiconductor...

Question of the Week
Will the smart grid become a reality?

Today’s lead INSIDER story featured a new building block for the smart grid: a solid-state transformer."

The SST is a fundamental building block in the smart-grid concept," said NC State Distinguished Professor Iqbal Husain. "It can scale down voltage for use in homes and businesses, but it can...

News : Electronics & Computers
'Smart' Transformer Supports Power Grid of Tomorrow

Imagine a system that handles electricity flow not just from the power company to our homes, but also back from our homes to the power company. North Carolina State University researchers...

Who's Who : Aerospace
Lindley Johnson, Planetary Defense Officer, NASA Headquarters, Washington, D. C.

NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO), managed at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., is responsible for early detection of potentially hazardous objects, like asteroids and comets, and issuing warnings about their potential impacts. This requires...

News : Software
Sound-Off: How to Simulate the Impacts of an Exoskeleton

Over the past decade, warfighters’ personal loads have increased, leading to more injuries, pain, and discomfort. To relieve the burden, the military is investigating performance-enhancing exoskeletons. But how does an exoskeleton impact the soldier wearing it?

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

Tektronix, Beaverton, OR, introduced the TTR500 Series USB vector network analyzer, a USB-based RF test instrument. It includes VectorVu-PC analysis software and built-in bias tee for testing active devices....

News : Automotive
Sound-Off: How to Set Pass/Fail Thresholds for Self-Driving Vehicles

As Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) technology evolves, how do you test autonomous cars that ‘learn from their mistakes?’

News : Energy
What’s New on Tech Briefs: Smart Devices, Powered by the Sun

New stories on TechBriefs.com shed light on smart windows, solar paint, and more.

News : Energy
Smart Windows Get Smarter (and Self-Powered)

A “smart window” from Princeton University uses a transparent solar cell to selectively absorb and harvest near-ultraviolet light. The advanced window controls the transmission of visible light and infrared heat into the building, while the new type of solar cell uses near-UV light to power the...

Question of the Week : Imaging
Could lenses and thick cameras become obsolete?

A team at the California Institute of Technology designed a lens-less camera. "Once scaled up, this technology can make lenses and thick cameras obsolete," said graduate student and camera...

News : Propulsion
Sound-Off: Can Hydrogen be Stored in Carbon Nanotubes?

The fuel cell, an increasingly popular device in the automotive sector, creates a power source when coupled with hydrogen. The hydrogen can be made from natural gas or electrolysis of water and then compressed for storage. The challenge: How do you store hydrogen at low pressure?

Briefs : Materials
Adhesive Strength Enhancement of Shape Memory Polymer Composite and Metal Joint

NASA Langley Research Center has developed technology to increase the adhesive strength between shape memory polymer composites (SMPs) and metal alloys. Shape memory materials, including SMPs, have been explored for numerous applications because of their unique shape...

Briefs : Communications
Personal Annunciation Device (PAD)

Many industrial and commercial plants, government and private research facilities, and industrial facilities perform potentially dangerous processes. Automated warning and alarm systems alert personnel to...

Articles : Research Lab
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) was founded in 1901, and is now part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Based in Gaithersburg, MD, it was established to remove a major challenge to U.S. industrial competitiveness at the time — a second-rate measurement...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Decoupled Ranging and Orientation Inversions Enable Linear and Fast Long-Range Non-Line-of-Sight Positioning

The wireless radio positioning or radiolocation problem is of great importance in society today. Existing radiolocation systems such as the Global Positioning System (GPS), Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) systems, and Ultra...

Briefs : Aerospace
Calibration and Synchronization of Micro-Air-Vehicle Autopilots

Conventional calibration of an inertial measurement unit (IMU) through open-loop data collection includes typical flight simulator systems that provide processed stimuli to emulate real-life flight conditions. Other solutions involve testing inertial measurement devices on a...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Ultrasonic Transducer Delivery Tool

Stennis Space Center has the need to measure the inner wall thickness of cryogenic storage tanks without entering the inner tank of the double-walled vessels. It was proposed that an ultrasonic probe be inserted through access points in the outer wall of the vessel and delivered to the inner wall of the...

Briefs : Medical
Graphene-Based Sensor for Improved Evaluation, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Asthma

Asthma, which causes inflammation of the airway and obstructs airflow, affects about 300 million people worldwide. Symptoms include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. Other serious lung ailments include chronic obstructive pulmonary...

Briefs : Communications
Mobile Underwater Acoustic Communications

Reliable, long-range acoustic communications (LRAC) is an enabling technology for numerous applications of manned and unmanned underwater systems. For example, with the capability of communicating at...

Application Briefs : Energy
Data Optimization Technology Helps Wind Farm Operator Examine Costs
Seeq
Seattle, WA
For more info click here

Avangrid Renewables is a subsidiary of Avangrid, Inc., and part of the Spain-based Iberdola Group, the largest wind energy company in the world. Avangrid collects a wide variety of data from many different sources. In...

Briefs : Energy
Three-Dimensional Zinc Electrode Architectures for High-Performance Batteries

Zinc-based batteries offer a safe, inexpensive alternative to fire-prone lithium-based batteries, yet have been historically limited by poor rechargeability. A 3D zinc (Zn) “sponge” electrode architecture was developed comprising interpenetrating networks of Zn...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Nanofabricated Devices Detect Ultrasound with Light

The Micro-ring resonator detector can determine the speed of blood flow and the oxygen metabolic rate at the back of the eye. This information could help diagnose such common and debilitating diseases as macular degeneration and diabetes. The tiny, transparent device can fit into a contact...

Articles : Sensors/Data Acquisition
The Future of Wearable Technology

The U.S. Army uses wired and wireless systems to monitor real-time performance and safe operating limits of vehicles and aircraft, but no comparable systems exist for soldiers. New wearable technologies could change that.

Briefs : Communications
A Smooth-Walled Feedhorn with Sub-30-dB Cross-Polarization Over a 30-Percent Bandwidth

The focus of this research was the design, optimization, and measurement of a monotonically profiled, smooth-walled scalar feedhorn with a diffraction-limited ~14° FWHM (full width at half maximum). It is an easier-to-manufacture, smooth-walled feed that...

Briefs : Materials
System for Repairing Cracks in Structures

NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed an innovative coating to heal cracks in metal components, such as in aircraft and bridges. Currently, the coating is used for in-laboratory repairs of surface cracks. Development continues with the ultimate goal of an in-situ healing mechanism that can work...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Bio-Detection System is a Handheld Chemistry Lab

Devices for manipulating fluids on the microscale have been developed to store, hold, and manipulate small amounts of fluids, and have been applied to the detection of analytes in sample fluids. Manipulating fluids and performing capillary electrophoresis in microfluidic devices promises...

Briefs : Communications
Wireless Virtual Reality Headset

One of the limits of today's virtual reality (VR) headsets is that they must be tethered to computers in order to process data well enough to deliver high-resolution visuals. Wearing an HDMI cable reduces...

Briefs : Energy
Alpha-STREAM Convertor

Innovators at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have developed two novel technologies that make Stirling engines more efficient and less costly. First, Glenn’s thermoacoustic power converter uses sound to turn heat into electric power. Utilizing heat-driven pressures and volume oscillations from thermoacoustic sources to...

Briefs : Aerospace
Aircraft Landing Noise Reduction Liners

NASA Langley Research Center has developed two new implementations of acoustic liners for aircraft noise reduction whereby curved channels within tight spaces can be outfitted to provide noise reduction. The two implementations are flap side edge liners and landing gear door liners for airframe noise...

Application Briefs : Materials
Safer, Cleaner, Corrosion-Protecting Metal Coatings
LumiShield
Pittsburgh, PA
For more info click here

Corrosion-related issues cost the U.S. economy $276 billion a year. The Energy Department’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) teamed up with Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) to create a cost-effective...

Briefs : Materials
Corrosion-Inhibiting Self-Expanding Foam

Surfaces such as metal and other corrodible surfaces are often exposed to extreme weathering, temperatures, moisture, impurities, and otherwise damaging external forces that accelerate corrosion. Conventional methods of corrosion protection include applying paints and other coatings, such as...

Briefs : Materials
Reusable Sponge Absorbs Oil from Entire Water Column

When the Deepwater Horizon drilling pipe blew out seven years ago, beginning the worst oil spill in U.S. history, those in charge of the recovery discovered that the millions of gallons of oil bubbling from the sea floor weren’t all collecting on the surface where it could be skimmed or...

Briefs : Aerospace
Stop-Rotor Rotary Wing Aircraft

Some unmanned aircraft designs attempt to combine the vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) and hover capabilities of a helicopter with the increased speed and range capabilities of fixed-wing airplanes. Stop-rotor “nose-sitter” configurations — so named because the aircraft takes off and lands from a...

Briefs : Aerospace
External Aircraft Noise Reduction Liners

NASA Langley Research Center, in collaboration with Boeing and Lockheed Martin, has developed a new external acoustic liner for aircraft noise reduction. While the acoustic liner can be placed on any external aircraft surface, one attractive application is for open-rotor noise reduction. Airframe...

Articles : Sensors/Data Acquisition
LAB-ON-A-GLOVE: Enables Onsite Detection of Chemical Threats

Wearable sensors are uniquely placed to fill the technology gap for real-time analytics at the point of need. Seamless integration of chemical sensors into wearable platforms gives the power of laboratory-based chemical analyses directly on the wearer's body. Several biosensors, based...

Briefs : Energy
Silicon Nanoparticles Enable Energy-Collecting Windows

Technology that embeds silicon nanoparticles into efficient luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs) has been developed. The LSCs are the key element of windows that can efficiently collect solar energy. When light shines through the surface, the useful frequencies of light are trapped inside...

Briefs : Aerospace
In-flight Global Nonlinear Aerodynamics Modeling and Simulation

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed an in-flight global nonlinear aerodynamics modeling and simulation system. The technology replaces the normal labor-intensive iterative process of repeated flight tests and combining locally valid models with a single flight and...

Application Briefs : Motion Control
Motor Control Technology Boosts Performance of Remotely Piloted Aircraft
PC Krause and Associates
West Lafayette, IN
For more info click here

With support from the Air Force Small Business Innovation Research/Small...

Briefs : Materials
Aqueous Solution Dispersement of Carbon Nanotubes

NASA’s Langley Research Center researchers have developed a novel method to disperse carbon nanotubes in aqueous solutions using chemical buffers. By avoiding the common use of surfactants to achieve dispersion, the researchers have provided a means to maintain biocompatibility of the carbon...

Briefs : Aerospace
Aircraft Deicing Decision Support Tool (DST)

Smooth and efficient operation of the National Airspace System depends on timely execution of flight-related events. Weather can severely disrupt the carefully planned flight schedules at a hub airport and impact travelers through out the country. In particular, a snowstorm may cause substantial...

Briefs : Medical
Artificial “Wrist” Enables Design of Wearable Blood Pressure Monitors

Unfortunately, blood pressure (BP) measurements currently require the use of a cuff that temporarily stops blood flow. A wearable BP “watch” using today’s technology would squeeze the wrist every few minutes, making it impractical to use. A better method might gauge...

Briefs : Medical
Digital-to-Analog Transformation and Reconstruction of ECG Data

The innovators at NASA Johnson Space Center have developed a new method and device for specialized digital-to-analog conversion (DAC) and reconstruction of multichannel electrocardiograms (ECGs), including 12-lead ECGs. Current devices do not have the functionality that allows for...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Impedance Measurement Box

The dependability of energy storage devices — particularly batteries — is becoming increasingly important to consumers, industry, and the military. As battery technology becomes more complex and users' expectations become more pronounced, there is a pressing need for highly accurate assessment techniques that can...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Transducer-Actuator Systems for On-Machine Measurements and Automatic Part Alignment

When performing machine tool setup and maintenance operations, it is frequently necessary to use a position transducer to “sweep” a surface and establish its relationship to a machine. A machine operator or maintenance technician typically attaches a...

Articles : Photonics/Optics
Blue-Light-Canceling Lens Gives Skiers a Clearer View

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 : Energy
Bacteria-Powered Battery is Printed on a Single Sheet of Paper

A bacteria-powered battery that can power disposable electronics has been created on a single sheet of paper. The manufacturing technique reduces fabrication time and cost, and the design could revolutionize the use of bio-batteries as a power source in remote, dangerous, and...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Paper-Based Electrochemical Test Strip Detects Harmful Bacteria

Borrowing concepts from medical diagnostic devices, researchers have created a simple, inexpensive set of handheld tests that can detect the presence of many water- or food-borne pathogens. If applied in the field, such tests could greatly reduce the number of expensive follow-up...

Briefs : Energy
Internal Short Circuit (ISC) Device Helps Improve Lithium-Ion Battery Design

Battery safety is key to the acceptance and penetration of electric vehicles into the marketplace. When battery internal shorts occur, they tend to surface without...

Briefs : Aerospace
Center/TRACON Automation System Software Suite

Air traffic control within the US is getting more complicated as the number of aircraft increases. There is a great need to increase the efficiency of the system so that flight delays are minimized without having to build new airports or runways. At the same time, safety must be maintained so that...

Articles : Materials
Products of Tomorrow: July 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 : Aerospace
Heavy Lift Wing in Ground (WIG) Cargo Flying Boat

There are two commonly used options to transport large-volume and heavy cargo across the ocean: container ships and airline transport aircraft. Container ships take about 3 to 4 weeks to deliver goods, and airline transport aircraft take about 2 days. This innovation is a flying boat aircraft...

Briefs : Medical
Miniaturized Chemical Detectors for Point-of-Care Diagnosis

This chemical detector, based on a miniaturized, pulse-discharged ionization detector (mini-PDID), makes it possible to diagnose illnesses by identifying volatile organic compounds (VOCs) associated with certain diseases and infections on a patient’s breath, or in the headspace of...

Briefs : Communications
Wideband Retroreflector

There are many known methods of retransmitting radio wave signals intra-building and inter-building, as well as ground-to-aircraft or ground-to-satellite. Some techniques modulate the reflection coefficient of an antenna. Prior art has used frequency multiplication or field effect transistor (FET) mixing to modulate the...

Briefs : Imaging
Microstructural Explorations Inside Fuel Cells

Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs), a promising technology that can efficiently produce energy using fossil fuels with no moving parts and low emissions, present a particularly perplexing economic challenge: current systems operate at maximum efficiency between 700 and 1000 degrees Celsius, but such...

Articles : Photonics/Optics
CMOS The Future of Image Sensor Technology

CMOS imaging is trending to become the dominant imaging technology. Initially, CMOS was limited by its inherent noise. Architectures were then essentially analog and the idea of integrating the image processing features with System On Chip (SoC) technology was yet to be considered. However, it is...

Articles : Imaging
Ruggedization of Imaging Lenses

Imaging lenses used in many industrial machine vision applications have special requirements beyond those of standard imaging lenses. The lenses used in factory automation, robotics, and industrial inspection...

Briefs : Imaging
The Advanced Land Imager Helped NASA Mission Exceed Expectations.

After more than 16 years of operation, NASA’s Earth Observing–1 (EO-1) spacecraft was decommissioned on March 30 of this year. The Advanced Land Imager (ALI) developed by MIT Lincoln Laboratory was aboard as an alternative to the land-imaging sensor that was used by the...

Products : Imaging
New Products: July 2017 Photonics & Imaging Technology

Photoluminescence Spectrometer (PRIORITY)

Edinburgh Instruments (Kirkton Campus, UK) introduces the FLS1000 state-of-the-art, modular photoluminescence spectrometer. The instrument excels in both steady state and time-resolved spectroscopy. It can be configured for spectral...

Application Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Robotic Vision Keeps an Assembly Plant at Home

A major manufacturer of electromechanical products had been operating six separate indexing assembly machines, each producing one of a family of more than 75 different products at about 40 parts per minute. The machines frequently sat idle as demand fluctuated for the various products. Labor...

Application Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Wide-Area Surveillance Using HD LWIR Uncooled Sensors

The effectiveness of airborne search and rescue, navigation, and situational awareness tasks is predicated on the availability of high-resolution imagery that provides pilots with a clear picture and the widest possible field of view. While the human eye is extremely high resolution with an...

Articles : Photonics/Optics
Snapshot High-resolution Hyperspectral Imaging

Traditional digital cameras are comprised of an image sensor, typically either a Charge-Coupled Device (CCD), or, more commonly Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS). In either case, these devices integrate an array of photodiodes which convert photons to current which is then integrated...

Articles : Imaging
Chip-Scale Device ‘Fine-Tunes’ Wireless Communications

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

Articles : Imaging
Round Lens. Square Pixels. Accurate Images. Really?

Alens is cylindrical. It captures light in a circular plane for collection onto a rectangular digital sensor plane. This collection of photons is then transformed into electricity by smaller square pixels. Just how do these disparate shapes work together to provide usable images?

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