December 2018

Application Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Multi-Axis Motion Controller Accelerates Gear Testing

Materials testing and characterization is often a lengthy process. It can take more than a year and billions of testing cycles for a manufacturer to characterize the properties of a new...

Briefs: Motion Control
Optical Gyroscope-on-a-Chip

Gyroscopes are devices that help vehicles, drones, and wearable and handheld electronic devices know their orientation in three-dimensional space. Originally, gyroscopes were sets of nested wheels, each spinning...

There are few industries where the demands for material testing and quality assurance are more challenging than in the aerospace industry. Ensuring the safety of all...

Products: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
New Products: December 2018, Motion Design
Motor/Drive/Controller

Advanced Micro Controls (Terryville, CT) offers a size 17 PLC-based SMD Series integrated stepper motor/drive/controller system. The integrated solutions are suited...

The global bearings market is expected to grow significantly due to increasing commercial and industrial machinery and manufacturing activity. Bearings are used in virtually...

As Industry 4.0 initiatives bring more and more industrial axes of motion into the realm of automation, the need for cost-effective control across them grows as well. Advances in...

Q&A: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Q&A: Rice University's Rouzbeh Shahsavari Creates a Stronger, Lighter Cement

Professor Shahsavari and graduate student Sung Hoon have demonstrated a process for producing a cement that is stronger, lighter, and more durable than the traditional Portland cement.

Briefs: Aerospace
Shape Memory Alloy Rock Splitters (SMARS)

Glenn's revolutionary Shape Memory Alloy Rock Splitters (SMARS) device is fabricated from nickel-titanium-halfnium (NiTiHf), nickel-titanium-zirconium compositions, or a combination. These compositions contain a secondary, nanometer-sized precipitate phase that is produced through processes of...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Sandwiching Materials in Nanoelectronics

Many of today's silicon-based electronic components contain 2D materials such as graphene. Incorporating 2D materials like graphene — which is composed of a single-atom-thick layer of carbon atoms...

Typical direct-injection engines, such as diesel engines, can produce soot due to fuel-rich combustion conditions. Filters and catalytic converters are currently used to reduce soot and harmful...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Low-Light Night Vision Imaging and Video Capture

Conventional night vision goggles all use image intensification (I2) tube technology that multiplies ambient, visible, and near-infrared light several thousands of times, allowing a user to see and operate in very-low-light conditions. One shortcoming of I2 tube night vision devices is that they...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Sensor Combination Detects People by Smell

Trained rescue dogs are the best disaster workers — their sensitive noses help them track down people buried by earthquakes or avalanches. But dogs need breaks. A new measuring device is always...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Ionization-Based Multidirectional Flow Sensor

One significant area of research in fuel cell technology includes systems in which a fuel cell is combined with another power generation device (a turbine, for example) to create a hybrid system that combines the advantages of the two standalone systems, resulting in a high fuel-to-electricity...

Briefs: Test & Measurement
Real-Time Ion Mobility Sensor System

A real-time ion mobility sensor developed to detect contaminants and explosives is reliable, sensitive, robust, and inexpensive. The technology improves sensitivity and reduces false alarms for threat agents, and can identify chemicals with a sensitivity of five parts per billion.

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Ultralight Gloves Provide Realistic Haptic Feedback

Engineers and software developers are seeking to create technology that lets users touch, grasp, and manipulate virtual objects while feeling like they are actually touching something in...

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: Robotics, Automation & Control
Compound-Lens Camera for Industry and Smartphones

A process has been developed that enables the production of a 2-mm flat camera. The lens is partitioned into 135 tiny facets, similar to the eyes of an insect. The facetVISION camera is...

Printable metal tags have been developed that could be attached to everyday objects to turn them into “smart” Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The tags are made from...

Medical image registration is a common technique that involves overlaying two images, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, to compare and analyze anatomical differences in great...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Optimetric Measurements Over Coherent Free-Space Optical Communication

High-precision ranging (optimetric) instruments are highly desired for both space navigation and communications as well as gravitational-based science missions. Traditionally, these measurements are made with instruments solely dedicated to ranging (i.e. Doppler shift of a...

Heat treatment, also known as annealing, is a common step in the semiconductor fabrication process. A buildup of radiation-induced localized charge within the...

The first laser based on the wave physics phenomenon called bound states in the continuum (BIC) has been developed. The technology could revolutionize the development of surface...

Briefs: Energy
New Catalyst for Plastic Production Also Creates Hydrogen

Researchers have developed a new, low-cost catalyst for plastic production that turns a biorefinery product into a starting material for the synthesis of plastics, which could represent a sustainable alternative to widespread PET. At the same time, hydrogen can also be formed during the...

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed the SHEARLESS composite boom with a final cross-section shape that is lenticular and is flexible enough to...

Briefs: Test & Measurement
Gated Chopper Integrator (GCI)

Microvolt-level signals require gains of at least a thousand. Offsets and noise in the amplifier chain will be amplified by the same amount, which can saturate the amplifier or swamp the signal so it is not resolvable. Other methods use chopping and/or autozero techniques to lower the offset and noise. The key...

Application Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Crash Test Dummies Get Older and Better with 3D Printing
Markforged
Watertown, MA
markforged.com

The crash test dummy has come of age over many decades as the gold standard for safety testing of automobiles. Organizations like...

Special Reports: Photonics/Optics
ADAS/Connected Car - December 2018

Today's Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and connected cars are paving the way for tomorrow's automated vehicles. To help you keep pace with the latest technology developments, we present this...

NASA's Glenn Research Center has developed a novel solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) with five times the specific power density of currently available SOFCs. This highly efficient SOFC can operate on a...

Articles: Test & Measurement
Vote for Product of the Year 2018
The 2018 Nominees Are:

Each December, we ask our readers to cast their votes in the annual Tech Briefs’ Readers’ Choice Product of the Year Awards. Each month, our editors choose a Product of the Month...

Briefs: Test & Measurement
Wide-Area Chemical Sensor

The detection and localization of gas releases, such as methane from leaking natural gas pipelines or nitrogen oxides from failing electrical equipment, require high sensitivity to the target gas and insensitivity...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Device Detects Subatomic-Scale Motion

It is relatively easy to measure small movements of large objects, but is much more difficult when the moving parts are on the scale of nanometers, or billionths of a meter. The ability to accurately...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Portable Acousto-Optic Spectrometers

Spectrometers are widely used for applications such as chemical analysis, remote sensing, quality control, environmental monitoring, spaceborne measurements, and optical measurements. Most spectrometers...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Dynamic Optical Grating Device for Modulating Light

NASA Langley Research Center has developed a novel optical grating device that dynamically modulates light and is capable of controlling the spectral properties and propagation of light...

Briefs: Test & Measurement
Inductive Non-Contact Position Sensor

The Inductive Non-Contact Position Sensor is a highly accurate sensor for motion control applications. The sensor was designed to monitor the precise movements of an optical inspection system that...

5 Ws: Sensors/Data Acquisition
5 Ws of Spray-On Antennas
Who

Manufacturers and users of wearables, functional fabrics, mobile devices, wireless routers, and Internet of Things devices.

Today's photovoltaic power systems are generally comprised of a single photovoltaic module or multiple modules connected by combinations of series and parallel circuits as a photovoltaic array....

NASA Spinoff: Electronics & Computers
Sterilizing Fogger Cleans Ambulances with a Breeze

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...

The Create the Future Design Contest was launched in 2002 to help stimulate and reward engineering innovation. In the past 16 years, the annual contest has drawn more than 13,000...

There are challenges involved when using magnetically responsive materials to achieve the one-way flow of light in a photonic chip, including the ability to place compact magnets on a chip. In...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Blue-Light Imaging Sees Through Fire

A blue-light imaging method was developed that can be used to obtain visual data from large test fires where high temperatures could disable or destroy conventional electrical and mechanical sensors. The...

Data Acquisition Devices

The USB-1808 Series simultaneous-sampling data acquisition devices from Measurement Computing Corp., Norton, MA, provides synchronous and concurrent voltage I/O, waveform...

Facility Focus: Software
Facility Focus: Ames Laboratory

Ames Laboratory is a government-owned, contractor-operated national laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), operated by and located on the campus of Iowa State University in Ames, IA. For more than...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Variable-Pitch Turbine Blades

Gas turbine blades of conventional rotorcraft turboshaft engines are optimized to operate at nearly a fixed speed and a fixed incidence angle. If the operating condition of the engine changes, then the flow...

Most naturally occurring materials have a disordered atomic structure that interferes with the propagation of both sound and electromagnetic waves. When the waves come into contact with these...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Submarine Swims Without an Engine

Researchers have developed a new propulsion concept for swimming robots that exploits temperature fluctuations in the water for propulsion without the need for an engine, propellant, or power supply.

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Reusable Breakaway Mounting Device

Breakaway devices are used to mount objects to systems or structures (for example, cars, drones, helmets, buildings) and prevent damage when the objects fall away from the system. Unfortunately, even in ideal scenarios, many of these devices have limitations. Breakaway bolts and shear pins have the complication...

Conventional lithium-ion batteries cannot be rapidly charged at temperatures below 50 °F. Electric vehicles are popular on the West Coast because the weather is...

Relying on advanced materials such as perovskites and single-walled carbon nano-tubes, a window technology was developed that responds to heat by transforming from transparent to...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
A New Twist Makes Rotating Machinery More Efficient and Quieter

Derived from a design approach for a new wing known as PRANDTL-D, this technology achieves similar improvements for propellers and other rotating machinery.

The engineering and manufacturing world is rapidly changing — are you changing with it? The claim of “reinventing” the fundamental tools of an industry is a bold one,...

Briefs: Imaging
Active Pointing Monitor for a 2-Axis Optical Control System

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center has developed a pointing measurement detection and control system that monitors the real-time optical axis motions (such as tip and tilt) that affect image quality in aerial platforms. To date, there is no known real-time optical image alignment and...

Articles: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Simulation for Everyone

With the computational power and software available today, numerical simulation is a real option to quickly get answers to complicated technical, scientific, and engineering questions. Not only has the hardware...

Products: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Product of the Month: December 2018

Yokogawa Corporation of America, Newnan, GA, released the WT5000 power analyzer that achieves accuracy of ±0.03% at 50/60 Hz, allowing precision evaluation of power consumption, loss, and...

Question of the Week: Aerospace
How Strong is the ‘Ionic Wind?’

MIT has built the first-ever plane with no moving parts. Instead of turbine blades, propellers, and fans, the aircraft relies on an “ionic wind” — a silent but strong flow of ions, produced onboard, which generates enough thrust to propel the plane over a sustained, steady flight.

White Papers: Information Technology
Warehouse Logistics at the Edge

Maintaining superior customer service, on-time delivery, while also reducing shrink, and increasing employee productivity can be very difficult for any warehouse to achieve, and even more difficult when you...

Fuel cells generate electricity directly from hydrogen and oxygen and produce only water vapor as emissions. But most fuel cells are too expensive,...

Imagine a world where cell phones and laptops can be charged in a matter of minutes instead of hours, rolled up and stored in your pocket, or dropped without sustaining any damage. It is possible, but the...

Don’t hold your breath, says Jeff Crystal from Voltaic Systems.
In 2015, Chris Valasek and Charlie Miller demonstrated a hack of the Jeep Cherokee. Valasek tells Tech Briefs what has changed since then.
Question of the Week: Aerospace
Will Urban Air Mobility ‘Take Off?'

A Tech Briefs TV video demonstrates NASA’s rotary-wing “air taxi” concept. The vehicles, in theory, have the capacity for vertical take-off and landing, eliminating the need for long runways.

A new artificial joint restores important wrist-like movements to forearm amputees. In the new joint, an implant is placed into each of the two bones of the forearm and a wrist-like...

INSIDER: Motion Control
InSight Measures Motion on Mars
NASA’s InSight lander has provided the first ever "sounds" of Martian winds on the Red Planet. Sensors captured a haunting low rumble caused by vibrations from the wind, estimated to be blowing between...
A reader asks: How does an “industrial-grade” lithium-ion battery stack up to the one in your phone?
Irdeto's Stacy Janes tells Tech Briefs if he feels safe driving today's connected cars.

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