December 2019

Articles: Robotics, Automation & Control
Collaborative Automation: It's More Than Just the Cobot
“Cobots” allow companies of almost any size to automate processes that were previously out of reach.
Articles: Manufacturing & Prototyping
The Role of Sensors in the Evolution of Robotics
Sensing technology will help to transform manufacturing floors into the connected factories of the future.
A technology uses a combination of WiFi signals and accelerometer technology to track devices in near-real-time.
A synthetic skin enables robots to sense their own bodies and surroundings
Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Self-Contained Wheel Unit
Researchers have developed a self-contained wheel unit that combines a wheel and an electric motor.
Briefs: Motion Control
Precision Low-Speed Motor Controller
The technology can be used in commercial motors, robotic systems, and hybrid and electric vehicles.
Application Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Docking System Enables Safe Rendezvous in Space
The ESA has commissioned its industry partners to design a new docking system called the International Berthing and Docking Mechanism (IBDM).
Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Algorithm Gives Robots a Faster Grasp
The algorithm speeds up the planning process that robots use to adjust their grip on objects.
The skin could help rehabilitation and enhance virtual reality by instantaneously adapting to a wearer's movements.
Products: Test & Measurement
New Products: December 2019 Motion Design
Actuators, Encoders, Gripping Tools, and More
Application Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Valve Position Sensor Protects Switch Boxes from Salt Environment
Salty air the Dutch city of Harlingen causes exposed metal parts to corrode.
Special Reports: Automotive
ADAS/Connected Car - December 2019

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...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
MMOD Impact Detection and Location
This system uses fiber optic strain sensing to detect and locate micrometeoroid/orbital debris.
Adhesives, flame-retardant compounds, vision measurement, and more...
With the rise in electrification and design complexity, aerospace original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) need to look for new methodologies to mitigate compliance risk.
Made with “Jenga chemistry,” the material could help in understanding how high-temperature superconductors work.

Radar technologies were originally designed to identify and track airborne military targets. Today, they're more often used to detect motor vehicles, weather formations,...

Briefs: RF & Microwave Electronics
Enhanced Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Reader
The reader uses a frequency multiplexer to boost its ability to accurately locate a greater number of RFID tags.
Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Potassium-Oxygen Battery Stores Clean Energy

Researchers have developed a more efficient, more reliable potassium-oxygen battery with a cathode that stores the energy produced by a chemical reaction in a metal-oxygen or metal-air battery....

5 Ws: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
5 Ws of EarEcho
The biometric tool uses modified wireless earbuds to authenticate smartphone users
Briefs: Test & Measurement
Embedded Fiber Optic Sensors (EFOS)

Current laser interferometry pressure pulse detection techniques use the shock-induced change in index of refraction to track detonation and/or shock fronts in a single fiber optic by reflecting laser...

As lithium-ion battery production doubles, more viable energy storage solutions are needed.

Innovators at NASA Johnson Space Center have developed a calorimeter that is able to measure the total heat generated when specific types of Lithium-ion (Li-ion) cells are...

This lightweight material brings strength and durability to complex shapes.
Facility Focus: Semiconductors & ICs
Facility Focus: NASA John H. Glenn Research Center
Glenn's research facilities have contributed to decades of technology advances.
Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Packaging for SiC Sensors and Electronics
This packaging provides protection for SiC sensors and electronics in harsh, hightemperature environments.
Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Free-Space Fiber Optic Laser Rod
This approach removes the limitation on peak power densities that exists for fiber lasers.
Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Shape Memory Alloy Art (SMArt)
This hands-on, educational tool highlights the properties of SMA wire.
Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
De-Orbit Device for SmallSats
This retractable de-orbit device facilitates targeted re-entry, attitude and orbital control, and collision avoidance.
Life support research for astronauts enabled a solution to one aspect of climate change.
This technology provides simultaneous ohmic contacts and the process to make them.
Briefs: Imaging
Human Torso Simulator
The simulator could help in the development of new back braces.
This optical switch controls the direction of light passing through optical fibers faster and more efficiently.
Articles: Photonics/Optics
Products of Tomorrow: December 2019
Products include an aerosol scattering sensor; metal foam; and a new coated drug capsule.
A combination of additives shows promise for boosting battery performance in very cold or hot weather.
This method also reverse-engineers computer chips to detect the chip’s purpose.
This multifunctional hybrid laminate composite can be used for residential and commercial construction.
This invention is a highly stable, heat-treatable, and tunable material.
The nanogenerator also acts as a weather station.
Q&A: Electronics & Computers
Q&A: Refrigeration by Twisting Fibers
Changing directions of twist and coiling changes whether a material cools or heats.
RFID-based devices work in indoor and outdoor lighting conditions and could transmit data for years before they need to be replaced.
The method could impact optical imaging, vision correction, and disease diagnosis.
Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Optically Fixable Shape Memory Polymers
These polymers can combine thermal and optically fixable shape memory.
This low-profile ankle exoskeleton integrates into a shoe and fits under clothing.
This technology could lead to the creation of fully functional quantum computers.
Squid skin inspires a new material with heat-regulating properties.
Articles: Electronics & Computers
Innovators Recognized for Creating the Future 2019
Top prizes in the 2019 contest were awarded on November 8 in New York City.
When combined with saltwater, rust can be a source of electricity.
Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Transport Method Boosts Capacity of Heat Exchangers
A simple modification can improve the capability of turbulent heat exchangers by 500%.
Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Macro-Fiber Composite (MFC) Actuator
This technology has applications in sonar, range measuring, directional-force sensors, flow meters, and vibration/noise sensing and control.
This innovation dynamically provides fast signal processing and precision measurement.
The device could impact composites manufacturing and health monitoring.
Briefs: Automotive
Durable Polyimide Aerogels
Stronger and flexible, polyimide aerogels provide insulation and structural support.
Products: Electronics & Computers
Product of the Month: December 2019 Tech Briefs
The GNV-720 and GNV-725 humidity temperature meters from Global Specialties feature three environmental sensors.
White Papers: Robotics, Automation & Control
Solving the E/E Dilemma of Electric and Autonomous Vehicles

As automotive manufacturers and suppliers develop advanced technologies to realize the trends of autonomy, connectivity, electrification, and shared mobility, they are encountering...

White Papers: Aerospace
How to Mitigate Aerospace Electrical Compliance Risk: A New Approach

Electrical Load Analysis (ELA) is an important to ensure adequate power for the electrical systems during all phases of flight. For the most part, ELA today is done...

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have developed a new method for producing atomically thin semiconducting crystals that could one day enable more...

Question of the Week: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Will Self-Assembling 'M-Blocks' Catch On?

A team at MIT created self-assembling robotic cubes that can climb and roll over each other into set formations.

INSIDER: Test & Measurement
Compact Depth Sensor Inspired by Spiders

Inspired by spiders, researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), have developed a compact and efficient depth sensor that could be used onboard...

Rutgers engineers have embedded high performance electrical circuits inside 3D-printed plastics, which could lead to smaller and versatile drones and better-performing small...

At any moment in Delhi, India, a resident might start their car, releasing exhaust that floats into the atmosphere. In northwest India, a...

New ceramics expand on ways to more efficiently use heat radiation.
White Papers: Imaging
Liquid Lenses in Machine Vision Whitepaper

By integrating a liquid lens, the imaging system can change the plane of focus in milliseconds in order to provide sharp images, regardless of the object's distance from the camera. This is an ideal...

White Papers: Automotive
Detailed Technical Comparison of Automotive Serial Buses

Point-to-point automotive networks deployed in the 1980s were replaced by bus-based networks in the 1990s, with CAN bus emerging as the industry standard. Since then, the complexity of...

Tech Talks: Medical
New Developments in Catheter Shaft Components – Part 2

This Webinar focuses on advancements in catheter shaft componentry with a deeper dive into film cast technology. Specifically, we will hone in on polyimide and lubricious polyimide.

White Papers: Motion Control
Safety First - the Position Determination and Checking Algorithms of the RESOLUTE™ True-Absolute Optical Encoder

This white paper gives an overview of the operation of the RESOLUTE absolute encoder and describes in detail the safety...

On-Demand Webinars: Green Design & Manufacturing
Rapid, Selective Volatile Emissions Testing for Vehicles and Components

Regulators and consumers demand increasingly lower levels of harmful volatile emissions in motor vehicle passenger cabins, pushing manufacturers toward more comprehensive testing – from component level to finished vehicles – to ensure conformance and avoid costly...

On-Demand Webinars: Materials
Enhance Product Design and Dependability with Advanced Coating Technologies

For decades, engineers have been tasked with designing new products that are not only smaller and lighter than previous generations, but they must also operate in increasingly challenging environments. These challenges are true in many industries, including...

A wireless, wearable monitor built with stretchable electronics could allow comfortable, long-term health monitoring of adults, babies, and small children without concern for...

Medical implants of the future may feature reconfigurable electronic platforms that can morph in shape and size dynamically as bodies change or transform to relocate...

A unique new flexible and stretchable device, worn against the skin and capable of producing electrical energy by transforming the compounds present in sweat, has been developed and...

Parylene coatings are being used in the medical industry and even space. Our expert explains why.
White Papers: Electronics & Computers
Achieving Reliability to Match Capability

Partial Reconfiguration allows FPGAs to dynamically change modules without disrupting other parts of the design. This white paper describes the special considerations throughout the design process...

INSIDER: Green Design & Manufacturing
A New Concept for More Sustainable Batteries

A new concept for an aluminum battery has twice the energy density as previous versions, is made of abundant materials, and could lead to reduced production costs and environmental impact. The...

Question of the Week: Transportation
Will ‘Unbreakable Batteries’ Find a Place in Electronics and Vehicles?

Increasingly, lithium-ion batteries are supporting portable electronics, electric vehicles, and grid storage.

A highly sensitive rectifying element in the form of a nanowire backward diode can convert low-power 100 nanowatt microwaves into usable electricity. The newly developed...

The challenge of building an energy future that preserves and improves the planet is a massive undertaking. Scientists and politicians have recognized...

On-Demand Webinars: Robotics, Automation & Control
Collaborative Robot Applications in the Automotive Industry

Smaller, easier to program, quick to implement, and typically one-third the cost of industrial bots, collaborative robots are more than being noticed in the industry. Recently a global director of manufacturing engineering integration at a major automotive OEM was quoted as...

On-Demand Webinars: Aerospace
Update on Civil Certification of Multicore Processing Systems in Commercial Avionics

The transition from traditional federated systems to consolidated multicore platforms gives aerospace suppliers a competitive edge. This 60-minute Webinar examines the industry’s remarkable journey bringing multicore processing to avionics systems as...

INSIDER: Robotics, Automation & Control
Intelligent Microrobot Moves Without A Visible Force

Researchers developed a microrobot that measures a few micrometers across and resembles a paper bird made with origami. It flaps its wings or bends its neck and retracts its head via...

On-Demand Webinars: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Metal 3D Printing

Having proven its capability and future potential in producing plastic-based parts, 3D printing has also been progressing steadily in metal. Recent market analysis reports stake material and printer sales in the metal 3D sector to be growing at rates of over 30% and 45%, respectively – fastest among all 3D printing...

Blog: Electronics & Computers
Countdown: The Top Stories of 2019

Tech Briefs in 2019 celebrated historic NASA anniversaries, new ways to power electronics, and innovative hacks of our “smartest” technologies.

Blog: Sensors/Data Acquisition
How to Fix Satellites — With Satellites
If a satellite breaks in orbit, there's not much that can be done. A professor envisions a new idea for refueling and repair.
Tech Talks: Automotive
An Advanced Solution for Hydrodynamic Film Challenges

Seals are responsible for nearly one-quarter of all lost mechanical energy in traditional transmissions, and manufacturers have increasingly turned to new low-friction transmission seals to save fuel, lower emissions, and extend the operating life of industrial powertrains. This...

Question of the Week: Materials
Can Gels Stop Wildfires?

A preventive treatment developed by Stanford researchers could greatly reduce the incidence and severity of wildfires. The cellulose-based, gel-like fluid protects against fires and stays on target vegetation through rain, wind, and other environmental exposure. Watch the demo on Tech Briefs TV.

White Papers: Materials
Polymeric Systems Bring Clarity to Optical Applications

Whereas some optical assembly applications require optical clarity across a certain wavelength, others require an opaque coating. Optical grade epoxies, silicones and UV curable...

White Papers: Materials
Specialized Materials Meet Critical Packaging Needs in MEMS Devices

The unique requirements of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) call for specialized materials. The versatility of epoxies and adhesives are often capable of providing the...

White Papers: Materials
Epoxies and Glass Transition Temperature

Gain a better understanding about glass transition temperature (Tg) and why it is one of many factors to consider for bonding, sealing, coating and encapsulation applications. In this paper, we...

White Papers: Materials
Conductive Coatings Protect Circuitry from EM/RF and ESD

With the trend toward smaller and smaller electronic devices, unintentional EMI/RFI interference has become more of an issue. Shielding of these interferences is critical and coatings...

White Papers: Design
Ultra Low Thermal Resistance Adhesives for Electronic Applications

As advances in epoxy and silicone materials constantly evolve, manufacturers of advanced electronic systems will find that adhesives offer the ability to meet nearly any...

White Papers: Materials
Advantages of Using Silicone Adhesives for Medical Device Assemblies

The assembly applications for medical device manufacturers typically come with their own distinctive set of rigorous requirements. This white paper takes a closer look at...

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