December 2020

Question of the Week: Materials
Should We Use Chitin to Build on Mars?

In the latest episode of our Tech Briefs podcast series Here's an Idea™, researcher Javier Gomez Fernandez talks about his idea for making habitats on Mars. Fernandez envisions using chitin from insects – and combining the substance with the Martian soil – to create a kind of sustainable building...

Automatic recirculation valves offer efficiency for critical pump protection in power or oil and gas applications.
Smart electric actuators not only enable fine position adjustments, but they also provide real-time feedback on the extent of those adjustments.
Products: Sensors/Data Acquisition
New Products: December 2020 Motion Design
Linear slides, electric motors, gears, and more.
RadiBond technology, based on nanometer-thin coatings, provides ultra-strong and ultra-tight bonding between metals and plastics.
The mobile system could reduce healthcare workers’ exposure to the COVID-19 virus.
Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Upper Body Robotic Exoskeleton
This lightweight, portable garment is designed for active shoulder and elbow positioning.
Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Cascaded Offset Optical Modulator
This subsystem is used in free-space optical communications and fiber-optic communications.
The system allows multiple users to interact with the same VR app on smartphones, providing opportunities for education, healthcare, and entertainment.
Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Method Tests Microscopic Aeronautical Materials
This process breaks the temperature barrier in small-scale materials testing.
We explore the major scientific breakthroughs achieved during 20 years of human presence on the ISS.
NASA’s neutral body position research was used in the design of a medical massage chair.
5 Ws: Sensors/Data Acquisition
5 Ws of the SARS-CoV-2 RapidPlex Sensor
A low-cost sensor enables at-home diagnosis of a COVID infection.
While this technology was designed for CubeSats, it may be utilized in any technology that utilizes a structural frame, such as drones.
A new process can turn bulk quantities of just about any carbon source into valuable graphene flakes.
The device can translate expressions into emojis or silent speech commands.
A battery-less pacing system enables painless defibrillation.
Mixed-signal oscilloscopes, 3D printers, DC/DC converters, and more.
Briefs: Motion Control
16-Atom Molecular Motor
The tiny motor can be powered by both thermal and electrical energy.
Wire-connected drones may complement or replace the fixed base stations of cellular communications networks.
Articles: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Products of Tomorrow: December 2020
Robotic exoskeletons, a breath-test for cancer, and plastic-eating enzymes are Products of Tomorrow.
Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Tactile Robot Finger with No Blind Spots
This robotic finger has a highly precise sense of touch over a complex, multi-curved surface.
See how Dr. Andrei Kolmakov and his team are using low-energy electron beams to 3D-print tiny gel structures in liquids.
Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Flexible, Sturdy Robot “Grows” Like a Plant
The robot’s extendable appendage can wind through tight spaces and then lift heavy loads.
Briefs: RF & Microwave Electronics
Toroidal Radiation Pattern Patch Antenna
The antenna is designed for use in extreme conditions such as outer space.
This can be used in energy-recovery systems in industrial, space, automotive, and military applications.
Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Technology Aids Surgeon-Guided Robotic Hands
This method enables users to control their robotic fingers precisely enough to gently land on fragile surfaces.
Digital technologies are enabling an "Industry Renaissance" of virtual experiences.
This technique for optical data transmission from satellites uses laser arrays to provide fine pointing capability.
Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Aircraft Thermal Heat Conduction Method
The thermal management technology could also be used for server farms and spacecraft.
Read all about this year's "Create the Future" winner: A transparent flexible film called "RepelWrap."
Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
High-Resolution X-Ray Camera System
The system has applications in X-ray spectroscopy, pump probes, and molecule imaging.
NASA's phase-locked rotors reduce noise.
The NiobiCon™ underwater connector will not short out, corrode, or cause an electrical shock if touched while powered in harsh environments like saltwater.
The camera collects the spatial and spectral information required for self-driving cars, machine vision, corrosion detection, and other applications.
The device enables ultra-fast wireless communications at low cost.
Articles: Electronics & Computers
Vote for Tech Briefs Product of the Year 2020
These 12 products are the nominees for the 2020 Tech Briefs Readers’ Choice Product of the Year.
The conceptual Ring prosthetic leg ensures that individuals do not need an entirely new device every time they have a growth spurt.
Invisible displays on walls and windows would be bright when turned on but invisible when turned off.
Any high-performance communication systems operating in RF or optical frequencies may benefit from this system.
Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Glove-Like Device Mimics Sense of Touch
The soft, wearable device simulates the sense of touch and has wide potential in medical and industrial applications.
Jacobs' scientists are helping to make contract-tracing apps, emergency-use ventilators, and even squid-bots.
Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Nanoscale Thermal Switches
These switches are key to thermal management of nanoscale devices, refrigeration, data storage, thermal computing, and heat management of buildings.
Rather than using supecomputers, heart function simulation can be performed at the CT scanner.
Briefs: Photonics/Optics
3D X-Ray Imager for 3D Object Retrieval
Applications include characterizing additively manufactured components and baggage screening.

Researchers developed a wearable technology that can hide its wearer from heat-detecting sensors such as night vision goggles, even when the ambient temperature changes. The technology...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
SpaceCube 2.0 Flight Card Mechanical System
Applications include mechanical aerospace manufacturing and thermal structure manufacturing.
Kirigami balloons could be used in shape-changing actuators for soft robots, minimally invasive surgical devices, and macro structures for space exploration.
Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Modular, In-Air, Multi-UAV Docking
This system can be used for long-range or high-payload deliveries as well as search and rescue.
A low-frequency antenna with enhanced bandwidth will enable robust networking among compact, mobile robots.
With PrintIC technology, sensors, actuators, energy supplies, and ICs can be printed on the same substrate, avoiding assembly cost.
Application Briefs: Communications
Wave Energy Modeling for Safer Space Travel
What does wave energy have to do with space exploration? Plenty, it turns out.
COMSOL Multiphysics® version 5.6 simulation software features four new products.
This detector could help robots, drones, and self-driving cars avoid collisions.
Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
High-Efficiency Megawatt Motor
This partially superconducting machine can be used as a motor or generator.
Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Human-Like Hands with Flexible, Hybrid Pneumatic Actuators
These hands, with a large grasping force, enable safer human-robot interactions.
Articles: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Executive Roundtable: Robotics Design
A panel of experts explains how robots are playing a larger role in manufacturing.
Learn about the sensors assessing and analyzing plant equipment.
Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Compact, Long-Reach Robotic Arm
Applications include retractable covers and awnings, camera booms, and spacecraft and astronaut positioning.
We review three of your power-supply choices.
Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
3D-Printed Miniature Magnetic Pump
The magnetic, multi-material pump was 3D-printed all in one piece.
Special Reports: Sensors/Data Acquisition
ADAS/Connected Car - December 2020

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...

Your 2020 winners include a bacteria-repelling wrap, an advanced prosthetic leg, flash graphene, and more.
On-Demand Webinars: Electronics & Computers
Protecting Power Electronics from EM and RF Interference

As power electronics and controls become more sophisticated, there is a need to shield these devices from external fields as well as reduce their radiated fields. External...

On-Demand Webinars: Electronics & Computers
Vehicle Electrification

The rise of electric vehicles with accelerated time-to-market cycles poses new business and engineering challenges for automotive companies. This situation opens up new opportunities, where innovative...

Blog: Photonics/Optics
How to Choose an Optical Filter
Optical interference filters are critical to the overall performance of machine vision applications. So how do you select the right one?
White Papers: Manufacturing & Prototyping
2D/3D Laser Profile Scanners for Industry and Automation

Laser scanners from Micro-Epsilon are among the most powerful profile sensors with regard to accuracy and measurement rate. Equipped with powerful processors and highly sensitive...

A new study has confirmed the success of a natural-gas leak-detection tool pioneered by Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists, which uses sensors and machine learning to...

Field Effect Transistors (FET) are the core building blocks of modern electronics such as integrated circuits, computer CPUs, and display backplanes....

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have invented a miniature superconducting thermometer with big potential applications, such as monitoring the...

Researchers at the University of Nottingham have cracked the conundrum of how to use inks to 3D-print novel electronic devices with useful properties, such as an...

On-Demand Webinars: Sensors/Data Acquisition
The Evolution of SOSA

SOSA – the Sensor Open Systems Architecture – is an integrative and inclusive standard designed to accelerate the development of affordable, agile, and composable sensor systems by military and industrial entities. Although the U.S. defense industry is currently driving creation of the standard, it’s expected...

White Papers: Robotics, Automation & Control
Reducing Vibration of Cable Carriers on High-Precision Machinery

In industries like printer design, semiconductor manufacturing and machine tools, cable carrier systems can vibrate, which affects the production equipment’s accuracy and...

White Papers: Defense
Aerospace, Defense and Government Industry Solutions

Whether you’re building and maintaining test assets to support long life cycle programs, designing next generation radar and electronic warfare systems, or deploying digital...

Question of the Week: Materials
Will RepelWrap Catch On?

A material called "RepelWrap" won this year's "Create the Future" Design Contest. The thin film, invented by researchers at McMaster University, instantly fends off viruses and bacteria when the material is placed on a surface, including a door handle or railing.

White Papers: Test & Measurement
Powering Ultra High-End Data Acquisition at Swabian Instruments

Swabian Instruments GmbH, headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, was founded in 2016 by Helmut Fedder, Michael Schlagmüller, and Markus Wick as a spin-off from the Physics...

On-Demand Webinars: Software
Next-Gen Vehicle Architectures and the Role of HPCs

Vehicle architectures are evolving from complex networks of individual electronic control units (ECUs) to a handful of ultra-powerful high-performance computers (HPCs). During today’s rapid transition to intelligent, connected vehicles, software differentiation is critical to...

Tech Talks: Medical
Testing Home Healthcare Medical Devices

Treating patients with chronic conditions outside the hospital is a growing trend due to aging populations, the increase of chronic respiratory conditions such as sleep apnea or COPD, and the cost effectiveness of home healthcare treatments. Medical therapy equipment has gotten smaller and lighter,...

A team of University of Arkansas physicists has successfully developed a circuit capable of capturing graphene’s thermal motion and converting it into an electrical current.

INSIDER: Physical Sciences
Fast Calculation Dials in Better Batteries

A simpler and more efficient way to predict performance will lead to better batteries, according to Rice University engineers. That their method is 100,000 times faster than existing modeling...

Electric vehicles (EVs) hold great promise for our energy-efficient, sustainable future but among their limitations is the lack of a long-lasting, high energy density battery...

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers working to maximize solar panel efficiency said layering advanced materials atop traditional silicon is a promising path to eke...

On-Demand Webinars: Software
Accelerating Pre-Silicon Software Development with Next-Gen Infineon AURIX TC4xx Virtual Prototypes

This 30-minute Webinar presents the usage and benefits of virtual prototyping for a wide range of use cases for Infineon’s next-generation AURIXTM TC4xx automotive microcontrollers. Two main topics will be covered:

UW doctoral student Melanie Anderson explains how to make an autonomous 'Smellicopter' to navigate toward smells.
INSIDER: Motion Control
Teaching Old Robots New Tricks

With a training technique commonly used to teach dogs to sit and stay, computer scientists showed a robot how to teach itself several new tricks including stacking blocks. With the method, the robot was...

INSIDER: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Miniscule Machines Made of Metal and Plastic

Researchers have developed a technique for manufacturing micrometer-long machines by interlocking multiple materials in a complex way. The micromachines are made out of metal and plastic, in...

INSIDER: Robotics, Automation & Control
Laser Jolts Microscopic Robots into Motion

A Cornell University team has created microscopic robots that incorporate semiconductor components, allowing them to be controlled – and made to walk – with standard electronic signals. The...

Question of the Week: RF & Microwave Electronics
Could ‘Smellicopters’ Someday Support Search-and-Rescue?

Our second INSIDER story today highlights an innovative combination of autonomous drones and live moth antennae: The “Smellicopter.”

On-Demand Webinars: Software
Balancing Vehicle Comfort and Performance with Simulation-Driven Cabin Design

As consumers look for refreshing and comfortable experiences, cabin design is taking center stage as one of the main selling factors for the automotive industry. Vehicle OEMs have to consider all aspects of the cabin and improve designs to provide customers the...

INSIDER: Robotics, Automation & Control
Materials Transform Robots Made of Robots

Scientists from the U.S. Army and MIT created a new way to link materials with unique mechanical properties, opening up the possibility of future military robots made of robots. The method...

INSIDER: Robotics, Automation & Control
Robots Learn to Drive a Car in a Few Easy Lessons

USC researchers have developed a method that could allow robots to learn complicated new tasks, like setting a table or driving a car, from observing a small number of demonstrations.

On-Demand Webinars: Photonics/Optics
New High-Peak Power Line Laser for Beam-Steering LiDAR

The mainstream LiDARs used for robotaxis and autonomous consumer vehicles either utilize a few tens of 360-degree rotating laser beams to build 3D models of the vehicle...

White Papers: Electronics & Computers
Better Predicting Terminal Enclosure Temperature to Improve Heater Reliability

One of the most common failures in electric process heaters used in various industrial applications involves electrical terminations and not the heating elements....

White Papers: Automotive
The Ultimate Guide to Cable Management

From manufacturing to IT, the more you rely on technology, the more cables you need. Manage, organize and protect your wire and cable bundles with our vast range of solutions suited for demanding...

Blog: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
A Spiraling Robotic Gripper 'Twines' Like a Plant

As engineering professor Mable Fok saw how the pole beans in her garden wrapped tightly around any objects nearby, she had an idea:

What if a robotic gripper could do the same...

Blog: RF & Microwave Electronics
A Better Sensor Detects Ice Build-Up, In Real Time
The sensor is able to detect ice formation far before you can see it occurring on a surface.

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