March 2019

A team of researchers at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering and NYU Center for Neural Science has solved a longstanding puzzle of how to build ultra-sensitive, ultra-small, electrochemical...

Researchers at the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NBIB) have created a novel, low-cost biosensor to detect Human Epidermal...

We recently interviewed Justin Bessette, Manager, Wireless Systems and Software Engineering at LORD Corporation, Micro-Strain® Sensing Systems, about the nuts and bolts of a wireless...

Articles: Communications
Understanding Bluetooth Mesh Networking

Bluetooth technology is focused on short-range wireless connectivity. Most of us know the Bluetooth standard as the way we connect a phone to our car or a headset for hands-free operation. But...

Concrete is the material most widely used by humans — after water. As its ingredients are readily available almost anywhere in the world, it is the main component used by...

Application Briefs: Data Acquisition
Driverless Forklifts

Although driverless forklifts have been around for about 30 years, it's only in the last 10 or so that they've been free to maneuver anywhere around their environment. In the early days, the machines followed a current...

The spread of invasive cancer cells from a tumor's original site to distant parts of the body is known as metastasis. It is the leading cause of death in people...

A paper-based sensor, which can be worn as a wristband, features happy and sad emoticon faces drawn in an invisible UV-sensitive ink. They successively light up as you...

Products: Manufacturing & Prototyping
New Products: March 2019 Sensor Technology
Torque Measurement System

To address the demand for a more accurate, reliable, customizable, and easy-to-use force measurement device, Interface Force Measurement Systems (Scottsdale, AZ)...

Machine Vision Cameras

Vision Research (Wayne, NJ) has introduced the Phantom® S210 and S200, 2Gpx/sec (16 Gbps) machine vision cameras. The S210 reaches 1,730...

Articles: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Additive Manufacturing Using Infrared and X-Ray Imaging

Additive manufacturing is poised to liven the pace and scale of manufacturing. Deploying a range of techniques that use 3-D models to print objects layer by layer, it can generate a...

Sponsored by the Office of Naval Research's (ONR) TechSolutions program, the Flashing Light to Text Converter (FLTC) features a camera that can be mounted atop a signal...

Articles: Internet of Things
Deep Learning in Machine Vision

FLIR Systems has introduced their Firefly machine vision camera with open platform deep learning inference onboard. Deep learning makes it possible to easily develop high performance solutions for difficult...

The diagnosis of diseases based in internal organs often relies on biopsy samples collected from affected regions. But collecting such samples is highly error-prone due to the...

Researchers have developed an imaging technique that uses a tiny, super sharp needle to nudge a single nanoparticle into different orientations and capture 2-D images to help...

Briefs: Test & Measurement
New Fast, Economical Bioimaging Technique

Researchers at Rensselaer Poytechnic Institute (RPI) have developed a new approach to optical imaging that makes it possible to quickly and economically monitor multiple molecular interactions in a...

Since their development in the 1950s, optical fibers have been used for power transmission, communication, imaging, and sensing. They are often used in situations where other sensing...

An optical setup developed by researchers at Sandia's Combustion Research Facility and the Technical University of Denmark can now quantify the formation of soot — particulate matter consisting...

Researchers have, for the first time, integrated two technologies widely used in applications such as optical communications, bio-imaging, and Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) systems. In the...

Inspired by the human eye, researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have developed an adaptive metalens that is essentially a flat,...

Deep learning technology is inspired by the way the human brain works, using trained artificial neural networks to perform recognition and decision-making tasks. A convolutional neural network...

It's hard to get an X-ray image of low-density material like tissue between bones because X-rays just pass right through like sunlight through a window. Sandia studies myriads of low-density materials,...

The consumable component of muscle tissue in meat is approximately 75% water, 20% protein, 5% fat, carbohydrate, and minerals. The proportions vary depending...

To keep up with Moore's Law — an observation made in the 1960s that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit doubles about every two years — researchers...

Briefs: Automotive
Precision Low-Speed Motor Controller

Innovators at NASA Johnson Space Center have developed a method for controlling precise motion of a brushless DC (BLDC) motor using relatively inexpensive components. Precision motors are usually quite expensive and inefficient when operating at slow speeds. Current motors are only capable of operating at...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Composable Storage Platform for High-Performance Computing

Large-scale, high-performance computing — supercomputing — is essential to solving both complex and large questions. But storage platforms essential for these advanced computer systems have been stuck in a rigid framework that required users to either choose between customization of...

Future Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and air taxis will require advanced onboard autonomy to operate safely within complex and dynamic urban environments. Urban landscapes...

Briefs: Propulsion
Green Electric Monopropellant (GEM)-Fueled Pulsed Plasma Thruster

NASA required a rocket thruster able to produce a number of pulses at high specific impulse at a relatively low voltage (~300 to 400V). The key problem was that existing propellants for liquid-fueled pulsed plasma thrusters (LPPTs) required high voltages to ablate and accelerate...

Special Reports: Aerospace
Unmanned Systems - March 2019

The latest advances in aerial, ground, and underwater unmanned systems are covered in this special report, a compendium of recent articles from the editors of Tech Briefs and Aerospace & Defense...

Briefs: Aerospace
Multi-Purpose, Flexible Wing Structure for Small Unmanned Aerial Systems

Small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), also known as micro air vehicles, are promising tools for a variety of military and commercial applications. Some small UAS have flexible wings and are lightweight, making them back-packable and easy to deploy. Most UAS that are...

Special Reports: Robotics, Automation & Control
Connected Commercial Vehicles - March 2019

Trucks and other commercial vehicles are becoming smarter and more connected, moving rapidly on the road to autonomy. To help you keep pace with the latest developments, we present this compendium...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
“Light-Written” Photonic Memory Devices

Light is the most energy-efficient way to move information; however, light shows one big limitation: it is difficult to store. Data centers, for example, rely primarily on magnetic hard drives in...

Heat shields are essentially used as the brakes to stop spacecraft from burning up and crashing on entry and reentry into a planet's atmosphere. Current spacecraft heat shield methods include...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
High-Power Thermoelectric Generator

Objects in our daily lives, such as speakers, refrigerators, and even cars, are becoming “smarter” day by day as they connect to the Internet and exchange data, creating the Internet of Things (IoT)....

Lightweighting design is an extensively explored and utilized concept in many industries, especially in aerospace applications, and is associated with the green aviation concept. The...

Products: Electronics & Computers
New on the Market: March 2019
Controller and Datalogger

Watlow, St. Louis, MO, introduced a batch processing feature for the F4T temperature and process controller and D4T datalogger. The new feature helps collect manufacturing...

WCX™ World Congress Experience 2019 — presented by SAE International — is for forward-thinking engineers, executives, OEMs, suppliers, decision-makers, disruptors, and the entire spectrum of...

Briefs: Test & Measurement
MEMS Switch Extends Life of Cellphones

A new type of microelectromechanical system (MEMS) was developed that uses electrostatic levitation to provide a more robust system. All cellphones use MEMS switches for wireless communication, but traditionally there are just two electrodes. The switches open and close numerous times during just one hour,...

NASA Langley Research Center has developed a new approach for designing aircraft liner cores for noise reduction. The cores are comprised of multiple honeycomb-shaped chambers,...

Technology Leaders: Electronics & Computers
The Heat Is On: A Guide to Specifying Insulation Materials

One of the first things an electrical engineer will learn is that the number-one enemy of designing and manufacturing any electrical/electronic product is heat. It's the one...

5 Ws: Sensors/Data Acquisition
5 Ws of 3D-Printing Piezoelectric Materials
Who

Piezoelectric materials are used in everything from cellphones and wearables, to robotics, energy harvesting, and tactile sensors.

Outsourcing machine learning is a rising trend in industry. Major tech firms have launched cloud platforms that conduct computation-heavy tasks, such as running data through a convolutional...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Self-Stabilizing, Distributed, Symmetric, Fault-Tolerant Synchronization

Distributed systems have become an integral part of safety-critical computing applications, necessitating system designs that incorporate complex fault-tolerant resource management functions to provide globally coordinated operations with ultra-reliability. As a result,...

Traditional methods, such as reverse osmosis, that remove contaminants from water are expensive and energy-intensive. Researchers have developed technology to remove contaminants from water,...

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed a method that introduces solids and particulates — specifically aerogels — into composites or...

Briefs: Propulsion
Real-Time, Fuel-Optimal, Powered Descent Guidance Using Interpolated Time-of-Flight and Propellant Mass

Soft landing using rockets requires a trajectory to be planned for the lander from rocket ignition — typically several kilometers in altitude and moving at up to 200 m/s — to the point near the surface with near-zero velocity. The exact...

The technological ramp to fully autonomous vehicles presents significant challenges for companies developing autonomous vehicle programs. Advanced sensor technology, high-speed and...

Titanium is as strong as steel but about twice as light. These properties depend on the way a metal's atoms are stacked, but random defects that arise in the...

Briefs: Propulsion
Interoperable Intelligent Controllers for Process Management and Control Networks

NASA Johnson Space Center developed reprogrammable and interchangeable electronic controllers that can attach to a system or subsystem wirelessly or through plug-and-play capability. Originally designed to work with rocket engines, this technology can control...

Working with teams from Harvard, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Boston Children's Hospital, Siyi Xu developed a soft, non-toxic, wearable sensor that attaches to the...

Briefs: Propulsion
Small-Body Dynamics Toolkit Version 5.0

The Small-Body Dynamics Toolkit (SBDT) v5.0 is a collection of primitive-body-specific trajectory design and analysis tools written in MATLAB®. The SBDT gives the user the capabilities to propagate, analyze, and visualize spacecraft trajectories and the dynamical environment near realistic asteroid,...

Briefs: Software
Sublimable Propellant Source for Iodine-Fed Ion Propulsion System

NASA Marshall has developed a system for generating iodine vapor from solid iodine for use as a propellant in a Hall or ion thruster propulsion system. Xenon has generally been the preferred propellant for these spacecraft ion propulsion systems but more recently, iodine-based...

Briefs: Energy
Fuel Cell/Fuel Cell Hybrid System

Fuel cells can deliver clean, reliable, and uninterrupted power nearly 100 percent of the time. Fuel cells offer the advantage of efficiency by converting chemical energy directly to electricity. They have no moving parts, thereby eliminating failures associated with pumps, blowers, heat exchangers, and other...

Articles: Robotics, Automation & Control
Create the Future Design Contest Alumni Achieve Market Success

The Create the Future Design Contest, launched in 2002 by the publishers of Tech Briefs magazine, helps stimulate and reward engineering innovation. The annual event has...

Briefs: Materials
Composite Advances Lignin as Renewable 3D Printing Material

Lignin is the material left over from the processing of biomass. It gives plants rigidity and also makes biomass resistant to being broken down into useful products. Researchers combined a melt-stable hardwood lignin with conventional plastic, a low-melting nylon, and carbon fiber to...

Briefs: Semiconductors & ICs
Nanoscale Pillars Act as Memory Foam

A customizable nanomaterial was developed that combines metallic strength with a foam-like ability to compress and spring back. The material can store and release mechanical energy on the nanoscale, and...

Briefs: Aerospace
Effects of Reynolds and Mach Numbers in Large Eddy Simulation of Supersonic Round Jets

Rockets/landers arrive on the Moon with supersonic speed and impact lunar regolith. There is no reliable software to computationally simulate in an effective way the supersonic plumes escaping from these rockets/devices. A Large Eddy Simulation (LES) model and...

Most electronics only function within a certain temperature range but blending two organic materials together creates electronics that withstand extreme heat. The new plastic material could reliably conduct...

Briefs: Imaging
Optimal Computational Vision Pipeline (OCVP)

Optimal Computational Vision Pipeline (OCVP) software uses a novel algorithm that allows overlapping point clouds obtained from sensors with displaced position and orientation to be fused together in a common coordinate system with a rigorously linear solution for position and orientation parameters;...

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...

Spinoff is NASA's annual publication featuring successfully commercialized NASA technology. This commercialization has contributed to the development of products and services in...

Facility Focus: Electronics & Computers
Facility Focus: Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

Since 1967, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) has been the United States’ premier particle physics laboratory, working on the world's most advanced particle accelerators...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Computer-Controlled Exercise Equipment

While a wide variety of computer-controlled exercise machines for training and rehabilitation exist — some of which can be automatically adjusted to vary resistance or incline — such systems provide for preprogrammed changes in load or resistance. What is needed is a system that overcomes the...

Boothroyd Dewhurst, Wakefield, RI, announced Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DFMA®) 2019 software for analyzing parts and assemblies. DFMA utilizes a question-and-answer interface that...

White Papers: Test & Measurement
Thinking Outside the Cabinet: What Does Motor-Integrated Automation Technology Have to Do with Your Business ROI?

Thinking cabinet-free is nothing new. We’ve always been able to eliminate some parts from the cabinet and integrate them into...

Question of the Week: Electronics & Computers
Will ‘Structural Batteries’ Replace Conventional Ones?

Structural batteries are built into the actual configuration of battery-powered products – think the wing of a drone or the bumper of an electric vehicle. These batteries could reduce weight and extend range of a vehicle, but they're usually heavy, unsafe, or short-lived.

The wearable is fireproof, thanks to a carbon aerogel nanocomposite material.
White Papers: Data Acquisition
Development Tactics and Techniques for Small Form Factor RF Signal Recorders

This paper describes the engineering considerations and design techniques used to develop a small form factor rugged recorder that can handle the extremely high...

Researchers from Drexel University say that adding MXene to silicon anodes could extend the life of Li-ion batteries by as much as five times. It’s...

Most power plants in the United States are built alongside bodies of water to meet the demands of their cooling systems. Some of that water is lost through evaporation in cooling...

Researchers at Rice University have made test cells for lithium metal batteries with a coat of red phosphorus on the separator that keeps the anode and cathode electrodes apart. The phosphorus...

Devices that convert AC electromagnetic waves into DC electricity are known as “rectennas.” MIT Researchers have demonstrated a new kind of rectenna, that uses a flexible...

Your design idea could win you $20,000.
White Papers: Medical
Linear Guides For The Next Generation Of Medical Machines

Not too long ago, the motion systems used in medical and lab automation equipment had technical requirements that were easy to satisfy. These lightly loaded applications generally...

Blog: Electronics & Computers
Readers Select 2018 Products of the Year
See which three products won our 2018 Readers' Choice contest.
Question of the Week: Automotive
Will Carbon Fibers Find a New Place in Vehicles?

In a Tech Briefs article last week, Virginia Tech professor Greg Liu spoke about his team’s newly developed porous carbon fibers, and how the material may someday change how vehicles are built and powered.

A new technology may lead to a more mainstream use of algal biofuels.
White Papers: Medical
Gartner® Market Guide for Quality Management System Software

Quality and supply chain leaders seek enterprise quality management applications to standardize processes, maintain data and ensure compliance with regulatory and...

Scientists have found a new way to control light emitted by exotic crystal semiconductors, which could lead to more efficient solar cells and other advances in...

Tracking Camera

The Intel® RealSense™ T265 Tracking Camera from FRAMOS (Ontario, Canada) uses inputs from dual fisheye cameras and a Bosch IMU along with its own processor on...

Intentionally “squashing”colloidal quantum dots during chemical synthesis creates dots capable of stable, “blink-free” light emission that is fully comparable...

Generating comprehensive molecular images of organs and tumors in living organisms can be performed at ultra-fast speed using a new deep learning approach to image reconstruction...

It took two and a half years, 60 prototypes, and even some of his children’s craft foam, but Curtis Ray turned his idea into invention.
White Papers: Automotive
Enhancing Autonomous Vehicle Interior Design with Proven Access Solutions

As drivers begin to transition to autonomous vehicles, automotive designers must create functional interior spaces that not only provide comfort, but also build trust...

White Papers: Robotics, Automation & Control
Connectivity for Next-Generation Mobility

Powertrain electrification and automation will pave the way for a new generation of all-electric, fully autonomous vehicles. At the same time, cloud, big data, and analytics technologies will enable...

Podcasts: Data Acquisition
Here's an Idea: Sleep
When it comes to a better night’s sleep, what role should technology play – if any at all?
White Papers: Electronics & Computers
How Unique Cable and Connector Solutions are Taking 3D Printing to New Levels

Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, is decades old but the industry today is quite challenging. 3D printing enables rapid prototyping, quick-turn designs, and...

White Papers: Medical
Find Your Best Way to Move Equipment Weighing Thousands of Pounds

How do you choose the right system to move equipment weighing thousands of pounds or multiple tons? What is the best option for safe, efficient, cost-effective load moving...

The sensor supports new ideas in food-quality control, environmental monitoring, and more.
A reader asks: What types of considerations need to be made before you go in on collaborative robots?
White Papers: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Flexible Substrates for Smart Sensor Applications

The requirements for smart sensors are manifold: miniaturized, highly reliable and integrated, cost-effective, hermetic and biocompatible for medical applications. DYCONEX has developed novel...

White Papers: Test & Measurement
Navigating Hard Case Protective Packaging Standards

When designing a reusable packaging solution it is important to consider how the container will both protect the contents and hold up after repeated use. There are multiple design and...

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago discovered several unique properties of materials known as phase-switching liquids (PSLs) that hold promise as...

The 2020 eXploration Systems and Habitation (X-Hab) Academic Innovation Challenge supports NASA’s efforts to develop technologies and capabilities that will enhance the human...

Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is diagnosed in more than 130,000 people globally every year. Now, work is being done on a tool to help in its early detection: a simple, compact...

White Papers: Defense
COM Express Type 7 Carrier Boards: The Hot Rod of Embedded Computing

COM Express Type 7 Carrier Boards provide Industry 4.0 solutions for surveillance, industrial edge computing and Big Data network applications, especially in...

White Papers: FDA/Regulatory
Your Guide to Document Control

Document control is one of the most important quality processes to get right. It ensures documents are updated and revision-controlled, allowing you to effectively route them for review, approval and...

White Papers: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Meet the Future: Edge Programmable Industrial Controllers

For today's controls engineers, new demands to use and share data present three main challenges: security, complexity, and expense. These IIoT or data-intensive automation...

Question of the Week: Data Acquisition
Have You Used Sleep Tech Products?

This month’s Here’s an Idea podcast featured a variety of Sleep Tech products, including the Hupnos snore-preventing sleep mask, the temperature-controlled Ooler mattress, and the brain-activity-monitoring Dreem headband. Listen to our episode to learn more about each of the inventions.

The MIT system can monitor the behavior of electronic devices within a building, a factory – and even a 270-foot Coast Guard cutter.
INSIDER: Robotics, Automation & Control
Robots Quickly Track Moving Objects with Precision

Robots using a system of RFID tags can locate tagged objects within 7.5 milliseconds on average with an error of less than a centimeter. TurboTrack could replace computer vision for some...

INSIDER: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Self-Contained Wheel Units Cut Vehicle Costs

Vehicles could be affordably produced for a wide variety of specialized purposes using a self-contained wheel unit that combines a wheel and an electric motor with braking, suspension,...

Cobots can help manufacturers automate tasks both known or unknown, says engineer Israel Nunez.
The power supplies are designed for harsh environments and hazardous locations.

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