May 2017

News: Medical
What’s New on TechBriefs.com: Asteroid Detection, Blood-Pressure Monitoring, and Breaking the ‘Bandwidth Bottleneck’

Did you know that a 1-kilometer-wide asteroid flew past the Earth this month? Or that a chip-scale device provides broader bandwidth instantaneously to more users? Or that a new "Bold Band" offers a wearable way to monitor...

1x4 Pulsed Laser Diode Array

Excelitas Technologies® Corp. (Waltham, MA) has introduced a 1x4 Pulsed Laser Diode Array for LiDAR applications. The new laser array combines...

Briefs: Communications
GPS Satellite Geometry Analysis Tool (GPSGEM)

The purpose of the GPS Satellite Geometry Analysis Tool (GPSGEM) is to evaluate GPS satellite geometry for a given Earth-fixed location or for a provided trajectory. The tool will generate a listing of all satellites in view, the best satellite combination defined by the most optimum Geometric...

Briefs: Propulsion
Propellant Distributor for a Thruster

Innovators at NASA's Glenn Research Center have developed several new technological innovations to improve the capability of Hall-effect thrusters, which are used primarily on Earth-orbiting satellites and can also be used for deep-space robotic vehicles. Hall thrusters are susceptible to discharge channel...

Briefs: Materials
Nanotubular Toughening Inclusions

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed an extensive technology portfolio on novel methods for effective dispersion of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) in polymers. The technology portfolio extends from making stable dispersions of CNTs in polymer resins to processes for making composite CNT/polymer films and...

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed a Floating Ultrasonic System for improved nondestructive testing. Most ultrasonic scanners require an...

Sensor: “A device that detects or measures a physical property and records, indicates, or otherwise responds to it.” A sensor is a device that detects a physical...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Development of Sodium Lidar for Spaceborne Missions

The metal layers at mesospheric altitudes are excellent tracers of neutral atmosphere dynamics, and have been used since the 1960s to study the chemistry and dynamics of the mesosphere. Ablation from meteors is believed to be the chief source of metals such as Na, Mg, K, Fe, and Ca in the...

The use of modern laser technology has become standard in industrial manufacturing thanks to its speed, accuracy and effectiveness. Lasers are used to engrave parts, electronic printed...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Additive-Manufactured, Very Lightweight, Diamond Turned Aspheric Mirror

Industrial-grade, lightweight mirrors used in military and aeronautics have tight specifications brought on by demanding performance parameters. For example, a mirror that is used in an orbiting telescope would have to be extremely lightweight, stiff, and be configured to...

Application Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Choosing a Light and Color Measurement System for LEDs

LED-based lighting and display systems are becoming increasingly popular due to their low cost, flexibility, and efficiency. Measuring the light and color output of LEDs is, therefore,...

Traditional imaging technologies have been used to investigate overall solar efficiency, but many of the methods only offer surface views. A new – and “exciting” – ultra-fast laser...

Laser range-finding, or LIDAR, is a way of measuring distance, directly analogous to radar except using radiation in the near infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum rather than...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Partially Transparent Circular Mask to Suppress Narrowband Laser Light

The evolved Laser Interferometry Space Antenna (eLISA) is the implementation of the original Laser Interferometry Space Antenna (LISA) concept that will be proposed for the European Space Agency's (ESA) L.3 Cosmic Visions opportunity. The eLISA observatory uses lasers to...

Application Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Miniature Camera Mimics Eagle's Eye

A tiny, 3D-printed “eagle-eye” camera developed at the University of Stuttgart in Germany mimics the vision of some of nature's sharpest predators. The “foveated” imaging system, named after the...

The standard way for spacecraft to communicate with teams on the ground has been to use radio waves. NASA, however, will test the use of lasers to increase data communication rates...

Briefs: Propulsion
Green Monopropellant Secondary Payload Propulsion System

Small satellites, launched as secondary payloads, are increasingly being fielded. Advances in liquid rocket propulsion that enhance the on-orbit maneuverability, increase the on-orbit life, and decrease the time between identified need for and deployment of such spacecraft are of great...

NASA's Glenn Research Center (GRC) has developed and produced ultra-lightweight polymer cross-linked aerogels (X-Aerogels). These mechanically robust, highly porous, low-density...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
AutoSurvey™ Software System

The U.S. Navy has developed a software system that optimizes the collection of data for hydrographic surveys. The autonomous survey system, called AutoSurvery, is an easy-to-implement, real-time adaptive...

Briefs: Green Design & Manufacturing
Unleashing RAPID

The Routing Application for Parallel computation of Discharge (RAPID, here) is a river routing model. Given surface and groundwater inflow to rivers, this model can compute the flow and volume of water everywhere in river...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Authenticated Sensor Interface Device

Researchers at the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) have developed a device to read data, encrypt the information, and distribute it electronically to multiple locations, providing a one-way...

Oxygen, water, and fuel are of paramount importance to human life. As a leading concept, the solid-oxide electrolysis cell (SOEC) is a very powerful technology, especially...

This electronic active material converts a voltage input to a mechanical force and mechanical displacement output. As compared to prior dielectric elastomer (DE) systems, the material has...

NASA's Langley Research Center has designed a Multifunctional Boost Protective Cover (MBPC) for a Launch Abort System (LAS). In the event of a crewed launch,...

Briefs: Propulsion
Flame Holder System

NASA's Langley Research Center is seeking to improve upon stock stainless steel flame holders. Researchers at NASA Langley have developed a new ceramic design with a service temperature of 4000 °F. The combination of...

The in-situ load system (ILS) provides the ground-testing community with a comprehensive tool that...

NASA Langley Research Center has developed a novel thermoelectric (TE) material utilizing micro-scale silver telluride grains covered with bismuth...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Photo-Acoustic Chemical Detector

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed a photo-acoustic sensing-based laser vibrometer for the measurement of ambient chemical species. The technology allows for detection of sub-part-per-billion (ppb)...

Briefs: Software
Open Mission Control Technologies (Open MCT) Web

The fundamental idea behind the Mission Control Technologies (MCT) project is to build software from pieces that can be assembled by end users to create integrated visualizations. Applications are eliminated in favor of compositions of live data objects that can be combined in different ways for...

Briefs: Software
Human Factors Analysis Support Tool (H-FAST) v 2.0

Large-scale systems engineering projects involve multiple teams of engineers working in parallel. These projects typically include numerous human factors challenges, many of which first become evident during the integration stage. Human factors evaluations are essential in gathering human...

Briefs: Software
RAYGUN Fast Generic Geometry Raycasting Tool

When performing spacecraft simulations, developers sometimes need to feed the simulation with a distance between two objects along a certain direction vector. For example, if a spacecraft is approaching an asteroid and needs to simulate a laser rangefinder, the simulation would need to detect what...

A research group including members from Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Japan Society for the Promotion of Science has developed a real-time,...

Briefs: Materials
Polyimides Derived from Novel Asymmetric Benzophenone Dianhydrides

NASA's Glenn Research Center invites companies to license or establish partnerships to develop its patented high-temperature, low-melt imide resins for fabrication of automotive components. Produced by a solvent-free melt process, these resins exhibit high glass transition...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Low Solidity Vaned Diffuser (LSVD) Design for Improvement of Pressure Recovery

Many pump vaned diffuser designs are based on existing airfoil designs, with little attention given to the vane leading edge. There is a need for a vaned diffuser leading edge that helps resist flow separation and the resultant poor diffuser pressure recovery....

The invention developed is a piezoelectric stimulus-response quantification-based gravimeter (PEG). The PEG takes a completely innovative approach towards utilization of the...

Briefs: Software
iOrca Code Release

The iOrca outlier detection algorithm is based on the K-nearest neighbors approach. It calculates the distances across the dataset to determine if data points are near or far away from their set of neighbors. If a point has an unusually large distance to its neighbors, it is considered an outlier and of interest to the user....

Dielectric microspheres are optical structures that exhibit resonant properties, meaning they can be used to select very narrow wavelengths of an incoming light beam's...

Briefs: Propulsion
Magnetically Conformed, Variable-Area Discharge Chamber for Hall Thruster, and Method

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has developed a Hall thruster with a variable-area discharge chamber that improves the performance and lifetime of the thruster. Conventional Hall thrusters have poor ionization efficiency, which limits the thrust-to-power ratio...

Briefs: Green Design & Manufacturing
Methods for Purifying Enzymes for Mycoremediation

This process applies to remediation and restoration of soils contaminated by fuel, polychlorinated biphenyl wastes, etc. While there can be a general beneficial effect of microbial communities, individual plant-fungus combinations can vary in their efficacy in removal of pollutants from the...

Briefs: Green Design & Manufacturing
Land Cover Viewer

The Land Use Land Cover Viewer is an online visualization tool that enables users to view land use land cover maps. The maps were developed under the Land Cover Mapping for Green House Gas (GHG) Inventories project, which sought to enable SERVIR Eastern and Southern Africa countries to have data to report on GHG inventories as...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Low-Cost RFID Torque and Tension Sensing Tag System

This technology is a low-cost RFID-based torque and tension sensor for high-performance fasteners, such as bolts, that are used in sophisticated high-tech equipment and systems. It offers...

Articles: Robotics, Automation & Control
Intelligent Robotics Safeguarding

Traditional robot applications limit operator access to hazards through hard-guarding and protective devices that either detect and stop the hazard, or prevent access into the safeguarding space until the...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
SpinDx™ Lab on a Disk

Currently, when a patient arrives at the hospital or doctor's office feeling ill, they are first examined by the doctor, sent to a blood lab where vials of blood are taken, and then sent home to wait for results. This...

NASA's Glenn Research Center invites companies to license a new concept design for terrestrial satellite dishes and communications systems. The Cellular Reflectarray Antenna (CRA) has...

Automatic speech recognition is on the verge of becoming the chief means of interacting with computing devices. To address this, MIT researchers have built a low-power...

Briefs: Communications
9-Meter Slaving System

The objective of the 9-Meter Slaving System is to transmit Launch Trajectory Acquisition System (LTAS) data from one of multiple incoming data streams to the 9-Meter antenna control unit using a synchronous serial modem. The data stream is determined by a 9-Meter telemetry operator's selection via a graphical user...

Briefs: Green Design & Manufacturing
Obs4MIPS.py

The Obs4MIPS.py software package is a front end to an existing free software package written by Lawrence Livermore National Lab, called “Climate Model Output Rewriter” (CMOR2), and reads in a multitude of standard data formats such as netcdf3, netcdf4, Grads control files, MATLAB data files, or a list of netCDF files. The...

NASA Langley Research Center has developed two tools for turbofan engine acoustic liner design and analysis. The first is a statistical approach for broadband liner design and...

Briefs: Green Design & Manufacturing
System, Apparatus, and Method for Liquid Purification

Scientists at NASA's Glenn Research Center have developed a unique water purification method that can be used for water recycling or point-of-use applications. Originally developed as a means to recycle water in space, this technology has applications in industrial water treatment, water...

Briefs: Propulsion
Multi-Thruster Propulsion Apparatus

Two different types of electrostatic thrusters are used to propel spacecraft: ion thrusters and Hall-effect thrusters. Ion thrusters have the benefit of relatively high exhaust velocities with higher overall thrust efficiencies. Hall-effect thrusters typically offer higher thrust-to-power ratios, but they...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Tangential Wrap Rib Deployable Reflector

There is a need for a large deployable reflector of 2-meter diameter or greater so smaller launch vehicles can be used. Common issues with going from a large solid reflector into deployable structures are the structural stiffness and deployable structure complexity.

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Method Improves Accuracy of Imaging Data

Research by the University of Chicago provides scientists looking at single molecules or into deep space a more accurate way to analyze imaging data captured by microscopes, telescopes, and other...

Part of the TDK group of companies, Headway Technologies (Milpitas, CA) is a semiconductor manufacturer of memory and drive head technologies, and designs and manufactures recording...

Briefs: Software
LTAS Source Slaving Selector (LS3) Analyzer

The objective of the Launch Trajectory Acquisition System (LTAS) Source Slaving Selector (LS3) Analyzer application is to convert recorded data files — which are generated by the LTAS Source Slaving Selector (LS3) application in binary format — to human-readable text files as per a variety of...

Briefs: Communications
Ad Hoc Selection of Voice Over Internet Streams

NASA seeks interested parties to license the Ad Hoc Selection for Voice Over Internet (VoIP) Streams technology developed by engineers at Johnson Space Center. This technology features the ability to select specific audio streams from one or more sources and then convert them into a multicast to...

Articles: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Products of Tomorrow: May 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...

Briefs: Communications
Deep-Space Positioning System

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has developed a compact, low-power, self-contained instrument that provides the equivalent of GPS throughout the solar system without the aid of an artificially provided infrastructure. The state-of-the-art X-ray navigation instrument is also able to determine the position of a...

Briefs: Green Design & Manufacturing
WX Subsystem Weather Station

The WX Subsystem Weather Station was designed for use as part of the Weather Instrumentation (WX) Subsystem for the Constellation Program (CxP) to be implemented in the Launch Complex 39B at Kennedy Space Center. The weather stations need to be rugged, robust, and reliable. Although this equipment is not to be...

NASA Spinoff: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Novel Threading Enables New Approach to Golf Clubs

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...

Briefs: Software
Representation and Analysis of System Behavior Using Monotonic Signals

NASA has developed a new method for analyzing complex system behavior that also may be viewed as a type of data visualization and decision support tool. Large complex control systems may have thousands or even millions of sensors, each providing some type of signal that...

This week’s Question: Our lead INSIDER story addressed NASA’s efforts to track and characterize asteroids. What do you think? Are you concerned about potential asteroid...

INSIDER: Manufacturing & Prototyping
A New Material for Mars Habitats? Mars Itself

Researchers from the University of California, San Diego demonstrated a compaction technique that may someday be used to turn Mars soil into building blocks for the Red Planet. The scientists'...

Mark Skoog, an aerospace engineer at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center, led the development of new software that stores terrain data in a more efficient and accurate way. The...

INSIDER: Electronics & Computers
New Device Harnesses Heat to Power Computers

One of the biggest problems with computers is keeping them cool so they don’t overheat. University of Nebraska–Lincoln engineers developed an alternative energy source that would allow...

INSIDER: Electronics & Computers
Self-Charging Battery Could Make Chargers Obsolete

New technology developed by Hydro-Québec and McGill University is capable of harvesting and storing energy using light – a self-charging battery. To create the light-charged batteries, a...

Internet of Things sensors will have to operate at very low powers to extend battery life for months, or make do with energy harvested from the environment. But that means that...

Question of the Week: Materials
Will Mars habitats be built from Martian soil?

This week’s Question: Today’s lead INSIDER story described a potentially new way of building Mars habitats. What do you think? Will Mars habitats be built from Martian soil?

A 3D scanner, with a resolution of one million pixels and real-time data processing, operates using measuring technology that works in a similar way to human vision. To detect an object,...

Researchers from the University of Antwerp and KU Leuven have built a proof-of-concept device that performs two noble functions simultaneously: purifying polluted air and generating power. Read...

Researchers from the University of Sussex are the first to combine two cutting-edge visualization technologies in one: a fog screen and a shape-shifting display. The “MistForm” system, according...

Products: Data Acquisition
Product of the Month: May 2017

Spectrum Instrumentation Corp. (Hackensack, NJ) introduced the DN6.44x, a range of 12 high-speed, 14-, and 16-bit LXI-based digitizers with up to 24 fully synchronized channels. The 16 bit ADC models offers...

Question of the Week: Imaging
Will fog displays improve design processes?

Today’s lead INSIDER story addressed a new kind of 3D visualization: a shape-shifting fog display. Researcher and co-creator Diego Martinez said the technology enables new ways to collaborate,...

News: Robotics, Automation & Control
Sound-Off: How are Collaborative Robots Being Used Today?

Are you seeing collaborative robots being integrated into today's production and manufacturing environments? Tech Briefs invites you to "Sound Off" on the role of "cobots."

Researchers in The Netherlands have demonstrated that combining SPECT/CT and fluorescence imaging could help surgeons differentiate tumor tissue from normal tissue. Their study focused on...

A buildup of plaque and dysfunctional proteins in the brain are hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease. While much Alzheimer's research has focused on accumulation of the protein amyloid beta,...

The concept of a perfect lens that can produce immaculate and flawless images has been the Holy Grail of lens makers for centuries. In 1873, German physicist and optical scientist Ernst...

Many of the secrets of cancer and other diseases can be found in the cell's nucleus. But getting to that level – to see and investigate the important genetic material housed there –...

Using data from NASA’s Earth Observing System Aura satellite, launched in 2004, a team led by Michigan Technological University created a global map of...

INSIDER: Photonics/Optics
Need Glass? Push Print.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists and academic collaborators from the University of Minnesota and Oklahoma State University have demonstrated the synthesis of transparent glass through 3D printing,...

A team of Columbia Engineering researchers, led by Applied Physics Assistant Professor Nanfang Yu, has invented a method to control light propagating in confined...

The ephemeral electron movements in a transient state of a reaction important in biochemical and optoelectronic processes have been captured and, for the first time, directly...

High Efficiency Double Spot Beam Splitter

LASER COMPONENTS (Bedford, NH) has introduced the HEDS (High Efficiency Double Spot) beam splitter. Double spot beam splitters are...

INSIDER: Robotics, Automation & Control
Human-Robot Interaction: When Robotics Meets Philosophy

To support human-robot interaction, designers are taking a page from philosophy and studying how we work together with one another.

INSIDER: Manufacturing & Prototyping
What's New on Tech Briefs: Brickmaking on Mars a 'Smashing' Success

With support from Congress and the President, NASA aims to send a manned mission to Mars by 2040. Establishing a human presence on the Red Planet, however, will require permanent shelters.

And lugging a pile of bricks on the nine-month, 35-million-mile trip is out of the...

INSIDER: Robotics, Automation & Control
3D-Printed Soft Robot ‘Walks’ on Any Terrain

Traditional robots often feature isolated mechanical joints. These discrete components limit a rover’s ability to traverse sand, stone, and other challenging environments.

A team at...

What are the best ways to detect and prevent cyberattacks on today's 'connected' cars? Share your thoughts and "Sound Off!"

Question of the Week: Robotics, Automation & Control
Will Soft Robots Improve Search-and-Rescue Operations?

University of California, San Diego researchers have demonstrated a soft robot that lifts its legs over obstacles and operates on a variety of terrains. What do you think? Will the 3D-printed quadrupedal technologies someday support search-and-rescue missions?

Extreme temperatures can severely strain a mechanical component because its material may have trouble enduring the heat without degrading. To address the problem, researchers at MIT...

In an effort to make digital smartwatches more convenient for users, researchers at Dartmouth College and the University of Waterloo have produced a prototype watch face named Cito that moves...

INSIDER: Robotics, Automation & Control
Modular Climbing Robot Splits into Multiple Explorer Bots

Researchers from the Robotics Research Centre at the International Institute of Technology – Hyderabad (IIIT-H), have developed a stair and obstacle climbing robot that can...

The human heart beats approximately 35 million times every year, effectively pumping blood into the circulation via four different heart valves. Unfortunately, in over 4 million...

Electronic devices that not only can be implanted in the human body but also completely dissolve on their own – known as bioresorbable electronics – are envisioned by...

Synthetic rubber and plastics used for manufacturing tires, toys, and myriad other products are produced from butadiene, a molecule traditionally made from petroleum or natural gas....

Mass production technology for silicon-based ultraviolet (UV) light sensors, suitable for smartphones and wearable devices in the Internet of Things (IoT) era, has been jointly...

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