May 2018

Articles: Transportation
3D-Printed Lab on Wheels

Next-generation manufacturing takes on a 50-year-old icon as ORNL researchers transform the classic Shelby Cobra sports car into a 3D-printed laboratory on wheels. Additive manufacturing enables the seamless...

Products: Data Acquisition
Product of the Month: May 2018

ACCES I/O Products, San Diego, CA, announced the USB-AIO family of 12- and 16-bit USB analog I/O modules. The USB-AIO16-16F 16-bit, multifunction analog input/output board is suited for precision...

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

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Polymer-Based 2D-to-3D Transformable Surfaces

Technologies using stretchable materials are increasingly important. Yet, in general, it is not possible to control how they stretch with much more sophistication than inflating balloons. A method was developed that allows the calculated transformation of 2D stretchable surfaces into targeted 3D...

Large-scale liquid rocket engines with regeneratively cooled nozzles will enable reliable and reduced-cost access to space. The coolant that circulates through the internal...

Northrop Grumman Corporation
Azusa, CA
www.northropgrumman.com

Two critical instruments built by Northrop Grumman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric...

When testing composite structures, it is important to understand the response of the structure to the load. Of significance is the formation of damage and growth of that damage leading...

Briefs: Test & Measurement
Compact Science Experiment Module

Crew time on the International Space Station (ISS) is extremely limited for any operations on science payloads. Autonomous science experiments in small, self-contained, cubical payloads are highly desirable...

Briefs: Test & Measurement
Laser Technique Detects Toxic Agents in the Atmosphere

A real-time instrument was developed that could scan the atmosphere for toxic agents in order to alert communities to a biological or chemical attack.

Briefs: Test & Measurement
Correlation Spectrometer

Correlation spectroscopy is an attractive technique for sensing and analysis applications because it combines the attributes of mechanical and optical simplicity, high selectivity, and good sensitivity. In...

Briefs: Test & Measurement
Mobile Instrument Detects and Samples Aerosol Particles

Hazardous airborne particles pose a risk for health and safety in a variety of environments; thus, detection of these small particles is essential. Current particle magnification systems are bulky and require a lot of power for operation, making them unsuitable to easily detect and analyze...

Articles: Test & Measurement
Products of Tomorrow: May 2018

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: Aerospace
Method for Transferring a Spacecraft from Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit to Lunar Orbit

This novel innovation from Ames Research Center allows spacecraft to share rides with larger spacecraft that are headed to Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO). The secondary spacecraft is dropped off Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) at any time during the day...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Freeform Fabrication Using Electrically Conductive Filaments

The use of multifunctional composites such as mechanically reinforced, electrically and thermally conductive parts is of interest in a range of application areas. Especially interesting and important is where tailorability of function is achieved by strategic placement of materials...

Thinning a material down to a single-atom thickness can dramatically change that material’s physical properties. Graphene, the best known two-dimensional (2D) material, has...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Printing Ink Removes Oxygen in Sealed Packages

Oxygen adversely impacts food flavor and nutrition. NASA’s proposed five-year shelf life for astronaut food requires aggressive measures to minimize oxygen. Previously, NASA packaged foods in containers with a high oxygen and moisture barrier. These materials have limiting properties. They contain...

Researchers at NASA’s Glenn and Langley Research Centers have developed a groundbreaking bio-mimicking acoustic liner for quieting noisy environments. Conventional approaches have not been able to absorb...

Soft robots inspired by nature can crawl, swim, grasp delicate objects, and even assist a beating heart, but none of them has been able to sense and respond to the...

Briefs: Energy
Fabric Converts Kinetic Energy into Electric Power

A fabric was developed that converts kinetic energy into electric power. The greater the load applied to the textile and the wetter it becomes, the more electricity it generates. The woven fabric generates electricity when it is stretched or exposed to pressure. The fabric can currently generate...

Winter weather such as snow, freezing precipitation, and ice can impact airport surface operations. These conditions may result in significant disruptions in arrival and departure rates. To address...

5 Ws: Photonics/Optics
5 Ws of Invisible Glass
Who

Users of consumer electronics devices and solar cells, and high-power pulsed laser applications.

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Surface-Field-Enhanced Detection of Deep UV Photons in Silicon Carbide Avalanche Photodetectors

While silicon carbide (SiC) is an ideal material for building ultraviolet (UV) photodetectors, the absorbed photons get recombined in the first few nanometers at the surface due to a large absorption coefficient in the 200- to 250-nm wavelength band....

Products: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
New on the Market: May 2018
Assembly Pins

JW Winco, New Berlin, WI, offers GN 2342 RoHS-compliant stainless steel assembly pins with three washer types available that place the bolt in an axial position in its insertion direction. The...

A working, rechargeable proton battery was developed that could store more energy than currently available lithium-ion batteries. Potential applications include household storage of...

NASA Langley Research Center has developed a novel aircraft design that can carry 150+ passengers over a range of 3,500 nautical miles. Key features include a turboelectric propulsion system, twin...

Articles: Robotics, Automation & Control
The Less is More Approach to Robotic Cable Management

In recent years, cable management has come into the limelight because machine reliability has increased dramatically, even though robots have grown more complex. Unfortunately, the...

Technology Leaders: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Understanding Smart Machines: How They Will Shape the Future

Powered by smart machines, the new industrial revolution is changing how machine builders design, and how manufacturers operate today and in the future. To remain competitive and...

Briefs: Aerospace
Miniature Mass Spectrometer

For decades, mass spectrometers have offered a relatively fast and highly sensitive way to analyze and detect chemical compounds. But their bulky size has been a hindrance, limiting the in-field potential of the...

Researchers at Brookhaven National Laboratory have observed how lithium moves inside individual nanoparticles that make up batteries. The finding could help...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Novel Radiation Shielding Material for Dramatically Extending the Orbit Life of CubeSats

NASA Langley Research Center has developed an innovative radiation shield made by layering metal materials in the Z-shielding method. It is a new, low-cost, and easy-to-implement method to protect CubeSat electronic circuits from ionizing radiation found in...

NASA Langley Research Center has developed a breakthrough technology called Safeguard that can alleviate hazards with unmanned aircraft (UA) flying beyond their authorized perimeters and...

Piezoelectric materials, which generate an electric current when compressed or stretched, are familiar and widely used; for example, lighters that spark when a switch is...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Technique Measures Temperature of 2D Materials at the Atomic Level

Newly developed two-dimensional (2D) materials such as graphene — which consists of a single layer of carbon atoms — have the potential to replace traditional microprocessing chips based on silicon, which have reached the limit of how small they can get. But engineers have...

This technology uses extracts produced from yeast transformed with a new anti-UV DNA construct to block ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

Electric vehicles are growing in popularity, and while they represent a cleaner alternative to fossil-fueled vehicles, their increased use may stress the grid if this growing load is left unmanaged. A need...

Much can be detected in blood or urine — viral illnesses, metabolic disorders, or autoimmune diseases can be diagnosed with laboratory tests, for instance. But such examinations often take a few...

Briefs: Test & Measurement
Plastic Material Works as a Heat Conductor

Plastics are excellent insulators, meaning they can efficiently trap heat — a quality that can be an advantage in something like a coffee cup sleeve. But this insulating property is less desirable in products such as plastic casings for laptops and mobile phones that overheat, in part, because the...

Facility Focus: Photonics/Optics
Oak Ridge National Laboratory

This year, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) marks 75 years as a research institution. Located in Oak Ridge, TN, ORNL is the largest US Department of Energy science and energy laboratory, conducting basic and...

Two-photon lithography (TPL), a high-resolution 3D printing technique, is capable of producing nanoscale features smaller than 1/100 the width of a human hair. The technique could enable X-ray...

Briefs: Test & Measurement
Thermal Energy Storage and Monitoring

Water heaters and other thermal energy storage devices increase the temperature of a medium above an ambient or normal temperature, and store the warmer medium. Water heaters, in particular, must store...

Briefs: Aerospace
Variable Bypass Turbofan Engine

Many aircraft need to operate efficiently at more than one flight regime; for example, certain airframes are expected to perform in relatively high-speed cruise modes, as well as slower loitering scenarios. Unfortunately, an engine operates most efficiently when the exit velocity closely matches the speed of the...

Briefs: Aerospace
New Methods in Preparing and Purifying Nanomaterials

Innovators at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have made several breakthroughs in treating hexagonal boron nitride (hBN) nanomaterials, improving their properties to supplant carbon nanotubes in many applications. These inventors have greatly enhanced the processes of intercalation and...

A “4D printing” method was developed for a smart gel that could lead to the development of living structures in human organs and tissues, soft robots, and targeted drug delivery.

Briefs: Green Design & Manufacturing
Nonaqueous Redox Flow Battery

Researchers have created a material that consists of carefully structured molecules designed to be particularly electrochemically stable in order to prevent the battery from losing energy to unwanted reactions....

Laser engineers are leveraging new materials, unusual gain mechanisms, and innovative cavity designs to push laser performance into new regimes. Pulse lengths are getting...

Application Briefs: Test & Measurement
Using Digital Microscopes as Inspection Tools

Digital microscopes are being automated and computerized to make them easier to use, display more data with more detail and precision, and expand their areas of application. With traditional...

The need to measure laser output characteristics, including average power, pulse energy, and pulse shape, is a common requirement across many industrial and research applications....

Articles: Sensors/Data Acquisition
High-Speed Multi-Sensor Imaging

Machine vision plays a key role in the automation of production processes. Since the advent of vision in industrial manufacturing, there have been many advances in camera and image sensor technology. Right...

Application Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Direct AC LED Engines

As the lighting industry continues to mature, vendors continue to pursue inexpensive lighting solutions that offer universal compatibility and are easy to install. For OEMs and manufacturers, LEDs have proven to be a...

Portable Laser Scanner

Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence (North Kingstown, RI) has announced the Leica Absolute Scanner LAS-XL, a new ultralarge scale portable laser scanner. Designed...

Articles: Test & Measurement
3D Imaging in Space

NASA is digging ever more deeply into understanding the makeup of the surfaces of Mars and our Moon. A lot can be learned by sending instruments to land on these places, but vastly more can be discovered by...

Blog: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Will 3D Printing Get Past the Plastic?
If you think there’s too much hype surrounding 3D printing, perhaps that’s because you’re only thinking about plastic parts.
Does less nitrogen oxide mean more particulate emissions? A reader asks our expert.

Researchers at IIT-Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia fabricated an artificial device reproducing a 1:1 scale model of the blood-brain barrier, the anatomical and functional structure...

For the first time, researchers have shown that an optical fiber as thin as a human hair can be used to create microscopic structures with laser-based 3D printing. The...

Researchers have developed a novel strategy to control the shapes of polymeric materials by utilizing photoresponsive molecular switches. This could aid the development of an...

Polymeric aerogels are nanoporous structures that combine some of the most desirable characteristics of materials, such as flexibility and mechanical strength. It is nearly impossible...

To catch chemistry in action, scientists at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory use the shortest possible flashes of X-ray light to create “molecular movies”...

MIT researchers have developed a system that can produce images of objects shrouded by fog so thick that human vision can’t penetrate it. It can also gauge the objects’ distance.

Holography, like photography, is a way to record the world around us. Both use light to make recordings, but instead of two-dimensional photos, holograms reproduce...

Thermal Imager

Sierra-Olympic Technologies (Hood River, OR) introduced the Tenum™640, a thermal imager with a 640 x 512 array and 10-micron pixel pitch. The new camera, from the...

Question of the Week: Electronics & Computers
Would You Wear a 'Mind-Reading' Headset?

A Tech Briefs TV video this week featured AlterEgo, a “mind-reading” wearable headset from MIT's Media Lab.

The technology allows a user to silently converse with a computing device, AI assistant, or application without any audible voice or discernible movements. The wearable device...

Researchers at the University of Buffalo have found a counter-intuitive way of improving the water-purification process: keeping things cool.
A “MapLite” framework from MIT allows self-driving cars to navigate roads – with just GPS and sensors as a guide.
Podcasts: Robotics, Automation & Control
Here's an Idea: Listen to the Story of Humanoid Robots

Some conditions are too dangerous, or just too mundane, for people.

A new microchip allows sensor nodes to run uninterruptedly, even when the battery runs out.
A stretchy material, modeled after squid skin, achieves thermal invisibility by reflecting heat.
Question of the Week: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Can a 'Cool' Strategy Improve Water-Purification Efforts?

Researchers from the University of Buffalo found a counter-intuitive way of improving the water-purification process: keeping things cool.

A new system from the Georgia Institute of Technology has a sound approach to recognizing tiny gestures of the hand.

A PhD student at The University of Manchester has developed a new method and software for using computer game technology to create large-scale simulations of violent fluid flows,...

Diabetic retinopathy destroys cells of the retina, leading to blindness. Existing treatments are painful and invasive, involving lasers and injections into the eyeball. A Caltech graduate student...

An inability to handle misty driving conditions has been one of the chief obstacles to the development of autonomous vehicular navigation systems that use visible light. These systems are...

Researchers from Purdue University demonstrated that thermoacoustics properties could theoretically occur in solids as well as liquids.
Question of the Week: Manufacturing & Prototyping
What are your Biggest Manufacturing Challenges?

What parts of the design process are the most difficult? What information are you looking for now to help you with your job? Is there a specific technology area that can be challenging to find out the latest solutions for?

Professor Paul Steen helped to create a beetle-inspired adhesive. Now it's about finding applications for it.
INSIDER: Electronics & Computers
Memristor Adds Cybersecurity Layer to IoT Devices

The Internet of Things makes our lives more streamlined and convenient, but the cybersecurity risk posed by millions of wirelessly connected devices remains a huge concern. UC Santa...

INSIDER: Electronics & Computers
“On a Roll” to Smaller Transformers

The future of electronic devices lies partly within the “internet of things” – the network of devices, vehicles and appliances embedded within electronics to enable connectivity and data...

Can metal 3D printing help automakers with more than just prototyping? It can, and it has, says our engineering expert.
Products: Electronics & Computers
Product of the Month: June 2018

Teledyne LeCroy, Chestnut Ridge, NY, introduced WaveSurfer 3000z oscilloscopes that feature a 10.1” capacitive touchscreen, a set of debug and analysis tools, multi-instrument capabilities,...

Question of the Week: Manufacturing & Prototyping
How Do You Feel About Back-Flipping Robots?

Have you seen the ‘Atlas’ humanoid robot running outside yet? Watch a demo of the Boston Dynamics technology on Tech Briefs TV.

A researcher tells Tech Briefs how his team's "symmetrical" sensor approach will support the growing "Internet of Things."

A 3D-printed smart gel that grabs objects and moves them could lead to soft robots that mimic sea animals like the octopus, which can walk underwater and bump into things without damaging them....

If digital transformation is a boardroom priority, why are companies so slow to transform product development? A reader asks our experts.

Trending Stories

INSIDER: Electronics & Computers

Solid State Batteries With Ten Times More Current Density

Articles: Photonics/Optics

High-Power Fiber Lasers

Articles: Electronics & Computers

Protecting COTS Military Electronics From Shock and Vibration

Videos