June 2017

A reader asks: "In the next 5 years, which areas of the vehicle will see a conversion from metal to plastic?" Tech Briefs invites you to share your thoughts and “Sound Off!”

Articles: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Drones Spot Gas Leaks From the Sky

ANAHEIM, CA. During this year’s SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing 2017 conference, panelists from industry, academia, and government demonstrated how miniaturized sensing platforms, and the...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Self-Assembling, Reversible, Reagentless Biosensor

Recognition-based biosensors capable of specifically detecting chemicals, toxins, and bio-agents in their environment are of increasing importance. An important goal in biosensor evolution...

Products: Sensors/Data Acquisition
New Products: June 2017 Sensor Technology

The following companies will be exhibiting at Sensors Expo & Conference 2017. The event, held in the San Jose, CA-based McEnery Convention Center, runs from June 27-29.

Articles: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
MEMS Move Wearables Beyond Touch Interfaces

We use touch, the dominant user interface for years, to tap keyboards on laptops and tablets, to communicate with our car’s portable GPS, and to text friends and take photos from our...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Chip-Based Power Measurement Sensor

Phone signals spend at least some time traveling over fiber-optic cables. To ensure that the information gets where it needs to go, and to help researchers find better ways to ferry this information...

NASA’s Glenn Research Center has developed and patented the Compact Full-Field Ion Detector System (CFIDS), a radiation particle detection system that provides information on the kinetic...

Articles: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Sensors’ Role Evolves as New Wearables Emerge

Microelectromechanical system (MEMS)-based components, such as sensors and actuators, began penetrating the wearable products market about a decade ago, when the first accelerometers replaced...

Application Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
3D Printing Enables Customized Magnets

Polymer-bonded magnets are valuable for many sensor applications that require the production of unique and reproducible field profiles, not necessarily fields with the highest strength.

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Low-Pressure Plasma Cleaning of Aerospace Components Using Breathing/Compressed Air

A method for precision cleaning of aerospace components is needed that does not use hazardous or environmentally harmful commodities. Historically, precision cleaning methods have utilized solvents that have contributed to the depletion of the ozone layer or had...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Digital Beamforming Interferometry

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center has developed a new radar approach that uses a single phased array antenna and a single-pass configuration to generate interferograms, known as Digital Beamforming...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Chain Drive Dust Conveyer

The Mars 2020 coring drill will generate a significant amount of dust and debris (known as fines) due to the volume of milled material displaced by the corer's annulus. These cuttings must be removed to ensure that...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Autonomous Combustion-Powered Hopping Robot

Robots are conventionally made mobile by rolling on wheels; however, wheeled robots have limited ability to traverse large obstacles. Obstacles much taller than the robot's wheels can prevent...

Oil spills have become an environmental problem due to the growth of offshore oil exploration, production, and transportation. There are...

The Flying Carpet is a platform of any shape, size, or material that is suspended by a four-point cable system. The platform can serve as a movable scaffolding and worker...

Articles: Materials
Products of Tomorrow: June 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...

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed a system that provides both structural support and protection attributes in a failsafe manner. This innovation incorporates the use of...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Recovering Metals from Electronic Waste

End-of-life electronic devices such as smartphones, computers, televisions, and other electronics contain significant amounts of valuable metals including base metals (zinc, tin, lead, nickel, and...

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed a new class of polyimide composite electrical insulation materials for wires, cable, and bus pipe. These new insulation materials have been shown to withstand a...

The huge demand for switching components exceeding silicon's (Si) current density limitation of 200 A/cm2 has pushed the enhancement of alternative semiconductor...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Omnidirectional Mobile Robot with Two Moving Parts

SIMbot is an updated version of the ballbot, an elegantly simple robot whose tall, thin body moves on top of a sphere slightly smaller than a bowling ball. SIMbot features a motor with just...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Interactive Robot Control System and Method of Use

Researchers at NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC), in collaboration with General Motors and Oceaneering, have designed a state-of-the-art, highly dexterous, humanoid robot: Robonaut 2 (R2)....

Briefs: Software
Launch Trajectory Acquisition System (LTAS) Source Slaving Selector (LS3)

The LTAS Source Slaving Selector application was developed to transmit LTAS data in User Datagram Protocol (UDP) packets using the LTAS data from one of multiple incoming UDP streams. Users select the data stream via a graphical user interface (GUI), which also displays a...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Positioning Stage

Assembly of optic-electronic devices requires precision alignment of optical fibers with lasers or sensors, and then bonding. A worker looking through a microscope at the end of a fiber conventionally executes this precision alignment and bonding process.

Facility Focus: Research Lab
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

In 1928, physics professor Ernest O. Lawrence left his faculty position at Yale University for a job at the University of California's Berkeley campus. While at Berkeley, Lawrence invented a unique...

To comply with the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive, pure tin is replacing lead-tin alloys in commercial electronic devices. Unfortunately, tin can grow...

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...

Articles: Electronics & Computers
Virtual Fabrication and Assembly Documentation

Over the years, the term “virtual” has become associated with many different domains. Virtual machines are now commonplace as a substitute for physical laptops or desktops, allowing...

Briefs: Materials
Electrically Conductive, Optically Transparent Polymer/Carbon Nanotube Composites

NASA's Langley Research Center researchers have developed a novel method for making carbon nanotubes that are very uniform in size. A template is used to guide the carbon nanotube growth so that all nanotubes are uniform in size. The carbon nanotubes can be used...

Tufts University engineers have invented a chip-sized, high-speed modulator that operates at terahertz (THz) frequencies at room temperature and at low voltages without consuming DC...

Researchers at the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC), in collaboration with General Motors and Oceaneering, have designed a state-of-the-art, highly dexterous, humanoid robot:...

Briefs: Software
Acoustic Propagation and Emulation Toolset (APET)

Currently, APET includes a modified version of the Rotorcraft Noise Model (RNM, version 7). It also includes the newly developed Spectral Attenuation Method (SAM), which contains the Ray Tracing Program (RTP) and two versions of a Green's Function Parabolic Equation (GFPE) code. The third...

The rapid rise of global interest in the field of autonomous driving is ushering in a new era of automobiles. With many vehicles already offering autonomous preventative safety...

Products: Electronics & Computers
Product of the Month: June 2017

Phoenix Contact, Middletown, PA, introduced VL2 1000 industrial PCs equipped with Intel® Atom™ Bay Trail processors that are available as box or panel PCs. The VL2 1000 includes a choice...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Wearable Robotic System for Minimally Invasive Surgery

Researchers developed a wearable robotic system for minimally invasive surgery (also known as keyhole surgery) that will offer surgeons natural and dexterous movement, as well as the...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems

Multi-robot systems deployed in real-world applications are exposed to the same issues that computer systems face. A cybersecurity attack on a robot has the consequences of an attack on a...

Briefs: Software
AUTONOMIE Automotive System Design Software

AUTONOMIE is a MATLAB-based software environment and framework for automotive control system design, simulation, and analysis. It simulates subsystems, systems, or an entire vehicle, and predicts and analyzes fuel efficiency and performance. The software performs analyses and tests for virtual...

Briefs: Software
Numerical Method to Predict the Evaporation Time of a Water Droplet Attached to a Solid Boundary in the Presence of Fluid Flow

One of the objectives of the In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) RESOLVE project was to extract water from lunar regolith by heating and then capturing and quantifying the released water. A potentially large error in...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Functionalization of Carbon Nanotubes

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have attracted much attention due to their extraordinary mechanical and unique electronic properties. CNTs are being studied for applications in high-strength/low-weight composites and other applications. In order to alter the CNT properties for particular applications, chemical...

Carbon fiber (CF) and carbon fiber composites have gained widespread use in recent years due to their unique combination of high strength and...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Development of a Sodium LiDAR for Spaceborne Missions

Laser and electro-optic technologies are under development to remotely measure sodium (Na) by adapting existing LiDAR technology with spaceflight heritage. The developed instrumentation will serve as the core for planning a heliophysics mission targeted to study the composition and dynamics...

An alternate heat shield concept for the Orion space vehicle is to use interlocking blocks of Phenolic Impregnated Carbon Ablator (PICA). The blocks are independent from...

NASA Spinoff: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Wire Sensors Detect Dangerous Conditions in the Clouds

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

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed a method for producing multifunctional, structural, thermally stable...

To measure organics in a fluid sample, one either has to bring the sample in the form of a colloid to the instrument, or extract the organics from the sample and bring...

Briefs: Software
Generation of Cut- and Split-Cells for Face-Piercing Geometry in Embedded-Boundary Cartesian Methods

This innovation addresses several critical issues in the construction of cut control volumes using embedded-boundary Cartesian mesh generators. The innovation considers the case of a surface triangulation intersecting the face of a Cartesian hex...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Invertible Time Invariant Linear Filtering (InTILF) Method for Pattern Detection and Modeling of Stochastic One- or Two-Dimensional Data

X-ray astronomy offers the opportunity to observe important phenomena, including the early accretion of massive black holes and detecting diffuse ionized intergalactic gas that is heated to X-ray temperatures...

Articles: Manufacturing & Prototyping
How Metal 3D Printing is Redefining Part Design

It's one of the basic rules of manufacturing: As part complexity increases, so do machining and assembly costs. But what if there were a different way to produce metal parts — one with fewer...

Particle flow fields of high particle concentration are found in many commercial applications, including chemical processing, energy conversion, pharmaceutical processing, food processing, and biomedical...

At high temperatures, currently available cast stainless steel alloys used for engine component applications do not have the long-term stability of their original castings, and are lacking in their...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Advanced Tool Drive System (ATDS) Camera Positioning Mechanism (CPM)

Robotic servicing of a satellite in low earth orbit (LEO) or geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO) requires advanced systems capable of meeting the harsh environments of space. To support this effort, the Goddard Space Flight Center Satellite Servicing Capabilities Office (SSCO) has...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Compact, Lightweight Trap Vent

This compact, lightweight trap vent is used to minimize the pressure differential of a high-altitude, balloon-borne detector. The vent allows the pressure to equalize rapidly, yet does not allow any light to enter the detector.

There are instances when items (e.g., supplies) need to be lowered from an aerial vehicle to the ground. For example, the United States military often lowers supplies from a rotary winged aircraft...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Origami-Inspired Robot Fits in Tight Spaces

Researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) were inspired by origami when they developed the Pop-Up Flat Folding Explorer Robot (PUFFER). Its lightweight design — which can hitch a ride...

Products: Motion Control
New Products: June 2017 Motion Design
Load Adaptor

Zero-Max (Plymouth, MN) introduced the Model 650 Overhung Load Adaptor that's designed to provide more radial and axial load support for hydraulic motors and pumps. The SAE B Model...

The traditional interface for remotely operating robots works well for roboticists. They use a computer screen and mouse to independently control six degrees of freedom, turning three virtual rings...

The ability to selectively adjust levels and flow rates in fluid control systems is a fundamental aspect of dredged material and fluid management, and necessary to numerous...

Virtually all manufacturing processes incorporate some type of linear motion. A common mistake that designers make when sizing and selecting linear motion systems is to overlook critical application...

In the metal stamping business, precision, repeatability, and uptime are key. But stamping accuracy suffers when improper tension on the coil feeders incorrectly supplies metal to the...

Articles: Motion Control
Piezo Technology in Pneumatic Valves

Pneumatic valves made with piezo technology offer many advantages. They are small, lightweight, extremely precise, durable, fast, and save energy. Piezo valves do not need energy to maintain a switching...

Adding vision to a collaborative robot can open a world of possibilities for automation applications. With a vision system, a robot can inspect parts, check specific features of a part,...

Thermal Protection Systems (TPS) — heatshields — form the outer surface of spacecraft and provide protection as the vehicle plunges through planetary...

In a clinical trial conducted among adults in 11 hospitals, researchers have shown that a hand-held EEG device approved in 2016 by the U.S. FDA that is commercially available can...

Northeastern professor Daniel Distel and his colleagues have discovered a dark, slithering 4-foot-long creature that dwells in the foul mud of a remote lagoon in...

In an important step toward endoscopic diagnosis of cancer, researchers have developed a handheld fiber-optic probe that can be used to perform multiple...

The usual way of cultivating cells is to use a flat laboratory dish of glass. However, inside a human body, the cells do not grow on a flat surface but rather in three dimensions. This has lead...

News: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Wearable System Guides Visually Impaired Users

A new wearable system from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will help blind users navigate through indoor environments.

A team from Northwestern University created bioprosthetic ovaries that ultimately led to the restoration of hormone production and fertility in mice.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 780 million people do not have access to clean water sources. The inventor of a water-purification technology...

A reader asks: "How can organizations that use cloud services maintain security of customer data?" See our expert's response — and write one of your own.

INSIDER: Test & Measurement
One Plug-In Sensor Does Work of Many

Researchers have developed a sensor package that monitors multiple phenomena in a room using machine-learning techniques. The prototype contained 19 different sensor channels, including sensors that...

Question of the Week: Energy
Can the Desolenator provide a solution for the global water crisis?

A new Tech Briefs Q&A highlighted an innovative water-purification system called the "Desolenator." Using only solar energy, the device provides clean water from any source. What do you think? Can the Desolenator provide a solution for the global water crisis?

News: Information Technology
What’s New on Tech Briefs: Can You Answer Our Readers’ Big Questions?

New web-exclusive stories this month highlight soft robots, bio-printing successes, and opportunities to answer readers' questions.

Adhesive mechanisms in the natural world, as used by geckos and other animals when they walk upside down on the ceiling, have many advantages. They are strongly adhesive – without...

Due to its excellent material properties of elasticity, resilience, and electrical and thermal insulation, elastomers have been used in a myriad of applications. They are especially...

A new battery system may someday allow drivers to recharge their cars as quickly and easily as filling up a gas tank.

News: Data Acquisition
Sound-Off: 'Big Data' Best Practices

There was a time when the R&D powertrain group at Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) would log up to 500 GB of data per day. How do you sift through such a large number of files? Anjelica Warren, Product...

A new compressed form of glassy carbon opens up possibilities for applications requiring low weight and high strength — from aerospace parts to football helmets.

Question of the Week: Automotive
Will the "ifbattery" catch on?

A new story on TechBriefs.com this week featured an interview with Purdue University's John Cushman. The professor's "ifbattery" system may someday allow drivers to recharge their cars as quickly and easily as...

News: Aerospace
Survey: Aerospace Engineers Seek Clarity on Cadmium

A survey of more than two hundred aerospace manufacturing professionals demonstrated a lack of understanding about cadmium, a highly toxic metal that is still being used frequently in the U.S. aerospace industry.

A team from Australia’s RMIT University created a “solar paint” that generates its own energy. The sunlight-absorbing substance absorbs and splits water atoms, resulting in hydrogen that...

Vehicle connectivity enables suppliers and manufacturers to gather new kinds of customer-specific information. See how automotive OEMs — and construction equipment makers like...

Question of the Week: Energy
Will solar paint catch on?

In today's lead INSIDER story, researcher Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh said of his "solar paint": "It will be widespread. It is a technology that can shift the energy economy to a hydrogen economy. This disruptive...

Using an off-the-shelf camera flash, researchers at Jilin University, China, turned an ordinary sheet of graphene oxide into a material that bends when exposed to moisture. They then used this...

INSIDER: Robotics, Automation & Control
Self-Learning Robot Hands Adapt to Grasp Objects

A new grasp system with robotic hands works without previously knowing the characteristics of objects. The system, which learns by trial and error, was developed by researchers at...

INSIDER: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
3D Printed Tensegrity Object Can Change Shape

A team of researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology has developed a way to use 3D printers to create objects capable of shape change. The objects use tensegrity, a structural...

Fujitsu Components America released its enhanced BlueBrain Sensor-Based IoT System Platform at the 2017 Sensors Expo & Conference, hosted in San Jose, CA. The BlueBrain...

An optical probe that detects cancerous brain cells in real time is impressive enough. Scientists in Montreal say they’ve developed one that is “infallible.”

Question of the Week
Will Self-Erasing Chips Catch On?

Webcasts

Upcoming Webinars: Automotive

Metal Injection Molding’s Role in Automotive

Upcoming Webinars: Materials

Technical Ceramics: The Powerhouse of Advanced Materials

Upcoming Webinars: Software

PPAP Reviews Using AI and Machine Learning

Upcoming Webinars: Motion Control

Customizing Actuators Using COTS Drive Components for Martian...

Upcoming Webinars: Robotics, Automation & Control

2020 Create the Future Contest Awards

Upcoming Webinars: RF & Microwave Electronics

Advancement of Spectrum Analysis Techniques for Tracking,...

Videos