June 2018

Step motors are widely used in automation due to their high resolution, precision positioning, minimal control electronics, and low cost. As an open loop system, traditional...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Transparent Eel-Like Soft Robot Swims Silently Underwater

An eel-like robot was developed that can swim silently in salt water without an electric motor. Instead, the robot uses artificial muscles filled with water to propel itself. The...

Briefs: Test & Measurement
Sensor-Free Smart Wheel

Technology was developed that not only allows wheels to “know” when and how to rotate, but also enables them to work together in interactive teams. The new technology can be used wherever there is a need for...

Application Briefs: Imaging
Guiding the Way in Automotive Plants

Vision-guided robotics commonly used in today's automotive plants enables robots to “see” the object they are working on so they can perform the required activity accurately on/to an object that is...

Articles: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Plastic Bearings Reduce Weight and Improve Durability

When engineer Mark Doyle started to put together plans for an exoskeleton to support surgeons in 2012, he wanted to develop a lightweight product that they could wear comfortably for...

Articles: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Sensing the Future of Pneumatics

Some species of sharks must constantly swim to keep water flowing over their gills to stay alive. That same concept also tends to apply to technology — once a technology stops evolving and moving forward,...

Products: Test & Measurement
New Products: June 2018 Motion Design
Rotary Position Sensors

Novotechnik, U.S. (Southborough, MA) announced industrial and redundant channel industrial versions of the SP 2800 Series rotary position sensors. The industrial version is...

The giant rotor blades are one central part of a wind turbine. Researchers developed a rotor blade that makes more efficient use of large fluctuations in wind strength using...

Continuous glucose monitors (CGM) offer significant, daily benefits to people with type 1 diabetes, providing near-real time measurements of blood...

Undergoing treatment for a physical injury or condition can be a long and frustrating experience. Broken bones, sprains, torn muscles or ligaments, as well as painful conditions...

A new probe developed at the University of Adelaide, may help researchers find better treatments to prevent drug-induced overheating of the brain, and potentially refine thermal treatment for...

Engineers at the University of California San Diego have developed a miniature, ultra-low power injectable biosensor that could be used for continuous, long-term...

Products: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
New Products: June 2018 Sensor Technology
CMOS Linear Image Sensor

The S13774 from Hamamatsu Corporation (Hamamatsu City, Japan; Bridgewater, NJ), is a CMOS linear image sensor developed for industrial cameras that require...

A major challenge to assault prevention is that during an assault, victims often do not have an easily accessible way to call for help. Whether calling 911 or using an emergency alert...

A team at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering has made a discovery that could lead to Star Trek-like biosensor devices capable of flagging the...

Sensors that sniff out chemicals in the air to warn us about everything from fires to carbon monoxide to drunk drivers to explosive devices hidden in luggage have improved so...

Innovative “lighthouse” detectors, which use a sweeping beam to pinpoint a radiation source in seconds, are reducing radiation exposure for workers and...

Smart technologies, including phones and other personal devices, have grown in popularity around the globe. With built-in sensors and the ability to tap expansive...

In the traditional model of healthcare, a patient would visit a doctor regularly for checkups or for evaluations when there’s an ailment. This model, however, isn’t ideal for...

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

Articles: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Shape Memory Alloys Achieve High Force and Precision

With very little fanfare, a special class of alloys has been finding its way into our daily lives. From indestructible eyewear, to smartphone cameras, to coronary stents, this material is...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Method Converts Cotton Fabric Waste into Aerogel

Aerogels are among the lightest materials in the world, and are highly porous with strong absorption capacity and low thermal conductivity. These unique properties make aerogels highly...

Briefs: Medical
Monitor Detects White Blood Cell Levels

One of the major side effects of chemotherapy is a sharp drop in white blood cells, which leaves patients vulnerable to dangerous infections. Chemotherapy patients usually receive a dose every 21 days. After each dose, their white blood cell levels fall and then gradually climb again. Doctors usually only...

Facility Focus: Aerospace
Army Research Laboratory

In October 1992, the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) was activated, consolidating the seven corporate labs of the Laboratory Command (LABCOM) with other Army research elements to form a centralized laboratory...

NASA Langley Research Center has developed a simple mechanism for the clean cutting of high-strength and high-toughness carbon nanotube/poly-mer fiber composites on demand without high blade wear or...

Briefs: Aerospace
Video Distribution & Storage Unit (VDSU)

Engineers at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Satellite Services Projects Division (SSPD) have designed a high-performance, space-qualified video distribution and storage unit for Restore-L, a spacecraft that will rendezvous, grasp, refuel, and relocate client spacecraft. While previous...

Aircraft coatings are the first line of defense when it comes to mitigating structural corrosion of an air platform. As new coatings are developed — particularly those that contain non-chrome primers...

It has been established opinion since the 1950s that organic crystals and liquid scintillators can work for detecting neutrons, but that plastics are not suitable for neutron detection. For...

Commercial buildings in the United States account for nearly 40% of the total energy consumption. Among them, electricity is the largest energy source for buildings....

For several decades, improvements in conventional transistor materials have been sufficient to sustain Moore’s Law — the historical pattern of microchip manufacturers...

Products: Electronics & Computers
New on the Market: June 2018
Laser Sensors

The optoNCDT 1750 laser sensors from Micro-Epsilon, Raleigh, NC, feature measuring ranges of 500 and 750 mm for fast, high-precision measurement tasks that require large measuring ranges. They are...

Briefs: Medical
Removable Implant May Control Type 1 Diabetes

For the more than 1 million Americans who live with Type 1 diabetes, daily insulin injections are literally a matter of life and death. And while there is no cure, a new device may help manage the disease.

Demands for improved computer processing power have led researchers to explore both new processes and other materials beyond silicon to produce electronic components....

Innovators at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have developed a simple, lightweight, inline, two-speed drive that can be used either as an overall transmission, or as a supplemental add-on input...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Compact Termination for Structural Soft Goods

Space environments are particularly harsh for the high-strength fibers NASA relies on for soft structures. Kevlar, Nomex, Nylon, and other synthetic fibers are broken down by exposure to the combination of vacuum, atomic oxygen, and ultraviolet radiation. Glass fiber offers unique advantages for...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Cryo-Fluid Capacitor (CFC)

NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) has created the Cryo-Fluid Capacitor (CFC) that capitalizes on the energy storage capacity of liquefied gases, and the relative simplicity of high-pressure gas bottles while...

Briefs: Test & Measurement
Radiation Analysis Software

For emergencies involving radiation, decision-makers must have a means to swiftly assess the situation. Having analysis tools that can quickly and reliably make sense of radiation data is of the essence.

An acknowledged objective of critical-care medicine is a timely, accurate, readily deployable, cost-effective, and, importantly, safe means of assessing and/or monitoring critical...

Actuators are used in a wide variety of electromechanical systems and in robotics, in applications such as steerable catheters, aircraft wings that adapt to changing conditions, and wind...

Briefs: Test & Measurement
Affordable Vehicle Avionics (AVA)

NASA Ames Research Center has developed a novel, low-cost, self-contained guidance system for small payload operators. Small satellites are becoming ever more capable of performing valuable missions for both...

USAF-96 Steel is a low-alloy steel that, when thermally processed with the method described here, has the following typical values: an ultimate tensile strength of 245 ksi, yield strength at 0.2% offset...

Walls often make up more than half of indoor surface area, especially in residential and office buildings. In addition to delimiting spaces, both for functional and...

Researchers at Oregon State University’s College of Engineering have taken an important step toward the rapid manufacture of stretchable electronic...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Ultra-Wide-Bandgap Power Electronics

Power electronics used for routing, control, and conversion of electrical power traditionally utilize silicon semiconductors. These systems tend to be bulky, require active cooling, and are inadequate for...

Articles: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Products of Tomorrow: June 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...

NASA Langley Research Center has developed Greased Lightning, the first unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that combines vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capability with...

Rapidly advancing technology and groundbreaking innovations are changing the world of manufacturing. Trends such as Big Data, Cloud Technology, and the...

Application Briefs: Aerospace
3D-Printed Parts Key to NASA’s Orion Mission
Stratasys Ltd.
Eden Prairie, MN
www.stratasys.com

Orion is NASA’s spacecraft that will send astronauts to the Moon and beyond. Orion’s next test flight, dubbed Exploration...

Briefs: RF & Microwave Electronics
Ground-Based System Guides UAVs to Avoid Collisions

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) averages more than 100 reports a month of interactions between unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and commercial or private planes. For UAS to fly in...

NASA has developed a novel method to render visible the density changes in air that cause a refractive index change by an airborne vehicle. These density changes include shock waves, vortices,...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Wearable System Monitors Stomach Activity

A wearable, non-invasive system was developed to monitor electrical activity in the stomach over 24 hours — essentially an electrocardiogram for the gastro-intestinal (GI) tract. Monitoring for...

Who

Food manufacturers, as well as manufacturers of medical supplies and instruments.

Briefs: Power
Magnetic Induction Heating of Space Foods During Dispensing Under Weightless Conditions

Hot foods are psychologically pleasing. Food heating systems are currently part of the astronaut feeding program. An electrical method of heating foods during dispensing in space uses magnetic induction heating. The process is up to 95% efficient in...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Method for Establishing Cool Flames and Flameless Fuel Oxidation with Zero Emissions Using Non-Equilibrium Plasma Activation

Current engines and combustors run at high temperature, which leads to problems of engine knocking, soot and NOx emissions, and difficulty in combustion control. On the other hand, low-temperature combustion and fuel...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Quick Disconnect for High-Pressure Mate/De-Mate

NASA Kennedy Space Center seeks partners interested in the commercial application of the Quick Disconnect for High Pressure Mate/De-Mate. Designed at KSC, this technology is intended for use in...

Vanadium dioxide’s unique properties make it ideally suited for outperforming silicon and giving rise to a new generation of low-power electronic devices. This compound can...

Briefs: Medical
All-Terrain Wheelchair

Researchers have developed an innovative design for a wheelchair that can more easily navigate on soft and uneven outdoor terrain such as grass and gravel. The chair uses three wheels — two wheels in the front...

Moving from electrical communication to optical communication is attractive to chip manufacturers because it could significantly increase chips’ speed and reduce power consumption,...

Briefs: Aerospace
Auto-Zero Differential Amplifier

Engineers in the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Instrument Electronics Development Branch have developed a chopper-stabilized auto-zero amplifier capable of amplifying signals with extremely small amplitude originating from a thermopile-based infrared (IR) sensor. The instrument is self-adjusting in that it...

Overt symptoms of many diseases often do not manifest until days after a person’s initial exposure to the causative pathogen, typically a virus or bacteria. By then, the disease may...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Mobile Health Platform

A mobile health technology was developed to monitor and predict a user’s psychological status, and to deliver an automated intervention when needed. The technology uses smart-phones to monitor the user’s location and ask questions about psychological status throughout the day.

Special Reports: Transportation
Vehicle Electrification - June 2018

Demand for electric vehicles is accelerating, with several major automakers announcing that their entire lineups will either be hybrid or all-electric by the 2020's. To help you keep pace with the rapid...

Special Reports: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Additive Manufacturing - June 2018

AM/3D Printing is fundamentally changing how products are prototyped and produced in aerospace, medical, automotive, and many other fields. To help you keep pace with the latest advances, we present this...

Articles: Electronics & Computers
Sensors Expo Preview 2018

The 2018 Sensors Expo and Conference will be held at the McEnery Convention Center, San Jose, CA from June 26 – 28. It is an opportunity to catch up on the latest trends and products in this increasingly important technology sector. Major themes of the event include IoT, maximizing the usefulness of raw data, and...

Miniature IP68 Rated Data Recorder

The new SLICE IP68 data acquisition system from DTS (Seal Beach, CA) is designed to capture physical signals in challenging...

Question of the Week: Transportation
Do You Trust Self-Driving Cars on Country Roads?

Most autonomous vehicles have been tested out in city environments, where tech companies like Google can build intricate 3D maps that lay out the exact position of every lane, curb, off-ramp, and street sign.

But what about areas with less definable features, like country roads or a...

There is plenty of moisture in the air — Professor Swee Ching Tan wants to harvest the humidity and put it to good use.

After a disaster like the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf coast, what if a giant sponge could clean up the area and the wildlife around it?

A reader asks: Will it be the OEMs or the Tier-1 and Tier-2 suppliers who will be purchasing 3D metal printing machines?
A radically new electronic building block is being proposed.

The just-published NIST Guide to Wireless Systems Deployments in industrial environments was developed by a group of experts on wireless communications from government, industry, and...

Quasi-1D materials will play an important role in device miniaturization.

Researchers from Singapore University of Technology and Design have demonstrated 3D printing with one of the Earth’s most abundant organic compounds: cellulose.

Question of the Week: Software
What’s the Hold-Up with Digital Product Development?

Digital technologies are bringing big data, automation, and mobile capabilities to processes like IT, HR, sales, and marketing, but what is the hold-up with product development? Has your product development process been modernized and “digitized?”

How does a spider's glue maintain its stickiness, even in high humidity? Researchers in Akron investigated the question.
White Papers: Robotics, Automation & Control
Application Note: Extreme Customization, Well-maintained Tooling, and Accuracy

Take a look behind the scenes at how Nippon Pulse America Inc. re-designed one of its standard linear stepper motors to replace a competitor motor that was no...

Professor Jaana Vapaavuori spoke with Tech Briefs about the manufacturing methods that could someday decrease the cost and increase the lifetime of flexible solar cells.
Question of the Week: Energy
Will Flexible Solar Cells Catch On?

Though a flexible solar cell offers exciting, new ways of powering vehicles, clothing, and other smart technologies, manufacturing the photovoltaic component is a challenge.

Simulation tools offer insight into the physical processes of heavy-duty engines. But what about natural wear and tear?
PhD student Jes Linnet hopes that a silver-based, transparent conductive electrode film offers a longer-lasting alternative for flexible screens and electronics.

A Purdue University Ph.D. student co-developed PHADE, a technology that allows public cameras to send personalized messages to people without compromising their privacy....

MIT PhD candidate and Amazon Robotics Challenge winner Maria Bauza is helping to improve how robots interact with the world. Bauza has been exploring the notion of uncertainty when...

Researcher Jaana Vapaavuori answered an additional question regarding the future of flexible solar cells.
Researchers have developed a new way to power and communicate with devices implanted deep within the human body.
INSIDER: Electronics & Computers
Self-Assembling 3D Battery Would Charge in Seconds
Instead of having a battery’s anode and cathode on either side of a nonconducting separator, a new battery would intertwine the two.
Electric vehicles may one day be able to recharge while driving down the highway, drawing wireless power directly from plates installed in the road.
Researchers are developing a solid electrolyte that will make safer, better batteries.
Question of the Week: Communications
Do You See Applications for Seeing Through Walls?

A recent Tech Briefs TV video demonstrated an artificial-intelligence system developed by MIT researchers. The "RF-Pose" teaches wireless devices to sense people's movement, even from the other side of a wall. See the system in action.

Could touch be the new avenue for communications? Researchers from MIT and Purdue University think so and are working on a “general-purpose” tactile system that delivers information...

INSIDER: Robotics, Automation & Control
Aerial Robot Morphs in Flight

An aerial robot capable of altering its profile during flight paves the way for a new generation of large robots that can move through narrow passages, making them ideal for exploration as well as search and...

Just because it's computer simulation doesn't mean it's virtual prototyping. Our expert explains.
Researchers from Rice University are finding ways to use greater amounts of fly ash in an effort to build a “greener” kind of concrete.

Videos