September 2019

Special Reports: Test & Measurement
Test & Measurement - September 2019

See how the latest test tools and methodologies are enabling new applications in aerospace, automotive, communications, and other key fields. This compendium of recent articles is presented by the editors...

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses magnetic fields and radio waves to create images of organs and tissues in the human body, helping doctors diagnose potential problems or diseases. Doctors use MRI to...

Different instruments are needed to study the interaction of contact surfaces at different length scales. Tribometers measure the coefficient of friction but they...

Your new industrial electronic product has been designed and the board components specified. It has been prototyped, either on a development board to check...

Articles: Internet of Things
Products of Tomorrow: September 2019
Semi-Liquid Metal Anode for Next-Generation Batteries

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University have developed a semi-liquid lithium metal-based anode. Lithium batteries made using this new...

At the scale of bridges or buildings, the most important force that engineered structures need to deal with is gravity. But at the scale of microelectro-mechanical systems (MEMS) — devices like...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Low-Cost Thermoelectric Material Works at Room Temperature

The widespread adoption of thermoelectric devices that can directly convert electricity into thermal energy for cooling and heating has been hindered, in part, by the lack of materials that are both inexpensive and highly efficient at room temperature. A new material was developed that...

Robotics has traditionally focused on industrial applications in which robots require strength and precision to carry out repetitive tasks. These robots flourish in highly...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Origami-Inspired Material Softens Impact Forces

Landing is stressful on a rocket’s legs because they must handle the force from the impact with the landing pad. One way to combat this is to build legs out of materials that absorb some of...

Some organic materials cannot be utilized similarly to silicon semiconductors in optoelectronics. Whether in solar cells, light-emitting diodes, or in transistors, what is important is the bandgap, i.e....

Recently discovered two-dimensional (2D) materials with superlative properties have the potential to advance semiconductors but creating 2D devices with both good electrical contacts and...

Briefs: Aerospace
Multi- and Wide-Band Single-Feed Patch Antenna

A novel patch antenna technology was developed that provides significant benefits to NASA satellite communication applications, offering a unique wide-band/multi-band operating capability. For other non-space applications, the antenna design also offers broadband capability with high gain for...

Unlike water, liquid refrigerants and other fluids that have a low surface tension spread quickly into a sheet when they come into contact with a surface. For many industrial...

While different approaches have been used to create artificial muscles — including hydraulic systems, servomotors, shape-memory metals, and polymers that respond to stimuli — they all have limitations such...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Virtual MIL-STD-1553B Remote Terminals

For complex boards with multiple FPGAs, each FPGA can implement its own remote terminal (RT) core and present itself logically to the bus as a remote terminal while sharing the RT’s hardware. This simplifies the design since commands and telemetry do not have to be distributed and collected by user logic;...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Antenna Near-Field Probe Station Scanner

Antenna characterization techniques are often expensive and time-consuming. NASA’s Glenn Research Center developed a highly versatile and automated system to perform characterization of single or multiple small circuit antennas, printed on-wafer or on other substrates, by measuring the antenna’s...

Briefs: Aerospace
Self-Configurable Radio Receiver System and Method

A self-configurable radio receiver system was developed for relaying communication signals from multiple deep space assets. Most conventional radio receivers are hardwired to receive a specific type of signal and are incapable of receiving other types of signals without preconfiguration...

A soft and conformable health monitor can broadcast electrocardiogram (ECG), heart rate, respiratory rate, and motion activity data as much as 15 meters to a portable recording...

The Advanced Explosive Ordnance Disposal Robotic System (AEODRS) features a modular open systems architecture that enables the robot to be self-righting after a fall. The self-righting...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Soft, Multi-Functional Robots

In the future, soft, animal-inspired robots may be safely deployed in difficult-to-access environments in which rigid robots cannot currently be used such as inside the human body or in spaces that are too...

A portable, stable, standards-quality radiation thermometer was invented that can measure temperatures between -50 °C (-58 °F) to 150 °C (302 °F). The corresponding infrared...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Miniature Spring Performance Tester

In order to qualify miniature springs, manufacturers of these systems rely on commercially available testers that are designed for large-scale springs (>0.5" diameter). Commercially available spring...

Briefs: Test & Measurement
Portable Electrochemical Sensing System

An electrochemical sensing system that significantly improves the ability to rapidly and accurately detect heavy metals in biological and environmental samples was developed. Using a simple blood...

Facility Focus: RF & Microwave Electronics
Facility Focus: Georgia Tech Research Institute

The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) is the nonprofit applied research division of the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in Atlanta, GA. Founded in 1934 as the Engineering...

Today’s cellular networks and Wi-Fi systems rely on microwave radiation to carry data but the demand for more bandwidth is quickly becoming more than microwaves can handle. That has...

Articles: Transportation
Executive Forum: Sensors & the IoT

No longer just a buzzword, the Internet of Things (IoT) is rapidly taking hold in many different industries, from aerospace and automotive, to medical and manufacturing. The IoT ecosystem incorporates...

Accurately detecting, locating, and quantifying leaks of methane — the main component of natural gas and a major fuel source worldwide — is critically important for both environmental...

Q&A: Robotics, Automation & Control
Q&A: A Circulatory System for Robots

Robert F. Shepherd is Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. He is leading a team exploring the use of hydraulic fluids in soft robots to also...

A 3D-printed polymer-based foam structure was developed that responds to the force of a shock wave to act as a oneway switch, a long sought-after goal in shock research. The...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Graphene Field Effect Transistors for Radiation Detection (GFET-RS)

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center developed novel transistor technology based on a single graphene layer coupled to a radiation absorber substrate. Unlike conventional charge-sensing detectors, the GFET-RS utilizes the sensitive dependence of graphene conductance on local change...

Adding fluoride to water has been common practice in a number of countries including the U.S. In low concentrations (below 1.5 mg/L), fluoride can help prevent tooth decay and...

Application Briefs: Materials
3D-Printing a Unique Metal Part
VELO3D was able to print the perfect spaceship on the very first try.
Data Recorder

DATAQ® Instruments, Akron, OH, announced the DI-4718B data recorder for applications that require signal conditioning. It can accommodate up to eight DI-8B-style amplifiers for...

Briefs: Data Acquisition
Material for Faster Computer Memory

Scientists are studying bismuth ferrite (BFO) material that has the potential to store information much more efficiently than is currently possible. BFO could also be used in sensors, transducers, and other electronics.

Microrobots that can deliver drugs to specific spots inside the body while being monitored and controlled from outside the body have been developed that also can treat tumors in the...

Since 1998, almost 2,000 shoebox-sized satellites known as CubeSats have been launched into space. Due to their small frame and the fact that they can be made from off-the-shelf...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
3D-Printed Soft Mesh Robots

Researchers have created 3D-printed flexible mesh structures that can be controlled with applied magnetic fields while floating on water. The structures can grab small objects and carry water droplets, giving them...

NASA Spinoff: Electronics & Computers
Methane Detector Sniffs Out Leaks

Methane is everywhere on Earth. It’s the main ingredient in the natural gas that powers heating, cooking, and electricity. It’s also a potent greenhouse gas. The presence of methane is also interesting...

A pocket-sized antenna was developed that could enable mobile communication in situations where conventional radios don’t work such as underwater, through the ground, and over very...

Who

Ear infections are the most common reason that parents bring their children to a pediatrician, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Briefs: Semiconductors & ICs
Robot “Eye” Provides 360° Field of View

The production of precision products depends on robot control systems knowing the location of the adhesive bonding head or welding head to the nearest millimeter at all times. This means the robot...

Application Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Optical Coatings Technology

Optical coatings are critical for enhancing the transmission, reflection, polarization, and phase of light incident upon and passing through optical components. There are many different technologies used to...

Micromachining Subsystem

SCANLAB GmbH (Puchheim, Germany) has introduced a new member of its precSYS product line. Five-axis precSYS subsystems enable industrial...

Scientists of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and École Poly-technique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) have reported that they achieved the fastest distance measurement attained so...

Although smartphones and other consumer cameras are increasingly used for scientific applications, it's difficult to compare and combine data from different...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Spotting Objects Amid Clutter

A new MIT-developed technique enables robots to quickly identify objects hidden in a three-dimensional cloud of data, reminiscent of how some people can make sense of a densely patterned “Magic Eye” image if...

The AIRGARD® air analyzer has been deployed to protect multiple critical infrastructure locations.

A breakthrough imaging technique developed by Cornell researchers shows promise in decontaminating water by yielding surprising and important information about catalyst particles that can't be...

Application Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Machine Vision Applications in Laser Measurement Systems

Machine vision is a broad term with many applications and definitions, but at its most basic definition it is using an imager or camera along with software to inspect and analyze a...

Each passing year, machine vision is finding its way into applications that were not commercially feasible — and in some cases, impossible.

Watlow®, St. Louis, MO, introduced the PM PLUS™ version of the EZ-ZONE® PM temperature controller that features a full-color front-panel display with color...

Berkeley Lab technology could reduce time needed to declare buildings affected by earthquakes safe and sound.
People-Counting Sensor

FLIR Systems, Inc. (Wilsonville, OR) announced the latest generation of the FLIR Brickstream 3D Gen 2 people-counting sensor. This new version includes a unique...

Industries are constantly searching for new approaches to advance operational efficiency and product quality. With unplanned downtime estimated to cost...

There is increasing demand in many high-end commercial and industrial markets for precision motion sensing for a diversity of applications.
Application Briefs: FDA/Regulatory
Designing Sensors for Hazardous Environments
Some of the most common applications for hazardous duty sensors are in the oil and gas industry.
Suppose you have 10 taxis in Manhattan. What portion of the borough’s streets do they cover in a typical day?
We interviewed an industry expert about the role of inductive position sensors in the IIoT.
The key to acceptance and adoption of a "smart home" will be enhancing total ease of ownership.
Question of the Week: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Have You Considered Using Collaborative Robots?

Collaborative robots are part of Ford Motor Company’s assembly line. One cobot performs the greasing of the camshaft followers, another fills the engine oil, and a third uses a camera and UV light to check for leaks.

A novel imaging technique that uses a synthesized form of scorpion venom to light up brain tumors has shown promise in a clinical trial. The imaging system enables...

How do thermoplastic composites compare to the thermoset composites already in use for several decades? A Tech Briefs reader asks.
A new NASA challenge asks university teams to find new ways to drill down to the ice on the Moon and Mars.
White Papers: Manufacturing & Prototyping
The Additive and Traditional Parts Manufacturing Capabilities of 3D Systems on Demand

Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, is fast becoming an essential part of the modern manufacturing toolkit because of the powerful advantages it...

Question of the Week: Energy
Does Snow Have Power Potential?

A 2019 Tech Briefs story demonstrated a plastic-like, flexible nanongenerator that creates electricity from falling snow.

Stanford Professor Eric Pop learned a valuable electronics lesson from his early days as a radio DJ.
White Papers: Medical
Advanced Polymers: Get to Know Grilamid TR

Healthcare environments impose a wide range of challenges on product developers, who must select materials that are strong, stable, resistant, and easy to manufacture. See how one advanced polymer...

Two industry experts respond to a Tech Briefs reader question.

Improvements to a class of battery electrolyte first introduced in 2017 — liquefied gas electrolytes — could pave the way to a high-impact and long-sought advance for rechargeable...

From the charging unit for a smartphone to the power supply of a laptop or washing machine to LED lights or the charging station for an electric car...

A novel system developed by MIT researchers automatically “learns” how to schedule data-processing operations across thousands of servers — a task...

The days and weeks following a natural disaster are a critical time for residents, emergency response teams, and government entities to recover and rebuild infrastructure....

Diffraction-Limited Aspheric Lenses

Optical Surfaces Ltd. (Surrey, UK) is an international supplier of diffraction-limited aspheric lenses for nuclear research laser...

Tech Talks: Photonics/Optics
Sterilization of Optical Fibers for Medical Devices: What You Need To Know

Optical fibers are found in many areas of medicine from cardiology to dentistry to medical sensing. Before they’re used in the human body, they must be sterilized to ensure they’re free of microorganisms. This 10-minute presentation reviews a study that...

White Papers: Automotive
AP’s Latest Application Note: Testing Automotive Amplifiers

An automobile is a complex system, even when concentrating only on its audio components. Our latest application note is the first in a series from Audio Precision covering...

Scientists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory have devised a new process for using nano-particles to build powerful lasers that are more efficient and safer for...

Along with flying and invisibility, high on the list of every child’s aspirational superpowers is the ability to see through or around walls or other visual obstacles. That...

Transparent electrodes are a critical component of solar cells and electronic displays. To collect electricity in a solar cell or inject electricity for a display, you need a conductive contact,...

Question of the Week: Materials
Are You Lightweighting with Plastics and Composites?

A Tech Briefs webinar this month focused on the idea of lightweighting – or replacing traditionally metal parts, like engine components, with plastics and composites.

White Papers: Automotive
TE Connectivity: Engineering 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...

It took over 3,000 pouches of spaceflight food, but Timothy Goulette and Hang Xiao ultimately created a mathematical model that NASA will soon use to ensure that its...

NASA is set to return to the Moon in 2024. But why the lunar south pole?
White Papers: Defense
The 3 Errors in Signal Conditioning

In this white paper, you will learn to identify and avoid three accuracy errors in signal conditioning. High precision sensors and amplifiers are important because of this, especially in industrial...

A team of undergrad engineers discovered a method that could make materials more resilient against massive shocks such as earthquakes or explosions. The students tested whether...

INSIDER: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Optical Lace Gives Robots a Soft Touch

A synthetic optical lace developed by a Cornell Ph.D. student creates a linked sensory network similar to a biological nervous system. The flexible, porous lattice structure is manufactured from...

NASA’s crawler-transporter 2 will carry the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft from the Vehicle Assembly Building to Launch Pad 39B for the launch of Artemis 1. One of the few women to...

Question of the Week: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Would You Customize a Product with PhotoChromeleon?

An MIT team came up with a new way of producing a multicolor part: “PhotoChromeleon.” The system’s reprogrammable photochromic ink enables objects to change colors when exposed to ultraviolet and visible light. Watch the demo on Tech Briefs TV.

White Papers: Software
The Importance of Accurately Modeling Light Scattering Luminaire Design

The reflected and transmitted scattering of light in a luminaire can play a major role in the performance of the luminaire. Many times, this is the reason the actual...

INSIDER: Communications
WiFi Measures Indoor Movement

Researchers from North Carolina State University developed a way to measure speed and distance in indoor environments. WiFi-assisted Inertial Odometry (WIO) uses WiFi as a velocity sensor to accurately track...

INSIDER: Robotics, Automation & Control
Shape-Shifting Robots Built from “Smarticles”

Researchers built robots entirely from smaller robots known as smarticles, unlocking the principles of a potentially new locomotion technique. The smarticles (smart active particles) can...

Blog: Robotics, Automation & Control
By the Lake, a Flying-Fish Robot Takes Off

A lake is usually a picture of serenity, perhaps the last place you’d expect to find a flying-fish robot launching itself 85 feet in the air.

See what a vehicle can do as its data communication rates get faster and faster.
White Papers: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Impact on Fuel Savings from Diesel Engine Cylinder Deactivation maintaining Aftertreatment Temps

Eaton’s Vehicle Group was part of a team that authored “Impact of Cylinder Deactivation and Cylinder Cutout via Flexible Valve Actuation on...

White Papers: Test & Measurement
Effortlessly Achieve Precision Flow Control of CO2 Injection in Beverage Manufacturing

In the beverage production process, precise mass flow control of Carbon Dioxide (C02) is a crucial part of creating high quality brews and beverages. It...

Tech Talks: Medical
Behind the Curtain: Advanced Textile-Forming Technologies for Medical Devices

The evolution of textile knitting, weaving, and braiding continues to impact the performance of stents, ligaments, sutures, and surgical instrumentation. Original equipment manufacturers will gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of how these devices and...

Dynamic White Papers: Electronics & Computers
5 Ways a Process Signature Reveals Insights from Your Production Line

This 12-minute presentation discusses how the effective use of data taken from the production line is crucial to remaining profitable and competitive. Greater insight can be gained when that data is captured in the form of digital process signatures, which depict...

Learn more about ULiSSES, a life-saving device for organ and limb transport.
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,...

Trending Stories

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition

Integrity Sensing With Smart Polymers and Rubber Components on Vehicles

Q&A: Manufacturing & Prototyping

Q&A: NanoLED Architecture Overcomes Efficiency Droop

Articles: Green Design & Manufacturing

Driving Growth and Innovation With Sustainable Design

Articles: Sensors/Data Acquisition

Deep Learning in Machine Vision

Application Briefs: Software

Using the IoT for Predictive Maintenance

Blog: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

Researchers Prove Their Elastic Exosuit Eases Back Stress

Videos