Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Precision Low-Speed Motor Controller

Innovators at NASA Johnson Space Center have developed a method for controlling precise motion of a brushless DC (BLDC) motor using relatively inexpensive components. Precision motors are usually quite expensive and inefficient when operating at slow speeds. Current motors are only capable of operating at...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Composable Storage Platform for High-Performance Computing

Large-scale, high-performance computing — supercomputing — is essential to solving both complex and large questions. But storage platforms essential for these advanced computer systems have been stuck in a rigid framework that required users to either choose between customization of...

Future Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and air taxis will require advanced onboard autonomy to operate safely within complex and dynamic urban environments. Urban landscapes...

Briefs : Propulsion
Green Electric Monopropellant (GEM)-Fueled Pulsed Plasma Thruster

NASA required a rocket thruster able to produce a number of pulses at high specific impulse at a relatively low voltage (~300 to 400V). The key problem was that existing propellants for liquid-fueled pulsed plasma thrusters (LPPTs) required high voltages to ablate and accelerate...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Multi-Purpose, Flexible Wing Structure for Small Unmanned Aerial Systems

Small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), also known as micro air vehicles, are promising tools for a variety of military and commercial applications. Some small UAS have flexible wings and are lightweight, making them back-packable and easy to deploy. Most UAS that are...

Light is the most energy-efficient way to move information; however, light shows one big limitation: it is difficult to store. Data centers, for example, rely primarily on magnetic hard drives in...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Flexible, Spinning Heat Shield for Spacecraft

Heat shields are essentially used as the brakes to stop spacecraft from burning up and crashing on entry and reentry into a planet's atmosphere. Current spacecraft heat shield methods include...

Objects in our daily lives, such as speakers, refrigerators, and even cars, are becoming “smarter” day by day as they connect to the Internet and exchange data, creating the Internet of Things (IoT)....

Lightweighting design is an extensively explored and utilized concept in many industries, especially in aerospace applications, and is associated with the green aviation concept. The...

Products : Materials
New on the Market: March 2019

Controller and Datalogger

Watlow, St. Louis, MO, introduced a batch processing feature for the F4T temperature and process controller and D4T datalogger. The new feature helps collect manufacturing part...

WCX™ World Congress Experience 2019 — presented by SAE International — is for forward-thinking engineers, executives, OEMs, suppliers, decision-makers, disruptors, and the entire spectrum of...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
MEMS Switch Extends Life of Cellphones

A new type of microelectromechanical system (MEMS) was developed that uses electrostatic levitation to provide a more robust system. All cellphones use MEMS switches for wireless communication, but traditionally there are just two electrodes. The switches open and close numerous times during just one hour,...

NASA Langley Research Center has developed a new approach for designing aircraft liner cores for noise reduction. The cores are comprised of multiple honeycomb-shaped chambers,...

Technology Leaders : Manufacturing & Prototyping
The Heat Is On: A Guide to Specifying Insulation Materials

One of the first things an electrical engineer will learn is that the number-one enemy of designing and manufacturing any electrical/electronic product is heat. It's the one...

5 Ws : Manufacturing & Prototyping
5 Ws of 3D-Printing Piezoelectric Materials

Who

Piezoelectric materials are used in everything from cellphones and wearables, to robotics, energy harvesting, and tactile sensors.

Outsourcing machine learning is a rising trend in industry. Major tech firms have launched cloud platforms that conduct computation-heavy tasks, such as running data through a convolutional...

Briefs : Aerospace
Self-Stabilizing, Distributed, Symmetric, Fault-Tolerant Synchronization

Distributed systems have become an integral part of safety-critical computing applications, necessitating system designs that incorporate complex fault-tolerant resource management functions to provide globally coordinated operations with ultra-reliability. As a result,...

Traditional methods, such as reverse osmosis, that remove contaminants from water are expensive and energy-intensive. Researchers have developed technology to remove contaminants from water,...

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed a method that introduces solids and particulates — specifically aerogels — into composites or...

Briefs : Software
Real-Time, Fuel-Optimal, Powered Descent Guidance Using Interpolated Time-of-Flight and Propellant Mass

Soft landing using rockets requires a trajectory to be planned for the lander from rocket ignition — typically several kilometers in altitude and moving at up to 200 m/s — to the point near the surface with near-zero velocity. The exact...

The technological ramp to fully autonomous vehicles presents significant challenges for companies developing autonomous vehicle programs. Advanced sensor technology, high-speed and...

Titanium is as strong as steel but about twice as light. These properties depend on the way a metal's atoms are stacked, but random defects that arise in the...

Briefs : Propulsion
Interoperable Intelligent Controllers for Process Management and Control Networks

NASA Johnson Space Center developed reprogrammable and interchangeable electronic controllers that can attach to a system or subsystem wirelessly or through plug-and-play capability. Originally designed to work with rocket engines, this technology can control...

Q&A : Medical
Q&A: Harvard's Siyi Xu Designs All-New Strain and Force Sensors

Working with teams from Harvard, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Boston Children's Hospital, Siyi Xu developed a soft, non-toxic, wearable sensor that attaches to the hand and measures grasp force and the motion of the hand and fingers. The sensor is designed to identify...

Briefs : Aerospace
Small-Body Dynamics Toolkit Version 5.0

The Small-Body Dynamics Toolkit (SBDT) v5.0 is a collection of primitive-body-specific trajectory design and analysis tools written in MATLAB®. The SBDT gives the user the capabilities to propagate, analyze, and visualize spacecraft trajectories and the dynamical environment near realistic asteroid,...

Briefs : Aerospace
Sublimable Propellant Source for Iodine-Fed Ion Propulsion System

NASA Marshall has developed a system for generating iodine vapor from solid iodine for use as a propellant in a Hall or ion thruster propulsion system. Xenon has generally been the preferred propellant for these spacecraft ion propulsion systems but more recently, iodine-based...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Fuel Cell/Fuel Cell Hybrid System

Fuel cells can deliver clean, reliable, and uninterrupted power nearly 100 percent of the time. Fuel cells offer the advantage of efficiency by converting chemical energy directly to electricity. They have no moving parts, thereby eliminating failures associated with pumps, blowers, heat exchangers, and other...

The Create the Future Design Contest, launched in 2002 by the publishers of Tech Briefs magazine, helps stimulate and reward engineering innovation. The annual event has...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Composite Advances Lignin as Renewable 3D Printing Material

Lignin is the material left over from the processing of biomass. It gives plants rigidity and also makes biomass resistant to being broken down into useful products. Researchers combined a melt-stable hardwood lignin with conventional plastic, a low-melting nylon, and carbon fiber to...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Nanoscale Pillars Act as Memory Foam

A customizable nanomaterial was developed that combines metallic strength with a foam-like ability to compress and spring back. The material can store and release mechanical energy on the nanoscale, and...

Webcasts

Tech Talks: Aerospace

Electropolishing for the Aerospace Industry

Upcoming Webinars: Medical

Ethylene Oxide Sterilization: The Future State

Upcoming Webinars: Manufacturing & Prototyping

From Drudgery to the Effective Use of Design and Process FMEAs

Upcoming Webinars: Manufacturing & Prototyping

Heavy-Duty Engine Design for a Transitioning Market

Upcoming Webinars: Photonics/Optics

High-Powered Directed Energy Laser Projects: Destroy the Target,...

Upcoming Webinars: Photonics/Optics

Optical Coating Design