Special Coverage

Soft Robot “Walks” on Any Terrain
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Using Microwaves to Produce High-Quality Graphene
Transducer-Actuator Systems for On-Machine Measurements and Automatic Part Alignment
Wide-Area Surveillance Using HD LWIR Uncooled Sensors
Heavy Lift Wing in Ground (WIG) Cargo Flying Boat
Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems
Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems
NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space
Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators
Automating Optimization and Design Tasks Across Disciplines

Carbon Nanotube Resin Shores Up Boats and Bikes

NASA-funded nanotube technology strengthens cars, bikes, sporting goods, and boats.

Spinoff is NASA’s annual publication featuring successfully commercialized NASA technology. This commercialization has contributed to the development of products and services in the fields of health and medicine, consumer goods, transportation, public safety, computer technology, and environmental resources.

Posted in: Articles, Nanotechnology, Composite materials, Nanomaterials, Resins, Marine vehicles and equipment, Two or three wheeled vehicles
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Multi-Pulse Motor (MPM) for Use with Electric Solid Propellants (ESP)

The purpose of this work was to create a safe, green, controllable solid rocket motor that can be pulsed a number of times with electricity to control the ignition and extinguishment times to produce a required thrust or impulse bit. The innovation features an Electric Solid Propellant (ESP). The key problem is that the geometry of the ESP grain changes because of the evolution of the propellant to exhaust gases, but a closed electrical circuit is required to keep the electrical power applied to the grain and continue burning. The chamber pressure is utilized in the multi-pulse motor (MPM) design to ensure electrical contact is retained during the pulsing event.

Posted in: Briefs, Propulsion, Architecture, Architecture, Electric power, Solid propellants, Electric motors, Rocket engines
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Container Screening Device (CSD)

The CSD detects anomalies, contraband, and hidden compartments in liquid-filled containers, and discriminates between threat and non-threat materials.

The Container Screening Device (CSD) is a portable, benchtop measurement system for real-time sealed-container inspection, and content (liquid/ material) classification and discrimination. The technology uses sound waves to acoustically detect, classify, and discriminate threat versus non-threat substances and materials such as liquid explosives, hazardous and flammable liquids, and other caustic or dangerous liquids at security checkpoints. The CSD originally was designed as a prototype for both field measurements and bench-top applications for liquid forensics, intelligence, and law enforcement scenarios.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement, Security systems, Security systems, Containers, Acoustics, Acoustics, Hazardous materials, Inspections, Test equipment and instrumentation
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New Materials Could Turn Water into Solar Fuel

A process speeds the discovery of commercially viable solar fuels that could replace coal, oil, and other fossil fuels.

Solar fuels are created using only sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide (CO2). Researchers are exploring a range of target fuels, from hydrogen gas to liquid hydrocarbons, but producing any of these fuels involves splitting water.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Carbon dioxide, Sun and solar, Water, Alternative fuels, Research and development, Materials properties
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Modified Surface Having Low Adhesion Properties to Mitigate Insect Residue Adhesion

Surface roughness is not affected by the process.

NASA Langley Research Center, in collaboration with ATK Space Systems, has developed a method to reduce insect adhesion on metallic substrates, polymeric materials, engineering plastics, and other surfaces. The method topographically modifies a surface using laser ablation patterning followed by chemical modification of the surface. This innovation was originally developed to enhance aircraft laminar flow by preventing insect residue buildup, but the method provides a permanent solution for any application requiring insect adhesion mitigation as well as adhesion prevention of other typical environmental contaminants.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Finite element analysis, Lasers, Lasers, Finishing, Biomaterials, Chemicals, Coatings Colorants and Finishes, Coatings, colorants, and finishes
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CornerStone Knowledge Acquisition and Synthesis Framework

In general, and especially in the “big data” era, there is often a failure to collect sufficient data about the data (metadata). This lack of metadata drastically reduces the potential use of the data, and the attempt to rectify this situation after the fact is often difficult, if not impossible. The necessary metadata must first be located, and then organized and associated with the data. Often those who know about the metadata are no longer available. The proposed alternative is to prepare the data for long-term preservation based on currently accepted best-practices for long-term digital archives. This means that both the data and the metadata are simultaneously collected and prepared for the archive. This methodology provides the best chance that the necessary metadata will be available for future analysis, and ensures use of the data being collected and preserved.

Posted in: Briefs, Software
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Middle-Out Graph Analytics

This software visually lays out trends and patterns for ease of analysis, and can be used on desktop or handheld devices.

Graph analytics is a way of facilitating guided graph exploration through visual and interactive means. Unlike many graph visualization research efforts that focus predominantly on layout algorithms and rendering techniques, graph analytics research strives to provide an engaging interactive journey that bridges the gap from data to information to knowledge. Graph visualization still plays an important role in building this analytical journey, as do database querying, graph mining, interactive interrogation, human judgment, and senses.

Posted in: Briefs, Software
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Microfabricated Particles as MRI Contrast Agents

Potential applications exist in MRIs, drug development, diagnostics, and microfluidics.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has become an invaluable, widely used medical diagnostic and research tool, but despite numerous chemically synthesized image-enhancing agents, MRI still lacks the sensitivity and the multiplexing capabilities of optical imaging that benefit from colored fluorophores — multi-spectral quantum dots for multi-functional encoding and biomolecular/cellular labeling.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Magnetic materials, Materials properties, Nanomaterials
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Self-Protected, Low-Temperature Nanosolder

The nanosolder is inexpensive and easy to use in an assembly process.

Nanosolders allow for increased capabilities in the formation of soldered interconnections for heat-sensitive electronic packages. The desired characteristic of nanosolder is to have a low process temperature that does not damage base materials or components, while also having a high service temperature that allows the product to operate in harsh environments.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Electronic equipment, Microelectricmechanical device, Microelectromechanical devices, Electronic equipment, Microelectricmechanical device, Microelectromechanical devices, Copper alloys, Materials properties, Nanomaterials
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Resistive Heating-Assisted Infiltration and Cure (RHAIC) for Polymer/Carbon Nanotube Structural Composites

This process can be used for airframe components, lightweight construction structures, thermal management, and electromagnetic shielding for cars.

NASA’s Langley Research Center scientists have developed a process for fabricating carbon nanotube (CNT) structural nanocomposites that brings CNT-based composites closer to realizing their potential for structural applications. Conventional methods fail to properly wet CNTs within the epoxy matrix due to high resin viscosity, resulting in poor infiltration and reduced load transfer between the CNTs and matrix. The NASA process — resistive heating-assisted epoxy infiltration (RHAEI) — uses the CNTs’ electrical resistance to generate heat, which reduces epoxy resin viscosity for greater CNT wetting and adhesion. Mechanical properties are significantly improved compared to conventional methods. NASA’s process has been demonstrated to offer 50% improvement in strength and elastic modulus, with mechanical properties competitive with structural carbon fiber composites.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Composite materials, Nanomaterials, Polymers, Resins
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