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

Fast, Sensitive Hydrogen Sensor

This sensor can be used in stationary fuel cell installations, nuclear reactors, battery charging, medical diagnostics, petroleum refining, and mine safety.

Hydrogen is a promising potential fuel for cars, buses, and other vehicles, and can be converted into electricity in fuel cells. It already is used in medicine and space exploration, as well as in the production of industrial chemicals and food products.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors

Feed Mechanism and Method for Feeding Minute Components

This mechanism singles out one component from a disorganized batch of bulk components, and presents it to an exact location.

Electrical circuits such as printed wiring boards or hybrid microcircuits designed to utilize surface mount electrical components are commonly assembled by computer-controlled automated equipment. These machines typically use a vacuum nozzle to pick up and handle the components during assembly. Three methods are commonly used to feed surface mount components to automatic assembly equipment: tape reel feeders, linear or bowl-type vibratory feeders, or waffle-style packages.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components

Vibration-Dampening Pedestal for MEMS

This thin-film modular pedestal provides passive dampening of undesirable external vibrations that can affect MEMS devices.

Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) are critical devices for various highly sensitive applications; however, the development and potential fielding of these next-generation smart systems is currently impeded by the inability to satisfy the stringent performance standards for precision and control. These advanced smart systems currently suffer from severe inaccuracies caused by a critical failure of a MEMS inertial measurement unit (IMU), i.e., the angular rate sensor (ARS).

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components

Self-Healing, Self-Lubricating Tribofilm

This technology could improve the efficiency and durability of engines and other moving metal parts.

Tribologists have developed a diamond-like film that is generated by the heat and pressure of an automotive engine. The ultra-durable, self-lubricating tribofilm — a film that forms between moving surfaces — can be made to develop self-healing, diamondlike carbon (DLC) tribofilms. The film generates itself by breaking down the molecules of the lubricating oil, and can regenerate the tribofilm as it is worn away.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials

Fiber-Optic Environmental Radiation Dosimeter

An all-optical, fiber-optic-coupled remote radiation sensor was developed using luminescent, copper-doped quartz material. The key to the technology is the doped quartz material, which produces a luminescence signal that is directly proportional to the radiation dose.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics

Functionally Graded Metal-Metal Composite Structures

This structure can be used in pressure vessels, ballistic-impact-resistant structures, and metallic glass alloys.

NASA Langley Research Center has developed a functionally graded metal-metal composite structure. The structure is created using a method that avoids deleterious reactions between the different metal constituents, as would be observed via conventional melt processing. The results are unique alloy compositions and arrangements not typically available through conventional processing routes.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials

Compact, Portable Device for Structural Vibration Reduction

The device has use in theaters, malls, and other areas where high-traffic floor vibrations can be unsettling to occupants.

Tuned mass dampers are used worldwide to mitigate vibrations in structures like buildings and bridges where excessive movement can be alarming or even sickening to occupants. The vast majority are multi-ton devices that occupy an average of 1,000 square feet, and are complex and costly to install, tune, and maintain.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components

Robotic Inspector Traverses Water Pipes

A compact robot can inspect water or gas pipes to find leaks from the inside.

Today's water distribution systems lose an average of 20 percent of their supply because of leaks. Current leak-detection systems are expensive and slow to operate, and they don't work well in systems that use wood, clay, or plastic pipes. A robotic system developed by researchers at MIT could provide a fast, inexpensive way to find even tiny leaks with pinpoint precision, no matter what the pipes are made of.

Posted in: Briefs, Motion Control

Robotic Gripper Cleans Up Space Debris

Gecko-inspired adhesives and a custom gripper create a device for grabbing objects in zero-gravty settings.

Large amounts of existing space debris pose a threat to satellites, space vehicles, and astronauts aboard those vehicles. However, cleaning up the debris is problematic. For example, suction cups don't work in a vacuum, and traditional sticky substances like tape are largely useless because the chemicals they rely on can't withstand extreme temperature swings.

Posted in: Briefs, Motion Control

Computational Tool Simplifies Creating Machines That Bend

Non-expert users can generate compliant versions of conventional, rigidly-articulated mechanisms, which are then readily produced via 3D printing.

Replacing rigid joints and linkages with mechanisms that bend offers a number of potential advantages, even as it makes designing devices more difficult. A computational design tool developed by Disney Research promises to make this transition from rigid to compliant mechanisms easier. The tool can take a design for a conventional, rigidly articulated device and automatically substitute parts that achieve the same function through flexibility, drawing from existing catalogs of compliant mechanisms.

Posted in: Briefs, Motion Control

The U.S. Government does not endorse any commercial product, process, or activity identified on this web site.