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 innovation.
Graphene Composites for Supercapacitor Electrodes
NASA has developed an electrode composite material capable of both high energy density and high power density relative to conventional batteries. Applications for the supercapacitors range from plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) to backup power sources. This innovation develops electrode composite materials that combine graphene with a metal oxide nanocomposite of manganese oxide and cobalt oxide. It comprises a scalable, integrated materials synthesis and device fabrication process to optimize specific capacitance as well as cycling lifetime and device reliability.
Contact: NASA’s Licensing Concierge
Textile Sensor Patch Detects Pressure Points for Amputees
A soft, flexible sensor system from North Carolina State University — created with electrically conductive yarns — could help map problematic pressure points in the socket of an amputee’s prosthetic limb. The device incorporates a lattice of conductive yarns and is connected to a tiny computer. The system was tested on a prosthetic limb and in walking experiments with two human volunteers, finding the system could reliably track pressure changes in real time.
Contact: Lauren Leslie Barker
Low-Cost Strengthened Glass Substrates
Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories developed a more efficient thermal process for strengthening glass substrates for smartphones, smartwatches, tablets, and other impact-resistant applications. Instead of pure alkali salts, this approach uses eutectic alkali salt mixtures and employs thick film coating methodology to deposit the needed salt mixtures. Due to lower melting points, the eutectic coating facilitates alkaliion exchange at lower temperatures, thereby reducing production costs.