The technologies NASA develops don’t just blast off into space. They also improve our lives here on Earth. Life-saving search-and-rescue tools, implantable medical devices, advances in commercial aircraft safety, increased accuracy in weather forecasting, and the miniature cameras in our cellphones are just some of the examples of NASA-developed technology used in products today.
This column presents technologies that have applications in commercial areas, possibly creating the products of tomorrow. If you are interested in licensing the technologies described here, use the contact information provided. To learn about more available technologies, visit the NASA Technology Transfer Portal at http://technology.nasa.gov.
Battery Monitoring System
Armstrong Flight Research Center (Edwards, CA) has developed a battery data acquisition and logging system that processes and reports analog sensor data in real time for wireless transmittal. Constructed with commercial off-the-shelf parts, this low-cost and novel battery monitoring system is adaptable to multiple types of battery chemistry, creating cross-platform capabilities for a wealth of sensing needs. Measurements taken include voltage, temperature, and state of health for multiple batteries simultaneously. It is especially useful for applications where unanticipated battery performance may lead to catastrophic failures, such as electric unmanned aerial vehicles; electric, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles; light rail systems; medical devices; robotics; industrial instruments; and grid stationary power systems.
Contact: Armstrong Technology Transfer Office
Advanced Actuators and Transducers
Actuators and transducers harvest mechanical energy as electrical energy, and convert stored electrical energy into mechanical energy. By developing a transducer based on advanced electroactive materials, Langley Research Center (Hampton, VA) has produced a design that can harvest orders of magnitude more energy in a given application than traditional solutions. Generated power could be simply stored in a battery or serve as a compact power source for wireless sensor networks for applications such as health monitoring; implants and wearable medical devices; environmental safety alert systems; mobile consumer electronics; machinery; vibration, aerodynamic, and surveillance applications in aerospace; and underwater navigation.
Contact: Langley Technology Transfer Office
Carbon Nanotube Array Biosensors
Ames Research Center (Moffett Field, CA) has developed a miniaturized electronics technology with extremely high sensitivity and simple sample preparation for in-vitro detection of specific biomarker signatures that’s based on incorporating carbon nanotubes as nanoelectrode arrays. Reducing cost and time is the major concern in clinical diagnostics. Miniaturization technologies are the only promising solution for quick biomarker detection, astronaut health monitoring, and environmental monitoring. This technology fuses micro and nano technologies with biology, providing great potential for low-cost disposable chips for rapid analysis using handheld devices. Applications also include homeland security, implantable sensors, and early disease diagnosis.