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.
VOC-Free Tube and Pipe Cleaning System
Goddard Space Flight Center developed a volatile organic compound (VOC)-free system for cleaning tubing and piping that significantly reduces cost and carbon consumption. The technology enables the use of deionized water in place of costly isopropyl alcohol (IPA), and does not create any waste for which costly disposal is usually required. It uses nitrogen bubbles in water, which act as a scrubbing agent to clean equipment. The cleaning system quickly and precisely removes all foreign matter from tubing and piping. Applications include aerospace, pharmaceutical, bioprocessing, and food and beverage industries; and cleaning microelectronics equipment, parts, and surfaces.
Contact: Goddard Space Flight Center
Subcutaneous Structure Imager
Glenn Research Center developed a subcutaneous structure imager for locating veins in challenging patient populations, such as juvenile, elderly, dark-skinned, or obese patients. The system includes a camera-processor-display apparatus and an image-processing method to provide twoor three-dimensional, high-contrast visualization of veins or other vasculature structures. In addition to assisting practitioners to find veins in challenging populations, this system can also help novice healthcare workers locate veins for procedures such as needle insertion or excision. The imager is inexpensive and portable, so it can be used in remote areas, emergency response situations, or military battlefields.
Contact: Glenn Research Center
Method for Evolving Analog Circuits
When a design specifies the entire circuit, the necessary hardware elements are connected as appropriate to create the circuit. When the design specifies only some of the circuit, the circuit synthesis is less straightforward. Jet Propulsion Laboratory developed a programmable transistor array (PTA) with eight complimentary transistors interconnected by programmable switches, forming a reconfigurable building block based on elements of the lowest level of granularity. Combinations of PTA modules and other reconfigurable building blocks can be intrinsically evolved by selecting the status of each switch in response to a chromosomal pattern. Evolution using gradual switches allows for a trade space between evaluation time and sensitivity to transistor-dependent variations. Applications include design automation, semiconductors, and consumer electronics.