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.
Pin Alignment Fixture
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center developed an approach to protect pins on a stacking connector so they do not bend when force is applied. Suited for use in computer hardware and consumer electronics, the approach remedies the issue of having to guess if all pins are aligned properly for a perfect connection. The technique employs a simple piece of stiff material made of materials similar to circuit boards through which holes are drilled that align perfectly with the field of pins. This method increases confidence during connector blind mating as the fixture guarantees alignment, and thereby guarantees that no pins will be bent once mating force is applied.
Contact: Goddard Space Flight Center
Smart Windows Go from Clear to Dark in Less Than a Minute
Engineers at Stanford University have developed new smart windows that can change from transparent to dark, or back again, in less than a minute, depending on the light. The technology could be used in buildings, cars, and even sunglasses. The windows consist of conductive glass plates outlined with metal ions that spread out over the surface, blocking light in response to an electrical current. The technology has the potential to optimize the lighting in rooms or vehicles, and save about 20 percent in heating and cooling costs. To test durability, the researchers switched the windows on and off more than 5,000 times and saw no degradation in the transmission of light.
Contact: Michael McGehee, Materials Science and Engineering Department
Device Heals Organs with a Single Touch
A device that delivers new DNA or RNA into living skin cells to change their function with a single touch has been developed by researchers at The Ohio State University. By switching cell function, failing body functions can be rescued. The technology, Tissue Nanotransfection (TNT), injects genetic code into skin cells, turning those skin cells into other types of cells required for treating diseased conditions. A chip is touched to the wounded area and removed, at which point cell reprogramming begins. The chip, loaded with specific genetic code or certain proteins, is placed on the skin, and a small electrical current creates channels in the tissue. The DNA or RNA is injected into those channels, where it takes root and begins to reprogram the cells.