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.
Multilayered Fire Protection System
NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed a flexible, lightweight, and portable thermal protection system — a multilayer thermal blanket designed to handle external temperatures up to 2000 °F. The system creates an environment for protecting equipment, facilities, and people from a high-intensity incident heat source such as a fire. The Multilayered Fire Protection System uses technology from spacecraft flexible heat shields for future planetary missions. It includes an outer textile layer that reflects more than 90 percent of the radiant heat, an insulated layer that protects against convective heat and hot gases, and a non-porous film layer that is a gas barrier layer. The system can be formed as a sleeping bag, a tent, a blanket, a vertical barrier, a curtain, a flexible rollup doorway, or a wrap.
Contact: Langley Research Center
Compact Antenna Enables Communication Where Radios Fail
A pocket-sized antenna was developed at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory that could enable mobile communication in situations where conventional radios don’t work such as underwater, through the ground, and over very long distances through air. The device emits very low frequency (VLF) radiation with wavelengths of tens to hundreds of miles. These waves can penetrate environments that would block radio waves with shorter wavelengths. While today’s most powerful VLF technology requires gigantic emitters, this antenna is only four inches tall, so it could potentially be used for tasks that demand high mobility including rescue and defense missions.
Contact: Andrew Gordon, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
Wearable Device Captures Cancer Cells from Blood
The University of Michigan developed a wearable device that can continuously collect live cancer cells directly from a patient’s blood. Over a couple of hours in the hospital, the device could continuously capture cancer cells directly from the vein, screening much larger volumes of a patient’s blood. The device shrinks a machine that is typically the size of an oven down to something that could be worn on the wrist and connected to a vein in the arm. It mixes the blood with heparin, a drug that prevents clotting, and kills bacteria without harming the cell-targeting immune markers, or antibodies, on the chip. The device could optimize treatments for human cancers by enabling doctors to see if the cancer cells are making the molecules that serve as targets for many newer cancer drugs.