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 .
Powder Handling Device for Analytical Instruments
This technology provides automated sample handling and movement of coarse-grained powder or other solid materials to enable analysis by a robotic or totally automated computer system. The powder is handled as a fluid, using mechanical vibrations in conjunction with a driving force, and requiring few or no moving parts. Applications include geology and mineralogical analysis from Earth or other planets, pharmaceutical and biochemistry, laboratory analysis, industrial and mining materials, archaeology, homeland security, and specimen analysis.
Contact: Ames Research Center Technology
High-Power, Solid-State Power Amplifier System
This system combines 1KW modules to generate up to 16KW of radio frequency power from 2–30 MHz. The device is a first step toward increasing the power of solidstate power amp devices so that they might replace the more cumbersome vacuum tube amps for some applications. One or more stages can fail and the system will continue to operate, although at reduced power. The system is suited for joining parts and producing hardened tempered coatings for hardware, including metal chains, locks, high-performance bearings for auto racing, saw blades, and ceramics, as well as for high-power transmitters used in broadcasting.
Contact: Marshall Space Flight Center Technology
Lightweight Fiber Optic Sensors for Real-Time Strain Monitoring
A lightweight, robust fiber optic sensor system can be used to calculate a variety of critical parameters, including shape, stress, temperature, pressure, strength, and operational load. This system processes information at rates of 100 times per second, enabling real-time strain measurements to determine the shape of an aircraft’s wing, monitor the structural integrity of bridges and pipelines, or ensure precise placement of the tiniest catheters.