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 .
Conductive Carbon Nanotube Ink for Inkjet Printing
Kennedy Space Center’s Conductive Carbon Nanotube Ink for Inkjet Printing technology combines carbon nanotube inks with other additives, such as metallic nanoparticles, for use in standard inkjet printing. These inks have resistances in the kilohm range to create coatings that are significantly more conductive than other commercially available carbon nanotube inks. These inks are water-based, and can be readily applied to a number of surfaces, including paper and textiles. The adherent conductive materials can be used in damage detection, dust particle removal, smart coating systems, and flexible electronic circuitry.
Contact: Kennedy Space Center
Underwater Vehicle Propulsion and Power Generation
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has developed an autonomous underwater vehicle that uses thermally generated buoyancy changes to generate electricity and recharge batteries, and can remain underwater for years at a time. The vehicle is propelled using the temperature differentials in ocean water. It extracts energy from the vehicle’s gliding movement by turning a propeller turbine while in motion; this energy can be used to recharge the vehicle batteries. Applications include autonomous underwater vehicles, ocean study, earth sciences, and underwater surveillance.
Contact: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
An alternative way of communicating developed at Ames Research Center is based on the direct interpretation of nervous system control signals sent to speech muscles by the brain. The method interprets non-invasive aggregate surface measurements of ElectroMyographic Signals (EMGs) to categorize muscle activations prior to sound generation. Applications include human-to-machine commands, physical- and speech-disabled persons, underwater operations, and medical and emergency service workers.