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.
Hydrogel Electrodes Flex to Fit the Body’s Shapes
Harvard University has developed flexible, metal-free electrode arrays that snugly conform to the body’s myriad shapes, from deep creases of the brain to fibrous nerves of the heart.
This close embrace allows electrical impulses to be recorded and stimulated with lower required voltages, enables their use in hard-to-reach areas of the body, and minimizes the risk of damage to delicate organs.
The hydrogel-based electrodes take the shape of whatever tissue they are placed on and open the door to creation of less invasive, personalized medical devices.
Contact: Leah Burrows
Sensors Detect Inert Gases
Few sensors are available to detect inert gases. NASA Ames Research Center developed a lightweight sensor that consumes a relatively small amount of power for detection of inert gases.
The carbon nanotube (CNT)-based sensor detects inert gases such as argon, oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide. The sensor system can provide a high-sensitivity tool that is very specific for identification of one or more gas components.
The sensors can be multiplexed to measure current from multiple CNT arrays for simultaneous detection of several gas components.
Contact: NASA’s Licensing Concierge
Anti-Corrosion Compound Protects Steel from the Elements
A flexible, self-healing coating made of sulfur and selenium protects buildings, bridges, and anything made of steel that sits above or below the water.
Rice University’s compound is more dielectric (insulating) than most flexible materials and more flexible than most dielectrics, making it a good candidate for components in electronics like bendable cellphones.
And when placed in salt water, the coating was found to be self-healing and could protect steel from the elements.