Billy's Blog

On Billy's Blog, Billy Hurley, Digital Editorial Manager, writes stories about new and innovative achievements in design engineering, from industrial robots and autonomous vehicles to 3D printers and see-through solar cells. Along with other Tech Briefs writers and editors, Billy shares his opinions, poses questions to readers, and finds the fun, interesting, and unexpected stories behind today's leading-edge inventions.

Cleaner Jet Fuel

NASA and 11 other research groups are testing two non-petroleum-based fuels in the pursuit of alternative fuels that can power commercial jets and address rising oil costs. The tests, being conducted at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in California, are measuring the performance and emissions of two synthetic fuels derived...

Concrete Cure

The nation's infrastructure uses concrete for millions of miles of roadways and 600,000 bridges, many of which are in disrepair. With a project called viscosity enhancers reducing diffusion in concrete technology (VERDICT), Engineers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) set out to double concrete's lifetime....

Valuable Waste

Researchers from Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems in Dresden have developed the first-ever biogas plant to run purely on waste instead of edible raw materials - transforming waste into valuable material. The plant generates 30 percent more biogas than its predecessors. A fuel cell efficiently converts the...

Terabit-Scale Processing

University of California at San Diego electrical and computer engineering professor Stojan Radic and his team have demonstrated the first real-time sampling of a 320 Gigabits per second (Gb/s) channel, in an effort to meet the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) goal of developing

the first...

Fluorescent Proteins

Photoactivatable fluorescent proteins (PAFPs) and other advanced fluorescent proteins (FPs) - several of which have been developed by Vladislav Verkhusha, associate professor of anatomy & structural biology at Yeshiva University - spotlight individual cellular molecules and are transforming biomedical research. PAFPs and FPs...

Plasmonic Microcavity

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology have developed a whispering gallery microcavity based on plasmons - electromagnetic waves that race across the surfaces of metals. This plasmonic whispering gallery microcavity consists of a silica...

Photographing the Inauguration

Over a million people attended the inauguration of President Barack Obama in Washington last week. With extremely tight security restricting access, photographer David Bergman found an ingenious way to photograph the event, with the help of imaging technology used on the Mars Rover.

According to an article...

Stretchable Electronics

A design for bendable electronic devices produces parts that can be wrapped around complex shapes, without reducing electronic function. The technology is based on semiconductor nanomaterials that offer high stretchability and large twistability. Potential uses include electronic devices for eye cameras, smart surgical...

Ice-Free Power Lines

Scientists from Dartmouth College and Ice Engineering LLC have invented a way to cheaply and effectively keep ice off power lines. Called a variable resistance cable (VRC) de-icing system, the technology switches the electrical resistance of a standard power line from low to high. The high resistance automatically creates...

Sensing Broken Bridges

Northeastern University was recently awarded a $9 million federal research grant to develop new multi-sensor technology systems for cars and trucks that will allow for real-time assessment of road and bridge infrastructure across the country. Northeastern will lead the five-year VOTERS (Versatile Onboard Traffic Embedded...

When More Is Less

According to research performed at Sandia National Laboratories, the current trend of increasing the speed of supercomputers by increasing the number of processor cores on individual chips may actually worsen performance for many complex applications. A Sandia team simulated key algorithms for deriving knowledge from large data...

Diagnosing in the Developing World

Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a prototype malaria test printed on a disposable Mylar card that could easily slip into your wallet and still work when you took it out, even months later. The cards are a critical step in a long-term project funded by The Bill and Melinda Gates...


Fleeing drivers are a common problem for law enforcement. Existing traps, made from elastic, may halt a Hyundai, but they're no match for a Hummer. In addition, officers put themselves at risk of being run down while setting up the traps. Imaginative design and engineering funded by the Small Business Innovation Research Office of the...

Sensor Detects Food-Borne Pathogens

A microscopic biological sensor that detects Salmonella bacteria in lab tests has been developed by an Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist and university colleagues. The nanotechnology-based sensor could be adapted to detect other food-borne pathogens as well.

The biosensor was developed by...


Johns Hopkins researchers have invented dust-particle-size devices that can be used to grab and remove living cells from hard-to-reach places without the need for electrical wires, tubes, or batteries. Instead, the devices are actuated by thermal or biochemical signals. The mass-producible microgrippers each measure approximately...

LED Fluorescent Bulbs

University of Florida scientists achieved a new record in the efficiency of blue organic light-emitting diodes, or OLEDs. Because blue is essential to white light, the advance helps pave the way to lighting that is much more efficient than compact fluorescents, but can produce high-quality light similar to standard...

Diagnosing Brain Aging

UCLA scientists have used brain-scan technology, along with patient-specific information on Alzheimer's disease risks, to help diagnose brain aging before symptoms appear. The researchers used positron emission tomography (PET), which allows the revealing of plaques and tangles, the hallmarks of neurodegeneration. The PET...

Molecular Imaging

Researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) and Cornell University have developed a new generation of microscopic particles for molecular imaging, constituting one of the first promising nanoparticle platforms that may be readily adapted for tumor targeting and treatment in the clinic. According to the...

Phantom of the Airport

In the comics, the Phantom is a masked crime fighter who protected the innocent from pirates, hijackers and other evildoers. While not as dashing or exciting as its costumed namesake, an electromagnetic phantom - a carbon and polymer mixture that simulates the human body - is being readied by the National Institute of...

NASA Briefs

A chip has been designed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to increase the usefulness of monolithic millimeter-wave integrated circuit (MMIC) components at submillimeter-wave frequencies. The chip incorporates two integrated, radial E-plane probes with an MMIC amplifier in between, thus creating a fully integrated waveguide module....

Senior Safety

Many older adults want to remain active and independent for as long as possible. University of Missouri researchers are using sensors, computers, communication systems, and supportive health care services to monitor the health of older adults who are living at home. The motion sensor networks can detect changes in behavior and...

Portable Ultrasound Device

Cornell University graduate student George Lewis is trying to shrink ultrasound devices to make them practical for any hospital or medical research lab. Lewis has developed a palm-sized, battery-powered ultrasound device powerful enough to stabilize a gunshot wound or deliver drugs to brain cancer patients. Current...

Designing a Better Laser

A Princeton-led team of researchers has discovered a new mechanism to make common electronic materials emit laser beams. The finding could lead to lasers that operate more efficiently and at higher temperatures than existing devices, and lead to applications in environmental monitoring and medical diagnostics.


Blood-Detecting Yarn

A carbon nanotube-coated smart yarn that conducts electricity could be woven into soft fabrics that detect blood and monitor health, engineers at the University of Michigan have demonstrated. Currently, smart textiles are made primarily of metallic or optical fibers, which are fragile and uncomfortable; metal fibers also...

Top 5 INSIDER Stories of 2008

#5: Researchers at Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft in Germany are working on a thermoelectric generator that converts the heat from car exhaust fumes into electricity. The thermoelectric module feeds the energy into the car's electronic systems, reducing fuel consumption and carbon dioxide from vehicles. Click...

Vote for Product of the Year 2008

Each month, the editors of NASA Tech Briefs choose a Product of the Month - a new product with exceptional technical merit and practical value for the engineering community. Now is your chance to vote for the one product among those 12 Products of the Month that you feel was the most significant new product in...

Cancer Detector

A Stanford University-led research team has developed a prototype blood scanner that can find cancer markers in the bloodstream in early stages of the disease, potentially allowing for earlier treatment and dramatically improved chances of survival. Based on MagArray biodetection chips, the device uses magnetic nanotechnology to...

Top INSIDER Stories of 2008

As the year comes to a close, we highlight the ten INSIDER stories that have generated the highest number of click-throughs. These are the ten stories in which INSIDERs were most interested in 2008. Today's INSIDER highlights numbers 10 through 6. Thursday's INSIDER will highlight the top five stories of...

Icecube Telescope

Physicists, engineers, and technicians from the University of Delaware's Bartol Research Institute are part of an international team working to build the world's largest neutrino telescope in the Antarctic ice. Neutrinos have no electrical charge and can travel millions of miles through space. Dubbed "IceCube," the telescope...


Upcoming Webinars: Materials

Protecting Power Electronics from EM and RF Interference

Upcoming Webinars: Electronics & Computers

Vehicle Electrification

Upcoming Webinars: Sensors/Data Acquisition

The Evolution of SOSA

Upcoming Webinars: Software

Next-Gen Vehicle Architectures and the Role of HPCs

Tech Talks: Medical

Testing Home Healthcare Medical Devices

Upcoming Webinars: Software

Accelerating Pre-Silicon Software Development with Next-Gen...