Tech Briefs

Electronics & Software

Access our comprehensive library of technical briefs on electronics and software, from engineering experts at NASA and major government, university, and commercial laboratories.

Latest Tech Briefs

Briefs : Transportation
Battery Electrolyte Doubles Driving Range for Electric Vehicles

Conventional electrolytes used in lithium-ion batteries that power household electronics like computers and cellphones are not suitable for lithium-metal batteries. Lithium-metal batteries that replace a graphite electrode with a lithium electrode are the holy grail of energy...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Impact-Resistant Battery Electrolyte Solidifies When Hit

Lithium-ion batteries commonly used in consumer electronics are notorious for bursting into flame when damaged or improperly packaged. Inspired by the unusual behavior of some liquids...

Briefs : Lighting
Running an LED in Reverse Could Cool Future Computers

Researchers devised a method in which running a light emitting diode (LED) with electrodes reversed was able to cool another device nanometers away. They harnessed the chemical potential...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Ultra-Low-Power Chips Enhance Performance of Small Robots

An ultra-low-power hybrid chip inspired by the brain could help give palm-sized robots the ability to collaborate and learn from their experiences. Combined with new generations of...

Sensor Technology : Electronics & Computers
Stretchable Interlaced-Nanowire Film for Ultraviolet Photodetectors with High Response Speed

Stretchable electronics, which can be stretched, deformed and wrapped onto nonplanar curved surfaces, have attracted much attraction due to their...

Briefs : Materials
Using Laser Metal Printing to Cool Computer Chips

Traditionally, electronics are cooled using a heat sink that transfers the heat generated by the electronic system into the air or a liquid coolant. For the heat sink to work, it has to be attached to the CPU or the graphics processor via a thermal interface material such as thermal paste. It...

Briefs : Software
Design Software Identifies a Product's Performance Tradeoffs

Designing any product — from complex car parts to wrenches — is a balancing act with conflicting performance tradeoffs. Making something lightweight, for instance, may compromise its durability.

Briefs : Power
Double-Fed Induction Linear Alternator

This technology was developed to address the limitations of traditional, single-fed linear alternators that require permanent magnets, adhesive bonding organics, and heavy iron laminations for flux control. They experience eddy-current losses and require electromagnetic interference protection. Furthermore,...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Generating Electrical Power from Waste Heat

Directly converting electrical power to heat is easy; however, converting heat into electrical power is not as easy. To address this issue, a tiny silicon-based device was developed that can...

Briefs : Software
Algorithm Predicts How Electromagnetic Waves Interact with Materials at the Smallest Scales

Magnetic materials can attract or repel each other based on their polar orientation — positive and negative ends attract each other, while two positives or two negatives repel. When an electromagnetic signal like a radio wave passes through such...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Direct-Write Quantum Calligraphy in Monolayer Semiconductors

In contrast with conventional light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that emit billions of photons simultaneously to form a steady stream of light, a single photon emitter (SPE) generates...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
All-Fiber, Optically Controlled Optical Switch

An optical switch is a device where information-bearing light may be directed to one of several outputs. Prior art optical switches have mainly been integrated optical waveguide structures such as titanium-diffused (Ti) waveguides in lithium-niobate (LiNbO3) or gallium-arsenide (GaAs)...

Briefs : Communications
Graphene-Silicon Devices for Optoelectronics Applications

Silicon is a naturally occurring material commonly used as a semiconductor in electronic devices; however, researchers have exhausted the potential of devices with semiconductors made...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Infrared Light-Focusing Platform

Researchers have integrated two technologies widely used in applications such as optical communications, bio-imaging, and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) systems to create a new infrared light-focusing...

Briefs : Energy
Self-Powered, Washable, Wearable Displays

Clothing usually is formed with textiles and has to be both wearable and washable for daily use; however, smart clothing has had a problem with its power sources and moisture permeability, which causes the devices to malfunction. To solve this problem, a textile-based, wearable display module technology...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Stretchable, Rubbery Semiconductors

Researchers have created stretchable, rubbery semiconductors including rubbery integrated electronics, logic circuits, and arrayed sensory skins fully based on rubber materials. The semiconductors have...

Briefs : Energy
Electroceutical Bandages Destroy Bacteria

Used since 2013, electroceutical bandages — which use electrical impulses to treat medical issues — kill bacteria around a wound, allowing wounds to heal faster. In addition, if infection is...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Cryogenic Cam Butterfly Valve

Typical butterfly valves cannot seal at both ambient and cryogenic temperatures. At cryogenic temperatures, valves grow and shrink, changing critical dimensions such as distance between the disc and seat....

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Model Gives Robots a Better Feel for Object Manipulation

A new learning system improves a robot’s ability to mold materials into target shapes and make predictions about interacting with solid objects and liquids. The system, known as a...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Non-Destructive Evaluation (NDE) of Structures Using Transient and Lock-in Thermography

Researchers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center improved their Flash Thermography capabilities by incorporating transient and lock-in thermography. By...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Safety Analysis: The Key to a Single-Pass ISO26262 Random Fault Workflow

Advanced driver-assistance systems and autonomous drive technologies increase the complexity of automotive integrated circuits (ICs), making it harder to ensure that...

Briefs : Energy
Wood-Based Technology Creates Electricity from Heat

Researchers have transformed a piece of wood into a flexible membrane that generates energy from the same type of electric current (ions) on which the human body runs. This energy is generated using charged channel walls and other unique properties of the wood’s natural nanostructures. With...

Briefs : Energy
One-Pot Bioconversion of Distiller’s Grains to Advanced Biofuels

Increase in bioethanol production throughout the US has led to an increase in the process coproduct — distiller’s grains with solubles (DGS). DGS can be used to feed...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Rotary Electrical Contact

Researchers have developed a fundamentally new type of rotary electrical contact that addresses the two limitations of conventional brush/slip ring technology: 1) short operating lifetime due to sliding-contact...

Briefs : Communications
New Electromyography Biofeedback Device

Anew electromyography biofeedback device that is wearable and connects to novel smartphone games may offer people with incomplete paraplegia a more affordable, self-controllable therapy to enhance...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Single-Photon Detector for Potential Encryption and Sensing

Light is widely used for communications, carrying phone conversations and video signals through fiber optic cables around the world in pulses composed of many photons. Single...