Tech Briefs

Materials & Manufacturing

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

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Self-Contained Wheel Unit
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Latest Tech Briefs

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Algorithm Gives Robots a Faster Grasp
Algorithm Gives Robots a Faster Grasp
The algorithm speeds up the planning process that robots use to adjust their grip on objects.
Algorithm Gives Robots a Faster Grasp
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Artificial Skin Provides Haptic Feedback
Artificial Skin Provides Haptic Feedback
The skin could help rehabilitation and enhance virtual reality by instantaneously adapting to a wearer's movements.
Artificial Skin Provides Haptic Feedback
Briefs : Materials
Diamond Technology Enables Low-Cost Medical Imaging
Diamond Technology Enables Low-Cost Medical Imaging

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines are employed to locate cancerous tumors and aid in the development of treatment plans, while nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) machines are used to...

Diamond Technology Enables Low-Cost Medical Imaging
Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Method Produces Three-Dimensional, Curved Electronics
Method Produces Three-Dimensional, Curved Electronics

Contact lenses that can monitor the wearer’s health and correct eyesight use embedded electronics. These, and other curved devices such as solar cells and electronics, could be...

Method Produces Three-Dimensional, Curved Electronics
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Wind Event Warning System
Wind Event Warning System

NASA Langley Research Center developed a wind event warning technology that provides a practical early warning system (5-10 minutes) for a severe change in the wind vector. Events such as gusts, shear, microbursts,...

Wind Event Warning System
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Printed Electronics for Electrified Tattoos and Personalized Biosensors
Printed Electronics for Electrified Tattoos and Personalized Biosensors

A fully print-in-place technique for electronics could enable technologies such as high-adhesion, embedded electronic tattoos and bandages with patient-specific...

Printed Electronics for Electrified Tattoos and Personalized Biosensors
Briefs : Aerospace
Passive Smart Container
Passive Smart Container

Although Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology is being used widely for pallet and box-level tracking in the commercial sector, significant technology gaps remain for tracking dense quantities at the item...

Passive Smart Container
Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Researchers Turn off Backscattering, Aim to Improve Optical Data Transmission
Researchers Turn off Backscattering, Aim to Improve Optical Data Transmission

Engineers at the University of Illinois have found a way to redirect misfit light waves to reduce energy loss during optical data transmission. In a study,...

Researchers Turn off Backscattering, Aim to Improve Optical Data Transmission
Briefs : Transportation
Optical Neural Network Could Lead to Intelligent Cameras
Optical Neural Network Could Lead to Intelligent Cameras

UCLA engineers have made major improvements on their design of an optical neural network — a device inspired by how the human brain works — that can identify objects or process...

Optical Neural Network Could Lead to Intelligent Cameras
Briefs : Imaging
Facial Recognition Technology Works in the Dark
Facial Recognition Technology Works in the Dark

Thermal cameras like forward looking infrared (FLIR) sensors are actively deployed on aerial and ground vehicles, in watch towers, and at check points for surveillance purposes. More recently,...

Facial Recognition Technology Works in the Dark
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Smart Electronic Skin for Robots and Prosthetics

Humans use the sense of touch to accomplish almost every daily task such as picking up a cup of coffee or shaking someone’s hand. Without it, humans can even lose their sense of balance when walking. Similarly, robots need to have a sense of touch in order to interact better with humans but...

Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Undercooled Metal Technology for Flexible Electronics
Undercooled Metal Technology for Flexible Electronics

Undercooled metal technology was developed that features liquid metal (in this case, Field's metal, an alloy of bismuth, indium, and tin) trapped below its melting point in polished,...

Undercooled Metal Technology for Flexible Electronics
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
New Class of Two-Dimensional Materials
New Class of Two-Dimensional Materials

A process was developed for producing oxide perovskite crystals in flexible, free-standing layers. A two-dimensional rendition of this substance is intriguing because 2D materials have been shown to...

New Class of Two-Dimensional Materials
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Motion-Powered, Fireproof Sensor
Motion-Powered, Fireproof Sensor

Researchers have created a motion-powered, fireproof sensor that can track the movements of firefighters, steelworkers, miners, and others who work in high-risk environments where they cannot always be seen....

Motion-Powered, Fireproof Sensor
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Soft Robotics Perception System
Soft Robotics Perception System

A perception system for soft robots was developed that is inspired by the way humans process information about their own bodies in space and in relation to other objects and people. The system includes a...

Soft Robotics Perception System
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Toughening Stretchable Fibers Using a Metallic Core
Toughening Stretchable Fibers Using a Metallic Core

Researchers have developed a fiber that combines the elasticity of rubber with the strength of a metal, resulting in a tougher material. The fibers consist of a gallium metal core...

Toughening Stretchable Fibers Using a Metallic Core
Briefs : Test & Measurement
Battery-Free Sensor for Underwater Use
Battery-Free Sensor for Underwater Use

To investigate oceans, researchers aim to build a submerged network of interconnected sensors that sends data to the surface. Supplying constant power to scores of sensors designed to stay for long...

Battery-Free Sensor for Underwater Use
Briefs : Nanotechnology
Pearl-Like Coating Enhances Lightweight Armor
Pearl-Like Coating Enhances Lightweight Armor

By mimicking the outer coating of pearls (nacre or mother of pearl), researchers created a lightweight plastic that is 14 times stronger and eight times lighter (less dense) than steel. It could...

Pearl-Like Coating Enhances Lightweight Armor
Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Simulating Softness for Haptic Interfaces
Simulating Softness for Haptic Interfaces

Researchers have developed a formula that enables them to recreate different levels of perceived softness. Based on the results from their experiments, they created equations that can calculate how...

Simulating Softness for Haptic Interfaces
Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Form-Fitting Nanoscale Sensors
Form-Fitting Nanoscale Sensors

A method was developed to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices to report on what they perceive. Electronically active 2D materials, touted for their strength, are difficult to move to...

Form-Fitting Nanoscale Sensors
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Method Makes Transistors and Electronic Devices from Thread
Method Makes Transistors and Electronic Devices from Thread

A transistor has been made from linen thread, enabling the creation of electronic devices made entirely of thin threads that could be woven into fabric, worn on the skin, or...

Method Makes Transistors and Electronic Devices from Thread
Briefs : Imaging
Shaping Light with a Smartlens
Shaping Light with a Smartlens

High quality camera performance on mobile devices has proven to be one of the features that most end-users aim for. The importance of optical image quality improvement and the trend to have thinner and thinner...

Shaping Light with a Smartlens
Briefs : Imaging
Recovering Color Images from Scattered Light
Recovering Color Images from Scattered Light
A new imaging method extracts a color image from a single exposure of light scattered through a mostly opaque material.
Recovering Color Images from Scattered Light
Briefs : Imaging
3D Printing of Magnetic Liquid Droplets
3D Printing of Magnetic Liquid Droplets

Systems such as magnetic data storage devices and MRI body scan machines rely on magnets made from solid materials. Now, using a modified 3D printer, scientists have made magnetic devices from...

3D Printing of Magnetic Liquid Droplets
Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Tiny “Walking” Motor Moves in Discrete Mechanical Steps
Tiny “Walking” Motor Moves in Discrete Mechanical Steps

A set of five tiny fundamental parts can be assembled into a wide variety of functional devices including a tiny “walking” motor that can move back and forth across a surface or...

Tiny “Walking” Motor Moves in Discrete Mechanical Steps
Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
High-Speed 3D Printer for High-Performance Plastics
High-Speed 3D Printer for High-Performance Plastics

3D printers that build small parts layer by layer from melted plastic can take up to an hour to produce a pocket-sized piece. This process is far too slow for the mass-production of...

High-Speed 3D Printer for High-Performance Plastics
Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Immersion Precipitation 3D Printing for Porous Structures
Immersion Precipitation 3D Printing for Porous Structures

Materials with controlled porosity have found diverse applications in separation, catalysis, energy storage, sensors and actuators, tissue engineering, and drug delivery. Multiple...

Immersion Precipitation 3D Printing for Porous Structures