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.

Latest Tech Briefs

Briefs : Energy
Cryogenic Hydraulically Actuated Isolation Valve

Researchers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center have developed a cryogenic isolation valve that utilizes the upstream line pressure of cryogenic fluids for actuation. Previously, the use of cryogenic fluids for actuation systems had been too difficult to control and resulted in unsafe operating...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Lunar Surface Manipulation System
Lunar Surface Manipulation System

NASA's Langley Research Center offers a novel lifting and precision positioning device with hybrid functional characteristics of both crane-type lifting devices and robotic manipulators. The design of the...

Lunar Surface Manipulation System
Motion Design : Motion Control
New Piston Design Features Soft, Flexible Materials
New Piston Design Features Soft, Flexible Materials

Conventional pistons are made of a rigid chamber and a piston inside that can slide along the chamber’s inner wall while at the same time maintaining a tight seal. As a result, the piston...

New Piston Design Features Soft, Flexible Materials
Briefs : Materials
Decoding Multiple Frames from a Single, Scattered Exposure
Decoding Multiple Frames from a Single, Scattered Exposure

When light gets scattered as it passes through a translucent material, the emerging pattern of “speckle” looks as random as static on a television screen with no signal. But it...

Decoding Multiple Frames from a Single, Scattered Exposure
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Tuning Material Color and Thermal Properties Separately
Tuning Material Color and Thermal Properties Separately

The color of a material can often tell how it handles heat. With clothing, for example, the darker the pigment, the warmer you're likely to feel on a hot day. Likewise, the more...

Tuning Material Color and Thermal Properties Separately
Briefs : Materials
Fire-Retardant Coating Uses Renewable, Nontoxic Materials

Researchers developed a new kind of flame-retardant coating using renewable, nontoxic materials readily found in nature. The coating could provide more effective fire protection for several widely used materials. The coatings offer the opportunity to reduce the flammability of...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Method Uses Ultraviolet Light to Control Fluid Flow and Organize Particles
Method Uses Ultraviolet Light to Control Fluid Flow and Organize Particles

A new method uses ultraviolet light to control the flow of fluids by encouraging particles — from plastic microbeads, to bacterial spores, to pollutants — to...

Method Uses Ultraviolet Light to Control Fluid Flow and Organize Particles
Briefs : Imaging
Automated Object Detection in an Image

Recent developments in machine vision have demonstrated remarkable improvements in the ability of computers to properly identify objects in a viewing field. Most of these advances rely on color-texture analyses that require target objects to possess one or more highly distinctive, local features that can be...

Briefs : RF & Microwave Electronics
Textile Cools or Insulates Automatically
Textile Cools or Insulates Automatically

Researchers have created a fabric that automatically regulates the amount of heat that passes through, depending on conditions; for example, when conditions are warm and moist — such as those of a...

Textile Cools or Insulates Automatically
Briefs : Materials
Controlling Thermal Conductivity of Polymers with Light
Controlling Thermal Conductivity of Polymers with Light

Polymers are regularly used as thermal insulators and can even be used as thermal conductors to enable efficient heating or cooling. A new type of polymer was created that demonstrates...

Controlling Thermal Conductivity of Polymers with Light
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
More Sensitive Measurement of Semiconductor Material Quality
More Sensitive Measurement of Semiconductor Material Quality

Accurately measuring semiconductor properties of materials in small volumes helps engineers determine the range of applications for which these materials may be suitable in the...

More Sensitive Measurement of Semiconductor Material Quality
Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Fabricating Nanochips via Thermal Lithography
Fabricating Nanochips via Thermal Lithography

A process for fabricating atom-thin processors can be used to produce at the nanoscale for smaller and faster semiconductors.

Fabricating Nanochips via Thermal Lithography
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
High-Throughput Friction and Wear Tester
High-Throughput Friction and Wear Tester

There is a need for high-volume material testing/qualification but industry and researchers are currently limited by commercially available testing devices. Most wear testers can only handle one...

High-Throughput Friction and Wear Tester
Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
3D Printing of Flexible Circuits

A process was developed for 3D printing that can be used to produce transparent and mechanically flexible electronic circuits. The electronics consist of a mesh of silver nanowires that can be printed in suspension and embedded in various flexible and transparent plastics (polymers). This technology can enable...

Briefs : Energy
Multistep Self-Assembly for Reconfigurable Materials

Self-assembling synthetic materials come together when tiny, uniform building blocks interact and form a structure; however, nature lets materials like proteins of varying size and shape assemble, allowing for complex architectures that can handle multiple tasks.

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Automated Guided Wave System for In-Process Cure Monitoring of CFRP Composite Laminates
Automated Guided Wave System for In-Process Cure Monitoring of CFRP Composite Laminates

In the polymer composites industry, cure cycles are typically developed from trial-and-error or a more effective processing science approach to reduce...

Automated Guided Wave System for In-Process Cure Monitoring of CFRP Composite Laminates
Briefs : Medical
Combining Origami and 3D Printing to Make Complex Structures in One Step
Combining Origami and 3D Printing to Make Complex Structures in One Step

There are many different types of 3D printing technologies. The most familiar — inkjet — has been around for some 20 years. But until now, it has been difficult to...

Combining Origami and 3D Printing to Make Complex Structures in One Step
Briefs : Medical
Self-Assembled Micro-Organogels Enable 3D Printing of Silicone Structures
Self-Assembled Micro-Organogels Enable 3D Printing of Silicone Structures

For the millions of people every year who have or need medical devices implanted, an advancement in 3D printing technology could enable significantly quicker...

Self-Assembled Micro-Organogels Enable 3D Printing of Silicone Structures
Briefs : Energy
Shear Assisted Processing and Extrusion
Shear Assisted Processing and Extrusion

Shear Assisted Processing and Extrusion (ShAPE™) allows creation of wire, bar, and tubular extrusions that show significant improvement in material properties; for example, magnesium extrusions have...

Shear Assisted Processing and Extrusion
Briefs : Aerospace
Advanced Over-the-Wing Nacelle Transport Configuration
Advanced Over-the-Wing Nacelle Transport Configuration

NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed a new aircraft design with the engine nacelle over the wing, improving engine ground clearance and freeing landing gear design. While...

Advanced Over-the-Wing Nacelle Transport Configuration
Briefs : Materials
Wafer-Level Microchannel Fabrication Process for Lab-on-a-Chip Devices
Wafer-Level Microchannel Fabrication Process for Lab-on-a-Chip Devices

Microchannels fabricated into a silicon-Pyrex wafer with a diameter of 75 m and total channel length of 40, 60, 80, or 100 mm — characterized by specialized microbeads...

Wafer-Level Microchannel Fabrication Process for Lab-on-a-Chip Devices
Briefs : Energy
Fuel Cell Technology Runs on Solid Carbon
Fuel Cell Technology Runs on Solid Carbon

Whereas hydrogen fuel cells (e.g., proton exchange membrane (PEM) and other fuel cells) generate electricity from the chemical reaction between pure hydrogen and oxygen, direct carbon fuel cells...

Fuel Cell Technology Runs on Solid Carbon
Briefs : Energy
Supergel System Cleans Radioactively Contaminated Structures
Supergel System Cleans Radioactively Contaminated Structures

A system was developed that can remove radioactive cesium contamination from porous structures such as brick and concrete that are hard to clean, as well as contamination from...

Supergel System Cleans Radioactively Contaminated Structures
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Stretchable Power Source for Wearables
Stretchable Power Source for Wearables

Researchers have created highly stretchable supercapacitors for powering wearable electronics that consist of crumpled carbon nanotube (CNT) forests. The supercapacitors demonstrated solid performance...

Stretchable Power Source for Wearables
Briefs : Test & Measurement
Graphene Lid Extends Photoemission Electron Microscopy to Liquids
Graphene Lid Extends Photoemission Electron Microscopy to Liquids

By capping liquids with graphene (an ultrathin sheet of pure carbon), researchers can easily image and analyze liquid interfaces and the surface of nanometer-scale objects...

Graphene Lid Extends Photoemission Electron Microscopy to Liquids
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Phase-Switching Liquids as Anti-Icing Materials
Phase-Switching Liquids as Anti-Icing Materials

Techniques to prevent frost and ice formation on surfaces rely heavily on heating or on liquid chemicals that need to be repeatedly reapplied because they easily wash away. Even advanced...

Phase-Switching Liquids as Anti-Icing Materials