Materials & Coatings

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

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Briefs: Materials
A new approach has allowed researchers at Aalto University to design a kind of metamaterial that has so far been beyond the reach of existing technologies. Unlike natural materials, metamaterials and metasurfaces can be tailored to have specific electromagnetic properties, which means scientists can create materials with features desirable for industrial applications.
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Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Diamond Maker Technology Simulates Alien Geology in Laboratories
Innovators at NASA Johnson Space Center have developed a novel, double capsule control system that allows for high temperature and high-pressure geologic research to be performed in a contained environment relevant to a broad array of materials.
Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
A team of scientists has successfully created a new synthetic metamaterial with 4D capabilities, including the ability to control energy waves on the surface of a solid material. These waves, called mechanical surface waves, are fundamental to how vibrations travel along the surface of solid materials.
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Briefs: Materials
Researchers have developed a sensor that, similar to human skin, can sense temperature variation that originates from the touch of a warm object as well as the heat from solar radiation. The sensor combines pyroelectric and thermoelectric effects with a nano-optical phenomenon.
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Briefs: Medical
NASA’s Johnson Space Center is offering an innovative freeze-resistant hydration system for licensing. The technology substantially improves on existing hydration systems because it prevents water from freezing in the tubing, container, and mouthpiece, even in the harshest conditions on Earth.
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Briefs: Test & Measurement
Glow Sticks: From Parties to Detecting Biothreats for the Navy

Remember that party where you were swinging glow sticks above your head or wearing them as necklaces? Fun times, right? Science times, too. Turns out those fun party favors are now being used by a University of Houston researcher to identify emerging biothreats for the United States...

Briefs: Energy
The advance, detailed in a paper published recently in the journal Physica Scripta, could enable more efficient compact fusion reactors that are easier to repair and maintain.
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Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
To aid the development of gel-like materials, MIT and Harvard University researchers have created a set of computational models to predict the material’s structure and mechanical properties, as well as functional performance outcomes.
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Briefs: Materials
A durable, copper-based coating developed by a team at Dartmouth University can be integrated into fabric to create responsive, reusable materials such as protective equipment, environmental sensors, and smart filters.
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Briefs: Wearables
In a new study, engineers from Korea and the United States have developed a wearable, stretchy patch that could help to bridge the divide between people and machines — and with benefits for the health of humans around the world. In lab experiments, the researchers showed that humans could use these devices to operate robotic exoskeletons more efficiently.
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Briefs: Materials
Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory and Columbia University have developed a way to convert carbon dioxide (CO2), a potent greenhouse gas, into carbon nanofibers, materials with a wide range of unique properties and many potential long-term uses.
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Briefs: Green Design & Manufacturing
The atom-by-atom approach to MOF design enabled by AI will allow scientists to have what Argonne Senior Scientist and Data Science and Learning Division Director Ian Foster called a “wider lens” on these kinds of porous structures.
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Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
A research paper by scientists at the University of Coimbra proposed a soft robotic hand comprising soft actuator cores and an exoskeleton, featuring a multimaterial design aided by finite element analysis to define the hand geometry and promote finger’s bendability.
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Briefs: Nanotechnology
A promising, more durable fuel cell design could help transform heavy-duty trucking and other clean fuel cell applications.
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Briefs: Energy
When it comes to making batteries that last longer, a team of researchers including engineers at Brown University and Idaho National Laboratory believes the key might be in how things get clean — specifically how soap works in this process.
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Briefs: Energy
Many electric vehicles are powered by batteries that contain cobalt — a metal that carries high financial, environmental, and social costs. MIT researchers have now designed a battery material that could offer a more sustainable way to power electric cars. The new lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery includes a cathode based on organic materials, instead of cobalt or nickel (another metal often used in Li-ion batteries).
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Briefs: Energy
Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory have invented and patented a new cathode material that replaces lithium ions with sodium and would be significantly cheaper.
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Briefs: Energy
New Solid-State Battery Design Charges in Minutes
Researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have developed a new lithium metal battery that can be charged and discharged at least 6,000 times — more than any other pouch battery cell — and can be recharged in a matter of minutes.
Briefs: Green Design & Manufacturing
Inspired by a small and slow snail, scientists have developed a robot prototype that may one day scoop up microplastics from the surfaces of oceans, seas, and lakes.
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Briefs: Imaging
Robots and cameras of the future could be made of liquid crystals, thanks to a new discovery that significantly expands the potential of the chemicals already common in computer displays and digital watches. The findings are a simple and inexpensive way to manipulate the molecular properties of liquid crystals with light exposure.
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Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Reporting on their work in the proceedings of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society’s International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, the mini-bug weighs in at eight milligrams, while the water strider weighs 55 milligrams. Both can move at about six millimeters a second.
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Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Inventors from NASA Langley and NASA Ames have created a new type of carbon fiber polymer composite that has a high thermal conductivity.
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Briefs: Materials
Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have developed a conductive polymer coating — called HOS-PFM — that could enable longer lasting, more powerful lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries for electric vehicles.
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Briefs: Aerospace
Recognizing the need for in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) to support long-duration human missions to the Moon and Mars, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and Sidus Space have developed a novel three-dimensional print head apparatus using regolith-polymer mixtures as a building material.
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Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Researchers at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) have created software and hardware for a 4D printer with applications in the biomedical field.
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Briefs: Medical
Taking inspiration from origami, MIT engineers have now designed a medical patch that can be folded around minimally invasive surgical tools and delivered through airways, intestines, and other narrow spaces, to patch up internal injuries.
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Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
A technique enables manufacturing of minuscule robots by interlocking multiple materials in a complex way.
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Briefs: Nanotechnology
The nanoscale electronic parts in devices like smartphones are solid, static objects that once designed and built cannot transform into anything else. But a team from University of California Irvine has reported the discovery of nanoscale devices that can transform into many different shapes and sizes even though they exist in solid states.
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Briefs: Materials
The miniscule wires — the size of transistors on silicon chips or one thousandth of the breadth of the finest human hair — are made completely of natural amino acids and heme molecules, found in proteins such as hemoglobin, which transports oxygen in red blood cells.
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