Materials & Coatings

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

Briefs: Photonics/Optics

A Northwestern University research team has developed tiny optical elements from metal nanoparticles and a polymer that one day could replace traditional refractive...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control

Fast-response, stiffness-tunable (FRST) soft actuators — or movable machine elements — were developed that could be used in soft robots.

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition

Researchers, drawing inspiration from bacteria, have designed smart, bio-compatible microrobots that are highly flexible. Because these devices are able to swim through fluids and modify their shape...

Briefs: Materials

By mixing carbon fibers into polymer-based brakes, researchers designed brakes that are self-lubricating. These new and improved brakes can prevent wear-and-tear and have better frictional...

Briefs: Materials

Making electric cars lighter also involves reducing the weight of the motor. One way to do that is by constructing it from fiber-reinforced polymer materials. A new cooling concept...

Briefs: Transportation

Industrial machinery, agricultural equipment, transportation vessels, and home applications depend on lubricants; however, they leave a heavy environmental footprint. Common lubricants, oils,...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers

Thin, durable heating patches were created using intense pulses of light to fuse tiny silver wires with polyester. Their heating performance is nearly 70 percent higher than similar patches. The inexpensive...

Briefs: Materials

A metal-organic framework (MOF) material was developed that exhibits a selective, fully reversible, and repeatable capability to remove nitrogen dioxide gas from the atmosphere in ambient...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics

Ordinary WiFi can easily detect weapons, bombs, and explosive chemicals in bags at museums, stadiums, theme parks, schools, and other public venues using a low-cost suspicious...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers

Wearable biosensors for health monitoring lack a lightweight, long-lasting power supply. A new method was developed for making a charge-storing system that is easily integrated into...

Briefs: Energy

Growing demand for electric vehicles and more sustainable forms of transport means finding new forms of energy storage such as batteries, supercapacitors, and fuel cells. Currently, a major...

Briefs: Materials
Plastic-Degrading Enzyme

Eight million metric tons of plastic waste, including polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, enter the oceans each year, creating huge manmade islands of garbage. Experts estimate that by 2050, there will be as much waste plastic in the ocean by mass as there are fish. A bacterium, Ideonella sakaiensis 201-F6, can...

Briefs: Materials

NASA Langley Research Center has developed new methods for fabricating hollow nanoparticles using dendrimer molecules. Dendrimers are used as templates to control the size, stability, and solubility...

Briefs: Aerospace

Many applications in science and industry require an apparatus that creates a controlled amount of a fluid introduced into another fluid. For instance, some material corrosion testing applications...

Briefs: Materials

NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed a method in which a metal matrix composite (MMC) material is incorporated into a metallic structure during a one-step...

Briefs: Nanotechnology

A heat-rejecting film was developed that could be applied to a building’s windows to reflect up to 70 percent of the Sun’s incoming heat. The film remains highly transparent...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping

Along with intensity and color, polarization is a property of light that can provide useful information for scene analysis; however, the human eye and most cameras cannot detect...

Briefs: Materials

From cellphones to satellites, industry spends millions on traditional gold alloy electrical contact coatings. While gold and other metal alloys have been an industry standard to protect metal components...

Briefs: Test & Measurement
Transparent Test Patch Determines Food Contamination

A transparent test patch, printed with harmless molecules, signals food contamination as it happens. The patch can be incorporated directly into food packaging, where it can monitor the contents for harmful pathogens such as E. coli and Salmonella. The new technology has the potential to...

Briefs: Imaging

The mechanical properties of sheet metal materials are directional. Their deformation behavior and their strength differ significantly depending on the viewing direction; for example, in the direction of rolling, or...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Measurement Technique for Continuous-Wave, Modulated, and Pulsed Monochromatic Radiation

In many applications, such as remote sensing of atmospheric trace gases, monochromatic radiation with multiple discrete wavelengths is required. To date, there no instrument or technique that measures the wavelength jitters and fluctuations in real time.

Briefs: Energy

Titanium is as strong as steel but about twice as light. These properties depend on the way a metal’s atoms are stacked but random defects that arise in the...

Briefs: Materials
Self-Healing, Fluid-Inspired Material

Even tiny cracks can cause bridges to collapse, pipelines to rupture, and fuselages to detach from airplanes due to hard-to-detect corrosion in tiny cracks, scratches, and dents. A new coating strategy for metal self-heals within seconds when scratched, scraped, or cracked. The novel material could prevent...

Briefs: Test & Measurement

Many devices use light to probe the quantum states of atoms in a vapor confined in a small cell. Atoms can be highly sensitive to external conditions, and therefore make superb detectors....

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

Optical range measurements, already used in manufacturing and other fields, may help overcome practical challenges posed by structural fires, which are too hot to measure with conventional...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers

A team of researchers at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering and NYU Center for Neural Science has solved a longstanding puzzle of how to build ultra-sensitive, ultra-small, electrochemical...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics

It's hard to get an X-ray image of low-density material like tissue between bones because X-rays just pass right through like sunlight through a window. Sandia studies myriads of low-density materials,...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers

To keep up with Moore's Law — an observation made in the 1960s that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit doubles about every two years — researchers...

Briefs: Materials
Multi-Purpose, Flexible Wing Structure for Small Unmanned Aerial Systems

Small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), also known as micro air vehicles, are promising tools for a variety of military and commercial applications. Some small UAS have flexible wings and are lightweight, making them back-packable and easy to deploy. Most UAS that are...

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