Tech Briefs

Mechanical/​Mechatronics

Access our comprehensive library of mechanical and mechatronics technical briefs, from engineering experts at NASA and government, university, and commercial laboratories.

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Dynamic Optical Grating Device for Modulating Light

NASA Langley Research Center has developed a novel optical grating device that dynamically modulates light and is capable of controlling the spectral properties and propagation of light...

Briefs : Aerospace
Variable-Pitch Turbine Blades

Gas turbine blades of conventional rotorcraft turboshaft engines are optimized to operate at nearly a fixed speed and a fixed incidence angle. If the operating condition of the engine changes, then the flow...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
System Makes Opaque Materials Totally Transparent

Most naturally occurring materials have a disordered atomic structure that interferes with the propagation of both sound and electromagnetic waves. When the waves come into contact with these...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Submarine Swims Without an Engine

Researchers have developed a new propulsion concept for swimming robots that exploits temperature fluctuations in the water for propulsion without the need for an engine, propellant, or power supply.

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Reusable Breakaway Mounting Device

Breakaway devices are used to mount objects to systems or structures (for example, cars, drones, helmets, buildings) and prevent damage when the objects fall away from the system. Unfortunately, even in ideal scenarios, many of these devices have limitations. Breakaway bolts and shear pins have the complication...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
A New Twist Makes Rotating Machinery More Efficient and Quieter

Derived from a design approach for a new wing known as PRANDTL-D, this technology achieves similar improvements for propellers and other rotating machinery.

Briefs : Medical
Inductive Non-Contact Position Sensor

The Inductive Non-Contact Position Sensor is a highly accurate sensor for motion control applications. The sensor was designed to monitor the precise movements of an optical inspection system that...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Compound-Lens Camera for Industry and Smartphones

A process has been developed that enables the production of a 2-mm flat camera. The lens is partitioned into 135 tiny facets, similar to the eyes of an insect. The facetVISION camera is...

Briefs : Materials
High-Power-Density Solid Oxide Fuel Cell

NASA's Glenn Research Center has developed a novel solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) with five times the specific power density of currently available SOFCs. This highly efficient SOFC can operate on a...

Briefs : Energy
Piezoelectric Resonator with Two Layers

Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) filters have advantages in being able to reduce the size, weight, and power required when used as part of electronic systems such as radios; however, MEMS-type filters have limitations. For example, thickness MEMS-type filters (e.g., thickness-extensional mode...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Method Trains Robots to Collaborate Through Demonstration

Robots that are adapted to respond to physical human-robot interaction (pHRI) traditionally treat such interactions as disturbances, and resume their original behaviors when the...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Photonic Communication Comes to Computer Chips

With novel optoelectronic chips and a new partnership with a top silicon-chip manufacturer, MIT spinout Ayar Labs aims to increase speed and reduce energy consumption in computing, starting with...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Popcorn-Driven Robotic Actuators

When heated, popcorn can expand more than 10 times in size, change its viscosity by a factor of 10, and transition from regular to highly irregular granules with surprising force. These unique qualities can...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Acoustic Beamforming Array Using Feedback-Controlled Microphones for Tuning and Self-Matching of Frequency Response

NASA's Langley Research Center, in collaboration with Michigan State University (MSU), has developed a microphone array that...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Optical Mass Sensor for Multi-Phase Flows

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center is offering opportunities for its new fiber optic mass flow sensor system. Capable of measuring multi-phase flows in a pipe, the technology is minimally invasive,...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Engineering Soft Materials that Mimic Neural Tissue

A process for engineering next-generation soft materials with embedded chemical networks that mimic the behavior of neural tissue lays the foundation for soft active matter with highly...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Hybrid Silicone-Fabric Sensor for Wearable Robots

Wearable technologies are exploding in popularity in both the consumer and research spaces, but most of the electronic sensors that detect and transmit data from wearables are made of hard,...

Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Polymer Nanofiber-Based Reversible Nano-Switch/Sensor Schottky Diode (nanoSSSD) Device

Innovators at NASA's Glenn Research Center have developed a unique nano-structure device that operates as a nano-switch/sensor for detecting toxic gases and ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Conventional microsensors are limited by their short life, high cost and...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Evaluating Effects of Exhaust Heat Recovery Systems on Fuel Economy and Emissions

The exhaust heat recovery system (EHRS) in an automobile captures the thermal energy from exhaust and transfers it to the engine coolant. As the car warms up,...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Air Traffic Management (ATM) System

As the demand for air transportation increases, the capacity of the current U.S. ATM system will eventually be stressed to its limits. New technologies in communication, navigation, and surveillance (CNS),...

Briefs : Materials
Nano/Micro Mechanical Environmental Test Cell

A device and method have been developed to conduct compression and tensile tests on soft materials such as flocculated sediments, biopolymers, biological materials, and food stuffs. The device...

Briefs : Energy
Microtesting Rig

The measurement of mechanical behavior in very small samples whose dimensions are on the order of microns and below can offer advantages over conventional macroscopic testing in many instances. Motivations for investigating...

Briefs : Materials
High-Kinetic-Energy Penetrator Shielding and High-Wear-Resistance Materials Fabricated with Boron Nitride Nanotubes and BNNT Polymer Composites

In recent years, anti-penetration materials have been more widely used for armor, bulletproof vests, and micrometeoroid and orbital debris protection layers for space-suits, space vehicles, and...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Carbon Dioxide Collection and Pressurization Technology

Mars is the ultimate destination for NASA's human exploration program. In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) is a key technology required to enable such missions. The goals of using resources available at the exploration site are to reduce launch and delivered mass, reduce risk and cost,...

Briefs : Energy
Piezoelectric Thrust Vector Control for Hall Effect Thruster

The design of the CubeSat required precision pointing of the thrust vector through the spacecraft center of gravity to minimize fuel usage for attitude correction. Because the center of gravity shifts over the course of the mission, a means of adjusting the thrust vector was needed....

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
3D-Printed Active Materials for Robots

The Army uses robots that are structurally rigid, making them impractical when performing military operations in highly congested and contested urban environments where covert maneuvering is critical...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Researchers Create Precision Optical Components with Inkjet Printing

Researchers have developed an inkjet printing technique that can be used to print optical components such as waveguides. Because the printing approach can also fabricate...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Active Measurement Cancellation

A battery pack is only as strong as its weakest cell. As battery packs become larger and more integral to the stable operation of devices and systems, the need to monitor battery dependability and performance...

Briefs : Automotive
Direct-Current Detector for Emergency Responder Safety

The Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory has developed a direct-current detector technology to help emergency responders safely detect high voltages, which they have...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Realization of High-Performance Magnetic Sensors Using Magnetic Vortex Structures

Magnetic sensors play a key role in a variety of applications, such as speed and position sensing in the automotive industry and in biomedical applications....

Technology Leaders

Webcasts

Upcoming Webinars: Manufacturing & Prototyping

Testing and Inspecting 3D-Printed Parts

Upcoming Webinars: Photonics/Optics

Optical Coating Design

Upcoming Webinars: Aerospace

Advanced Quality Planning and Production Part Approval Process...

Upcoming Webinars: Electronics & Computers

How to Avoid PCB Re-spins when IC’s Change or are Obsoleted

On-Demand Webinars: Manufacturing & Prototyping

CNC Machining: How to Reduce Costs and Accelerate Production

On-Demand Webinars: Automotive

Non-Contact Strain and Displacements Measurements in the Automotive Industry