Tech Briefs


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

Briefs : Energy
Integrated Multiphysics and Advanced Diagnostics

The objective of this effort was to design, fabricate, integrate, and fly a nuclear thermal rocket without having to build massive ground test facilities. Furthermore, this nuclear rocket...

Briefs : Propulsion
Non-Toxic HAN Monopropellant Propulsion

A highly miniaturized, MR-143, green monopropellant thruster was developed for 1N thrust. Testing indicated the initial catalyst bed heater was insufficient. In subsequent development, the thruster was equipped with a more efficient catalyst bed heater. For reliable ignition of the advanced, non-toxic,...

Briefs : Materials
Fast, Low-Voltage Actuator for Soft and Wearable Robotics

The unique capabilities of soft robots are to bend, deform, stretch, twist, or squeeze in all the ways that conventional rigid robots cannot. Today, it is easy to envision a world in...

Briefs : Motion Control
Variable-Camber Compliant Wing

In the early years of manned flight, wing warping was used for lateral control of an aircraft. This technique consisted of a system of pulleys and cables used to twist the trailing edges of the wings in...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Hydraulic-Based Spherical Robot

Current spherical robots rely upon rotating mechanical weights inside the sphere to change the center of gravity of the sphere, causing the robot to roll. The use of rotating mechanical weights is not optimal due to the reliance upon moving parts, which can present burdensome maintenance issues. It would be...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Microcontroller Altimeter (uCA)

Traditional altitude switch designs for harsh environments are mechanical in nature and operate by means of an inflatable bladder or bellows that mechanically depresses a pushbutton switch. The altitude trip point is set by mechanically adjusting the distance of the switch to the bellows. The mechanical action of...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
3D Printing of All-Liquid 3D Structures

A method was developed for printing 3D structures composed entirely of liquids. Using a modified 3D printer, threads of water were injected into silicone oil, sculpting tubes made of one liquid within...

Briefs : Motion Control
Ultra-Thin Capacitive Sensor Has the Least Possible Resistance to Motion

A thin and flexible sensor was developed for sensing sounds, since it can move with the airflow made by even the softest noises. With the least possible resistance to motion, the sensor addresses issues with accelerometers, microphones, and many other similar sensors. The...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Rubber-Like Adhesive Film Sticks to Highly Deformable Areas

Adhesives used for common pain-relieving bandages often do not stick properly when attached to places that encounter large, inhomogenous bending motion, like elbows and knees. To...

Briefs : Materials
Using Direct Current with Inverter Technology in Resistance Welding

Resistance welding with direct current (DC) using inverter technology reduces costs by improving quality, reducing maintenance, and increasing productivity. Switching from...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Crystal-Free Formation of Non-Oxide Optical Fiber

Researchers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center have devised a method for the creation of crystal-free non-oxide optical fiber preforms. Non-oxide fiber optics are extensively used in...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Method 3D-Prints Marine-Grade Stainless Steel

Marine-grade stainless steel is valued for its performance under corrosive environments, and for its high ductility — the ability to bend without breaking under stress. But conventional...

Briefs : Aerospace
Water-Repellent Nanotextures Possess Anti-Fogging Capability

Some insect bodies have evolved the ability to repel water and oil, adhere to different surfaces, and eliminate light reflections. Scientists have been studying the physical mechanisms underlying these properties found in nature and mimicking them to design materials for use in...

Briefs : Transportation
Electrode Design Boosts Supercapacitor Performance

Supercapacitors are rechargeable energy storage devices that deliver more power for their size than similar-sized batteries. They also recharge quickly, and they last for hundreds to thousands of recharging cycles. Today, they are used in hybrid cars’ regenerative braking systems and for other...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Flexible Ultrasound Patch for Inspecting Damage in Odd-Shaped Structures

A limitation of today's ultrasound devices is that they are difficult to use on objects that don't have perfectly flat surfaces. Conventional ultrasound probes have...

Briefs : Materials
Blocking/Deblocking Resin Systems

Similar to resin systems currently used in composites for aerospace structural applications such as toughened epoxies, this innovation is a modification to traditional resin chemistry to prevent polymerization and crosslinking of the resin when heated and pressed in an autoclave or other common resin curing...

Briefs : Software
Active Response Gravity Offload System

NASA has used two systems to train astronauts for weightlessness. The first is the Reduced Gravity Simulator that suspended the astronaut at an angle of 80.5 so that only 1/6th of his or her weight was supported by the ground, while the rest was supported by a pulley system. The other system, designed...

Briefs : Aerospace
Ultra-High-Temperature Polymer Additive Manufacturing

Polymer matrix composites are extremely attractive to researchers working on next-generation applications due to their lightweight properties and ability to withstand extreme conditions...

Briefs : Transportation
Polymer Membrane Separators for Next-Generation Energy-Water Systems

Polymer membrane separators play a crucial function in many energy and water technologies including energy storage, hydrogen generation through water electrolysis, and...

Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Simple, Accurate Method for Contact Angle Measurement

The wetting behavior of a liquid on a solid surface is a phenomenon of significant practical importance. The angle of liquid-to-solid contact is important in areas such as adhesion,...

Briefs : Energy
3D-Printed Device Produces Nanofiber Meshes

Nanofibers are useful for any application that benefits from a high ratio of surface area to volume, such as solar cells that maximize exposure to sunlight, or fuel cell electrodes that catalyze...

Briefs : Aerospace
Multi-Layer Wireless Sensor Construct for Use at Electrically Conductive Material Surfaces

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed a SansEC Sensor technology for use with aerospace fuel delivery systems. The SansEC technology is a...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Constant-Pressure, High-Throughput Membrane Permeation Testing System

Membrane technologies have shown tremendous potential for a variety of separations, and new applications are constantly appearing. These new applications require exploration of materials, operational conditions, and membrane synthesis procedures, and demand accurate and timely...

Briefs : Software
Global Series Solutions of Nonlinear Differential Equations with Shocks using Walsh Functions

An orthonormal basis set is introduced for use in generating global solutions to nonlinear differential equations with shocks. By global, it is meant that a single series solution is generated that is valid over the entire domain, not a separate...

Briefs : Materials
Composite Panel with Integrated Thermal Control

Technological advancements in materials, sensors, and computing have driven demand for higher-performance satellites. Satellites need to be much more capable in a much smaller size with a...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
See Objects Hidden Around Corners

A driverless car is making its way through a winding neighborhood street, about to make a sharp turn onto a road where a child’s ball has just rolled. Although no person in the car can see that ball, the...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Double-acting Extremely Light Thermo-Acoustic (DELTA) Converter

NASA's Glenn Research Center has developed a novel Double-acting Extremely Light Thermo-Acoustic (DELTA) converter that operates at high frequencies (>400 Hz) with greatly...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Transparent Eel-Like Soft Robot Swims Silently Underwater

An eel-like robot was developed that can swim silently in salt water without an electric motor. Instead, the robot uses artificial muscles filled with water to propel itself. The...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
“Intelligent” Rotor Blades React Quickly to Changing Conditions

The giant rotor blades are one central part of a wind turbine. Researchers developed a rotor blade that makes more efficient use of large fluctuations in wind strength using...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Precision CNT Cutting Mechanism

NASA Langley Research Center has developed a simple mechanism for the clean cutting of high-strength and high-toughness carbon nanotube/poly-mer fiber composites on demand without high blade wear or...

Technology Leaders


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