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
Correlation Spectrometer

Correlation spectroscopy is an attractive technique for sensing and analysis applications because it combines the attributes of mechanical and optical simplicity, high selectivity, and good sensitivity. In...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Mobile Instrument Detects and Samples Aerosol Particles

Hazardous airborne particles pose a risk for health and safety in a variety of environments; thus, detection of these small particles is essential. Current particle magnification systems are bulky and require a lot of power for operation, making them unsuitable to easily detect and analyze...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Novel 3D Printing Method Embeds Sensing Capabilities Within Robotic Actuators

Soft robots inspired by nature can crawl, swim, grasp delicate objects, and even assist a beating heart, but none of them has been able to sense and respond to the...

Briefs : Materials
Piezomagnetic Material Changes Magnetic Properties When Stretched

Piezoelectric materials, which generate an electric current when compressed or stretched, are familiar and widely used; for example, lighters that spark when a switch is...

Briefs : Energy
Thermal Energy Storage and Monitoring

Water heaters and other thermal energy storage devices increase the temperature of a medium above an ambient or normal temperature, and store the warmer medium. Water heaters, in particular, must store...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Variable Bypass Turbofan Engine

Many aircraft need to operate efficiently at more than one flight regime; for example, certain airframes are expected to perform in relatively high-speed cruise modes, as well as slower loitering scenarios. Unfortunately, an engine operates most efficiently when the exit velocity closely matches the speed of the...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
3D Printing of Shape-Shifting Smart Gel

A “4D printing” method was developed for a smart gel that could lead to the development of living structures in human organs and tissues, soft robots, and targeted drug delivery.

Briefs : Automotive
Environmentally Friendly, Rechargeable Proton Battery

A working, rechargeable proton battery was developed that could store more energy than currently available lithium-ion batteries. Potential applications include household storage of...

Briefs : Propulsion
Novel Turboelectric Aircraft Design

NASA Langley Research Center has developed a novel aircraft design that can carry 150+ passengers over a range of 3,500 nautical miles. Key features include a turboelectric propulsion system, twin...

Briefs : Materials
New Methods in Preparing and Purifying Nanomaterials

Innovators at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have made several breakthroughs in treating hexagonal boron nitride (hBN) nanomaterials, improving their properties to supplant carbon nanotubes in many applications. These inventors have greatly enhanced the processes of intercalation and...

Briefs : Nanotechnology
Miniature “Pop-Up” Robot Combines Micrometer Precision and High Speed

Because of their high precision and speed, Delta robots are deployed in many industrial processes, including pick-and-place assemblies, machining, and welding. Delta...

Briefs : Motion Control
Autonomous Robotic Self-Righting

Robots are increasingly being used for various applications including search and rescue operations and combat situations. Unfortunately, during the performance of maneuvers, a robot may fall or tip over, preventing it from moving normally. Controlling the robot to successfully right itself can be a difficult and...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Sound Inaudible to Humans Can Be Recorded by Microphones

Microphones, from those in smartphones to hearing aids, are built specifically to hear the human voice — humans can’t hear at levels higher than 20 kHz, and microphones max out at...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
System and Method for Managing Autonomous Entities Through Apoptosis

This NASA innovation is a biologically inspired system management method designed to make sensor webs as well as other autonomous and autonomic systems more self-directing and self-managing. Based on the mechanisms of cell apoptosis, this method ensures safe and correct...

Briefs : Aerospace
Axial Magnetic Flux Airflow Integrated Compressor-Generator-Motor Turbojet Design

Innovators at the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center have developed a compressor-generator-motor turbojet design concept that integrates the generator with the aerodynamic blade structures of the compression section of turbomachinery. This reduces weight and...

Briefs : Energy
Solar-Powered Device Generates Electricity Through Ion Transport

By binding photosensitive dyes to common plastic membranes and adding water, chemists have made a new type of solar power generator. The device is similar to familiar silicon...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Orangutank Robotic Pipe Traveler

The Orangutank™ is a remote-controlled, tethered robotic platform for traveling from one pipe to another using a network of vertical pipes for support. It combines specialized robotic grippers to provide...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Self-Learning Robot Hands Adapt to Grasp Objects

Anew grasp system with robotic hands works without previously knowing the characteristics of objects, learning by trial and error. The robot features two hands based on human hands in terms of...

Briefs : Materials
Method Creates Wood Substance Stronger Than Titanium

A new way to treat wood makes it 12 times stronger than natural wood and ten times tougher. The wood substance could be comparable to steel or titanium alloys; it is also comparable to carbon fiber, but much less expensive.

Briefs : Materials
Technique for Chemically Combining Soft Materials

Every complex human tool has contained multiple materials wedged, tied, screwed, glued, or soldered together. But the next generation of tools, from autonomous squishy robots to flexible...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Robotic Gripper for Satellite Capture and Servicing

The robotic gripper was developed at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center as part of a robotic satellite servicing mission. The gripping device can be used to autonomously or remotely grasp and...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Controllable Dry Adhesive for Efficient Climbing Robot

A small robot with the ability to hoist large loads could have countless applications, not only as a small, inexpensive, disposable, mobile sensor in the realms of search and rescue,...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Pressure Sensor Mechanism

The Pressure Sensor Mechanism is designed to measure or monitor tactile pressure. It is based on passive Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) sensor tags and is applicable to a variety of systems. As RFID sensors transmit information wirelessly, they eliminate many challenges associated with traditional wired systems...

Briefs : Green Design & Manufacturing
High-Voltage Power System for Hybrid Electric Aircraft Propulsion

Innovators at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have developed a variable-frequency, alternating current (AC) power system to enable turbo-electric and hybrid electric...

Briefs : Materials
Aluminum as a Fuel

Batteries and combustion engines each have distinctive benefits and limitations. Batteries have simple construction and operate silently; however, their energy density (i.e., the energy per unit volume) is poor, and...

Briefs : Aerospace
Non-Catalytic Ignition System for High-Performance Advanced Monopropellant Thrusters

Anon-catalytic pyrotechnic ignition system was developed for advanced green monopropellant systems operating with hydroxylammonium nitrate (HAN)-based monopropellant AF-M315E. This technology will provide increased performance and new operating regimes for...

Briefs : Aerospace
Thruster-Based Attitude and Translation Control with Minimum Pulse-Count Disturbance Rejection

Thruster-based control typically requires a substantial engineering effort in order to mitigate an important issue: the control system tends to use many thruster pulses to accomplish what a single thruster pulse could do instead. This fundamental...

Briefs : Imaging
New Depth Sensors Could be Sensitive Enough for Self-Driving Cars

A new approach to time-of-flight imaging that increases its depth resolution 1,000-fold has been presented by the MIT Camera Culture group. That type of resolution could make...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Efficient Packaging Process for One-Piece Deployable Thin Membrane

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center is building a small CubeSat that uses an 85-m2 solar sail deployed from a central location to capture the push of photons...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Spring Plunger Locking Mechanism for Use in Hand-Actuated Tools

In designing a hand-actuated microspine gripper, a ratcheting locking mechanism was required that had discrete points of locking engagement. The mechanism had to actuate...