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
Control of the Diameter and Chiral Angle Distributions During Production of Single-Wall Carbon Nanotubes

Pulsed laser vaporization (PLV) production of single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) on traditional Co/Ni catalyst was explored with...

Briefs : Nanotechnology
Materials Move in Response to Light

In biology, there are many examples where light induces movement or change — think of flowers and leaves turning toward sunlight. Magnetic elastomeric composites were developed that move in different...

Briefs : Materials
3D Printer Creates Complex Biological Tissues

A technique was developed that uses a specially adapted 3D printer to build therapeutic biomaterials from multiple materials. The advance could be a step toward on-demand printing of complex...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Composite Material Cools Itself Down Under Extreme Temperatures

A material, inspired by nature, can regulate its own temperature and could be used to treat burns and help space capsules withstand atmospheric forces. The research used a network of multiple microchannels with active flowing fluids (fluidics) as a method and proof-of-concept to...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
3D Inks Can Be Erased Selectively

3D printing allows for the efficient manufacture of complex geometries. A very promising method is direct laser writing in which a computer-controlled focused laser beam acts as a pen and produces the...

Briefs : Materials
Method and Means to Analyze Thermographic Data Acquired During Automated Fiber Placement

Automated Fiber Placement (AFP) machines can be susceptible to tow-tape defects such as gaps and overlaps. These can reduce strength between 7% and 32%....

Briefs : Automotive
Optically Transparent Polyimide Aerogels

Innovators at NASA's Glenn Research Center have expanded their growing portfolio of aerogels to include a new optically transparent polyimide aerogel. Aerogels — low-density, highly porous,...

Briefs : Aerospace
Device Measures Laser Power in Real Time

Lasers play roles in many manufacturing processes, from welding car parts to crafting engine components with 3D printers. To control these tasks, manufacturers must ensure that their lasers fire at...

Briefs : Propulsion
Modular, Multi-Mode-Propulsion, Unmanned Aerial Concept

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed an unmanned aerial vehicle concept for long-range, distributed aerial presence and delivery applications. This aircraft concept is capable...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Optical Gyroscope-on-a-Chip

Gyroscopes are devices that help vehicles, drones, and wearable and handheld electronic devices know their orientation in three-dimensional space. Originally, gyroscopes were sets of nested wheels, each spinning...

Briefs : Motion Control
High-Performance Cageless Bearings with Minimal Frictional Loss

The global bearings market is expected to grow significantly due to increasing commercial and industrial machinery and manufacturing activity. Bearings are used in virtually...

Briefs : Materials
Shape Memory Alloy Rock Splitters (SMARS)

Glenn's revolutionary Shape Memory Alloy Rock Splitters (SMARS) device is fabricated from nickel-titanium-halfnium (NiTiHf), nickel-titanium-zirconium compositions, or a combination. These compositions contain a secondary, nanometer-sized precipitate phase that is produced through processes of...

Briefs : Energy
Ducted Fuel Injection for Soot Reduction

Typical direct-injection engines, such as diesel engines, can produce soot due to fuel-rich combustion conditions. Filters and catalytic converters are currently used to reduce soot and harmful...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Ultralight Gloves Provide Realistic Haptic Feedback

Engineers and software developers are seeking to create technology that lets users touch, grasp, and manipulate virtual objects while feeling like they are actually touching something in...

Briefs : Materials
SHEAth-based Rollable LEnticular-Shaped and Low-Stiction (SHEARLESS) Composite Booms

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed the SHEARLESS composite boom with a final cross-section shape that is lenticular and is flexible enough to...

Briefs : Nanotechnology
Device Detects Subatomic-Scale Motion

It is relatively easy to measure small movements of large objects, but is much more difficult when the moving parts are on the scale of nanometers, or billionths of a meter. The ability to accurately...

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 : Electronics & Computers
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 : Data Acquisition
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 : Manufacturing & Prototyping
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 : Robotics, Automation & Control
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 : Imaging
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 : Materials
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 : Medical
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...

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