Tech Briefs

A comprehensive library of technical briefs from engineering experts at NASA and major government, university, and commercial laboratories covering all aspects of innovations in electronics, software, photonics, imaging, motion control, automation, sensors, test, materials, manufacturing, mechanical, and mechatronics.

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Transforming Flat Elastomers into 3D Shapes

Mechanical systems such as engines and motors rely on two principal types of motions of stiff components: linear motion, which involves an object moving from one point to another in a straight...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Multimaterial 3D Printing Used to Develop Fast-Response, Stiffness-Tunable, Soft Actuator

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

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Smart Microrobots Adapt to Surroundings

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 : Automotive
Self-Lubrication Improves Standard Braking Systems

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 : Electronics & Computers
Directly Cooled Electric Motor Made from Polymer 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 : Green Design & Manufacturing
Synthesizing Renewable Oils for Use in Lubricants

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

Briefs : Medical
Technique Provides Rapid Assessment of Radiation Exposure

Researchers have developed a new technique that assesses radiation exposure in about an hour using an insulator material found in most modern electronics. The technique can be used to triage medical cases in the event of a radiological disaster.

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Thin, Durable Heating Patches

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
Material Captures and Removes Toxic Atmospheric Gas

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 : Energy
Novel Dielectric Ceramic by Spark Plasma Sintering

Researchers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center have developed a new dielectric material based on barium titanate nanopowder processed via spark plasma sintering (SPS). The rapid and...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Skin-Like Sensor Maps Blood-Oxygen Levels

A new type of oximeter — or blood-oxygen sensor — is made of organic electronics printed on bendable plastic that molds to the contours of the body. Unlike fingertip oximeters, it can detect...

Briefs : Software
Regional Hydrologic Extremes Assessment System (RHEAS) Software

Drought is Africa’s principal type of natural disaster and is at the core of serious threats to the livelihoods of millions of people and the natural resources on which they depend. The economies of many African countries are based on agricultural activities that are controlled...

Briefs : Energy
Achieving Carbon Footprint Reduction with Flywheel Technology

Recent technical advances have enabled flywheel energy storage systems (FESS) to become more compact and able to support higher-power applications. Due to their proven...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Using Common WiFi to Detect Weapons, Bombs, and Chemicals in Bags

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 : Materials
Fabric Alternative to Batteries for Wearable Devices

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 : Sensors/Data Acquisition
New Material Provides Enhanced Tactility for Soft Sensors

Flexible and wearable sensors measure and track body motion, a task made more complex by the human anatomy’s numerous potential contortions. For a wearable sensor to work properly,...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Rechargeable, High-Temperature, Molten Salt Battery

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 challenge facing the industry is the poor performance quality of rechargeable batteries, which often lose...

Briefs : Green Design & Manufacturing
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 : Communications
Wearable Devices Allow Direct Communication by Touch

Emergency situations such as trying to escape heavy smoke from fire could leave the sense of touch as the only way to find an exit. Rather than trying to look at a smartphone screen, a...

Briefs : Nanotechnology
Metallic Hollow Nanoparticle Fabrication

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 : Materials
Extrans Permeation Measurement System

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 : Communications
Multiplexing of Wireless Surface Acoustic Wave Sensors

The traditional approach for wireless sensors involves interrogators that communicate with each other (i.e., the two boxes “talk” to each other). In contrast, surface acoustic wave...

Briefs : Materials
In-Situ Selective Reinforcement of Near-Net-Shape Formed Structures

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 : Test & Measurement
Quantum Radio Aids Communications and Mapping

GPS signals do not penetrate very deeply or at all in water, soil, or building walls, and therefore can’t be used by submarines or in underground activities such as surveying mines. GPS also...

Briefs : Aerospace
System Enables Direct Data Transmission Between Underwater and Airborne Devices

Today, underwater sensors cannot share data with those on land, as both use different wireless signals that only work in their respective mediums. Radio signals that travel through air die very rapidly in water. Acoustic signals, or sonar, sent by underwater devices...

Briefs : Energy
See-Through Film Rejects 70 Percent of Incoming Solar Heat

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 : Electronics & Computers
Signal Combiner for Wideband Communication

NASA’s Glenn Research Center has devised an efficient new method of combining primary and secondary signals with minimal loss and noise. With its ability to reduce system noise, this novel signal combiner delivers the best opportunity to receive a desired signal not easily distinguished from...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Pre-Treatment Solution for Water Recovery

The Pre-Treatment Solution for Water Recovery technology was developed by NASA Johnson Space Center innovators to increase the amount of potable water recovered from the International Space Station’s urine processor assembly system. The solution increased the water recovery rate in the ISS distiller...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Polarization Imaging Sensor for Enhanced Scene Analysis

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 : Electronics & Computers
Wear-Resistant Platinum Gold Alloy

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...

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