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: Photonics/Optics
Faster Photons Could Make Data Totally Secure

Transferring data using light passed along fiber optic cables has become increasingly common over the past decades, but each pulse currently contains millions of photons. That means that in principle, a portion of these could be intercepted without detection. Secure data is already encrypted, but if...

The challenge of miniaturizing devices and systems is also achieving a broader dynamic range of detection for small signals such as sound, vibration, and radio...

Capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) and converting it to useful chemicals such as methanol could reduce both pollution and U.S. dependence on petroleum products. Catalysts are used to bring...

Over the past few years, deep learning algorithms have proven to be highly successful in solving complex cognitive tasks such as controlling self-driving cars and language...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
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,...

Fabrics that resist water are essential for everything from rainwear to military tents, but conventional water-repellent coatings have been shown to persist in the environment and accumulate in our...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Artificial Intelligence Senses People Through Walls

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been used to teach wireless devices to sense people's postures and movement, even from the other side of a wall. RF-Pose uses a neural network to analyze...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
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: Electronics & Computers
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: RF & Microwave Electronics
Transmitter Protects Wireless Data from Hackers

Today, more than 8 billion devices are connected around the world, including medical devices, wearables, vehicles, and smart household and city technologies. Those devices are vulnerable to...

Briefs: Data Acquisition
Antiferromagnetic-Based Memory Processes Data at Terahertz Speeds

Data travels down fiber-optic cables at frequencies of several terahertz. As soon as the data arrives on a PC or television, this speed must be throttled down to match the data processing speed of the device components; this speed currently is in the range of a few hundred...

Briefs: Transportation
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...

First responders often have trouble communicating with each other in emergencies. They may use different types of radios, they may be working in rural areas lacking wireless coverage, or they may be...

Briefs: Materials
Melt-Cast Explosive Material

The Environmental Protection Agency has listed trinitrotoluene (TNT) as a possible carcinogen, and exposure to the material has been linked to disorders of the blood, such as anemia, and abnormal liver function,...

The ability to measure the electronic conductivity of battery film coatings is a pressing need in the battery industry; however, these measurements can...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Faster, More Efficient Information Processing

For decades, computer chips have been shrinking thanks to a steady stream of technological improvements in processing density. Experts have, however, been warning that we'll soon reach the end of the trend known as Moore's Law, in which the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits...

Extremely fine porous structures with tiny holes — resembling a kind of sponge at the nano level — can be generated in semiconductors. A method was developed for the controlled manufacture...

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...

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....

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Keeping Data Fresh for Wireless Networks

For wireless networks that share time-sensitive information on the fly, it's not enough to transmit data quickly: that data also needs to be fresh. Consider the many sensors in your car. While it may...

When it comes to the “smell test,” the nose isn't always the best judge of food quality. Now in a study appearing in ACS’ journal Nano Letters, scientists...

Infrared spectroscopy is the benchmark method for detecting and analyzing organic compounds. However, that requires complicated procedures and large, expensive instruments, making...

What had been a peaceful and productive mission for the six men aboard the Russian space station Mir, including U.S. astronaut Jerry Linenger, nearly became a tragic...

Stanford and Seoul National University researchers have developed an artificial sensory nerve system that can activate the twitch reflex in...

Researchers at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering have demonstrated that deep learning, a powerful form of artificial intelligence, can discern and enhance...

A next-generation X-ray beamline now operating at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) brings together a unique set of capabilities to measure the...

Optoelectronic engineers in China and Hong Kong have manufactured a special type of liquid crystal display (LCD) that is paper-thin, flexible, light, and tough. With this, a daily...

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...

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...

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Would You Use the 'LaserFactory?'

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