Tech Briefs

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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
Micromachined Tunneling Accelerometer for Use in Outer Space

Two short reports describe a micromachined quantum-mechanical-tunneling accelerometer and radiation-hardened support electronics designed for use in outer space. Like the micromachined tunneling accelerometers described previously in NASA Tech Briefs, this device is based on the use...

Briefs: Materials
Muscle Wires for Planetary-Exploration Robots

A report proposes the use of muscle wires as mechanical actuators for planetary-exploration robots. Muscle wires are commercially available in kit form in the hobby market, and have been described (though not explicitly called "muscle wires") in previous articles in NASA Tech Briefs. A muscle wire...

Briefs: Information Technology

A wavelet-based modal-parameter-extraction procedure has been developed to augment wavelet filtering and thereby produce more-realistic, robust aeroservoelastic-stability margins....

Briefs: Motion Control
Hybrid Propulsion System for Returning a Sample From Mars

A paper suggests the development of a hybrid rocket engine and associated equipment for returning a sample of material from Mars at relatively low cost. In a hybrid rocket engine, a solid fuel is burned by use of a liquid or gaseous oxidizer, the flow of which can be throttled to control...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers

A hand-held optoelectronic shop tool measures cavities of the order of 6 in. (15 cm) in length and width, 2 to 4 in. (5 to 10 cm) in depth, with nominally flat side walls, and either curved or...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

Equations have been derived to fill a gap in previously published standard collections of stress-and-strain formulas: These are equations for deflection of a thin circular membrane...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Plasma Window Technology for Propagating Particle Beams and Radiation from Vacuum to Atmosphere

Plasma windows can separate vacuum and atmosphere, or regions of high and low vacuums, in a way which facilitates transmission of various particle beams and/or radiation from low- to high-pressure regions. In a prototype device, a stabilized plasma...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers

A circuit has been designed to debounce a mechanical switch, which is used to activate a digital circuit. Contacts tend to make and break connections several times until the switch contacts settle...

Briefs: Materials

Engineers at Rockwell International Corporation's Space System Division have developed a new method of insulating composite structural...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Briefs: Materials

A thermosetting polyimide called "DMBZ-15" has been developed for use as a matrix material in relatively inexpensive matrix/fiber composite materials. The glass-transition temperature (Tg) of...

Briefs: Physical Sciences

We have developed an apparatus that generates a pulsed beam of fast oxygen atoms, under Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, to...

Briefs: Materials

A process that involves reaction forming has been devised to enable the joining of high-temperature-resistant structural parts made of SiC-based materials. These materials...

Briefs: Software
Program Counts Lines of Source Code

The Source Lines of Code Count (SLOCC) computer program counts the number of source lines of a computer code, as an aid in the management of software, documentation of code, estimation of cost, and satisfying miscellaneous code-metric needs. SLOCC accommodates the following programming languages: Ada, Pascal,...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

Improved pressure probes have been designed to give nearly instantaneous readings of the time-varying local static pressure in flowing gases. The probes have been installed in a wind tunnel...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Aircraft-Skin-Rivet Thermocouple

The aircraft-skin-rivet thermocouple is designed for measuring the temperature on the outer surface of an airplane wing under icing conditions. More specifically, its design was motivated by the need to measure the temperature near 32 °F (0 °C) on an aluminum wing skin, with an error of no more than 1 °F (0.6...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers

An etching and electrolyte solution called "UNIEL" has been found to be useful for electrochemical characterization as a function of depth ("electrochemical profiling" for short) of...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping

Magnetron plasma etching has been found to be a promising technique for micromachining of single-crystal silicon carbide to fabricate microscopic structures comprising integrated...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control

An electromagnetic shaker based on a linear induction motor has been developed for use in flight flutter testing of aircraft. The shaker is a wing-tip-mounted unit capable of delivering...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers

Some additional applications have been proposed to exploit amplification by stimulated Brillouin scattering ("Brillouin Amplification" for short), building on the concepts introduced in the preceding...

Briefs: Physical Sciences

A hybrid-grid scheme has been developed to afford a computationally efficient means for numerically solving equations of both (1) coupled flows of heat and mass in a fluid and (2)...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers

The Paperless Procedure System (PPS) is a computer-based, semiautomated electronic system for collection and management of quality-assurance data in a large organization. The original...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Overview of Tapered-Slot Antennas

A document presents a comprehensive overview of the technology of tapered-slot antennas and arrays of such antennas. The fundamental operation of tapered-slot antennas is not yet fully understood, and, for lack of established design rules, the designs of these antennas have been based primarily on empirical...

Briefs: Materials

Improved concrete structural members such as columns, piers, and piles can be manufactured by incorporating fiber-reinforced-plastic (FRP) exterior shells and FRP interior submembers. The...

Briefs: Materials
Creep-Resistant Ceramic Composite for High-Temperature Use

A low-density, creep-resistant ceramic composite material has been developed as a prototype of such materials for use at high temperatures in the next generation of aircraft engines. The material consists of Nextel (or equivalent) ceramic fibers in a matrix that is, itself, a composite...

Briefs: Materials

Nearly isotropic matrix/fiber composite materials can be made quickly and at relatively low cost by resin-transfer molding. The fiber components of these materials are fine, loosely woven,...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

A generic actuator has been designed to amplify the piezoelectric effect. The Bidirectional Operating Actuator (BOA) amplifies the stroke of a piezoelectric element and reorients it through a kinematic...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers

The figure schematically illustrates an automated electronic vision system that operates in conjunction with a scanning robot to inspect a large surface for damage. In the original...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Micromachined Monopropellant Thrusters

A report proposes monopropellant microthrusters for a new generation of miniature spacecraft with mission lifetimes stretching into years. These thrusters would include micromachined nozzle/chamber assemblies containing microvalves, designed according to emerging concepts of microelectromechanical systems...

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