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.

Conductive thread — embroidery thread that can carry an electrical current — often is combined with other types of electronics to create fabric that lights up or communicates. This...

Servo control systems require accurate control of motion parameters such as acceleration, velocity, and position. This requires a controller that can apply current (torque) to...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Hydraulically Amplified Actuators

Soft robots are made from soft materials that react to applied voltage with a wide range of motions. Such soft robots contain tremendous potential for future applications, as they adapt to dynamic...

Using 3D printers, researchers have created a metamaterial from cubic building blocks that responds to compression forces by a rotation. Usually, this can only be...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Software Brings Movement to Linear Actuators

Linear actuator manufacturers have a history of strong mechanical design expertise, which is the core of any linear actuation; however, giving motion to modern powered equipment goes beyond a...

Briefs: Green Design & Manufacturing
Novel, Solid-State Hybrid Ultracapacitor Battery

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center has developed a solid-state ultracapacitor with a unique combination of high capacitance and battery-like discharge characteristics. The high capacitance in...

Researchers at MIT and several other institutions have developed a method for making photonic devices — similar to electronic devices but based on light rather than electricity —...

A growing safety concern for pilots and aircraft passengers is laser strikes, or the aiming of high-power laser pointers at aircraft. To address the present lack of effective...

Spectral images, which contain more color information than is obtainable with a typical camera, reveal characteristics of tissue and other biological samples that can't be seen by...

A transfer technique based on thin sacrificial layers of boron nitride could allow high-performance gallium nitride gas sensors to be grown on sapphire substrates and then...

A new form of compact cooling technology developed for space astronomy could pave the way for use of advanced superconducting detectors for better cancer treatments, driverless...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Energy Storage Thermal Management

A well-designed thermal management system is critical to the life and performance of electric-drive vehicles (EDVs), hybrids (HEVs), plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), and all-electric vehicles (EVs). Temperature and...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Hybrid 3D Printing Method for Flexible Electronics

A new method for digital design and printing of stretchable, flexible electronics, called Hybrid 3D printing, was developed to integrate soft, conductive inks with a material substrate to...

Infectious diseases remain the world’s top contributors to human death and disability, and with recent outbreaks of Zika virus infections, there is a keen need for...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Microwave-Based Test Method for Computer Chips

A new approach was developed that overcomes the limitation of conventional chip-testing methods on 3D chips, which include many thin horizontal “floors” connected to one another by vertical...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Flexible “Skin” Senses Shear Force

To date, it has been difficult or impossible for most robotic and prosthetic hands to accurately sense the vibrations and shear forces that occur, for example, when a finger is sliding along a tabletop,...

Briefs: Imaging
Stereoscopic Imaging in Hypersonic Boundary Layers Using Planar Laser-Induced Fluorescence

Stereoscopic time-resolved visualization of three-dimensional structures in a hypersonic flow was performed for the first time in NASA Langley Research Center’s 31-inch Mach 10 Air Tunnel. Nitric oxide (NO) was seeded into hypersonic boundary layer flows...

Briefs: Imaging
Color-Changing Surface Tunable Through Electrical Voltage

Video screens are made up of hundreds of thousands of pixels that display different colors to form the images. With current technology, each of these pixels contains three subpixels — one red, one green, and one blue. A new method was developed to tune the color of the subpixels. The...

Briefs: Test & Measurement
Non-Destructive Additive Manufacturing Characterization Coupon

Additive manufacturing (AM) material assurance has relied upon traditional test coupons and testing methods that work well for wrought materials, but fail to address the unique and not as well-known characteristics of AM parts. A new standardized, integrated test coupon was designed...

Briefs: Medical
Methods for Characterizing Nonlinear Fields of a High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound Source

Minimally invasive and non-invasive therapeutic ultrasound treatments can be used to ablate, necrotize, and/or otherwise damage tissue. High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU), for example, is used to thermally or mechanically damage tissue. HIFU thermal...

Briefs: Software
AMMOS-PDS Pipeline Service (APPS)

APPS provides a multi-mission instrument data and metadata (i.e. label) transformation service that interfaces local or remote Mission Data provider’s data processing pipeline/end-products and the PDS (Planetary Data System) data archive to ensure compliance to standards in a schedule/cost-efficient manner...

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a high-resolution live imaging technique that can be used for early detection of retinal diseases such as age-related macular degeneration,...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Additive Manufacturing Facility for Utilization Primarily in Microgravity Environments

The purpose of this innovation is to create the ability to manufacture off Earth, primarily in a microgravity environment. This additive manufacturing facility (AMF) will have the capability to build tools, parts, experimental hardware, and upgrade hardware...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Joining of Ti, Mo, and Ni Terminated Thermoelectric Segments via Brazing

The joining of low- and high-temperature thermoelectric materials (with ZT optimized to specific temperature ranges) to each other in a segmented configuration can lead to enhanced device efficiency. The resulting joints between these materials must be both chemically and...

Engineers have invented a new architecture for quantum computing based on novel “flip-flop” qubits. The new chip design allows for a silicon quantum processor that can be...

A software system was developed that helps robots more effectively act on spoken instructions — no matter how abstract or specific those instructions may be — from people who...

Briefs: Materials
Process Turns Carbon Dioxide into 3D Graphene with Microporous Surface

The conversion of carbon dioxide to useful materials usually requires high energy input due to its ultrahigh stability. A heat-releasing reaction between carbon dioxide and sodium was developed to take carbon dioxide and turn it into 3D graphene with micropores across its...

From phone camera snapshots to life-saving medical scans, digital images play an important role in the way humans communicate information. But digital images are subject to a range of...

As 3D printing has become a mainstream technology, studies have investigated printable structures that will fold themselves into useful three-dimensional shapes when heated...

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