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 : Nanotechnology
Fire-Retardant Coating Uses Renewable, Nontoxic Materials

Researchers developed a new kind of flame-retardant coating using renewable, nontoxic materials readily found in nature. The coating could provide more effective fire protection for several widely used materials. The coatings offer the opportunity to reduce the flammability of...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Efficient Hexagonally Sampled Image Processing
Efficient Hexagonally Sampled Image Processing

It has been known since the early 1960s that hexagonal sampling is the optimal sampling approach for isotropically band-limited images, providing a 13.4% improvement in sampling efficiency over...

Efficient Hexagonally Sampled Image Processing
Briefs : Materials
Method Uses Ultraviolet Light to Control Fluid Flow and Organize Particles
Method Uses Ultraviolet Light to Control Fluid Flow and Organize Particles

A new method uses ultraviolet light to control the flow of fluids by encouraging particles — from plastic microbeads, to bacterial spores, to pollutants — to...

Method Uses Ultraviolet Light to Control Fluid Flow and Organize Particles
Briefs : Imaging
Automated Object Detection in an Image

Recent developments in machine vision have demonstrated remarkable improvements in the ability of computers to properly identify objects in a viewing field. Most of these advances rely on color-texture analyses that require target objects to possess one or more highly distinctive, local features that can be...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Nickel Titanium Alloy Ball Bearings
Nickel Titanium Alloy Ball Bearings

Innovators at NASA's Glenn Research Center have developed a new method for making small-diameter, high-grade ball bearings that are less than 0.25” in diameter thanks to the development of a new alloy...

Nickel Titanium Alloy Ball Bearings
Briefs : Medical
Wearable Monitor Continuously Measures Breath Rate and Volume
Wearable Monitor Continuously Measures Breath Rate and Volume

Researchers developed a wearable, disposable respiration monitor that provides high-fidelity readings on a continuous basis. It's designed to help children with asthma and cystic...

Wearable Monitor Continuously Measures Breath Rate and Volume
Briefs : Test & Measurement
Lunar Surface Manipulation System
Lunar Surface Manipulation System

NASA's Langley Research Center offers a novel lifting and precision positioning device with hybrid functional characteristics of both crane-type lifting devices and robotic manipulators. The design of the...

Lunar Surface Manipulation System
Briefs : Transportation
Inductive Power Transfer for Spaceflight Systems

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center has developed technology that uses inductive power transfer (IPT) for wireless power interfaces between spaceflight elements (such as the payload, vehicle, and pad). Current spaceflight systems require traditional hardwire connections for power interfaces. This...

Briefs : RF & Microwave Electronics
Textile Cools or Insulates Automatically
Textile Cools or Insulates Automatically

Researchers have created a fabric that automatically regulates the amount of heat that passes through, depending on conditions; for example, when conditions are warm and moist — such as those of a...

Textile Cools or Insulates Automatically
Briefs : Medical
Microneedles Extract Fluid for Wearable Sensors
Microneedles Extract Fluid for Wearable Sensors

Interstitial fluid is clear, colorless, and similar to blood plasma. Continual sampling of important biomarkers in interstitial fluid could help monitor and diagnose many diseases and...

Microneedles Extract Fluid for Wearable Sensors
Briefs : Imaging
Method Adjusts Structure of Dyes to Create Colorful Fluorescent Molecules
Method Adjusts Structure of Dyes to Create Colorful Fluorescent Molecules

Until about 20 years ago, scientists relied on chemical fluorescent dyes to make biological molecules visible. To look inside cells, stain organelles, and perform...

Method Adjusts Structure of Dyes to Create Colorful Fluorescent Molecules
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Implanted Wireless Nerve Stimulator
Implanted Wireless Nerve Stimulator

In 2016, UC Berkeley engineers demonstrated the first implanted, ultrasonic, neural dust sensors. Now, taking the next step, the smallest-volume wireless nerve stimulator was developed, called StimDust...

Implanted Wireless Nerve Stimulator
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Light-Activated Micro-Pump
Light-Activated Micro-Pump

Even the smallest mechanical pumps have limitations, from the micro-fabrication techniques required to make them to the fact that there are limits on their size. A laser-driven photoacoustic microfluidic pump was...

Light-Activated Micro-Pump
Briefs : Energy
Two-Dimensional Materials Improve Efficiency of Lithium-Air Batteries
Two-Dimensional Materials Improve Efficiency of Lithium-Air Batteries

Lithium-air batteries are poised to become the next replacement for currently used lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles, cell-phones, and computers....

Two-Dimensional Materials Improve Efficiency of Lithium-Air Batteries
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Controlling Thermal Conductivity of Polymers with Light
Controlling Thermal Conductivity of Polymers with Light

Polymers are regularly used as thermal insulators and can even be used as thermal conductors to enable efficient heating or cooling. A new type of polymer was created that demonstrates...

Controlling Thermal Conductivity of Polymers with Light
Briefs : Data Acquisition
Data-Compression Technique Speeds Computer Programs

Data compression leverages redundant data to free up storage capacity, boost computing speeds, and provide other perks. In current computer systems, accessing main memory is very expensive compared to actual computation. Because of this, using data compression in the memory helps improve...

Briefs : Imaging
Surgeons Use Augmented Reality to Reconnect Blood Vessels
Surgeons Use Augmented Reality to Reconnect Blood Vessels

Following severe trauma, patients may have tissue damage or open wounds that require reconstructive surgery using fasciocutaneous flaps. These flaps of tissue, which are taken from...

Surgeons Use Augmented Reality to Reconnect Blood Vessels
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Hybrid Cathodes Could Boost Energy Capacity of Lithium Batteries
Hybrid Cathodes Could Boost Energy Capacity of Lithium Batteries

Today's lithium-ion batteries use cathodes (one of the two electrodes in a battery) made of a transition metal oxide. Batteries with cathodes made of sulfur are considered a...

Hybrid Cathodes Could Boost Energy Capacity of Lithium Batteries
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Microscale Electro-Hydrodynamic (EHD) Modular Cartridge Pump

The EHD pump uses electric fields to move a dielectric fluid coolant in a thermal loop to dissipate heat generated by electrical components with a low-power system. The pump has only a few key components and no moving parts, increasing the simplicity and robustness of the system. In...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Deployable Emergency Shutoff Device Blocks High-Velocity Fluid Flows

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center has developed a device and method for blocking the flow of fluid from an open pipe. The device plugs, controls, and meters the flow of gases and liquids. Anchored with friction fittings, spikes, or explosively activated fasteners, the device...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Technology Produces Unclonable Digital Fingerprints for Internet of Things Devices
Technology Produces Unclonable Digital Fingerprints for Internet of Things Devices

Researchers have created technology that is 10 times more reliable than current methods of producing unclonable digital fingerprints that can be used to...

Technology Produces Unclonable Digital Fingerprints for Internet of Things Devices
Briefs : Energy
Wearable Liquid Unit Harvests Energy
Wearable Liquid Unit Harvests Energy

Researchers have created wearable technology to convert mechanical energy into electrical energy. It presents a step toward the practical realization of self-powered, human-integrated technologies.

Wearable Liquid Unit Harvests Energy
Briefs : Energy
Process Directly Converts Methane to Methanol
Process Directly Converts Methane to Methanol

Methanol is a key feedstock for the production of chemicals, some of which are used to make products such as plastics, plywood, and paints. Methanol also can fuel vehicles or be reformed to...

Process Directly Converts Methane to Methanol
Briefs : Imaging
Microfocus, Dual-Energy Imaging System Improves Contaminant Detection

Contamination of food with fragments of bone, metal, glass, or other foreign material is a major concern in the food industry. Current inspection technologies often miss very small fragments embedded in meat or other soft materials or lead to ambiguous results that require...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
More Sensitive Measurement of Semiconductor Material Quality
More Sensitive Measurement of Semiconductor Material Quality

Accurately measuring semiconductor properties of materials in small volumes helps engineers determine the range of applications for which these materials may be suitable in the...

More Sensitive Measurement of Semiconductor Material Quality
Briefs : Materials
Fuel Cell Technology Runs on Solid Carbon
Fuel Cell Technology Runs on Solid Carbon

Whereas hydrogen fuel cells (e.g., proton exchange membrane (PEM) and other fuel cells) generate electricity from the chemical reaction between pure hydrogen and oxygen, direct carbon fuel cells...

Fuel Cell Technology Runs on Solid Carbon
Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Fabricating Nanochips via Thermal Lithography
Fabricating Nanochips via Thermal Lithography

A process for fabricating atom-thin processors can be used to produce at the nanoscale for smaller and faster semiconductors.

Fabricating Nanochips via Thermal Lithography
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Smartphone Test Spots Poisoned Water Risk

Researchers have developed a biosensor that attaches to a smartphone and uses bacteria to detect unsafe arsenic levels. The device generates easy-to-interpret patterns similar to volume-bars that display the level of contamination.

Briefs : Energy
Supergel System Cleans Radioactively Contaminated Structures
Supergel System Cleans Radioactively Contaminated Structures

A system was developed that can remove radioactive cesium contamination from porous structures such as brick and concrete that are hard to clean, as well as contamination from...

Supergel System Cleans Radioactively Contaminated Structures
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Hybrid Transformer
Hybrid Transformer

Researchers have developed a hybrid transformer that has the benefit of a full planar transformer design but uses a wire-wound secondary winding to keep the parasitic winding capacitances lower. Alone, planar transformers...

Hybrid Transformer