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
Rhombohedron Epitaxial Growth with Molten Target Sputtering (MTS) at 500 °C Substrate Temperature
Rhombohedron Epitaxial Growth with Molten Target Sputtering (MTS) at 500 °C Substrate Temperature

This invention applies to the field of sputtering, depositing SiGe thin films on sapphire substrates. It is a method of modifying the film...

Rhombohedron Epitaxial Growth with Molten Target Sputtering (MTS) at 500 °C Substrate Temperature
Briefs : Lighting
Bendable Electronic Paper Displays a Range of Colors
Bendable Electronic Paper Displays a Range of Colors

The combination of conductive polymers on nanostructures was demonstrated as suited to creating electronic displays as thin as paper. The “paper” is similar to the Kindle tablet. It...

Bendable Electronic Paper Displays a Range of Colors
Briefs : Aerospace
In-Situ Characterization and Inspection of Additive Manufacturing Deposits Using Transient Infrared Thermography
In-Situ Characterization and Inspection of Additive Manufacturing Deposits Using Transient Infrared Thermography

Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, is a rapidly growing field in which solid objects can be produced layer-by-layer. This...

In-Situ Characterization and Inspection of Additive Manufacturing Deposits Using Transient Infrared Thermography
Briefs : Test & Measurement
Measurement Method for Radioactive Methane

Anew method for measuring radioactive methane is an optical one based on spectroscopy. Previously, radioactive methane has been measured with accelerator mass spectrometry involving expensive machines. Optical measuring could be a cheaper and more agile method.

Briefs : Materials
Metamaterial Mirror Reflects Sound Waves in Any Direction
Metamaterial Mirror Reflects Sound Waves in Any Direction

Researchers have constructed a “metamirror” device capable of perfectly reflecting sound waves in any direction. The proof-of-principle demonstration is analogous to looking...

Metamaterial Mirror Reflects Sound Waves in Any Direction
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Waterproof Graphene Electronic Circuits

The many applications of graphene, an atomically-thin sheet of carbon atoms with extraordinary conductivity and mechanical properties, include the manufacture of sensors. These transform environmental parameters into electrical signals that can be processed and measured with a computer. Due to their...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
3D Printer Uses Rays of Light to Shape Objects
3D Printer Uses Rays of Light to Shape Objects

Most 3D printers, including light-based techniques, build up 3D objects layer by layer. This leads to a “stair-step” effect along the edges. They also have difficulties creating flexible...

3D Printer Uses Rays of Light to Shape Objects
Briefs : Test & Measurement
Radiometric Temperature Measurement Using a DLP-Based Pyrometer
Radiometric Temperature Measurement Using a DLP-Based Pyrometer

Researchers at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center have identified and evaluated recently available miniature spectrometers that enable compact and robust pyrometry...

Radiometric Temperature Measurement Using a DLP-Based Pyrometer
Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Material Could Make Plastic Manufacturing More Energy-Efficient
Material Could Make Plastic Manufacturing More Energy-Efficient

Anew material was developed that can extract the key ingredient in the most common form of plastic from a mixture of other chemicals while consuming far less energy than usual....

Material Could Make Plastic Manufacturing More Energy-Efficient
Briefs : Aerospace
Machine Learning Tool Computes Flow Around Interactively Designable 3D Objects
Machine Learning Tool Computes Flow Around Interactively Designable 3D Objects

When engineers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model the flow of air...

Machine Learning Tool Computes Flow Around Interactively Designable 3D Objects
Briefs : RF & Microwave Electronics
High-Performance, Current-Steering Digital-to-Analog Converter
High-Performance, Current-Steering Digital-to-Analog Converter

A current-steering digital-to-analog converter (DAC) was developed that achieves improved switching times (up to 75% faster) in high-speed (gigahertz), high-resolution (8-14...

High-Performance, Current-Steering Digital-to-Analog Converter
Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Electron Beam Heating and Atomic Restructuring of Sapphire Surfaces
Electron Beam Heating and Atomic Restructuring of Sapphire Surfaces

NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed a new way to reduce the high-temperature heating requirement of sapphire substrates in wafer production. The growth of...

Electron Beam Heating and Atomic Restructuring of Sapphire Surfaces
Briefs : Software
Fast and Accurate Simulation of Manufactured Parts with Defects
Fast and Accurate Simulation of Manufactured Parts with Defects

Unwanted porosity is typical to many manufacturing processes — from traditional casting to additive manufacturing (3D printing) — and is difficult to avoid entirely....

Fast and Accurate Simulation of Manufactured Parts with Defects
Briefs : Software
Software Could Help Prevent Arrhythmic Heart Disease

The heart’s pumping ability is controlled by electrical activity that triggers the heart muscle cells to contract and relax. In certain heart diseases such as arrhythmia, the organ’s electrical activity is affected.

Briefs : Software
Technique Reverse-Engineers Complex 3D CAD Models
Technique Reverse-Engineers Complex 3D CAD Models

Nearly all commercial products start as a CAD file — a 2D or 3D model with the product’s design specifications. One method that’s widely used to represent today’s 3D models is...

Technique Reverse-Engineers Complex 3D CAD Models
Briefs : Data Acquisition
Singlet-Based Magnet for Enhanced Data Storage
Singlet-Based Magnet for Enhanced Data Storage

Anew type of magnet — called a singlet-based magnet — was discovered that differs from conventional magnets in which small magnetic constituents align with one another to create a strong...

Singlet-Based Magnet for Enhanced Data Storage
Briefs : Test & Measurement
S-Curve Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometer
S-Curve Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometer

Time-of flight mass spectrometers are commonly used in analytical chemistry and many other applications. They contain a region where ions travel toward a detector. A new geometry was developed that...

S-Curve Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometer
Briefs : Medical
Method Shrinks Objects to the Nanoscale
Method Shrinks Objects to the Nanoscale

Existing techniques for creating nano-structures are limited in what they can accomplish. Etching patterns onto a surface with light can produce 2D nano-structures but doesn’t work for 3D structures....

Method Shrinks Objects to the Nanoscale
Briefs : Transportation
Coating Prevents Fogging on Transparent Surfaces
Coating Prevents Fogging on Transparent Surfaces

Anyone who skis, wears glasses, uses a camera, or drives a car is familiar with the problem: Coming into a humid environment from the cold causes eyewear, camera lenses, or windshields to...

Coating Prevents Fogging on Transparent Surfaces
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Medium-Frequency Transformer Transitions from AC to DC
Medium-Frequency Transformer Transitions from AC to DC

Traditionally, electronics are cooled using a heat sink that transfers the heat generated by the electronic system into the air or a liquid coolant. For the heat sink to work, it has to...

Medium-Frequency Transformer Transitions from AC to DC
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Transparent, Self-Healing Electronic Skin

Scientists have taken inspiration from underwater invertebrates like jellyfish to create an electronic skin with similar functionality. Like a jellyfish, the electronic skin is transparent, stretchable, touch-sensitive, and self-healing in aquatic environments.

Briefs : Imaging
Novel Techniques Trick Object Detection Systems
Novel Techniques Trick Object Detection Systems

New adversarial techniques developed by engineers at Southwest Research Institute can make objects “invisible” to image detection systems that use deep-learning algorithms. These techniques...

Novel Techniques Trick Object Detection Systems
Briefs : Medical
Pocket-Sized Imaging Device Improves Accuracy Of Epidural Placement
Pocket-Sized Imaging Device Improves Accuracy Of Epidural Placement

A team of bioengineers supported through a Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) has...

Pocket-Sized Imaging Device Improves Accuracy Of Epidural Placement
Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Detect Ultra Rare Proteins in Blood Using a Cellphone Camera
Detect Ultra Rare Proteins in Blood Using a Cellphone Camera

One of the frontiers of medical diagnostics is the race for more sensitive blood tests. The ability to detect extremely rare proteins could make a life-saving difference for many...

Detect Ultra Rare Proteins in Blood Using a Cellphone Camera
Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Tiny Optical Elements Could One Day Replace Traditional Refractive Lenses
Tiny Optical Elements Could One Day Replace Traditional Refractive Lenses

A Northwestern University research team has developed tiny optical elements from metal nanoparticles and a polymer that one day could replace traditional refractive...

Tiny Optical Elements Could One Day Replace Traditional Refractive Lenses
Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Researchers Create Smartphone System to Test for Lead in Water
Researchers Create Smartphone System to Test for Lead in Water

Researchers at the University of Houston have created an inexpensive system that can detect lead in tap water at levels commonly accepted as dangerous, using a lens made with an...

Researchers Create Smartphone System to Test for Lead in Water
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Transforming Flat Elastomers into 3D Shapes
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...

Transforming Flat Elastomers into 3D Shapes
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Multimaterial 3D Printing Used to Develop Fast-Response, Stiffness-Tunable, Soft Actuator
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.

Multimaterial 3D Printing Used to Develop Fast-Response, Stiffness-Tunable, Soft Actuator
Briefs : Materials
Smart Microrobots Adapt to Surroundings
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...

Smart Microrobots Adapt to Surroundings
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Self-Lubrication Improves Standard Braking Systems
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...

Self-Lubrication Improves Standard Braking Systems