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 : Software
Designing Stronger Concrete

Plasticity at small scales boosts concrete's utility as the world's most-used material by letting it constantly adjust to stress, decades or centuries after hardening. To find out why, Rice University researchers performed an atom-level computer analysis of tobermorite, a naturally occurring crystalline analog to the...

Briefs : Software
Designing Materials with Reprogrammable Shape and Function

Researchers from Harvard University's John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering have developed a general framework for designing reconfigurable metamaterials — materials whose function is determined by...

Briefs : Software
Designing and 3D Printing Customized Insoles for Diabetics

Insoles for diabetics have traditionally been handmade by makers of orthopedic shoes. In the future, these specialist shoemakers will be able to produce insoles more cost effectively using new software and 3D printers.

Briefs : Software
Software Improves Medication Adherence for Heart Stent Patients

MyIDEA (My Interventional Drug-Eluting Stent Education App) software was developed by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) who study data-simplification to improve clinical outcomes. The tablet computer application helps heart patients with drug-eluting stents...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
A Novel Orbiting Cloud Imager System for IR/UV/ X-Ray Bands

Typically, the cost of a spaceborne imaging system is driven by the size and mass of the primary aperture. Innovative solutions for imagers that are less complex and are lightweight are very desirable. Currently, telescopes such as JWST and ATLAST are very expensive and very...

Briefs : Software
Launch Trajectory Acquisition System (LTAS) Simulator

The objective of the LTAS Simulator application is to transmit one or more streams of simulated LTAS data frames in User Datagram Protocol (UDP) packets to the network. Each LTAS data frame is filled with simulated data values, with each data field determined using several methods: 1)...

Briefs : Software
Inductive Monitoring System Graphical User Interface (IMS GUI) for Processing, Analyzing, and Cleaning Datasets

The Inductive Monitoring System (IMS) software uses data mining techniques to automatically characterize nominal system operation by analyzing archived system data. These nominal characterizations are then used to perform near-realtime...

Briefs : Software
Computer Models Could Help Design Physical Therapy Regimens

After a stroke, patients typically have trouble walking, and few are able to regain the gait they had before suffering a stroke. Researchers funded by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) in Bethesda, MD have developed a computational walking model...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Mechanical Metamaterials Block Symmetry of Motion

Engineers and scientists at the University of Texas at Austin and the AMOLF institute in the Netherlands have invented mechanical metamaterials that easily transfer motion in one direction while blocking it in the other. The material can be thought of as a mechanical one-way shield that blocks...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Portable Superconductivity Systems for Small Motors

Superconductivity, where electrical currents travel unhindered through a material, has many practical uses. It is used in applications extending from MRIs in hospitals to the cavities of particle accelerators. However, practical exploitation of superconductivity also presents many...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Six-Legged Robots Move Faster with Bipod Gate

Six-legged insects run fastest using a three-legged (tripod) gait where they have three legs on the ground at all times (two on one side of their body and one on the other). The tripod gait has long inspired engineers who design six-legged robots, but researchers at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Reducing Inaccuracies in Force/Haptic Feedback Systems

Researchers at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center have developed a new technology to reduce inaccuracies in force/haptic feedback devices and systems. Used at NASA in aircraft simulations for force feedback pilot controls, these systems involve a servo motor applying precise force to a...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
BiBlade Sampling Chain

The BiBlade sampler has been developed for potentially acquiring samples from the surface of a planetary body. The tool could conceivably be used in both in situ and notional sample return missions to planetary bodies including asteroids, comets, and moons. While the tool was designed for planetary sampling missions, it...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Active Remote Sensing Radiometer
Briefs : Photonics/Optics
2.2-Micron, Uncooled, InGaAs Photodiodes and Balanced Photoreceivers up to 25-GHz Bandwidth

Traditional applications for 2-micron photodetectors have been largely dominated by passive remote sensing where detectors having bandwidth of even one megahertz are deemed sufficient. The onus in such applications is to achieve low dark current through...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Fourier Transform Spectrometer System

NASA's Langley Research Center and Science Applications International Corporation have developed a method of processing data from Fourier transform spectroscopy (FTS) measurements that improves upon existing methods. This method is simpler, more accurate, faster, and less expensive than previous methods. It...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Large-Area, Polarization-Sensitive Bolometer for Multi-Mode Optics

Measurements of the cosmic microwave background are a powerful probe of the early universe. Part-per-million fluctuations in the intensity of background trace the initial conditions of matter and energy shortly after the Big Bang, mapping the large-scale structure of spacetime....

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Piezoelectric Field Disturbance Sensing System and Method

The invention developed is a piezoelectric stimulus-response quantification-based gravimeter (PEG). The PEG takes a completely innovative approach towards utilization of the piezoelectric element — quantifying the gravitational effects on them. In this way, the piezoelectric element...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Intelligent Displacement Sensor Deployment Using MTConnect Protocol over Ethernet

Quality measurements for design validation and certification requirements sometimes call for hundreds or thousands of sensors and actuators. Maintaining such a complex system is difficult, especially over an extended time period and inevitable personnel changes....

Briefs : Software
BPTables DTN Bundle Filtering Framework

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standardized Bundle Protocol (BP) enables data transfer using “bundles” over a Delay/Disruption Tolerant Network (DTN). BPTables is a bundle filtering framework that enables the establishment of barriers between more and less trusted BP network domains, and...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Hot Isostatic Pressing of 60-Nitinol

The material 60-Nitinol (60wt%Ni-40wt%Ti) has a unique combination of physical properties, including high hardness, low apparent elastic modulus, and resistance to saltwater corrosion. These properties give the material tremendous potential for use in aerospace and defense-related components such as bearings,...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Logistics for Building Radiation Storm Shelters and their Operational Evaluation

Over the past three years, NASA has been studying the operational effectiveness and astronaut protection efficacy of numerous radiation protection shelters for use in space exploration activities outside of Earth's magnetosphere. The work was part of NASA's Advanced...

Briefs : Green Design & Manufacturing
Vulnerability Assessment Tool

Malawi has not been spared from the severe impacts of climate change. In the past two decades, Malawi has experienced a number of adverse climatic hazards, the most serious being dry spells, seasonal droughts, intense and unpredictable rainfall, riverine floods, and flash floods. Some of these, especially droughts...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
MRAM Alternative Uses Less Energy than Conventional Chip

Purely electrical memory chips commonly used today are volatile and their state must be continuously refreshed, which requires a lot of energy. An alternative to these electrical memory chips is magnetic random access memory (MRAM), which saves data magnetically and does not require...

Briefs : Aerospace
Nodal Averaging Program for CFD Planes

Aerodynamic heating of aerospace vehicles such as aircraft and spacecraft occurs when air passes over a vehicle during transit, ascent, descent, and re-entry, and is a function of re-entry angle, speed, air density, thermal protection system material, and vehicle configuration. The degree of aerodynamic...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Vapor-Barrier Vacuum Isolation System

Electron Beam Freeform Fabrication, or EBF3, is a process that uses an electron beam gun, a dual wire feed, and computer controls to manufacture metallic structures for building parts or tools in hours, rather than days or weeks. EBF3 can manufacture complex geometries in a single operation, and provides...

Briefs : Green Design & Manufacturing
Algae Bioreactor Using Submerged Enclosures with Semi-Permeable Membranes

NASA has invented an innovative method to grow algae, clean wastewater, and capture carbon dioxide to ultimately produce biofuel. The invention consists of floating flexible-plastic enclosures and photo-bioreactors with semi-permeable membranes. This new cultivation system...

Briefs : Energy
High-Voltage Supercapacitors for Improved Energy Density Hybrid Power Sources

Both the aerospace and automotive industries depend increasingly on electrochemical energy storage. Reduction in mass, increase in energy, and increase in power can benefit both of these areas dramatically. Supercapacitors are currently under consideration for use in...

Briefs : Software
A Systems Engineering Approach to Architecture Development

Architecture development often is conducted prior to system concept design when there is a need to determine the best-value mix of systems that works collectively in specific scenarios and time frames to accomplish a set of mission area objectives. Conducted prior to Pre-Phase A of the...