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
Reconfigurable Chaos-Based Microchips

Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed nonlinear chaos-based integrated circuits that enable computer chips to perform multiple functions with fewer transistors. These integrated circuits can be manufactured with off-the-shelf fabrication processes, and could lead to novel computer...

Briefs : Energy
Fuel Cell Power Management

An innovation from NASA Glenn Research Center increases the efficiency and versatility of fuel cell stacks for power generation. To meet the requirements of a fuel cell system, engineers have typically added direct-current-to-direct-current (DC-to-DC) converters that reduce the voltage produced at the ends of the fuel...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Supercomputer Cooling System Uses Refrigerant to Replace Water

Sandia National Laboratories researchers designed a cooling system for supercomputer centers that is expected to save four to five million gallons of water annually in New Mexico if installed at Sandia's computing center, and hundreds of millions of gallons nationally if the method...

Briefs : Aerospace
Transformable and Reconfigurable Entry, Descent, and Landing Systems and Methods

NASA has developed a game-changing deployable aeroshell concept for entry, descent, and landing (EDL) of large science and exploration-class payloads. The Adaptable, Deployable Entry Placement Technology (ADEPT) concept is a mechanically deployable semi-rigid...

Briefs : Green Design & Manufacturing
Three-Band Cloud and Precipitation Radar

After many years of use of Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission (TRMM) and CloudSat data, focus groups within the cloud and precipitation science community produced requirements for the next generation of missions. The first draft of Aerosol-Cloud-Ecosystem mission requirements was formalized in 2009,...

Briefs : Propulsion
High Speed Idle Engine Control Mode

Innovators at NASA's Glenn Research Center have developed an engine control mode that improves an engine's responsiveness to throttle commands during emergency landing conditions. The high speed idle (HSI) control mode increases the speed of the engine's fan and core shafts, allowing faster response and...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Development of the Orion Crew-Service Module Umbilical Retention and Release Mechanism
Development of the Orion Crew-Service Module Umbilical Retention and Release Mechanism

The Orion Crew-Service Module (CM/SM) umbilical retention and release mechanism supports, protects, and disconnects all of the cross-module commodities...

Development of the Orion Crew-Service Module Umbilical Retention and Release Mechanism
Briefs : Aerospace
Blended Cutout Flap for the Reduction of Jet-Flap Interaction Noise

This technology is a new type of design for the wing flap, aileron, or flaperon located directly behind the engine nozzle on jet aircraft. Using a concave-down curved shape for the trailing edge instead of a conventional right angle, the cross section of the flap, aileron, or...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Computer Chips Calculate and Store in an Integrated Unit

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison created computer chips that can be configured to perform complex calculations and store massive amounts of information within the same integrated unit, and communicate efficiently with other chips. Called “liquid silicon” — liquid...

Briefs : Energy
Solid-State Lithium Sulfur Battery

Sulfur is a promising cathode for lithium batteries due to its high theoretical specific capacity (1673 mAh/g), low cost, and environmental friendliness. With a high specific energy density of 2500 Wh/kg, which is a five times greater energy density than a conventional Li-ion battery, Li-S batteries hold great...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Printed Circuit Board Design Software Helps Create New Energy Solutions

Founded in 2006, Eagle Harbor Technologies (EHT) delivers high-quality pulsed power solutions to organizations such as the Department of Energy (DoE), NASA, and the United States Navy. From its headquarters in Seattle, WA, EHT offers a full suite of pulsed power products to...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Electron-to-Photon Communication for Quantum Computing
Electron-to-Photon Communication for Quantum Computing

Princeton University researchers have built a device in which a single electron can pass its quantum information to a particle of light. The particle of light, or photon, then acts as a...

Electron-to-Photon Communication for Quantum Computing
Briefs : Aerospace
Method and System for Air Traffic Rerouting for Airspace Constraint Resolution

NASA's National Airspace System Constraint Evaluation and Notification Tool (NASCENT) is a dynamic constraint avoidance system that automatically analyzes routes of aircraft flying, or to be flown, in or near constraint regions, and attempts to find more time- and...

Briefs : Software
Timeline Builder Assistant

Current human spaceflight requirements limit the number of hours a crewmember can be outside of the habitation unit to 8 hours in a 48-hour period, and 24 hours in a seven-day period. This time must be appropriately balanced to complete science, exploration, and maintenance tasks. Off-days can be used for site transit...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Material Combination Enables Transistor Gate Length of 1 Nanometer

The laws of physics have set a 5-nanometer threshold on the size of transistor gates among conventional semiconductors, about one-quarter the size of high-end, 20-nanometer-gate transistors now on the market. Researchers from the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National...

Briefs : Energy
Standardized Heating Method to Trigger and Prevent Thermal Runaway Propagation in Lithium-Ion Batteries

Lithium-ion (Li-ion) cells are increasingly used in high-voltage and high-capacity modules. The Li-ion chemistry has the highest energy density of all rechargeable battery chemistries, but associated with that energy is the issue of...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Micro-Lid for Sealing a Sample Reservoir for Micro-Extraction Systems

Great strides are taken to miniaturize spaceflight instrumentation, particularly analytical systems such as liquid chromatographs, gas chromatographs, and mass spectrometers. With miniaturization of instruments, large amounts of samples are no longer required. Therefore, a...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Single-Fluid-Pumped Radiators with Increased Turn-Down Ratio and Control in the Stagnation Regime

Fluid-pumped radiators are used to reject heat from structures to space. A fluid travels inside the structure to collect heat, and then travels external to the structure through radiators where the heat is rejected to space via radiation heat...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Silicon Micro-Emitters for Microfluidic Electrospray Propulsion Systems

JPL's Microfluidic Electrospray Propulsion (MEP) thruster design is based on a microfabricated electrospray system with a capillary-force-driven feed system that uses indium metal as the propellant. This architecture provides an extremely compact, modular system scalable to...

Briefs : Aerospace
Hybrid Flow Control Method for Simple Hinged Flap High-Lift System

NASA's Langley Research Center has created a novel process that significantly improves the effectiveness of high-lift devices on aircraft wings by utilizing a hybrid concept of both sweeping jet (SWJ) actuators for active flow control (AFC) and adaptive vortex generators (AVGs)...

Briefs : Motion Control
Rescue Robot Has Remote Control Function

A group of researchers at Osaka University, Kobe University, Tohoku University, The University of Tokyo, and Tokyo Institute of Technology developed construction robots for disaster relief that solve the various challenges of conventional construction machines used in such situations. Using a prototype...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Small Robot Has Outstanding Vertical Agility

Roboticists at the University of California, Berkeley, have designed a small robot that can leap into the air and then spring off a wall, or perform multiple vertical jumps in a row, resulting in what they claim is the highest robotic vertical jumping agility ever recorded. The agility of the robot...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Interactive Robot Control System and Method of Use

Researchers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC), in collaboration with General Motors and Oceaneering, have designed a state-of-the-art, highly dexterous, humanoid robot: Robonaut 2 (R2). R2 is made up of multiple systems and subcomponents: vision systems, image-recognition systems, sensors,...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Piezoelectric Actuator with Dual Horns that are Separately Controllable to Drive Miniature Vehicles Along a Single Axis

Actuators are a critical driver of all the mechanisms used in space, and improvements of their operation mechanism enhance mission capabilities. The disclosed invention is a new type of actuator that simultaneously drives dual...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Robot Powertrain Moves Toward Energy Autonomy

Inspecting the condition of dykes and other sea defense structures is typically a task for a team of robots. They consume a lot of energy to move across the dykes, perform tests, and communicate the results for six hours a day. Because charging stations are not a realistic scenario, University of...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Evaluation Standard for Robotic Research

The Yale-CMU-Berkeley (YCB) Object and Model Set provides universal benchmarks for labs specializing in robotic manipulation and prosthetics. About two years ago, Aaron Dollar, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Yale University, came up with the benchmark idea to...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Reliability Testing of High-Power Devices

Before a new high-power semiconductor device can be used for industrial applications, it must be thoroughly tested to determine if it will survive environmental stresses and continue to meet specifications. This is especially true for the latest wide-bandgap semiconductor materials such as silicon...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Electronic Device Monitors the Heart and Recognizes Speech

Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder and Northwestern University have developed a tiny, soft, and wearable acoustic sensor that measures vibrations in the human body, allowing them to monitor human heart health and recognize spoken words. The stretchable device...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Split Laser System for Environmental Monitoring

Environmental monitoring — the assessment of air, water, and soil quality — is highly important to oil and gas exploration companies, landowners, regulatory agencies, municipalities, and any organization measuring emissions and pollutants. The majority of monitoring technologies, however, are...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Measuring Tiny Forces with Light

Photons have no mass, but they have momentum. This allows researchers to use light to push matter around. Scientists at the Physical Measurement Laboratory (PML) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have taken advantage of this property to develop devices that can create and measure minute...