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: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Optical Sensor for Unknown Gas Detection

Gas sensors are usually engineered to detect a specific molecule in one of many potential categories: toxic gases, combustible gases, and VOCs. A number of technologies, such as infrared,...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Occupancy Sensing Using Wi-Fi Routers

In 2015, commercial and residential buildings accounted for 40% of the energy consumption in the United States according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. As the owners of these buildings seek to decrease costs and reduce energy consumption they have begun to adopt building energy management...

The Sensor Suitcase is a portable case that contains easy-to-use sensors and other equipment that make it possible for anyone to identify energy-saving opportunities in...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Clean Water with Sandia Sensor Solution

Water utilities have a Goldilocks problem: If they don't add enough chlorine, nasty bacteria that cause typhoid and cholera survive the purification process. Too much chlorine produces disinfection...

Induced seismicity is earthquake activity that occurs because of changes in subsurface stress brought about by human activity. Using geology,...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Flying Metal Detectors?

Scientists have demonstrated a new way to detect buried and submerged mines. Data is collected by sensors aboard an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The information can then be used to create images to display locations...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Printed Sensors Monitor Tire Wear in Real Time

Electrical engineers at Duke University have invented an inexpensive printed sensor that can monitor the tread of car tires in real time, warning drivers when the rubber meeting the road has...

Aspacecraft thermal control system must keep the vehicle, avionics, and atmosphere (if crewed) within a defined temperature range. Water coolant loops are typically used to transport...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Low-Power, Lightweight, Ultra-Compact Reverse Water Gas Shift Reactor

Utilizing CO2 to produce H2O and O2 is critical for sustained manned missions in space, and supports both NASA’s cabin Atmosphere Revitalization System (ARS) and ln-situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) concepts. For long-term missions beyond low...

Briefs: Software
Software Suite for Identifying Suspicious Individuals

It can be very useful to know about activities among individuals; for example, which individuals are associated with other individuals? When two or more individuals get together, is there an intended purpose? Who are the leaders or important individuals of a group? What is the organizational...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Inflatable Airlock Technologies

An airlock used in space can provide the ability to leave a pressurized volume and enter free space. This is necessary to perform maintenance or make repairs to the pressurized volume or visiting spacecraft,...

Printed electronics must be heated to melt all the nanoparticles together into a single conductive wire, making it impossible to print circuits on inexpensive plastics or paper. A...

An arson investigation typically requires collecting one or two liters of ashes and debris from various locations within a fire scene in metal cans similar to those used for paint, and...

The Automated Impacts Routing (AIR) software is advanced route finding technology for air and ground vehicles. The software provides users the ability to find optimized paths through...

Briefs: Software
Automated Transfer Function Generator

When designing or analyzing electrical systems, it is important to understand the relationship between input and output. Power conversion occurs in a “black box,” and transfer functions can be used to provide a better understanding of the processes occurring in this black box. Although they provide a...

Researchers have made ultralight, highly porous, compressible, and heat-resistant sponge-like materials from nanoscale ceramic fibers. The highly deformable material...

Briefs: Test & Measurement
Overspeed Protection for Turbine Flowmeters in Cryogenic Applications

Flowmeters for cryogenic applications often fail in service. Turbine flowmeters in particular fail due to very high speeds encountered during chill-down operations. Very cold, very high-velocity gas causes the turbine to spin uncontrollably, which quickly degrades bearings....

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Electrically Conducting Nanoscale Sheets for Reconfigurable Electronics

Almost all aspects of modern life, such as communications and healthcare, depend on microelectronic devices. The demand for more powerful, smaller technology keeps growing, meaning that the tiniest devices are now composed of just a few atoms. One way to solve the problem of...

Briefs: Propulsion
Wireless Ultrasonic Inspection Propulsion System

During inspection of pressure vessels and other large structures, an industry-accepted fixture is used to hold the search unit a predetermined distance from the area of interest under inspection. This fixture is then moved manually around the area of interest so that data can be collected and...

Putting a satellite into low Earth orbit requires a lot of energy, with ground-launched rockets expending two-thirds of their propellant fighting to get...

Briefs: Test & Measurement
Handheld Device with Reagents for Detection and Diagnostics

The high risk associated with biological threat agents determines that any suspicious sample be handled under strict surety and safety controls, and processed under high-level containment in specialized laboratories. These specialized facilities are complex, very expensive to operate,...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Carbon Nanotube Purification

Development of carbon nanotubes (CNTs), including single-wall and multi-wall nanotubes and nanofibers, into useful devices requires fabrication of CNTs that are relatively free from process residues such as amorphous carbon and metallic particles that are not part of a CNT array grown on a (coated) substrate....

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Passive High-Temperature Sealing Device

Asealing device was developed that acts as a high-temperature shutoff valve for pipes and ducts. The device is an annular ring that can be slipped over the outside of the pipe (or built into a flanged...

Briefs: Software
Python Interface to Dual-Pol Radar Algorithms (DualPol)

This object-oriented Python module facilitates precipitation retrievals (e.g., hydrometeor type, precipitation rate, precipitation mass, particle size distribution) from polarimetric radar data. It leverages existing open-source radar software packages to perform all-in-one retrievals that...

Briefs: Test & Measurement
Thermal Micro-Extraction Laboratory

Typical extractions in the laboratory require a significant amount of sample material, large-scale equipment, and hands-on participation of a scientist. Such a setup is impractical (or impossible), heavy, and expensive to be carried out on spaceflight instrumentation. While great strides are being made to...

Briefs: Materials
Water-Based, Recyclable Membrane Filters all Types of Nanoparticles

Separation technology is at the heart of water purification, sewage treatment, and reclaiming materials, as well as numerous basic industrial processes. Membranes are used to separate out the smallest nanoscale particles, and even molecules and metal ions. A new type of membrane...

Briefs: Software
Sound Lab (SLAB) Version 5

Interest in the simulation of acoustic environments has prompted a number of technology development efforts over the years for applications such as auralization of concert halls and listening rooms, spatial information displays in aviation, virtual reality, and better sound effects for video games. Each of these...

Briefs: Materials
Using Sunlight to Activate the Flow of Electrical Current in a New Material

Mined to make the first compass needles, the mineral magnetite is also made by migratory birds and other animals to allow them to sense north and south, and thus navigate in cloudy or dark atmospheric conditions or under water. Researchers have compositionally modified...

Briefs: Propulsion
Multi-Pulse Motor (MPM) for Use with Electric Solid Propellants (ESP)

The purpose of this work was to create a safe, green, controllable solid rocket motor that can be pulsed a number of times with electricity to control the ignition and extinguishment times to produce a required thrust or impulse bit. The innovation features an Electric Solid...

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