Tech Briefs

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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: Test & Measurement

An advanced, highly compact thermal camera that traces its heritage to one now flying on NASA's Landsat 8 has been mounted in a corner of NASA's...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics

With novel optoelectronic chips and a new partnership with a top silicon-chip manufacturer, MIT spinout Ayar Labs aims to increase speed and reduce energy consumption in computing, starting with...

Briefs: Medical

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Washington University in St. Louis have developed a surgical camera inspired by the eye of the morpho butterfly. The...

Briefs: Imaging

The underwater environment may appear to the human eye as a dull-blue, featureless space. However, a vast landscape of polarization patterns appear when viewed through a camera that is...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics

MIT researchers have developed novel photography optics that capture images based on the timing of reflecting light inside the optics instead of the traditional approach...

INSIDER: Medical

An MIT-developed technology monitors blood glucose levels without needles or a finger prick. Early results show that the noninvasive technology measures blood glucose levels as...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition

A technique was developed to quickly teach robots novel traversal behaviors with minimal human oversight. The technique allows mobile robot platforms to navigate autonomously in...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control

When heated, popcorn can expand more than 10 times in size, change its viscosity by a factor of 10, and transition from regular to highly irregular granules with surprising force. These unique qualities can...

Briefs: Motion Control

Given the exact parameters of the task at hand, a robot can assemble a car door or pack a box faster and more efficiently than a human, but such purpose-built machines are not...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition

Researchers have developed a method to simultaneously control diverse optical properties of dielectric waveguides by using a two-layer coating, each layer with a...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping

Researchers have 3D-printed an array of light receptors on a hemispherical surface. This discovery could lead to a “bionic eye” that could someday help blind people see or sighted...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers

The exhaust heat recovery system (EHRS) in an automobile captures the thermal energy from exhaust and transfers it to the engine coolant. As the car warms up,...

Briefs: Materials

A technique that enables on-demand control of composite behavior could enable a variety of new capabilities for future rotorcraft design, performance, and maintenance. The focus of the research was on...

Briefs: Aerospace
Power Line Detection System for Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Electrical power lines pose a serious crash hazard to helicopters and other air-based vehicles, especially small aerial vehicles such as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). This is because power lines are so widespread, hard to see, and strung at roughly the same height above the ground at...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Configuration Enables RFID Tags to Work as Sensors

The detection and localization of gas releases, such as methane from leaking natural gas pipelines or nitrogen oxides from failing electrical equipment, require high sensitivity to the target gas and insensitivity to non-target gases. Infrared (IR) absorption spectroscopy gives highly specific...

Briefs: Aerospace

NASA's Langley Research Center, in collaboration with Michigan State University (MSU), has developed a microphone array that...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center is offering opportunities for its new fiber optic mass flow sensor system. Capable of measuring multi-phase flows in a pipe, the technology is minimally invasive,...

Briefs: Materials

Plastics are often derived from petroleum, contributing to reliance on fossil fuels, and driving harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

Briefs: Materials

It is often desirable to sense the angular position of a rotating part. Numerous kinds of rotation sensors have been developed over the years; one type is a capacitive sensor, where a...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers

A process for engineering next-generation soft materials with embedded chemical networks that mimic the behavior of neural tissue lays the foundation for soft active matter with highly...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics

When hit with light, semiconductors (materials that have an electrical resistance in between that of metals and insulators) generate an electric current....

Briefs: Electronics & Computers

Photons, or units of light, are faster than electrons and could, therefore, process information faster from smaller chip structures. A switch was designed that bypasses a...

Briefs: Test & Measurement

As the demand for air transportation increases, the capacity of the current U.S. ATM system will eventually be stressed to its limits. New technologies in communication, navigation, and surveillance (CNS),...

Briefs: Test & Measurement

Optical fibers have been traditionally produced by making a cylindrical object called a preform — essentially, a scaled-up model of the fiber — and then heating it. Softened...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers

Computer processors have continued to shrink down to nanometer sizes where there can be billions of transistors on a single chip. This phenomenon is described under Moore's Law, which...

Briefs: Software

It's common to see line-shaped clouds in the sky, known as contrails, trailing behind the engines of a jet airplane. What's not always visible is a vortex coming off of the tip of each wing — like...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Polymer Nanofiber-Based Reversible Nano-Switch/Sensor Schottky Diode (nanoSSSD) Device

Innovators at NASA's Glenn Research Center have developed a unique nano-structure device that operates as a nano-switch/sensor for detecting toxic gases and ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Conventional microsensors are limited by their short life, high cost and...

Briefs: Energy

Additive manufacturing (3D printing) can be used to manufacture porous electrodes for lithium-ion batteries, but because of the nature of the manufacturing process, the design of these...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping

Researchers have demonstrated the ability to create amorphous metal (metallic glass) alloys on large scales using 3D printing technology. Metallic glasses lack the crystalline...

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