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: Materials
Ultra-Low Power Consumption for Data Recording

New phase change material was developed that has electrical characteristics that behave differently than those of conventional materials. This new material provides a drastic reduction in power consumption for data recording in nonvolatile random access memory (RAM).

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Microcontroller Altimeter (uCA)

Traditional altitude switch designs for harsh environments are mechanical in nature and operate by means of an inflatable bladder or bellows that mechanically depresses a pushbutton switch. The altitude trip point is set by mechanically adjusting the distance of the switch to the bellows. The mechanical action of...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers

Currently, concussion is measured by the symptoms someone experiences, but it is difficult to know what is happening in the brain in any one person. To address this problem, a portable brain imaging system was...

Briefs: Materials

Lithium-metal batteries — which can hold up to ten times more charge than lithium-ion batteries — haven't been commercialized because of a fatal flaw: as the batteries charge and...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition

The most common methods for glucose self-testing involve monitoring glucose levels in blood. These conventional measurements are not suitable for preventing hypoglycemia during exercise. The...

Briefs: Materials

Silver nanowires have drawn significant interest in recent years for use in many applications ranging from prosthetic devices to wearable health sensors due to their flexibility,...

Briefs: Aerospace
Modification of SURFICE Code

As part of the continued thermal support for the Space Launch System (SLS) program, MSFC is constantly developing or modifying software tools to aid in analytical efforts to solve thermal issues and problems posed by the project. In some cases, existing software used by previous heritage programs provides an...

Briefs: Medical

An effective, non-invasive way of monitoring blood glucose could help both diabetics and those at risk of developing diabetes make the right choices to either manage the disease well, or reduce their...

Briefs: Nanotechnology

Researchers have observed waves of atomic rearrangements, known as phasons, propagating supersonically through a vibrating crystal lattice — a discovery that may dramatically...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Hardface Coating Systems for Wear and Corrosion Resistance

Metal alloys, such as titanium alloys and steels, are known to have a good combination of mechanical properties for many structural applications, but these metal alloys do not meet the wear and corrosion resistance requirements for some structural applications. Titanium alloys, for...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics

An increase in computing performance has been achieved by squeezing ever more transistors into a tighter space on microchips. This downsizing has also meant packing the wiring within...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Comprehensive Software Simulation on Ground Special Power at Kennedy Space Center

As the number of channels, or operative sites, increases in present and future ground special power (GSP) development efforts, the amount of hardware required to test development codes becomes substantially expensive. By simulating/emulating the hardware, code...

Briefs: Materials

A method was developed for printing 3D structures composed entirely of liquids. Using a modified 3D printer, threads of water were injected into silicone oil, sculpting tubes made of one liquid within...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Linear Resonators Make Electronics More Resistant to Damage and Defects

Mobile phones, tablets, and other portable devices are prone to failure caused by small defects in their complex electronics that can result from regular use. An innovation provides robust protection against circuitry damage that affects signal transmission.

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

Adhesives used for common pain-relieving bandages often do not stick properly when attached to places that encounter large, inhomogenous bending motion, like elbows and knees. To...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition

Spintronic devices promise to solve major problems in today's computers, which use massive amounts of electricity to generate heat. This requires expending even more energy for cooling. By contrast, spintronic...

Briefs: Medical

A small voltaic cell was developed that is sustained by the acidic fluids in the stomach. The system can generate enough power to run small sensors or drug delivery devices that can reside in the...

Briefs: Aerospace
Water-Repellent Nanotextures Possess Anti-Fogging Capability

Some insect bodies have evolved the ability to repel water and oil, adhere to different surfaces, and eliminate light reflections. Scientists have been studying the physical mechanisms underlying these properties found in nature and mimicking them to design materials for use in...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping

NASA Marshall Space Flight Center has developed a numerically controlled grinding tool that eliminates undesirable periodic variations in surface contours in optical and other surfaces — such as mid-spatial...

Briefs: Materials

A new chemical composite could be used to store heat from the Sun during the day in a thermal battery, and release the heat when needed. A common approach to thermal storage is to use...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Electrode Design Boosts Supercapacitor Performance

Supercapacitors are rechargeable energy storage devices that deliver more power for their size than similar-sized batteries. They also recharge quickly, and they last for hundreds to thousands of recharging cycles. Today, they are used in hybrid cars’ regenerative braking systems and for other...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers

NASA Ames Research Center has developed an innovative built-in temperature sensing method for micro-heaters. The temperature sensing of chip-based microheaters is conventionally done with...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics

Today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. To address the problem, two different imaging methods — a type of lens designed for nanoscale interaction with lightwaves, and robust...

Briefs: Aerospace
Information Sharing Protocol VCR (ISPVCR)

The Information Sharing Protocol (ISP) VCR (ISPVCR) is a software program written in Tcl/Tk that provides the capability to record and play back ISP data (telemetry, computations, ground system status, etc.) via Source Independent Telemetry Format (SITF) files. The ISPVCR provides a graphical user...

Briefs: Green Design & Manufacturing
Hyperfine Interpolated Range Finding for CW Lidar, Radar, and Sonar Using Repeating Waveforms and Fourier Transform Reordering

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed a novel fine interpolation technique that is useful in signal processing for applications in lidar, sonar, radar, and similar modalities. The interpolation technique uses...

Briefs: Communications
Location Awareness Algorithm for Internet of Things Devices

Positioning of wireless devices is centralized, depending on “anchors” with known locations such as cell towers or GPS satellites to communicate directly with each device. As the number of devices increases, anchors must be installed at higher density. Centralized positioning can...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers

Liquid metal printing is integral to the flexible electronics field. Additive manufacturing enables fast fabrication of intricate designs and circuitry. The field features...

Briefs: Software

The Fused Analytic Desktop Environment (FADE) provides analysts in information-driven fields with a range of analysis technologies — capable of handling ad-hoc data sources — integrated into a...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers

A temperature sensor was developed that runs on 113 picowatts of power — about 10 billion times smaller than a Watt. The technology could enable devices that can be powered by harvesting energy from...

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