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.

The scanning tunneling microscope (STM) has become one of the most powerful tools used in studying the surface structure of electrically conducting solid-state materials at an...

Briefs: Software
Using SysML to Model Layered System Interfaces

To produce accurate system architecture descriptions, it is essential to be able to describe interfaces between system elements at different levels of abstraction and from different perspectives at the same time. For example, the connection from system A to system B may be viewed at a high level as...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Multifunctional Hot Structure (HOST) Heat Shield

Traditional heat shield design isolates the functions of the thermal protection system (TPS) from the underlying load-carrying structure. This is due to the use of brittle TPS material that...

Briefs: Software
Pegasus 5.2 Software for Automated Pre-Processing of Overset CFD Grids

Pegasus software is used as a pre-processor for overset-grid Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations. It provides the hole-cutting and connectivity information between structured overset grids. The main features of the software include automated hole-cutting...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Fast, Sensitive Hydrogen Sensor

Hydrogen is a promising potential fuel for cars, buses, and other vehicles, and can be converted into electricity in fuel cells. It already is used in medicine and space exploration, as well as in the...

Electrical circuits such as printed wiring boards or hybrid microcircuits designed to utilize surface mount electrical components are commonly assembled by computer-controlled automated...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Vibration-Dampening Pedestal for MEMS

Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) are critical devices for various highly sensitive applications; however, the development and potential fielding of these next-generation smart systems is currently...

Briefs: Materials
Self-Healing, Self-Lubricating Tribofilm

Tribologists have developed a diamond-like film that is generated by the heat and pressure of an automotive engine. The ultra-durable, self-lubricating tribofilm — a film that forms between moving surfaces — can be made to develop self-healing, diamondlike carbon (DLC) tribofilms. The film generates...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Fiber-Optic Environmental Radiation Dosimeter

An all-optical, fiber-optic-coupled remote radiation sensor was developed using luminescent, copper-doped quartz material. The key to the technology is the doped quartz material, which produces a luminescence signal that is directly proportional to the radiation dose.

NASA Langley Research Center has developed a functionally graded metal-metal composite structure. The structure is created using a method that avoids deleterious reactions between the...

Tuned mass dampers are used worldwide to mitigate vibrations in structures like buildings and bridges where excessive movement can be alarming or even sickening to occupants. The...

Today's water distribution systems lose an average of 20 percent of their supply because of leaks. Current leak-detection systems are expensive and slow to operate, and they don't work well in systems...

Large amounts of existing space debris pose a threat to satellites, space vehicles, and astronauts aboard those vehicles. However, cleaning up the debris is problematic. For example, suction cups don't...

Replacing rigid joints and linkages with mechanisms that bend offers a number of potential advantages, even as it makes designing devices more difficult. A computational design tool...

A lightweight module for rapid, accurate, and versatile positioning of semiconductor chips features a novel electromechanical actuator that can move objects both linearly and...

Folding robots based on origami have emerged as an exciting new frontier of robotic design. However, they generally require onboard batteries or a wired connection to a power source, making them...

Currently available air motors have many advantages over electric motors. They are more compact, lighter-weight, instantly reversible without sparking, create no heat buildup, are undamaged by...

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...

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