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 : Photonics/Optics
Researchers Create Smartphone System to Test for Lead in Water
Researchers Create Smartphone System to Test for Lead in Water

Researchers at the University of Houston have created an inexpensive system that can detect lead in tap water at levels commonly accepted as dangerous, using a lens made with an...

Researchers Create Smartphone System to Test for Lead in Water
Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Transforming Flat Elastomers into 3D Shapes
Transforming Flat Elastomers into 3D Shapes

Mechanical systems such as engines and motors rely on two principal types of motions of stiff components: linear motion, which involves an object moving from one point to another in a straight...

Transforming Flat Elastomers into 3D Shapes
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Multimaterial 3D Printing Used to Develop Fast-Response, Stiffness-Tunable, Soft Actuator
Multimaterial 3D Printing Used to Develop Fast-Response, Stiffness-Tunable, Soft Actuator

Fast-response, stiffness-tunable (FRST) soft actuators — or movable machine elements — were developed that could be used in soft robots.

Multimaterial 3D Printing Used to Develop Fast-Response, Stiffness-Tunable, Soft Actuator
Briefs : Motion Control
Smart Microrobots Adapt to Surroundings
Smart Microrobots Adapt to Surroundings

Researchers, drawing inspiration from bacteria, have designed smart, bio-compatible microrobots that are highly flexible. Because these devices are able to swim through fluids and modify their shape...

Smart Microrobots Adapt to Surroundings
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Self-Lubrication Improves Standard Braking Systems
Self-Lubrication Improves Standard Braking Systems

By mixing carbon fibers into polymer-based brakes, researchers designed brakes that are self-lubricating. These new and improved brakes can prevent wear-and-tear and have better frictional...

Self-Lubrication Improves Standard Braking Systems
Briefs : Automotive
Directly Cooled Electric Motor Made from Polymer Materials
Directly Cooled Electric Motor Made from Polymer Materials

Making electric cars lighter also involves reducing the weight of the motor. One way to do that is by constructing it from fiber-reinforced polymer materials. A new cooling concept...

Directly Cooled Electric Motor Made from Polymer Materials
Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Synthesizing Renewable Oils for Use in Lubricants
Synthesizing Renewable Oils for Use in Lubricants

Industrial machinery, agricultural equipment, transportation vessels, and home applications depend on lubricants; however, they leave a heavy environmental footprint. Common lubricants, oils,...

Synthesizing Renewable Oils for Use in Lubricants
Briefs : Medical
Technique Provides Rapid Assessment of Radiation Exposure

Researchers have developed a new technique that assesses radiation exposure in about an hour using an insulator material found in most modern electronics. The technique can be used to triage medical cases in the event of a radiological disaster.

Briefs : Data Acquisition
Thin, Durable Heating Patches
Thin, Durable Heating Patches

Thin, durable heating patches were created using intense pulses of light to fuse tiny silver wires with polyester. Their heating performance is nearly 70 percent higher than similar patches. The inexpensive...

Thin, Durable Heating Patches
Briefs : Green Design & Manufacturing
Material Captures and Removes Toxic Atmospheric Gas
Material Captures and Removes Toxic Atmospheric Gas

A metal-organic framework (MOF) material was developed that exhibits a selective, fully reversible, and repeatable capability to remove nitrogen dioxide gas from the atmosphere in ambient...

Material Captures and Removes Toxic Atmospheric Gas
Briefs : Energy
Novel Dielectric Ceramic by Spark Plasma Sintering
Novel Dielectric Ceramic by Spark Plasma Sintering

Researchers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center have developed a new dielectric material based on barium titanate nanopowder processed via spark plasma sintering (SPS). The rapid and...

Novel Dielectric Ceramic by Spark Plasma Sintering
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Skin-Like Sensor Maps Blood-Oxygen Levels
Skin-Like Sensor Maps Blood-Oxygen Levels

A new type of oximeter — or blood-oxygen sensor — is made of organic electronics printed on bendable plastic that molds to the contours of the body. Unlike fingertip oximeters, it can detect...

Skin-Like Sensor Maps Blood-Oxygen Levels
Briefs : Green Design & Manufacturing
Regional Hydrologic Extremes Assessment System (RHEAS) Software

Drought is Africa’s principal type of natural disaster and is at the core of serious threats to the livelihoods of millions of people and the natural resources on which they depend. The economies of many African countries are based on agricultural activities that are controlled...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Achieving Carbon Footprint Reduction with Flywheel Technology
Achieving Carbon Footprint Reduction with Flywheel Technology

Recent technical advances have enabled flywheel energy storage systems (FESS) to become more compact and able to support higher-power applications. Due to their proven...

Achieving Carbon Footprint Reduction with Flywheel Technology
Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Using Common WiFi to Detect Weapons, Bombs, and Chemicals in Bags
Using Common WiFi to Detect Weapons, Bombs, and Chemicals in Bags

Ordinary WiFi can easily detect weapons, bombs, and explosive chemicals in bags at museums, stadiums, theme parks, schools, and other public venues using a low-cost suspicious...

Using Common WiFi to Detect Weapons, Bombs, and Chemicals in Bags
Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Fabric Alternative to Batteries for Wearable Devices
Fabric Alternative to Batteries for Wearable Devices

Wearable biosensors for health monitoring lack a lightweight, long-lasting power supply. A new method was developed for making a charge-storing system that is easily integrated into...

Fabric Alternative to Batteries for Wearable Devices
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
New Material Provides Enhanced Tactility for Soft Sensors
New Material Provides Enhanced Tactility for Soft Sensors

Flexible and wearable sensors measure and track body motion, a task made more complex by the human anatomy’s numerous potential contortions. For a wearable sensor to work properly,...

New Material Provides Enhanced Tactility for Soft Sensors
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Rechargeable, High-Temperature, Molten Salt Battery
Rechargeable, High-Temperature, Molten Salt Battery

Growing demand for electric vehicles and more sustainable forms of transport means finding new forms of energy storage such as batteries, supercapacitors, and fuel cells. Currently, a major...

Rechargeable, High-Temperature, Molten Salt Battery
Briefs : Materials
Plastic-Degrading Enzyme

Eight million metric tons of plastic waste, including polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, enter the oceans each year, creating huge manmade islands of garbage. Experts estimate that by 2050, there will be as much waste plastic in the ocean by mass as there are fish. A bacterium, Ideonella sakaiensis 201-F6, can...

Briefs : Communications
Wearable Devices Allow Direct Communication by Touch
Wearable Devices Allow Direct Communication by Touch

Emergency situations such as trying to escape heavy smoke from fire could leave the sense of touch as the only way to find an exit. Rather than trying to look at a smartphone screen, a...

Wearable Devices Allow Direct Communication by Touch
Briefs : Materials
Metallic Hollow Nanoparticle Fabrication
Metallic Hollow Nanoparticle Fabrication

NASA Langley Research Center has developed new methods for fabricating hollow nanoparticles using dendrimer molecules. Dendrimers are used as templates to control the size, stability, and solubility...

Metallic Hollow Nanoparticle Fabrication
Briefs : Materials
Extrans Permeation Measurement System
Extrans Permeation Measurement System

Many applications in science and industry require an apparatus that creates a controlled amount of a fluid introduced into another fluid. For instance, some material corrosion testing applications...

Extrans Permeation Measurement System
Briefs : Power
Multiplexing of Wireless Surface Acoustic Wave Sensors
Multiplexing of Wireless Surface Acoustic Wave Sensors

The traditional approach for wireless sensors involves interrogators that communicate with each other (i.e., the two boxes “talk” to each other). In contrast, surface acoustic wave...

Multiplexing of Wireless Surface Acoustic Wave Sensors
Briefs : Materials
In-Situ Selective Reinforcement of Near-Net-Shape Formed Structures
In-Situ Selective Reinforcement of Near-Net-Shape Formed Structures

NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed a method in which a metal matrix composite (MMC) material is incorporated into a metallic structure during a one-step...

In-Situ Selective Reinforcement of Near-Net-Shape Formed Structures
Briefs : Test & Measurement
Quantum Radio Aids Communications and Mapping
Quantum Radio Aids Communications and Mapping

GPS signals do not penetrate very deeply or at all in water, soil, or building walls, and therefore can’t be used by submarines or in underground activities such as surveying mines. GPS also...

Quantum Radio Aids Communications and Mapping
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
System Enables Direct Data Transmission Between Underwater and Airborne Devices

Today, underwater sensors cannot share data with those on land, as both use different wireless signals that only work in their respective mediums. Radio signals that travel through air die very rapidly in water. Acoustic signals, or sonar, sent by underwater devices...

Briefs : Energy
See-Through Film Rejects 70 Percent of Incoming Solar Heat
See-Through Film Rejects 70 Percent of Incoming Solar Heat

A heat-rejecting film was developed that could be applied to a building’s windows to reflect up to 70 percent of the Sun’s incoming heat. The film remains highly transparent...

See-Through Film Rejects 70 Percent of Incoming Solar Heat
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Signal Combiner for Wideband Communication

NASA’s Glenn Research Center has devised an efficient new method of combining primary and secondary signals with minimal loss and noise. With its ability to reduce system noise, this novel signal combiner delivers the best opportunity to receive a desired signal not easily distinguished from...

Briefs : Green Design & Manufacturing
Pre-Treatment Solution for Water Recovery

The Pre-Treatment Solution for Water Recovery technology was developed by NASA Johnson Space Center innovators to increase the amount of potable water recovered from the International Space Station’s urine processor assembly system. The solution increased the water recovery rate in the ISS distiller...

Briefs : Imaging
Polarization Imaging Sensor for Enhanced Scene Analysis
Polarization Imaging Sensor for Enhanced Scene Analysis

Along with intensity and color, polarization is a property of light that can provide useful information for scene analysis; however, the human eye and most cameras cannot detect...

Polarization Imaging Sensor for Enhanced Scene Analysis
Question of the Week
Does Snow Have Power Potential?

Webcasts

Upcoming Webinars: Manufacturing & Prototyping

A Deep Dive into Metal 3D Printing

Upcoming Webinars: Test & Measurement

Solving Complex Measurement Problems with PXI

Upcoming Webinars: Photonics/Optics

NASA Discusses Advances in Photonics for Space and Commercial...

Upcoming Webinars: Robotics, Automation & Control

Using Portable Scenarios and Coverage Metrics to Ensure...

Upcoming Webinars: Robotics, Automation & Control

Impact of Autonomous and Electric Vehicles in New Product...

Upcoming Webinars: Sensors/Data Acquisition

Autonomous Vehicles Sensors: How to Ensure They Work Well and...