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 : Lighting
Quantum Dots Improve Colors on TV and Computer Screens
Quantum Dots Improve Colors on TV and Computer Screens

High-tech specks called quantum dots could bring brighter, more vibrant color to mass market TVs, tablets, phones and other displays. A new technology called 3M quantum dot enhancement...

Quantum Dots Improve Colors on TV and Computer Screens
Briefs : Lighting
Scientists Create Semiconductor Junction Only Three Atoms Thick

Scientists at the University of Washington have developed what they believe is the thinnest-possible semiconductor, a new class of nanoscale materials made in sheets only three atoms thick. Two of these single-layer semiconductor materials can be connected in an atomically seamless...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Nanosensor/Cellphone Hybrid for Detecting Chemicals and Concentrations

Nanosensors have been developed for chemical detection using carbon nanotubes (CNTs). Unlike other chemical sensors, this solid-state approach requires no reagents and can be refreshed with a solid-state ultraviolet (UV) diode. The sensors possess high sensitivity (ppbv),...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Coated or Doped Carbon Nanotube Network Sensors as Affected by Environmental Parameters

Chemical sensors have been developed over the past decades to detect gases and vapors at various concentration levels for deployment in a wide range of industrial applications. The detection usually centers on a change of a particular property or status of...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Regenerable Internal CO Scrubber for Hydrogen Sensors

Amperometric electrochemical sensors are commonly used for the detection of carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen (H2) in air. The electrochemistry of heterogeneous CO and H2 oxidations is similar enough that the sensors show significant cross-sensitivities between the two...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Nanostructure Sensor Determines Presence and Concentration of a Target Molecule in Fluid

Several methods are presently being developed to sense the presence of a target molecule in small or modest concentration in a fluid. However, estimation of the concentration of the target molecule is unavailable where the fluid is substantially motionless...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Floating Ultrasonic Transducer Inspection System for Nondestructive Evaluation

This floating ultrasonic transducer inspection system is based on a “momentary touching” scheme wherein the ultrasonic transducer is in contact with the structure being scanned for a relatively short time while performing the measurement. A vibrating element is a...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Multiplexer for Multiple Sensors in a Vacuum Chamber

Vacuum chamber testing at large facilities can require hundreds of instruments, necessitating even more feedthroughs. The number of instruments and sensors that can be fed into a vacuum chamber is limited by the number of feedthrough ports dedicated to instrumentation. Thus high-pin-count,...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Miniaturized Schottky Diode Sensors for Hydrogen and Hydrocarbon Detection at High Temperatures

A miniaturized Schottky diode hydrogen and hydrocarbon sensor with the structure of catalytic metal-metal oxide-silicon carbide (SiC) has been developed. The major innovation of this work is the use of the metal oxide, palladium oxide...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Analog Ceramic Isolated Voltage Sensor

Galvanic isolated monitoring of voltages for launch vehicle, missiles, and space-deployed systems can be very challenging. Radiation exposure makes use of optics-based sensors difficult, as they can latch-up and become corrupted by the radiation environment; such devices can moreover be thermally...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Flexible and Erectable Magnetic Field Response Sensors

The means to make a flexible and/or erectable magnetic field response sensor, a geometrically fixed capacitor mounting frame, a wireless dipstick, and an elastically flexible capacitor support have been developed. Either the capacitor mounting frame or the flexible, erectable magnetic field...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Miniature Amperometric Solid Electrolyte Carbon Dioxide Sensor with Low Detection Limit

A miniaturized amperometric electro-chemical (solid electrolyte) carbon dioxide (CO2) sensor using a novel and robust sensor design has been developed and demonstrated. Semiconductor microfabrication techniques were used in the sensor fabrication,...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Multi-Step DRIE Process to Fabricate Silicon-Based THz Components

Terahertz (THz) frequency radiometers, spectrometers, and radars are promising instruments for the remote sensing of planetary atmospheres such as Mars, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn, and their moons such as Titan, Europa, Ganymede, and others. For these long-term planetary missions,...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Plasma Reduction of Lunar Regolith for In-Space Fabrication

The in situ production of vital gases and raw materials on the lunar surface is an integral part of NASA’s exploration vision. Development of processes for extraction of oxygen and metallics from the lunar regolith will be vital not only for life support on the lunar surface, but also...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Method for Determining Self-Reacting Friction Stir Weld Schedules

This invention establishes a process to define a viable self-reacting friction stir weld (SR-FSW) schedule (parameter settings) for a given material combination. The focus of this process results in a SR-FSW schedule that is insensitive to intentional changes or normal process...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Flexible, Lightweight Vacuum Shell for Load-Responsive Multilayer Insulation for High Thermal Performance

Better thermal insulation is needed to insulate cryogenic propellants used by NASA for launch vehicles, spacecraft, and orbiting fuel depots. In particular, cryotank insulation during in-air pre-launch and launch ascent stages currently uses...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Bulk Separation and Manipulation of Carbon Nanotubes by Type

The utility of this invention is to extract metals (semi-metals) or semiconductors from bulk nanotube samples. The bulk material is a mixture of the two. These materials can then be used to clone a particular type of nanotube, place a particular type in a device, generate smart...

Briefs : Materials
PICA-on-Edge

The current baseline ablator material for the Advanced Development Program (ADP) for the thermal protection system (TPS) of the Orion heat shield is phenolic impregnated carbon ablator (PICA). PICA is a low-density, low-strength material that must be isolated from mechanically and thermally induced deformations and strains of the...

Briefs : Materials
Layered Composite Thermal Insulation System for Non-Vacuum Applications

Ambient air insulation systems for low-temperature (sub-ambient) applications are difficult to achieve because of moisture ingress and environmental degradation, as well as thermal stress-cracking. Most currently accepted methods for externally applied outdoor environments...

Briefs : Materials
White, Electrically Dissipative Thermal Control Coating

A highly reflective, white conductive coating system was developed using various layered coatings to maximize the structural, electrical, and optical reflectance properties for spacecraft radiators. The top layer of the system contains a highly reflective white pigment within a dissipative...

Briefs : Materials
Ultra-High-Temperature Ceramic Composites with SiC Reinforcements

Future-generation materials for use on space transportation vehicles require substantial improvements in material properties, leading to increased reliability and safety, as well as intelligent design to allow for current materials to meet future needs. Ultra-high-temperature...

Briefs : Materials
Cathode Discharge Catalytic Systems for Hydrogen Recovery from Methane

In the process of recovery and regeneration of cabin atmosphere to supply oxygen to facilitate extended-duration manned missions, including expeditions to Mars or a return to the Moon, one of the byproducts of this reaction is waste methane, which is vented into space. This...

Briefs : Materials
Beneficiation of Planetary Regolith by Pneumatically Enhanced Tribocharging of Granular Material

Liberation of oxygen from the mineral ilmenite (FeTiO3), which may be found on the Moon, Mars, or asteroids, is inefficient due to the abundance of other minerals in the excavated regolith that are present but not needed during the...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Fourier Transform Spectrometer on Autonomous Self-Healing Hardware Platform

The autonomous self-healing (eDNA) hardware platform is a reconfigurable field-programmable gate-array (FPGA)-type platform developed by Technical University of Denmark (patent: WO/2010/060923). It is capable of autonomously reconfiguring itself in case a fault is...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Low-Temperature-Compatible Electronics for a Miniature Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectrometer

Missions to Titan are severely limited in available mass and power because spacecraft have to travel over a billion miles to get there, consuming large masses of propellants. Thus low-mass, low-power instruments are a high priority need for Titan...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Ionospheric Delay Compensation Using a Scale Factor Based on an Altitude of a Receiver

GPS receivers must compensate for the delay a GPS signal experiences as it passes through the ionosphere in order to accurately determine the position of the receiver. Receivers limited to terrestrial operation may utilize the Klobuchar parameters transmitted...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Microelectronic Repair Techniques for Wafer-Level Integration

Wafer-level integration was employed to mount the microshutter array for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and the detector-read-out hybrid for TIRS (Thermal Infrared Sensor). In the case of the JWST substrate, two conductors (polysilicon and aluminum) separated by a silicon oxide...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Multi-Gigabit-Rate Radiation Hard Bus

A concept was developed for a multi-gigabit-rate, radiation-hardened (RH) bus that would support open-system architecture and provide a cost-effective, high-speed interconnect. This concept is based on Advanced Science and Novel Technology Company’s SerDes system, which supports a variety of interfaces,...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Hovercraft Landing System

A concept for recovering reusable spacecraft or capsules, or reusable rocket boosters, has them land on an airbag-based, cushioned platform positioned on a highly maneuverable hovercraft. This landing method would have performance advantages over conventional approaches to reusability by placing most of the landing...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Novel Catalytic Reactor System for CO2 Reduction via Sabatier Process

A novel, short-contact-time Microlith Sabatier reactor system for CO2 reduction offers a significant advance in support of manned spaceflight. Compared to the current and prospective alternatives (including microchannels), the reactor is much smaller and lighter,...

Question of the Week
Would You Own a Robot Pet?