Tech Briefs

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 : Medical
Rapid Detection of Herpes Viruses for Clinical Applications

There are eight herpes viruses that infect humans, causing a wide range of diseases resulting in considerable morbidity and associated costs. Varicella zoster virus (VZV) is a human herpes virus that causes chickenpox in children and shingles in adults. Approximately 1,000,000 new cases...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
High-Speed Data Recorder for Space, Geodesy, and Other High-Speed Recording Applications

A high-speed data recorder and replay equipment has been developed for reliable high-data-rate recording to disk media. It solves problems with slow or faulty disks, multiple disk insertions, high-altitude operation, reliable performance using COTS hardware,...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Datacasting V3.0

Datacasting V3.0 provides an RSS-based feed mechanism for publishing the availability of Earth science data records in real time. It also provides a utility for subscribing to these feeds and sifting through all the items in an automatic manner to identify and download the data records that are required for a specific...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Stacked Transformer for Driver Gain and Receive Signal Splitting

In a high-speed signal transmission system that uses transformer coupling, there is a need to provide increased transmitted signal strength without adding active components. This invention uses additional transformers to achieve the needed gain. The prior art uses stronger drivers...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
An All-Solid-State, Room-Temperature, Heterodyne Receiver for Atmospheric Spectroscopy at 1.2 THz

Heterodyne receivers at submillimeter wavelengths have played a major role in astrophysics as well as Earth and planetary remote sensing. All-solid-state heterodyne receivers using both MMIC (monolithic microwave integrated circuit)...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Wireless Integrated Microelectronic Vacuum Sensor System

NASA Stennis Space Center’s (SSC’s) large rocket engine test facility requires the use of liquid propellants, including the use of cryogenic fluids like liquid hydrogen as fuel, and liquid oxygen as an oxidizer (gases which have been liquefied at very low temperatures). These fluids...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Fabrication Method for LOBSTER-Eye Optics in Silicon

Soft x-ray optics can use narrow slots to direct x-rays into a desirable pattern on a focal plane. While square-pack, square-pore, slumped optics exist for this purpose, they are costly. Silicon (Si) is being examined as a possible low-cost replacement. A fabrication method was developed for...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Compact Focal Plane Assembly for Planetary Science

A compact radiometric focal plane assembly (FPA) has been designed in which the filters are individually co-registered over compact thermopile pixels. This allows for construction of an ultralightweight and compact radiometric instrument. The FPA also incorporates micromachined baffles in order...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Fabrication Methods for Adaptive Deformable Mirrors

Previously, it was difficult to fabricate deformable mirrors made by piezoelectric actuators. This is because numerous actuators need to be precisely assembled to control the surface shape of the mirror. Two approaches have been developed. Both approaches begin by depositing a stack of...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
A Kinematic Calibration Process for Flight Robotic Arms

The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) robotic arm is ten times more massive than any Mars robotic arm before it, yet with similar accuracy and repeatability positioning requirements. In order to assess and validate these requirements, a higher-fidelity model and calibration processes were...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Magnetostrictive Alternator

This innovation replaces the linear alternator presently used in Stirling engines with a continuous-gradient, impedance-matched, oscillating magnetostrictive transducer that eliminates all moving parts via compression, maintains high efficiency, costs less to manufacture, reduces mass, and eliminates the need for a...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
High-Precision Encoders for GEO Space Applications

High-precision encoders are used by earth observation instruments and in mechanisms for laser communication terminals (LCTs). A micro-radian resolution encoder for the LCT was designed for precision pointing applications, especially in geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO) environments with a 15-year...

Briefs : Materials
Non-Toxic, Anti-Corrosive, Crystalline Waterproofing Material

This product is an efficient concrete waterproofing solution. The crystalline, anti-corrosive material features a patented eka-molecular-sieve structure. The cement-based material works with the matrix of cement and water to create crystals that block the pores and capillaries in the...

Briefs : Materials
Film-Forming, Self- Crosslinking, Aqueous Superabsorbent Coating

Aqueous Superabsorbent Coating (ASC) technology is a liquid polymer solution that dries to form an absorbent film. It can absorb up to 40 g/g by weight of water, depending on the chemistry used, and can absorb water vapor from the air up to 70% by weight. Tests have demonstrated a...

Briefs : Materials
Bulk Metallic Glasses and Composites for Optical and Compliant Mechanisms

Mechanisms are used widely in engineering applications due to their ability to translate force and movement. They are found in kinematic pairs, gears, cams, linkages, and in flexure mechanisms (also known as compliant mechanisms). Mechanisms and flexures are used widely in...

Briefs : Medical
Detection of Only Viable Bacterial Spores Using a Live/Dead Indicator in Mixed Populations

This method uses a photoaffinity label that recognizes DNA and can be used to distinguish populations of bacterial cells from bacterial spores without the use of heat shocking during conventional culture, and live from dead bacterial spores using...

Briefs : Medical
Intravenous Fluid Generation System

The ability to stabilize and treat patients on exploration missions will depend on access to needed consumables. Intravenous (IV) fluids have been identified as required consumables. A review of the Space Medicine Exploration Medical Condition List (SMEMCL) lists over 400 medical conditions that could present...

Briefs : Materials
Plastic Optic Fiber—An Evolving Technology

Plastic Optic Fiber (POF) is an established, continually evolving technology available since the early 1980s. From the outset, it was a technology not highly visible for years. At times, it was utilized as a media product within another product, attached to a variety of opto-couplers or light sources....

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Slowing Light Via Beam Coupling in Dye-Doped Chiral Nematics

Apart from the fundamental interest of discovering the physical effects that are behind the light-matter interaction processes that make it possible, slowing and storing light currently attracts a lot of attention because the ability to control the propagation speed of optical pulses,...

Briefs : Lighting
Device Captures Signatures with Tiny Piezo-Phototronic LEDs

Using thousands of nanometer-scale wires, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a sensor device that converts mechanical pressure – from a signature or a fingerprint – directly into light signals that can be captured and processed optically. The sensor...

Briefs : Lighting
New Kind of Ultraviolet LED Could Lead to Portable, Low-Cost Devices

Commercial uses for ultraviolet (UV) light are growing, and now a new kind of LED under development at The Ohio State University could lead to more portable and low-cost uses of the technology. The patent-pending LED creates a more precise wavelength of UV light than today’s...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
A Short-Range Distance Sensor with Exceptional Linearity

A sensor has been demonstrated that can measure distance over a total range of about 300 microns to an accuracy of about 0.1 nm (resolution of about 0.01 nm). This represents an exceptionally large dynamic range of operation — over 1,000,000. The sensor is optical in nature, and requires...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Fast, Large-Area, Wide-Bandgap UV Photodetector for Cherenkov Light Detection

Due to limited resources available for power and space for payloads, miniaturizing and integrating instrumentation is a high priority for addressing the challenges of manned and unmanned deep space missions to high Earth orbit (HEO), near Earth objects (NEOs), Lunar...

Briefs : Information Technology
Commercial Non-Dispersive Infrared Spectroscopy Sensors for Sub-Ambient Carbon Dioxide Detection

Carbon dioxide produced through respiration can accumulate rapidly within closed spaces. If not managed, a crew’s respiratory rate increases, head aches and hyperventilation occur, vision and hearing are affected, and cognitive abilities decrease....

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Miniature Trace Gas Detector Based on Microfabricated Optical Resonators

While a variety of techniques exist to monitor trace gases, methods relying on absorption of laser light are the most commonly used in terrestrial applications. Cavity-enhanced absorption techniques typically use high-reflectivity mirrors to form a resonant cavity, inside...

Briefs : Software
Mission Data System Java Edition Version 7

The Mission Data System framework defines closed-loop control system abstractions from State Analysis including interfaces for state variables, goals, estimators, and controllers that can be adapted to implement a goal-oriented control system. The framework further provides an execution environment that...

Briefs : Software
Adaptive Distributed Environment for Procedure Training (ADEPT)

ADEPT (Adaptive Distributed Environment for Procedure Training) is designed to provide more effective, flexible, and portable training for NASA systems controllers. When creating a training scenario, an exercise author can specify a representative rationale structure using the...

Briefs : Software
LEGEND, a LEO-to-GEO Environment Debris Model

LEGEND (LEO-to-GEO Environment Debris model) is a three-dimensional orbital debris evolutionary model that is capable of simulating the historical and future debris populations in the near- Earth environment. The historical component in LEGEND adopts a deterministic approach to mimic the known...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Millimeter-Wave Localizers for Aircraft-to-Aircraft Approach Navigation

Aerial refueling technology for both manned and unmanned aircraft is critical for operations where extended aircraft flight time is required. Existing refueling assets are typically manned aircraft, which couple to a second aircraft through the use of a refueling boom....

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
SpaceCube Version 1.5

SpaceCube 1.5 is a high-performance and low-power system in a compact form factor. It is a hybrid processing system consisting of CPU (central processing unit), FPGA (field-programmable gate array), and DSP (digital signal processor) processing elements. The primary processing engine is the Virtex-5 FX100T FPGA, which has...