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 : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Improved Directed Flux Motor

Electromagnetic motors typically convert electrical energy into rotational mechanical energy and are employed across a wide array of applications. While motors represent relatively mature technology, practitioners continue to seek ways to enhance motor operation including a decrease in cost, drop in size/weight,...

Briefs : Energy
Eliminating Corrosion Extends Life of Lightweight Batteries

Metal-air batteries are one of the lightest and most compact types of batteries but when not in use, they degrade quickly, as corrosion eats away at their metal electrodes. While...

Briefs : Medical
Full-Spectrum Infrasonic Stethoscope for Screening Heart, Carotid Artery, and Lung-Related Diseases

Microphones and stethoscopes are regularly used by physicians to detect sounds when monitoring physiological conditions. These monitors are...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Rotary Electrical Contact

Researchers have developed a fundamentally new type of rotary electrical contact that addresses the two limitations of conventional brush/slip ring technology: 1) short operating lifetime due to sliding-contact...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Direct-Write Quantum Calligraphy in Monolayer Semiconductors

In contrast with conventional light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that emit billions of photons simultaneously to form a steady stream of light, a single photon emitter (SPE) generates...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
All-Fiber, Optically Controlled Optical Switch

An optical switch is a device where information-bearing light may be directed to one of several outputs. Prior art optical switches have mainly been integrated optical waveguide structures such as titanium-diffused (Ti) waveguides in lithium-niobate (LiNbO3) or gallium-arsenide (GaAs)...

Briefs : Medical
Ingestible, Expanding Pill Monitors the Stomach for Up to a Month

An ingestible pill was developed that, upon reaching the stomach, quickly swells to the size of a soft, squishy ping-pong ball big enough to stay in the stomach for an...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Systems and Methods for Correcting Optical Reflectance Measurements

Optical spectroscopy can be used to determine the concentration of chemical species in samples. The amount of light absorbed by a particular chemical species is often linearly related to its concentration through Beer’s Law. For nontransparent materials such as powders,...

Briefs : Medical
Electroceutical Bandages Destroy Bacteria

Used since 2013, electroceutical bandages — which use electrical impulses to treat medical issues — kill bacteria around a wound, allowing wounds to heal faster. In addition, if infection is...

Briefs : Software
Non-Destructive Evaluation (NDE) of Structures Using Transient and Lock-in Thermography

Researchers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center improved their Flash Thermography capabilities by incorporating transient and lock-in thermography. By...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Graphene-Silicon Devices for Optoelectronics Applications

Silicon is a naturally occurring material commonly used as a semiconductor in electronic devices; however, researchers have exhausted the potential of devices with semiconductors made...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Infrared Light-Focusing Platform

Researchers have integrated two technologies widely used in applications such as optical communications, bio-imaging, and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) systems to create a new infrared light-focusing...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Self-Powered, Washable, Wearable Displays

Clothing usually is formed with textiles and has to be both wearable and washable for daily use; however, smart clothing has had a problem with its power sources and moisture permeability, which causes the devices to malfunction. To solve this problem, a textile-based, wearable display module technology...

Briefs : Energy
Impact-Resistant Battery Electrolyte Solidifies When Hit

Lithium-ion batteries commonly used in consumer electronics are notorious for bursting into flame when damaged or improperly packaged. Inspired by the unusual behavior of some liquids...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Stretchable, Rubbery Semiconductors

Researchers have created stretchable, rubbery semiconductors including rubbery integrated electronics, logic circuits, and arrayed sensory skins fully based on rubber materials. The semiconductors have...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Running an LED in Reverse Could Cool Future Computers

Researchers devised a method in which running a light emitting diode (LED) with electrodes reversed was able to cool another device nanometers away. They harnessed the chemical potential...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Micro UV Aerosol Detector

The detection of aerosols within fluid samples can be accomplished by optical methods. Such methods are useful in detecting potentially harmful aerosols such as biological aerosols that may be present after a biological agent attack or industrial accident. It is well known that biological molecules fluoresce when...

Briefs : Medical
Flexible, Transparent, Wearable Bio-Patch

Silicon nanoneedle patches are currently placed between skin, muscles, or tissues where they deliver exact doses of biomolecules. Commercially available silicon nanoneedle patches are usually constructed on a rigid and opaque silicon wafer. The rigidity can cause discomfort and cannot be left in the body...

Briefs : Materials
Rhombohedron Epitaxial Growth with Molten Target Sputtering (MTS) at 500 °C Substrate Temperature

This invention applies to the field of sputtering, depositing SiGe thin films on sapphire substrates. It is a method of modifying the film...

Briefs : Lighting
Bendable Electronic Paper Displays a Range of Colors

The combination of conductive polymers on nanostructures was demonstrated as suited to creating electronic displays as thin as paper. The “paper” is similar to the Kindle tablet. It...

Briefs : Aerospace
In-Situ Characterization and Inspection of Additive Manufacturing Deposits Using Transient Infrared Thermography

Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, is a rapidly growing field in which solid objects can be produced layer-by-layer. This...

Briefs : Materials
Measurement Method for Radioactive Methane

Anew method for measuring radioactive methane is an optical one based on spectroscopy. Previously, radioactive methane has been measured with accelerator mass spectrometry involving expensive machines. Optical measuring could be a cheaper and more agile method.

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Metamaterial Mirror Reflects Sound Waves in Any Direction

Researchers have constructed a “metamirror” device capable of perfectly reflecting sound waves in any direction. The proof-of-principle demonstration is analogous to looking...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Waterproof Graphene Electronic Circuits

The many applications of graphene, an atomically-thin sheet of carbon atoms with extraordinary conductivity and mechanical properties, include the manufacture of sensors. These transform environmental parameters into electrical signals that can be processed and measured with a computer. Due to their...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
3D Printer Uses Rays of Light to Shape Objects

Most 3D printers, including light-based techniques, build up 3D objects layer by layer. This leads to a “stair-step” effect along the edges. They also have difficulties creating flexible...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Radiometric Temperature Measurement Using a DLP-Based Pyrometer

Researchers at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center have identified and evaluated recently available miniature spectrometers that enable compact and robust pyrometry...

Briefs : Materials
Material Could Make Plastic Manufacturing More Energy-Efficient

Anew material was developed that can extract the key ingredient in the most common form of plastic from a mixture of other chemicals while consuming far less energy than usual....

Briefs : Data Acquisition
Machine Learning Tool Computes Flow Around Interactively Designable 3D Objects

When engineers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model the flow of air...

Briefs : RF & Microwave Electronics
High-Performance, Current-Steering Digital-to-Analog Converter

A current-steering digital-to-analog converter (DAC) was developed that achieves improved switching times (up to 75% faster) in high-speed (gigahertz), high-resolution (8-14...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Electron Beam Heating and Atomic Restructuring of Sapphire Surfaces

NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed a new way to reduce the high-temperature heating requirement of sapphire substrates in wafer production. The growth of...

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