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
Implanted Wireless Nerve Stimulator
Implanted Wireless Nerve Stimulator

In 2016, UC Berkeley engineers demonstrated the first implanted, ultrasonic, neural dust sensors. Now, taking the next step, the smallest-volume wireless nerve stimulator was developed, called StimDust...

Implanted Wireless Nerve Stimulator
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Light-Activated Micro-Pump
Light-Activated Micro-Pump

Even the smallest mechanical pumps have limitations, from the micro-fabrication techniques required to make them to the fact that there are limits on their size. A laser-driven photoacoustic microfluidic pump was...

Light-Activated Micro-Pump
Briefs : Energy
Two-Dimensional Materials Improve Efficiency of Lithium-Air Batteries
Two-Dimensional Materials Improve Efficiency of Lithium-Air Batteries

Lithium-air batteries are poised to become the next replacement for currently used lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles, cell-phones, and computers....

Two-Dimensional Materials Improve Efficiency of Lithium-Air Batteries
Briefs : Materials
Controlling Thermal Conductivity of Polymers with Light
Controlling Thermal Conductivity of Polymers with Light

Polymers are regularly used as thermal insulators and can even be used as thermal conductors to enable efficient heating or cooling. A new type of polymer was created that demonstrates...

Controlling Thermal Conductivity of Polymers with Light
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Data-Compression Technique Speeds Computer Programs

Data compression leverages redundant data to free up storage capacity, boost computing speeds, and provide other perks. In current computer systems, accessing main memory is very expensive compared to actual computation. Because of this, using data compression in the memory helps improve...

Briefs : Imaging
Surgeons Use Augmented Reality to Reconnect Blood Vessels
Surgeons Use Augmented Reality to Reconnect Blood Vessels

Following severe trauma, patients may have tissue damage or open wounds that require reconstructive surgery using fasciocutaneous flaps. These flaps of tissue, which are taken from...

Surgeons Use Augmented Reality to Reconnect Blood Vessels
Briefs : Energy
Hybrid Cathodes Could Boost Energy Capacity of Lithium Batteries
Hybrid Cathodes Could Boost Energy Capacity of Lithium Batteries

Today's lithium-ion batteries use cathodes (one of the two electrodes in a battery) made of a transition metal oxide. Batteries with cathodes made of sulfur are considered a...

Hybrid Cathodes Could Boost Energy Capacity of Lithium Batteries
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Microscale Electro-Hydrodynamic (EHD) Modular Cartridge Pump

The EHD pump uses electric fields to move a dielectric fluid coolant in a thermal loop to dissipate heat generated by electrical components with a low-power system. The pump has only a few key components and no moving parts, increasing the simplicity and robustness of the system. In...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Deployable Emergency Shutoff Device Blocks High-Velocity Fluid Flows

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center has developed a device and method for blocking the flow of fluid from an open pipe. The device plugs, controls, and meters the flow of gases and liquids. Anchored with friction fittings, spikes, or explosively activated fasteners, the device...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Technology Produces Unclonable Digital Fingerprints for Internet of Things Devices
Technology Produces Unclonable Digital Fingerprints for Internet of Things Devices

Researchers have created technology that is 10 times more reliable than current methods of producing unclonable digital fingerprints that can be used to...

Technology Produces Unclonable Digital Fingerprints for Internet of Things Devices
Briefs : Energy
Wearable Liquid Unit Harvests Energy
Wearable Liquid Unit Harvests Energy

Researchers have created wearable technology to convert mechanical energy into electrical energy. It presents a step toward the practical realization of self-powered, human-integrated technologies.

Wearable Liquid Unit Harvests Energy
Briefs : Energy
Process Directly Converts Methane to Methanol
Process Directly Converts Methane to Methanol

Methanol is a key feedstock for the production of chemicals, some of which are used to make products such as plastics, plywood, and paints. Methanol also can fuel vehicles or be reformed to...

Process Directly Converts Methane to Methanol
Briefs : Imaging
Microfocus, Dual-Energy Imaging System Improves Contaminant Detection

Contamination of food with fragments of bone, metal, glass, or other foreign material is a major concern in the food industry. Current inspection technologies often miss very small fragments embedded in meat or other soft materials or lead to ambiguous results that require...

Briefs : RF & Microwave Electronics
More Sensitive Measurement of Semiconductor Material Quality
More Sensitive Measurement of Semiconductor Material Quality

Accurately measuring semiconductor properties of materials in small volumes helps engineers determine the range of applications for which these materials may be suitable in the...

More Sensitive Measurement of Semiconductor Material Quality
Briefs : Materials
Fuel Cell Technology Runs on Solid Carbon
Fuel Cell Technology Runs on Solid Carbon

Whereas hydrogen fuel cells (e.g., proton exchange membrane (PEM) and other fuel cells) generate electricity from the chemical reaction between pure hydrogen and oxygen, direct carbon fuel cells...

Fuel Cell Technology Runs on Solid Carbon
Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Fabricating Nanochips via Thermal Lithography
Fabricating Nanochips via Thermal Lithography

A process for fabricating atom-thin processors can be used to produce at the nanoscale for smaller and faster semiconductors.

Fabricating Nanochips via Thermal Lithography
Briefs : Green Design & Manufacturing
Smartphone Test Spots Poisoned Water Risk

Researchers have developed a biosensor that attaches to a smartphone and uses bacteria to detect unsafe arsenic levels. The device generates easy-to-interpret patterns similar to volume-bars that display the level of contamination.

Briefs : Materials
Supergel System Cleans Radioactively Contaminated Structures
Supergel System Cleans Radioactively Contaminated Structures

A system was developed that can remove radioactive cesium contamination from porous structures such as brick and concrete that are hard to clean, as well as contamination from...

Supergel System Cleans Radioactively Contaminated Structures
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Hybrid Transformer
Hybrid Transformer

Researchers have developed a hybrid transformer that has the benefit of a full planar transformer design but uses a wire-wound secondary winding to keep the parasitic winding capacitances lower. Alone, planar transformers...

Hybrid Transformer
Briefs : IoMT
Noninvasive Device Tests Sweat Continuously for Hours
Noninvasive Device Tests Sweat Continuously for Hours

A continuous-testing device was developed that samples sweat as effectively as blood but in a noninvasive way and over many hours. After examining the use of saliva, tears, and...

Noninvasive Device Tests Sweat Continuously for Hours
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Stretchable Power Source for Wearables
Stretchable Power Source for Wearables

Researchers have created highly stretchable supercapacitors for powering wearable electronics that consist of crumpled carbon nanotube (CNT) forests. The supercapacitors demonstrated solid performance...

Stretchable Power Source for Wearables
Briefs : Aerospace
Aircraft Engine Icing Event Avoidance and Mitigation
Aircraft Engine Icing Event Avoidance and Mitigation

Innovators at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have developed a new means of avoiding and mitigating icing events for aircraft flying above 14,000 feet, dramatically improving aviation...

Aircraft Engine Icing Event Avoidance and Mitigation
Briefs : Test & Measurement
High-Throughput Friction and Wear Tester
High-Throughput Friction and Wear Tester

There is a need for high-volume material testing/qualification but industry and researchers are currently limited by commercially available testing devices. Most wear testers can only handle one...

High-Throughput Friction and Wear Tester
Briefs : Communications
Sensor Network for Air Vehicles
Sensor Network for Air Vehicles

Aircraft currently fly based on coarse estimations of environment and aircraft state. Real-time measurements are traditionally restricted to laboratory environments (e.g. wind tunnel) due to the size and...

Sensor Network for Air Vehicles
Briefs : Lighting
3D Printing of Flexible Circuits

A process was developed for 3D printing that can be used to produce transparent and mechanically flexible electronic circuits. The electronics consist of a mesh of silver nanowires that can be printed in suspension and embedded in various flexible and transparent plastics (polymers). This technology can enable...

Briefs : Energy
Multistep Self-Assembly for Reconfigurable Materials

Self-assembling synthetic materials come together when tiny, uniform building blocks interact and form a structure; however, nature lets materials like proteins of varying size and shape assemble, allowing for complex architectures that can handle multiple tasks.

Briefs : Energy
Automated Guided Wave System for In-Process Cure Monitoring of CFRP Composite Laminates
Automated Guided Wave System for In-Process Cure Monitoring of CFRP Composite Laminates

In the polymer composites industry, cure cycles are typically developed from trial-and-error or a more effective processing science approach to reduce...

Automated Guided Wave System for In-Process Cure Monitoring of CFRP Composite Laminates
Briefs : Medical
Combining Origami and 3D Printing to Make Complex Structures in One Step
Combining Origami and 3D Printing to Make Complex Structures in One Step

There are many different types of 3D printing technologies. The most familiar — inkjet — has been around for some 20 years. But until now, it has been difficult to...

Combining Origami and 3D Printing to Make Complex Structures in One Step
Briefs : Medical
Self-Assembled Micro-Organogels Enable 3D Printing of Silicone Structures
Self-Assembled Micro-Organogels Enable 3D Printing of Silicone Structures

For the millions of people every year who have or need medical devices implanted, an advancement in 3D printing technology could enable significantly quicker...

Self-Assembled Micro-Organogels Enable 3D Printing of Silicone Structures
Briefs : Test & Measurement
Graphene Lid Extends Photoemission Electron Microscopy to Liquids
Graphene Lid Extends Photoemission Electron Microscopy to Liquids

By capping liquids with graphene (an ultrathin sheet of pure carbon), researchers can easily image and analyze liquid interfaces and the surface of nanometer-scale objects...

Graphene Lid Extends Photoemission Electron Microscopy to Liquids