Tech Briefs

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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: Test & Measurement
High-Energy Instrumentation for Small Satellite Platforms

Given the increased availability of small satellite opportunities either through CubeSats or the Air Force’s University Nanosat program, and the limited availability of larger platforms, it is challenging to develop new instrumentation that not only fits within the envelope of small...

Briefs: Test & Measurement
Variable Acceleration Force Calibration System

A variable acceleration calibration system combines an innovative mechanical system and a statistical design of experiments to calibrate multi-axis force transducers. This system can reduce calibration time, allow for improved calibration of large-scale transducers, provide mobility for on-site...

Briefs: Test & Measurement
A Synthetic Quadrature Phase Detector/ Demodulator for Fourier Transform Spectrometers

Fourier transform spectroscopy works by measuring a spectral/light signal through a Michelson interferometer. In order to know the wavelength of the signal, one must use a stable reference, which is typically a metrology laser. In a standard Fourier transform...

Briefs: Test & Measurement
Device for Direct Measurement of the Diffusivity and Molecular Release Through Membranes and Filters

Concentration-driven molecular diffusion is a fundamental phenomenon essential for the transport of nutrients in cells, for oxygen exchange in the lungs, and mating of chemicals in industrial reactors and the food industry. Thus, diffusion plays...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Increased Alignment in Carbon Nanotube Growth

The combination of electronic and mechanical properties of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) has led to wide-ranging investigation of their potential in future electronics and computing, sensors, electrodes, and composites. A method and system for fabricating an array of two or more CNT structures on a coated...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Process to Fabricate Specific Sized Monodisperse Polystyrene Microparticles

A new method was developed to prepare monodisperse nano to microparticles of polystyrene ranging from 0.5 to 2.5 microns in relatively large-quantity batches (2 L, 10% by weight in water). Current commercial sources are very expensive and can typically only be acquired...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Atmospheric Pressure Plasma-Based Fabrication of Printable Electronics and Functional Coatings

The need for low-cost and environmentally friendly processes for fabricating printable electronics and biosensor chips is growing. Nanomaterials have proved to be very useful in both printable electronics due to their electronic properties, and in...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Passive Destructive Interference Acoustic Liner for a Turbofan Engine Using Additive Manufacturing

This technology exploits the capabilities of additive manufacturing to attenuate the fan noise within the inlet or aft duct of a turbofan engine. The approach may be expanded to include auxiliary power units, environmental control systems, or other...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Diminutive Assembly for Nanosatellite deploYables (DANY) Miniature Release Mechanism

CubeSat appendices such as solar panels and antennas often need to be constrained by a release mechanism during launch. These appendices are then deployed once the desired orbit is reached. The usual constraint method used is a combination of an unpredictable/...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Quantitative Real-Time Flow Visualization Technique

There is a need for experimental techniques that have low cost and rapid turnaround. It is also necessary to obtain quantitative information from such a method. Previous methods are either lacking in quantitative information such as dye or smoke injection, or require considerable set-up and...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Thin-Film Evaporative Cooling for Side-Pumped Lasers

A highly efficient way to cool solid-state crystal lasers was developed. This thin-film evaporative cooling technique offers higher optical efficiencies and monochromatic quality than traditional conductive cooling techniques. Developed for use in side-pumped 2.0- micron laser systems used in...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
MEMS Micro-Translation Stage with Large Linear Travel Capability

A MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) micro-translation stage (MTS) with large linear travel capability was developed that uses capacitive electrostatic forces created by stators arranged linearly on both sides of a channel, and matching rotors on a moveable shuttle for precise...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

A valve cage consists of a stackable planar structure design with paths that are azimuthally cut out and connected radially. The pattern causes the flow to move...

Briefs: Aerospace
Real-Time Aerodynamic Parameter Estimation Without Airflow Angle Measurements

Accurate measurements of airflow angles are among the most expensive and difficult to obtain in flight testing because of the complexity of the airflow near the aircraft and the consequent need to carefully mount and calibrate the sensors. A novel technique was...

Briefs: Aerospace
Method for Improving Control Systems with Normalized Adaptation by Optimal Control Modification

A new technology has been developed for improving performance and stability of control systems. This method represents a significant advancement in the state-of-the-art of adaptive control technology. The present invention is a new type of adaptive...

Briefs: Aerospace
Airborne Coordinated Conflict Resolution and Detection (ACCoRD) Framework

To accommodate the predicted increase in air traffic, the next generation of air traffic management (ATM) systems relies on operational concepts where the responsibility for separation is distributed between airborne and ground systems. These distributed modes of operation...

Briefs: Aerospace
Integrated Pitot Health Monitoring System

The health and integrity of aircraft sensors and instruments play a critical role in aviation safety. Inaccurate or false readings due to icing of airspeed sensors in flight can lead to improper decision-making, resulting in serious consequences. Icing or blockages of pitot airspeed sensors provide very...

Briefs: Aerospace
NASA Aircraft Management Information System (NAMIS)

The NASA Aircraft Management Information System (NAMIS) is an Enterprise Resource Planning/Mission Support software suite designed to meet both the mission support requirements and the business management requirements of NASA Johnson Space Center’s (JSC) Aircraft Operations Division (AOD)....

Briefs: Aerospace
Sector 33 App

Sector 33 is a mobile app for the Apple and Android mobile platforms that provides a single-user, interactive air traffic control simulator (game) for mobile devices. The main features of the app include an interactive air traffic control simulation with numerous problems for two to five airplanes; introductory videos on air...

Briefs: Medical
Retinal Light Processing Using Carbon Nanotubes

NASA has patented a new technology called the Vision Chip, an implantable device that has the potential to restore or supplement visual function in a diseased or damaged retina. This technology could benefit millions of people in the US and globally who suffer from degenerative diseases of the...

Briefs: Medical
Provision of Carbon Nanotube Buckypaper Cages for Immune Shielding of Cells, Tissues, and Medical Devices

NASA has patented a new technology that may prevent the rejection of transplanted cells and tissues. The human immune system identifies and rejects non-host cells and tissues with high efficiency. The new invention involves the fabrication...

Briefs: Medical
Rapid Polymer Sequencer

Solid-state, nanopore-based analysis of nucleic acid polymers is the only technique that can determine information content in single molecules of genetic material at the speed of 1 subunit per microsecond. Because individual molecules are counted, the output is intrinsically quantitative. The nanopore approach is more...

Briefs: Medical
High-Density, Homogenous Bacterial Spore Distributions on Test Surfaces

Thus far, spore transfer had been successful from the polycarbonate membrane onto stainless steel, aluminum, and to some extent, glass. In order to image the endospores under an ESEM (environmental scanning electron microscope), the spores were transferred onto a...

Briefs: Medical
Team Game and Simulation Control

This technology is an offshoot of LaRC-developed technologies using physiological measures for assessing pilot stress, sustained attention, engagement, and awareness in a laboratory flight simulation environment. The technology allows modulation of player inputs to a video game or simulation from a user interface...

Briefs: Medical
CRP Aptamers to Bone-Specific Alkaline Phosphatase (BAP)

In order to detect and quantify bone-specific alkaline phosphatase (BAP) in a human biological sample, a binding agent (molecule) that specifically recognizes BAP in a sample is typically required. This binding agent can then be used in numerous assays/instruments to enable the detection...

Briefs: Communications
VCSEL Laser Array for Communications

Optical communications in terrestrial and space environments require transmitted signals on the order of 40 GHz and higher, because of the uncertain and changing transmission environments. A robust communications system is needed that will provide these frequencies and substantial discrimination between...

Briefs: Communications
Providing a Real-Time Audible Message to a Pilot

An aircraft pilot would prefer to receive information on weather patterns, obstructions, and other conditions that may interfere with a flight plan, formal or informal, as the pilot’s flight proceeds, with a latency of no more than a few minutes. Learning of, and reacting to, a changing...

Briefs: Communications
Pass Plan Formatter (PPF) for Earth Sciences Ground Support System

The TRMM (Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission) and Terra ESMO (Earth Science Mission Operations) Ground Systems needed a method of passing scheduling data through the Goddard Mission Services Evolution Center (GMSEC) bus to other subsystems without modifying the Planning and...

Briefs: Communications
Integrated Tool Archives, Extracts, and Analyzes Spacecraft Housekeeping Telemetry Data (GMSEC R3.0)

The Integrated Trending and Plotting System (ITPS) is a comprehensive tool for storage, extraction, analysis, and plots of spacecraft housekeeping telemetry data (GMSEC R3.0 — Goddard Mission Services Evolution Center). ITPS reports information...

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