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 : Physical Sciences
Gas Flow Detection System

This system provides a portable means to detect gas flow through a thin-walled tube without breaking into the tubing system. The flow detection system was specifically designed to detect flow through two parallel branches of a manifold with only one inlet and outlet, and is a means for verifying a space shuttle program...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Mapping Capacitive Coupling Among Pixels in a Sensor Array

An improved method of mapping the capacitive contribution to cross-talk among pixels in an imaging array of sensors (typically, an imaging photodetector array) has been devised for use in calibrating and/or characterizing such an array. The method is applicable to almost all image...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Fiber-Based Laser Transmitter for Oxygen A-Band Spectroscopy and Remote Sensing

A fiber-based laser transmitter has been designed for active remote-sensing spectroscopy. The transmitter uses a master-oscillator- power-amplifier (MOPA) configuration with a distributed feedback diode-laser master oscillator and an erbium-doped fiber amplifier. The...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Low-Profile, Dual-Wavelength, Dual-Polarized Antenna

A single-aperture, low-profile antenna design has been developed that supports dual-polarization and simultaneous operation at two wavelengths. It realizes multiple beams in the elevation plane, and supports radiometric, radar, and conical scanning applications.

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Time-Separating Heating and Sensor Functions of Thermistors in Precision Thermal Control Applications

A method allows combining the functions of a heater and a thermometer in a single device, a thermistor, with minimal temperature read errors. Because thermistors typically have a much smaller thermal mass than the objects they monitor, the...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Cellular Reflectarray Antenna

The cellular reflectarray antenna is intended to replace conventional parabolic reflectors that must be physically aligned with a particular satellite in geostationary orbit. These arrays are designed for specified geographical locations, defined by latitude and longitude, each called a “cell.” A particular cell...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Ethernet-Enabled Power and Communication Module for Embedded Processors

The power and communications module is a printed circuit board (PCB) that has the capability of providing power to an embedded processor and converting Ethernet packets into serial data to transfer to the processor. The purpose of the new design is to address the...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Two-Dimensional Synthetic-Aperture Radiometer

A two-dimensional synthetic-aperture radiometer, now undergoing development, serves as a test bed for demonstrating the potential of aperture synthesis for remote sensing of the Earth, particularly for measuring spatial distributions of soil moisture and ocean-surface salinity. The goal is to use the...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
A One-Dimensional Synthetic-Aperture Microwave Radiometer

A proposed one-dimensional synthetic-aperture microwave radiometer could serve as an alternative to either the two-dimensional synthetic-aperture radiometer described in the immediately preceding article or to a prior one-dimensional one, denoted the Electrically Scanned Thinned Array...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Electrical Switching of Perovskite Thin-Film Resistors

Electronic devices that exploit electrical switching of physical properties of thin films of perovskite materials (especially colossal magnetoresistive materials) have been invented. Unlike some related prior devices, these devices function at room temperature and do not depend on externally...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Electrically Variable Resistive Memory Devices

Nonvolatile electronic memory devices that store data in the form of electrical-resistance values, and memory circuits based on such devices, have been invented. These devices and circuits exploit an electrically-variableresistance phenomenon that occurs in thin films of certain oxides that exhibit...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Improved Attachment in a Hybrid Inflatable Pressure Vessel

Some modifications that could be made, separately or together, have been conceived as improvements of the generic design of a structure of the type described in “Hybrid Inflatable...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Electrostatic Separator for Beneficiation of Lunar Soil

A charge separator has been constructed for use in a lunar environment that will allow for separation of minerals from lunar soil. Any future lunar base and habitat must be constructed from strong, dense materials to provide for thermal and radiation protection. It has been proposed that...

Briefs : Materials
Wider-Opening Dewar Flasks for Cryogenic Storage

Dewar flasks have been proposed as containers for relatively long-term (25 days) storage of perishable scientific samples or other perishable objects at a temperature of –175 °C. The refrigeration would be maintained through slow boiling of liquid nitrogen (LN2). For the purposes of...

Briefs : Materials
Supercapacitor Electrolyte Solvents With Liquid Range Below –80 °C

A previous NASA Tech Brief [“Low-Temperature Supercapacitors” (NPO-44386) NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 32, No 7 (July 2008), page 32] detailed ongoing efforts to develop non-aqueous supercapacitor electrolytes capable of supporting operation at temperatures below commercially...

Briefs : Materials
Silicon Oxycarbide Aerogels for High-Temperature Thermal Insulation

A high-performance, silicon oxycarbide (SiOC) aerogel material is suitable for use as thermal insulation at temperatures approaching 1,200 °C. These aerogel composites were created using cost-effective and commercially available polymeric precursors (the polymethylsiloxane...

Briefs : Materials
Designs and Materials for Better Coronagraph Occulting Masks

New designs, and materials appropriate for such designs, are under investigation in an effort to develop coronagraph occulting masks having broad-band spectral characteristics superior to those currently employed. These designs and materials are applicable to all coronagraphs, both...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Turbulence and the Stabilization Principle

Further results of research, reported in several previous NASA Tech Briefs articles, were obtained on a mathematical formalism for postinstability motions of a dynamical system characterized by exponential divergences of trajectories leading to chaos (including turbulence).

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Improved Cloud Condensation Nucleus Spectrometer

An improved thermal-gradient cloud condensation nucleus spectrometer (CCNS) has been designed to provide several enhancements over prior thermal- gradient counters, including fast response and high-sensitivity detection covering a wide range of supersaturations. CCNSs are used in laboratory...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Better Modeling of Electrostatic Discharge in an Insulator

An improved mathematical model has been developed of the time dependence of buildup or decay of electric charge in a high-resistivity (nominally insulating) material. The model is intended primarily for use in extracting the DC electrical resistivity of such a material from voltage-vs.-...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Terahertz Mapping of Microstructure and Thickness Variations

A noncontact method has been devised for mapping or imaging spatial variations in the thickness and microstructure of a layer of a dielectric material. The method involves (1) placement of the dielectric material on a metal substrate, (2) through-the-thickness pulse-echo measurements...

Briefs : Information Technology
Efficient Algorithmic Interleaver for Turbo Decoder

An efficient bit-interleaving algorithm for a turbo encoder differs from prior such algorithms in that it does not require memory to store permutation mappings and can work with constituent decoders that produce multiple bit reliabilities per decoding stage. The algorithm can be implemented in...

Briefs : Information Technology
Generalized Approach to Prognosis for an Engineering System

This new generalized approach to prognostics can provide an automated early failure prediction of an engineering system or its components, often in time to prevent occurrence of hard failures. This approach has been demonstrated in a proof-of-concept software prototype, shown to...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Amorphous Rover

A proposed mobile robot, denoted the amorphous rover, would vary its own size and shape in order to traverse terrain by means of rolling and/or slithering action. The amorphous rover was conceived as a robust, lightweight alternative to the wheeled rover-class robotic vehicle heretofore used in exploration of Mars. Unlike a...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Space-Frame Antenna

The space-frame antenna is a conceptual antenna structure that would be lightweight, deployable from compact stowage, and capable of deforming itself to a size, shape, and orientation required for a specific use. The underlying mechanical principle is the same as that of the amorphous rover described in the immediately...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Space-Frame Lunar Lander

The space-frame lunar lander is a conceptual spacecraft or spacecraftlike system based largely on the same principles as those of the amorphous rover and the space-frame antenna described in the two immediately preceding articles. The space-frame lunar lander was originally intended to (1) land on rough lunar terrain,...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
In-Situ Focusing Inside a Thermal Vacuum Chamber

Traditionally, infrared (IR) space instruments have been focused by iterating with a number of different thickness shim rings in a thermal vacuum chamber until the focus meets requirements. This has required a number of thermal cycles that are very expensive as they tie up many integration and...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Gear-Driven Turnbuckle Actuator

This actuator design allows the extension and contraction of turnbuckle assemblies. It can be operated manually or remotely, and is extremely compact. It is ideal for turnbuckles that are hard to reach by conventional tools. The tool assembly design solves the problem of making accurate adjustments to the variable...

Briefs : Medical
Edge Phantom Measures Sharpness of X-Ray Detectors

Digital radiography makes use of Xray detectors that yield a radiographic image of the object or patient between the X-ray source and the detector. Tools have been developed to assess the image quality characteristics of radiation images. One tool is an edge phantom, placed between source and...

Briefs : Medical
Paracellular Drug Delivery Through Baker’s Yeast Microcapsules

Oral mucosal drug delivery is an alternative method of systemic drug delivery that offers several advantages over both injectable and enteral methods. Since the oral mucosa is highly vascularised, drugs that are absorbed through the oral mucosa directly enter the systemic...

Technology Leaders