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
Vibrating Quartz Sensor Characterizes Liquid Samples

A novel analytical technology characterizes liquids for healthcare applications. As a drop of liquid evaporates on a vibrating quartz sensor, it undergoes distinctive phase changes representing the unique chemical and physical characteristics of the sample. This unique “fingerprint”...

Briefs : Medical
Reducing Field Distortion in Magnetic Resonance Imaging

A concept for a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system that would utilize a relatively weak magnetic field provides for several design features that differ significantly from the corresponding features of conventional MRI systems. Notable among these features are a magnetic- field...

Briefs : Medical
EPR Imaging at a Few Megahertz Using SQUID Detectors

An apparatus being developed for electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) imaging operates in the resonance- frequency range of about 1 to 2 MHz — well below the microwave frequencies used in conventional EPR. Until now, in order to obtain sufficient signal-to-noise radios (SNRs) in...

Briefs : Medical
A Constant-Force Resistive Exercise Unit

A constant-force resistive exercise unit (CFREU) has been invented for use in both normal gravitational and microgravitational environments. In comparison with a typical conventional exercise machine, this CFREU weighs less and is less bulky: Whereas weight plates and associated bulky supporting...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Fluorogenic Cell-Based Biosensors for Monitoring Microbes

Fluorogenic cell-based sensor systems for detecting microbes (especially pathogenic ones) and some toxins and allergens are undergoing development. These systems harness the natural signaltransduction and amplification cascades that occur in mast cells upon activation with antigens. These...

Briefs : Medical
An Alternative Approach to Combination Vaccines

As the number of investigational and approved vaccines continues to increase, the frequency of vaccinations will soon reach a practical limit. The development of combination vaccines is a common practice that addresses the concern of repeated visits to the clinic by reducing the total number of...

Briefs : Medical
GUI To Facilitate Research on Biological Damage From Radiation

A graphical-user-interface (GUI) computer program has been developed to facilitate research on the damage caused by highly energetic particles and photons impinging on living organisms. The program brings together, into one computational workspace, computer codes that have been...

Briefs : Medical
On-Demand Urine Analyzer

A lab-on-a-chip was developed that is capable of extracting biochemical indicators from urine samples and generating their surface-enhanced Raman spectra (SERS) so that the indicators can be quantified and identified. The development was motivated by the need to monitor and assess the effects of extended weightlessness,...

Briefs : Medical
Advanced Liquid-Cooling Garment Using Highly Thermally Conductive Sheets

This design of the liquid-cooling garment for NASA spacesuits allows the suit to remove metabolic heat from the human body more effectively, thereby increasing comfort and performance while reducing system mass. The garment is also more flexible, with fewer restrictions on...

Briefs : Medical
Engineering Devices to Treat Epilepsy

Many technologies have been proposed for treating epileptic seizures, with the ultimate goal being implantation of stimulators or drug infusion devices in the brain to abort seizures before clinical onset. Device designs range from “blind” stimulators to “intelligent” devices, which are triggered by...

Briefs : Medical
More-Realistic Digital Modeling of a Human Body

A MATLAB computer program has been written to enable improved (relative to an older program) modeling of a human body for purposes of designing space suits and other hardware with which an astronaut must interact. The older program implements a kinematic model based on traditional anthropometric...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Multiparallel Three-Dimensional Optical Microscopy

Multiparallel three-dimensional optical microscopy is a method of forming an approximate three-dimensional image of a microscope sample as a collection of images from different depths through the sample. The imaging apparatus includes a single microscope plus an assembly of beam splitters and...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Sub-Aperture Interferometers

Sub-aperture interferometers — also called wavefront-split interferometers — have been developed for simultaneously measuring displacements of multiple targets. The terms “sub-aperture” and “wavefront-split” signify that the original measurement light beam in an interferometer is split into multiple...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Vacuum-Compatible Wideband White Light and Laser Combiner Source System

For the Space Interferometry Mission (SIM) Spectrum Calibration Development Unit (SCDU) testbed, wideband white light is used to simulate starlight. The white light source mount requires extremely stable pointing accuracy ( lights were coupled to a photonic crystal fiber...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Stabilization of Phase of a Sinusoidal Signal Transmitted Over Optical Fiber

In the process of connecting widely distributed antennas into a coherent array, it is necessary to synchronize the timing of signals at the various locations. This can be accomplished by distributing a common reference signal from a central source, usually over optical...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Optical Tapers as White-Light WGM Resonators

A theoretical analysis has revealed that tapered optical waveguides could be useful as white-light whispering-gallerymode (WGM) optical resonators. The compactness and the fixed-narrow-frequency- band nature of the resonances of prior microdisk and microsphere WGM resonators are advantageous in...

Briefs : Green Design & Manufacturing
Fine-Water-Mist Multiple-Orientation-Discharge Fire Extinguisher
A fine-water-mist fire-suppression device developed at John H. Glenn Research Center can be discharged uniformly in any orientation via a high-pressure gas propellant. Research in recent years has shown that fine water mist can be an effective alternative to ozone-destructive Halons.
Briefs : Energy
Fuel-Cell Water Separator
NASA Glenn Research Center has designed, built, and tested an innovative fuel-cell water separator that not only removes liquid water from a fuel cell’s exhaust ports, but does so with no moving parts or other power-consuming components. The separator employs the potential and kinetic energies already present in the...
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Inexpensive Packaged Subharmonic Down-Converter MMICs

Two packaged monolithic microwave integrated-circuit (MMIC) mixers have been designed to operate as subharmonically pumped frequency down-converters in receivers of satellite- or ground-based digital communication systems. One operates a radio frequency (RF) between 17 and 20 GHz, the other...

Briefs : Materials
Extended Shelf Life for PMR Polyimide Resins and Prepregs

An improved class of formulations for PMR polyimide resins retards the imidization that undesirably occurs during handling and storage. While imidization is desired at the final (deliberate polymerization) stage of production of a polyimide, imidization results in premature aging when it...

Briefs : Materials
Silica-Filled EPDM Rubbers as Ablative Insulating Materials

Silica-filled polymers made from ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) have been found to be useful as ablative thermal-insulation materials. These polymers have been investigated as candidates to replace some previously developed polymeric ablative rocket-engine insulating materials...

Briefs : Materials
Statistical Sampling of Tide Heights Study

The goal of the study was to determine if it was possible to reduce the cost of verifying computational models of tidal waves and currents. Statistical techniques were used to determine the least number of samples required, in a given situation, to remain statistically significant, and thereby reduce...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Multiparallel Three-Dimensional Optical Microscopy

Multiparallel three-dimensional optical microscopy is a method of forming an approximate three-dimensional image of a microscope sample as a collection of images from different depths through the sample. The imaging apparatus includes a single microscope plus an assembly of beam splitters and...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Sub-Aperture Interferometers

Sub-aperture interferometers — also called wavefront-split interferometers — have been developed for simultaneously measuring displacements of multiple targets. The terms “sub-aperture” and “wavefront-split” signify that the original measurement light beam in an interferometer is split into multiple...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Vacuum-Compatible Wideband White Light and Laser Combiner Source System

For the Space Interferometry Mission (SIM) Spectrum Calibration Development Unit (SCDU) testbed, wideband white light is used to simulate starlight. The white light source mount requires extremely stable pointing accuracy (hts were coupled to a photonic crystal fiber...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Stabilization of Phase of a Sinusoidal Signal Transmitted Over Optical Fiber

In the process of connecting widely distributed antennas into a coherent array, it is necessary to synchronize the timing of signals at the various locations. This can be accomplished by distributing a common reference signal from a central source, usually over optical...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Optical Tapers as White-Light WGM Resonators

A theoretical analysis has revealed that tapered optical waveguides could be useful as white-light whispering-gallery-mode (WGM) optical resonators. The compactness and the fixed-narrow-frequency-band nature of the resonances of prior microdisk and microsphere WGM resonators are advantageous in...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Detecting Phase Boundaries in Hard-Sphere Suspensions

A special image-data-processing technique has been developed for use in experiments that involve observation, via optical microscopes equipped with electronic cameras, of moving boundaries between the colloidal-solid and colloidal-liquid phases of colloidal suspensions of monodisperse hard...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
A Deep Space Network Portable Radio Science Receiver

The Radio Science Receiver (RSR) is an open-loop receiver installed in NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN), which digitally filters and records intermediate-frequency (IF) analog signals. The RSR is an important tool for the Cassini Project, which uses it to measure perturbations of the...

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