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 : Materials
Improved Silica Aerogel Composite Materials

A family of aerogel-matrix composite materials having thermal-stability and mechanical-integrity properties better than those of neat aerogels has been developed. Aerogels are known to be excellent thermal- and acoustic-insulation materials because of their molecular-scale porosity, but heretofore, the...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Alignment Pins for Assembling and Disassembling Structures

Simple, easy-to-use, highly effective tooling has been devised for maintaining alignment of bolt holes in mating structures during assembly and disassembly of the structures. The tooling was originally used during removal of a body flap from the space shuttle Atlantis, in which...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
A New, Highly Improved Two-Cycle Engine

The figure presents a cross-sectional view of a supercharged, variable-compression, two-cycle, internal-combustion engine that offers significant advantages over prior such engines. The improvements are embodied in a combination of design changes that contribute synergistically to improvements in...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Flexible Structural-Health-Monitoring Sheets

A generic design for a type of flexible structural- health- monitoring sheet with multiple sensor/actuator types and a method of manufacturing such sheets has been developed. A sheet of this type contains an array of sensing and/or actuation elements, associated wires, and any other associated circuit...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Microgravity, Mesh-Crawling Legged Robots

The design, fabrication, and microgravity flight-testing are part of a continuing development of palm-sized mobile robots that resemble spiders (except that they have six legs apiece, whereas a spider has eight legs). Denoted SpiderBots (see figure), they are prototypes of proposed product line of...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Advanced Active-Magnetic-Bearing Thrust-Measurement System

An advanced thrust-measurement system utilizes active magnetic bearings to both (1) levitate a floating frame in all six degrees of freedom and (2) measure the levitation forces between the floating frame and a grounded frame. This system was developed for original use in measuring the...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Thermally Actuated Hydraulic Pumps

Thermally actuated hydraulic pumps have been proposed for diverse applications in which direct electrical or mechanical actuation is undesirable and the relative slowness of thermal actuation can be tolerated. The proposed pumps would not contain any sliding (wearing) parts in their compressors and, hence,...

Briefs : Medical
Purifying Nucleic Acids From Samples of Extremely Low Biomass

A new method is able to circumvent the bias to which one commercial DNA extraction method falls prey with regard to the lysing of certain types of microbial cells, resulting in a truncated spectrum of microbial diversity. By prefacing the protocol with glass-bead-beating agitation...

Briefs : Medical
Adjustable-Viewing-Angle Endoscopic Tool for Skull Base and Brain Surgery

The term “Multi-Angle and Rear Viewing Endoscopic tooL” (MARVEL) denotes an auxiliary endoscope, now undergoing development, that a surgeon would use in conjunction with a conventional endoscope to obtain additional perspective. The role of the MARVEL in endoscopic...

Briefs : Medical
UV-Resistant Non-Spore-Forming Bacteria From Spacecraft-Assembly Facilities

Four species of non-spore-forming bacteria collected from clean-room surfaces in spacecraft-assembly facilities could survive doses of ultraviolet (UV) radiation that would suffice to kill most known cultivable bacterial species. In a previous study, high UV resistance...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Near-Field Spectroscopy With Nanoparticles Deposited by AFM

An alternative approach to apertureless near- field optical spectroscopy involving an atomic-force microscope (AFM) entails less complexity of equipment than does a prior approach. The alternative approach has been demonstrated to be applicable to apertureless near-field optical...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Simplified Modeling of Oxidation of Hydrocarbons

A method of simplified computational modeling of oxidation of hydrocarbons is undergoing development. This is one of several developments needed to enable accurate computational simulation of turbulent, chemically reacting flows. At present, accurate computational simulation of such flows is...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Hard-X-Ray/Soft-γ-Ray Imaging Sensor Assembly for Astronomy

An improved sensor assembly has been developed for astronomical imaging at photon energies ranging from 1 to 100 keV. The assembly includes a thallium-doped cesium iodide scintillator divided into pixels and coupled to an array of high-gain avalanche photodiodes (APDs). Optionally, the...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Hyperspectral Fluorescence and Reflectance Imaging Instrument

The system is a single hyperspectral imaging instrument that has the unique capability to acquire both fluorescence and reflectance high-spatial-resolution data that is inherently spatially and spectrally registered. Potential uses of this instrument include plant stress monitoring,...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Light Collimator and Monitor for a Spectroradiometer

A system that comprises optical and electronic subsystems has been developed as an infrastructure for a spectroradiometer that measures time- dependent spectral radiance of the daylight sky, in a narrow field of view (having angular width of the order of 1°) centered on the zenith, in...

Briefs : Information Technology
Toward Better Modeling of Supercritical Turbulent Mixing

A study was done as part of an effort to develop computational models representing turbulent mixing under thermodynamic supercritical (here, high pressure) conditions. The question was whether the large-eddy simulation (LES) approach, developed previously for atmospheric-pressure...

Briefs : Information Technology
JPEG 2000 Encoding With Perceptual Distortion Control

An alternative approach has been devised for encoding image data in compliance with JPEG 2000, the most recent still-image data- compression standard of the Joint Photographic Experts Group. Heretofore, JPEG 2000 encoding has been implemented by several related schemes classified as...

Briefs : Information Technology
Intelligent Integrated Health Management for a System of Systems

An intelligent integrated health management system (IIHMS) incorporates major improvements over prior such systems. The particular IIHMS is implemented for any system defined as a hierarchical distributed network of intelligent elements (HDNIE), comprising primarily: (1) an...

Briefs : Information Technology
Delay Banking for Managing Air Traffic

Delay banking has been invented to enhance air-traffic management in a way that would increase the degree of fairness in assigning arrival, departure, and en-route delays and trajectory deviations to aircraft impacted by congestion in the national airspace system. In delay banking, an aircraft operator...

Briefs : Information Technology
Spline-Based Smoothing of Airfoil Curvatures

Constrained fitting for airfoil curvature smoothing (CFACS) is a spline-based method of interpolating airfoil surface coordinates (and, concomitantly, airfoil thicknesses) between specified discrete design points so as to obtain smoothing of surface-curvature profiles in addition to basic smoothing of...

Briefs : Information Technology
Reducing Spaceborne-Doppler-Radar Rainfall-Velocity Error

A combined frequency- time (CFT) spectral moment estimation technique has been devised for calculating rainfall velocity from measurement data acquired by a nadir-looking spaceborne Doppler weather radar system. Prior spectral moment estimation techniques used for this purpose are based...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Progress in Acoustic Transmission of Power Through Walls

A document presents updated information on implementation of the wireless acoustic-electric feed-through (WAEF) concept, which was reported in "Using Piezoelectric Devices To Transmit Power Through Walls" (NPO-41157), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 32, No. 6 (June 2008), page 70. To recapitulate:...

Briefs : Information Technology
Stochastic Analysis of Orbital Lifetimes of Spacecraft

A document discusses (1) a Monte-Carlo-based methodology for probabilistic prediction and analysis of orbital lifetimes of spacecraft and (2) Orbital Lifetime Monte Carlo (OLMC) — a Fortran computer program, consisting of a previously developed long-term orbit-propagator integrated...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Lightweight Carbon-Carbon High-Temperature Space Radiator

A document summarizes the development of a carbon-carbon composite radiator for dissipating waste heat from a spacecraft nuclear reactor. The radiator is to be bonded to metal heat pipes and to operate in conjunction with them at a temperature approximately between 500 and 1,000 K. A goal...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Transmissive Diffractive Optical Element Solar Concentrators

Solar-thermal-radiation concentrators in the form of transmissive diffractive optical elements (DOEs) have been proposed as alternatives to mirror- type solar concentrators now in use. In comparison with functionally equivalent mirror-type solar concentrators, the transmissive,...

Briefs : Materials
Nematic Cells for Digital Light Deflection

Smectic A (SmA) materials can be used in non-mechanical, digital beam deflectors (DBDs) as fillers for passive birefringent prisms based on decoupled pairs of electrically controlled, liquid crystalline polarization rotators, like twisted nematic (TN) cells and passive deflectors. DBDs are used in...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Ultra-Stable Beacon Source for Laboratory Testing of Optical Tracking

The ultra-stable beacon source (USBS) provides a laser-beam output with a very low angular jitter and can be used as an absolute angular reference to simulate a beacon in the laboratory. The laser is mounted on the top of a very short (≈1 m) inverted pendulum (IP) with...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Delaying Trains of Short Light Pulses in WGM Resonators

Suitably configured whispering-gallery-mode (WGM) optical resonators have been proposed as delay lines for trains of short light pulses. Until now, it has been common practice to implement an optical delay line as a coiled long optical fiber, which is bulky and tends to be noisy. An...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Improving the Optical Quality Factor of the WGM Resonator

Resonators usually are characterized with two partially dependent values: finesse (ℱ) and quality factor (Q). The finesse of an empty Fabry-Perot (FP) resonator is defined solely by the quality of its mirrors and is calculated as

ℱ = πR1/2/(1 – R).

Briefs : Software
Multiphysics Modeling Simplifies Analysis of Electrical and Electromagnetic Effects

The Saab Group has 17 business units, which are split into defense and security, systems and products, and aeronautics. Over the years, the company has taken advantage of the many paradigm shifts that have taken place in engineering analysis. One example is...

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