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: Propulsion
Inductive Power Transfer for Spaceflight Systems

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center has developed technology that uses inductive power transfer (IPT) for wireless power interfaces between spaceflight elements (such as the payload, vehicle, and pad). Current spaceflight systems require traditional hardwire connections for power interfaces. This...

Researchers have created a fabric that automatically regulates the amount of heat that passes through, depending on conditions; for example, when conditions are warm and moist — such as those of a...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Microneedles Extract Fluid for Wearable Sensors

Interstitial fluid is clear, colorless, and similar to blood plasma. Continual sampling of important biomarkers in interstitial fluid could help monitor and diagnose many diseases and...

Until about 20 years ago, scientists relied on chemical fluorescent dyes to make biological molecules visible. To look inside cells, stain organelles, and perform...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
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...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics
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...

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

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...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
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...

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...

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...

Briefs: Transportation
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: Test & Measurement
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...

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

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
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.

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...

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...

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...

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...

Briefs: Semiconductors & ICs
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.

Briefs: Internet of Things
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.

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...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
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...

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...

Briefs: Test & Measurement
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...

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...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
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...

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...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
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...

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