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 : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Precision CNT Cutting Mechanism
Precision CNT Cutting Mechanism

NASA Langley Research Center has developed a simple mechanism for the clean cutting of high-strength and high-toughness carbon nanotube/poly-mer fiber composites on demand without high blade wear or...

Precision CNT Cutting Mechanism
Briefs : Imaging
Video Distribution & Storage Unit (VDSU)

Engineers at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Satellite Services Projects Division (SSPD) have designed a high-performance, space-qualified video distribution and storage unit for Restore-L, a spacecraft that will rendezvous, grasp, refuel, and relocate client spacecraft. While previous...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Corrosion and Coating Evaluation System
Corrosion and Coating Evaluation System

Aircraft coatings are the first line of defense when it comes to mitigating structural corrosion of an air platform. As new coatings are developed — particularly those that contain non-chrome primers...

Corrosion and Coating Evaluation System
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Radiation Detection with Plastic Scintillators
Radiation Detection with Plastic Scintillators

It has been established opinion since the 1950s that organic crystals and liquid scintillators can work for detecting neutrons, but that plastics are not suitable for neutron detection. For...

Radiation Detection with Plastic Scintillators
Briefs : Energy
Composite Film Enables Windows that Switch from Transparent to Color
Composite Film Enables Windows that Switch from Transparent to Color

Commercial buildings in the United States account for nearly 40% of the total energy consumption. Among them, electricity is the largest energy source for buildings....

Composite Film Enables Windows that Switch from Transparent to Color
Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Transistor Material Provides Additional Computing Degrees of Freedom
Transistor Material Provides Additional Computing Degrees of Freedom

For several decades, improvements in conventional transistor materials have been sufficient to sustain Moore’s Law — the historical pattern of microchip manufacturers...

Transistor Material Provides Additional Computing Degrees of Freedom
Briefs : Medical
Removable Implant May Control Type 1 Diabetes

For the more than 1 million Americans who live with Type 1 diabetes, daily insulin injections are literally a matter of life and death. And while there is no cure, a new device may help manage the disease.

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Fabrication Process Produces Nanostructures for Electronic Devices
Fabrication Process Produces Nanostructures for Electronic Devices

Demands for improved computer processing power have led researchers to explore both new processes and other materials beyond silicon to produce electronic components....

Fabrication Process Produces Nanostructures for Electronic Devices
Briefs : Aerospace
Offset Compound Gear Inline Two-Speed Drive
Offset Compound Gear Inline Two-Speed Drive

Innovators at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have developed a simple, lightweight, inline, two-speed drive that can be used either as an overall transmission, or as a supplemental add-on input...

Offset Compound Gear Inline Two-Speed Drive
Briefs : Materials
Compact Termination for Structural Soft Goods

Space environments are particularly harsh for the high-strength fibers NASA relies on for soft structures. Kevlar, Nomex, Nylon, and other synthetic fibers are broken down by exposure to the combination of vacuum, atomic oxygen, and ultraviolet radiation. Glass fiber offers unique advantages for...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Cryo-Fluid Capacitor (CFC)
Cryo-Fluid Capacitor (CFC)

NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) has created the Cryo-Fluid Capacitor (CFC) that capitalizes on the energy storage capacity of liquefied gases, and the relative simplicity of high-pressure gas bottles while...

Cryo-Fluid Capacitor (CFC)
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Radiation Analysis Software
Radiation Analysis Software

For emergencies involving radiation, decision-makers must have a means to swiftly assess the situation. Having analysis tools that can quickly and reliably make sense of radiation data is of the essence.

Radiation Analysis Software
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Non-Invasive Intracranial Pressure Measurement
Non-Invasive Intracranial Pressure Measurement

An acknowledged objective of critical-care medicine is a timely, accurate, readily deployable, cost-effective, and, importantly, safe means of assessing and/or monitoring critical...

Non-Invasive Intracranial Pressure Measurement
Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Nano-Sized Actuator Lifts Many Times its Weight
Nano-Sized Actuator Lifts Many Times its Weight

Actuators are used in a wide variety of electromechanical systems and in robotics, in applications such as steerable catheters, aircraft wings that adapt to changing conditions, and wind...

Nano-Sized Actuator Lifts Many Times its Weight
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Affordable Vehicle Avionics (AVA)
Affordable Vehicle Avionics (AVA)

NASA Ames Research Center has developed a novel, low-cost, self-contained guidance system for small payload operators. Small satellites are becoming ever more capable of performing valuable missions for both...

Affordable Vehicle Avionics (AVA)
Briefs : Materials
Low-Alloy, High-Impact-Toughness Steel
Low-Alloy, High-Impact-Toughness Steel

USAF-96 Steel is a low-alloy steel that, when thermally processed with the method described here, has the following typical values: an ultimate tensile strength of 245 ksi, yield strength at 0.2% offset...

Low-Alloy, High-Impact-Toughness Steel
Briefs : Materials
Painted-on Coating Transforms Walls into Sensors and Interactive Surfaces
Painted-on Coating Transforms Walls into Sensors and Interactive Surfaces

Walls often make up more than half of indoor surface area, especially in residential and office buildings. In addition to delimiting spaces, both for functional and...

Painted-on Coating Transforms Walls into Sensors and Interactive Surfaces
Briefs : Communications
Ultra-Wide-Bandgap Power Electronics
Ultra-Wide-Bandgap Power Electronics

Power electronics used for routing, control, and conversion of electrical power traditionally utilize silicon semiconductors. These systems tend to be bulky, require active cooling, and are inadequate for...

Ultra-Wide-Bandgap Power Electronics
Briefs : Propulsion
VTOL UAV with the Cruise Efficiency of a Conventional Fixed-Wing UAV
VTOL UAV with the Cruise Efficiency of a Conventional Fixed-Wing UAV

NASA Langley Research Center has developed Greased Lightning, the first unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that combines vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capability with...

VTOL UAV with the Cruise Efficiency of a Conventional Fixed-Wing UAV
Briefs : Aerospace
Ground-Based System Guides UAVs to Avoid Collisions
Ground-Based System Guides UAVs to Avoid Collisions

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) averages more than 100 reports a month of interactions between unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and commercial or private planes. For UAS to fly in...

Ground-Based System Guides UAVs to Avoid Collisions
Briefs : Aerospace
Airborne Background Oriented Schlieren Technique
Airborne Background Oriented Schlieren Technique

NASA has developed a novel method to render visible the density changes in air that cause a refractive index change by an airborne vehicle. These density changes include shock waves, vortices,...

Airborne Background Oriented Schlieren Technique
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Wearable System Monitors Stomach Activity
Wearable System Monitors Stomach Activity

A wearable, non-invasive system was developed to monitor electrical activity in the stomach over 24 hours — essentially an electrocardiogram for the gastro-intestinal (GI) tract. Monitoring for...

Wearable System Monitors Stomach Activity
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Magnetic Induction Heating of Space Foods During Dispensing Under Weightless Conditions

Hot foods are psychologically pleasing. Food heating systems are currently part of the astronaut feeding program. An electrical method of heating foods during dispensing in space uses magnetic induction heating. The process is up to 95% efficient in...

Briefs : Propulsion
Method for Establishing Cool Flames and Flameless Fuel Oxidation with Zero Emissions Using Non-Equilibrium Plasma Activation

Current engines and combustors run at high temperature, which leads to problems of engine knocking, soot and NOx emissions, and difficulty in combustion control. On the other hand, low-temperature combustion and fuel...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Quick Disconnect for High-Pressure Mate/De-Mate
Quick Disconnect for High-Pressure Mate/De-Mate

NASA Kennedy Space Center seeks partners interested in the commercial application of the Quick Disconnect for High Pressure Mate/De-Mate. Designed at KSC, this technology is intended for use in...

Quick Disconnect for High-Pressure Mate/De-Mate
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Using Vanadium Dioxide to Create Programmable Electronic Functions
Using Vanadium Dioxide to Create Programmable Electronic Functions

Vanadium dioxide’s unique properties make it ideally suited for outperforming silicon and giving rise to a new generation of low-power electronic devices. This compound can...

Using Vanadium Dioxide to Create Programmable Electronic Functions
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
All-Terrain Wheelchair
All-Terrain Wheelchair

Researchers have developed an innovative design for a wheelchair that can more easily navigate on soft and uneven outdoor terrain such as grass and gravel. The chair uses three wheels — two wheels in the front...

All-Terrain Wheelchair
Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Integrating Optical Components into Existing Chip Designs
Integrating Optical Components into Existing Chip Designs

Moving from electrical communication to optical communication is attractive to chip manufacturers because it could significantly increase chips’ speed and reduce power consumption,...

Integrating Optical Components into Existing Chip Designs
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Auto-Zero Differential Amplifier

Engineers in the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Instrument Electronics Development Branch have developed a chopper-stabilized auto-zero amplifier capable of amplifying signals with extremely small amplitude originating from a thermopile-based infrared (IR) sensor. The instrument is self-adjusting in that it...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Algorithm Provides Early Warning of Pathogen Exposure
Algorithm Provides Early Warning of Pathogen Exposure

Overt symptoms of many diseases often do not manifest until days after a person’s initial exposure to the causative pathogen, typically a virus or bacteria. By then, the disease may...

Algorithm Provides Early Warning of Pathogen Exposure

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