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 : Motion Control
Webb Telescope Actuators Move with Microscopic Accuracy

The James Webb Space Telescope will be the most powerful space telescope ever built. With a 21-foot diameter, the telescope’s primary mirror is six times larger than the one used by...

Briefs : Imaging
Device-Free Motion Tracing Using WiFi Signals

Fine-grained human motion tracing — the ability to trace the trajectory of a moving human hand or leg, or even the whole body — is a general capability that is useful in a wide variety of...

Briefs : Materials
Rubber Material Enables Scratch-Proof Surfaces

The slippery state caused by water or oil is called superlubricity — where there is basically no friction on a surface. In graphene, this superlubricity state comes from atomic orbitals that...

Briefs : Communications
Zero-Power Radio Receiver

There are several different types of wireless radio frequency identification (RFID) tags that are truly zero-power radios. Currently, most unpowered wireless RFID tags only have a range of a few meters. There are longrange, low-powered tags that draw energy either from a battery or some other form of localized power. A...

Briefs : Materials
Ultrathin Semiconductor Materials “Rust” to Insulate Circuitry

Silicon has several qualities that have led it to become the bedrock of electronics. One is that it features a very good “native” insulator — silicon dioxide, or...

Briefs : Communications
System Integrates High-Speed Data and Wireless Power Transfer

Sources of wireless power — such as wireless cellphone charging pads — require near-physical contact with the pad, limiting the usefulness of a truly wireless power source. Recent work has extended wireless power to mid-range, which can supply power at inches to feet of...

Briefs : Imaging
Detector System for High-Resolution Imaging

A large-area detector without any dead space capable of handling a large dynamic range does not currently exist. Current large-area detectors have dead zones created by abutting several modules...

Briefs : Green Design & Manufacturing
KSC Weather Data Archive

The Spaceport Weather Data Archive provides a fully searchable database of weather data gathered at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Not only can the user easily retrieve data and download it, but the user can also view graphically the weather data on a map overlay. The data are...

Briefs : Green Design & Manufacturing
BOPPERS: Autonomous Underwater Environmental Monitoring System

A device has been developed that is capable of relatively lengthy unattended operations and high sampling frequency of underwater environmental data anywhere in the world. The...

Briefs : Imaging
Method for Tracking Moving Targets

Moving target indication (MTI) methodologies are essential tools to detect, locate, recognize, and track the moving targets of interest in a movie or video sequence. Different MTI methodologies can be...

Briefs : Communications
Tunable, High-Isolation RF/Microwave Circulator

A new high-isolation RF circulator provides enhanced detection ranges (radar) and improved reception (communications) by reducing signal leakage and undesirable internal reflections between...

Briefs : Imaging
Method Uses Drones and WiFi to Enable 3D Through-Wall Imaging

WiFi signals are everywhere. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or drones) are expected to become a larger part of everyday life. A new methodology was developed for high-resolution,...

Briefs : Communications
Autonomous Positioning and Navigation Network

Engineers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center have developed a machine-to-machine (M2M) network navigation protocol to enable spacecraft to perform autonomous navigation and positioning,...

Briefs : Materials
Aluminum Alloy for High-Temperature Applications

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center originally developed a high-performance piston alloy to meet U.S. legislative restrictions on vehicular exhaust hydrocarbon emissions. NASA 398 aluminum alloy exhibits excellent tensile and fatigue strength at elevated temperatures. NASA 398 alloy also offers...

Briefs : Materials
Strong, Self-Healing Rubber

Self-healing hydrogels rely on water to incorporate reversible bonds that can promote healing. Engineering self-healing properties in dry materials, such as rubber, has proven more challenging because rubber is...

Briefs : Green Design & Manufacturing
Electromagnetic Mop (EMop) for Oil Spill Cleanup

The spillage of oil into the environment is an ongoing concern. Marine oil spills draw much attention because the oil harms marine animals and floral life. Current methods to aid in cleaning up the oil include containment booms, oil skimmers, and dispersants. Chemical dispersants are a tradeoff...

Briefs : Materials
Multi-Functional Yarns and Fabrics with Anti-Microbial, Anti-Static, and Anti-Odor Characteristics

Prior art fabrics used to manufacture military combat uniforms typically are made from yarns comprised of a blend of cotton and nylon fibers. This blend supports dyeing and printing techniques that use a combination of acid and vat dyes to impart a...

Briefs : Green Design & Manufacturing
Detecting Low-Level Harmful Substances in a Large Volume of Fluid

There are many applications requiring the detection and concentration of harmful substances in a fluid; for example, detecting the presence and concentration of a microbial pathogen in a source of drinking water such as a lake, reservoir, river, stream, storage tank, water main,...

Briefs : Green Design & Manufacturing
Flood Impact Analysis Tool

NASA Langley resides in an area prone to tidal flooding. During events that were expected to lead to flooding, there were requests for maps showing the predicted flood level and what infrastructure may be impacted,...

Briefs : Imaging
Image-Based User Authentication

In other user authentication systems, a user authenticates identity by selecting a particular image that is then matched to a previous choice. This invention enables greater security for access control systems by combining facial recognition technology with a user authentication question.

Briefs : Communications
Paper-Thin Device Acts as a Loudspeaker and Microphone

A paper-thin, flexible device was created that can generate energy from human motion, and can act as a loudspeaker and microphone. The transducer is ultrathin, flexible, scalable, and...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Modular Fixturing for Assembly and Welding Applications

Researchers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center have developed new modular fixtures for holding metal in place during the assembly and welding of cylindrical and conical sections...

Briefs : Aerospace
Portable Runway Intersection Display and Monitoring System

Developed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, the subject technology is a portable airport runway/taxiway intersection lighting system and signage designed to prevent incursions. This proposed runway incursion prevention solution aids in the management and prevention of airport...

Briefs : Aerospace
Networked In-Flight Validation Environment for Air Traffic Management Concepts

Modernization of the National Airspace System (NAS) will involve future air traffic management (ATM) concepts of operation and technology frameworks that rely on...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Handheld Spectral Analyzer for Point-of-Care Diagnostics

A spectral transmission-reflectance-intensity (TRI) analyzer was developed that attaches to a smartphone and analyzes patient blood, urine, or saliva samples as reliably as...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
On-line Phased Array Ultrasonic Testing (PAUT) System for Friction Stir Welding (FSW)

Friction Stir Welding (FSW) is a relatively new solid-state welding process, and many industries are now relying on this technique to produce advanced structures. Industries employing this technique include, but are not limited to, aeronautical, motor vehicle,...

Briefs : Materials
Sequential/Simultaneous Multi-Metallized Nanocomposites (S2M2N)

NASA Langley Research Center has developed a method to create Sequential/Simultaneous Multi-Metallized Nanocomposites (S2M2N) via supercritical fluid (SCF) sequential or...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Low-Cost, Long-Lasting Valve Seal

This technology is designed to protect against leaks in solenoid, check, manual, and relief valves, as well as disconnects and regulators.

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center has developed a new,...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Non-Collinear Valve Actuation System

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center scientists have invented a novel valve actuator where the primary actuating system and return spring system are arranged non-collinearly. In the past, valve actuators...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Novel Vent Design Features Variable Flow Control and Rain Protection

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center scientists have designed a vent that can be useful for purging closed compartments, while preventing backflow and foreign object entry. The technology uses a system of configurable devices to provide variable flow control and prevent water,...

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