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
Curing Composite Materials Using Lower-Energy Electron Beams

In an improved method of fabricating composite-material structures by laying up prepreg tapes (tapes of fiber reinforcement impregnated by uncured matrix materials) and then curing them, one cures the layups by use of beams of electrons having kinetic energies in the range of 200 to...

Briefs : Materials
Aluminum-Alloy-Matrix/Alumina-Reinforcement Composites

Isotropic composites of aluminum alloy matrices reinforced with particulate alumina have been developed as lightweight, high-specific-strength, less expensive alternatives to nickel-base and ferrous superalloys. These composites feature a specific gravity of about 3.45 g/cm3 and specific...

Briefs : Materials
Fibrous-Ceramic/Aerogel Composite Insulating Tiles

Fibrous-ceramic/aerogel composite tiles have been invented to afford combinations of thermal-insulation and mechanical properties superior to those attainable by making tiles of fibrous ceramics alone or aerogels alone. These lightweight tiles can be tailored to a variety of applications that...

Briefs : Materials
Urethane/Silicone Adhesives for Bonding Flexing Metal Parts

Adhesives that are blends of commercially available urethane and silicone adhesives have been found to be useful for bonding metal parts that flex somewhat during use. These urethane/silicone adhesives are formulated for the specific metal parts to be bonded. The bonds formed by these...

Briefs : Software
Windows®-Based Software Models Cyclic Oxidation Behavior

Oxidation of high-temperature aerospace materials is a universal issue for combustion-path components in turbine or rocket engines. In addition to the question of the consumption of material due to growth of protective scale at use temperatures, there is also the question of cyclic...

Briefs : Software
Software for Analyzing Sequences of Flow-Related Images

Spotlight is a computer program for analysis of sequences of images generated in combustion and fluid physics experiments. Spotlight can perform analysis of a single image in an interactive mode or a sequence of images in an automated fashion. The primary type of analysis is tracking of...

Briefs : Information Technology
Increasing Accuracy in Computed Inviscid Boundary Conditions

A technique has been devised to increase the accuracy of computational simulations of flows of inviscid fluids by increasing the accuracy with which surface boundary conditions are represented. This technique is expected to be especially beneficial for computational aeroacoustics,...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Polyethylene Natural-Gas Valves Designed With Finite-Element Analysis

In response to a growing industry trend toward corrosion- and maintenance-free natural-gas valves, Kerotest designed POLYBALL™™ 1/2" to 12" standard- and full-port valves made of medium- and high-density polyethylene. The valves also had to meet or exceed ASME B16.40, ASTM...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Low-Temperature Plasma Functionalization of Carbon Nanotubes
Low-Temperature Plasma Functionalization of Carbon Nanotubes

A low-temperature plasma process has been devised for attaching specified molecular groups to carbon nanotubes in order to impart desired chemical and/or physical properties to the...

Low-Temperature Plasma Functionalization of Carbon Nanotubes
Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Lightweight, Flexible, Thin, Integrated Solar-Power Packs

Lightweight, flexible, thin, one-piece, solar-power packs are undergoing development. Each power pack of this type is a complete, modular, integrated power-supply system comprising three power subsystems that, in conventional practice, have been constructed as separate units and connected...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Fresnel Lenses for Wide- Aperture Optical Receivers

Wide-aperture receivers for free-space optical communication systems would utilize Fresnel lenses instead of conventional telescope lenses, according to a proposal. Fresnel lenses weigh and cost much less than conventional lenses having equal aperture widths. Plastic Fresnel lenses are...

Briefs : Materials
Embedded Heaters for Joining or Separating Plastic Parts
Embedded Heaters for Joining or Separating Plastic Parts

A proposed thermal-bonding technique would make it possible to join or separate thermoplastic parts quickly and efficiently. The technique would eliminate the need for conventional...

Embedded Heaters for Joining or Separating Plastic Parts
Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Laser Sensor-Based System for Automated Inspection of Jet Engine Blades

A system has been developed to replace manual measurement of small jet engine blades during safety and performance inspections. The high-speed, automated system consists of a non-contact laser sensor, signal processing hardware, and standard off-the shelf designs, fixturing,...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Ordered Nanostructures Made Using Chaperonin Polypeptides
Ordered Nanostructures Made Using Chaperonin Polypeptides

A recently invented method of fabricating periodic or otherwise ordered nanostructures involves the use of chaperonin polypeptides. The method is intended to serve as a potentially...

Ordered Nanostructures Made Using Chaperonin Polypeptides
Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Hand-Held Color Meters Based on Interference Filters

Small, inexpensive, hand-held optoelectronic color-measuring devices based on metal-film/dielectric-film interference filters are undergoing development. These color meters could be suitable for use in a variety of applications in which there are requirements to quantify or match colors for...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Two-Stage Solenoid

A proposed design for a solenoid-based electromechanical actuator would provide greater starting force than does a comparable conventional design. As used here, "starting force" signifies the magnetic force exerted by the actuator at one end of its stroke when the gap in its magnetic circuit is the widest. A solenoid of...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Ambient-Light-Canceling Camera Using Subtraction of Frames

The ambient-light-canceling camera (ALCC) is a proposed near-infrared electronic camera that would utilize a combination of (1) synchronized illumination during alternate frame periods and (2) subtraction of readouts from consecutive frames to obtain images without a background component...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Dual-Frequency Airborne Scanning Rain Radar Antenna System

A compact, dual-frequency, dual-polarization, wide-angle-scanning antenna system has been developed as part of an airborne instrument for measuring rainfall. This system is an upgraded version of a prior single-frequency airborne rain radar antenna system and was designed to satisfy...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Improved Ball-and-Socket Docking Mechanism
Improved Ball-and-Socket Docking Mechanism

A proposed docking mechanism would form a ball-and-socket joint in the docked condition. The mechanism could tolerate significant initial misalignment because it would include an alignment cone that...

Improved Ball-and-Socket Docking Mechanism
Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Chemical Thinning Process for Fabricating UV-Imaging CCDs

The thinning stage of the postfabrication process reported in the immediately preceding article is notable in its own right. Although the thinning process was described in the preceding article as part of an overall process of fabrication of a supported chargecoupled device (CCD), it is...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Sensory-Feedback Exoskeletal Arm Controller

An electromechanical exoskeletal arm apparatus has been designed for use in controlling a remote robotic manipulator arm. The apparatus, called a “force-feedback exoskeleton arm master” (F-EAM) is comfortable to wear and easy to don and doff. It provides control signals from the wearer’s arm to a...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
EHW Approach to Temperature Compensation of Electronics
Efforts are under way to apply the concept of evolvable hardware (EHW) to compensate for variations, with temperature, in the operational characteristics of electronic circuits. To maintain the required functionality of a given circuit at a temperature above or below the nominal operating...
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Polymorphic Electronic Circuits

Polymorphic electronics is a nascent technological discipline that involves, among other things, designing the same circuit to perform different analog and/or digital functions under different conditions. For example, a circuit can be designed to function as an OR gate or an AND gate, depending on the temperature...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Micro-Tubular Fuel Cells
Micro-tubular fuel cells that would operate at power levels on the order of hundreds of watts or less are under development as alternatives to batteries in numerous products — portable power tools, cellular telephones, laptop computers, portable television receivers, and small robotic vehicles, to name a few...
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Analysis of SSEM Sensor Data Using BEAM

A report describes analysis of space shuttle main engine (SSME) sensor data using Beacon-based Exception Analysis for Multimissions (BEAM) [NASA Tech Briefs articles, the two most relevant being "Beacon-Based Exception Analysis for Multimissions" (NPO-20827), Vol. 26, No.9 (September 2002), page 32 and...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Hairlike Percutaneous Photochemical Sensors

Instrumentation systems based on hairlike fiber-optic photochemical sensors have been proposed as minimally invasive means of detecting biochemicals associated with cancer and other diseases. The fiber-optic sensors could be mass-produced as inexpensive, disposable components. The sensory tip of a...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Video Guidance Sensors Using Remotely Activated Targets

Four updated video guidance sensor (VGS) systems have been proposed. As described in a previous NASA Tech Briefs article, a VGS system is an optoelectronic system that provides guidance for automated docking of two vehicles. The VGS provides relative position and attitude (6-DOF)...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Simulating Remote Sensing Systems

The Application Research Toolbox (ART) is a collection of computer programs that implement algorithms and mathematical models for simulating remote sensing systems. The ART is intended to be especially useful for performing design-tradeoff studies and statistical analyses to support the rational development of...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Waste-Heat-Driven Cooling Using Complex Compound Sorbents

Improved complex-compound sorption pumps are undergoing development for use as prime movers in heat-pump systems for cooling and dehumidification of habitats for humans on the Moon and for residential and commercial cooling on Earth. Among the advantages of sorption heat-pump systems are...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Pseudoslit Spectrometer

The pseudoslit spectrometer is a conceptual optoelectronic instrument that would offer some of the advantages, without the disadvantages, of prior linear- variable etalon (LVE) spectrometers and prior slit spectrometers. The pseudoslit spectrometer is so named because it would not include a slit, but the combined effects...