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 : Photonics/Optics
Piezoelectric Diffraction-Based Optical Switches

Piezoelectric diffraction-based optoelectronic devices have been invented to satisfy requirements for switching signals quickly among alternative optical paths in optical communication networks. These devices are capable of operating with switching times as short as microseconds or even...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Zero-Shear, Low-Disturbance Optical Delay Line

A design concept has been proposed for an optomechanical apparatus that would implement a variable optical delay line with a fixed angle between its input and output light beams. The apparatus would satisfy requirements that emphasize performance in interferometric applications: to contain a minimum...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Whispering-Gallery Mode-Locked Lasers

Mode-locked lasers of a proposed type would incorporate features of the design and operation of previously demonstrated miniature electro-optical modulators and erbium-doped glass lasers that contain whispering-gallery-mode (WGM) resonators. That is to say, WGM lasers and WGM electro-optical modulators would...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Measuring Diffusion of Liquids by Common-Path Interferometry

A method of observing the interdiffusion of a pair of miscible liquids is based on the use of a common-path interferometer (CPI) to measure the spatially varying gradient of the index refraction in the interfacial region in which the interdiffusion takes place. Assuming that the...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Spatial Light Modulators as Optical Crossbar Switches

A proposed method of implementing cross connections in an optical communication network is based on the use of a spatial light modulator (SLM) to form controlled diffraction patterns that connect inputs (light sources) and outputs (light sinks). Sources would typically include optical fibers...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Continuous Tuning and Calibration of Vibratory Gyroscopes

A method of control and operation of an inertial reference unit (IRU) based on vibratory gyroscopes provides for continuously repeated cycles of tuning and calibration. The method is intended especially for application to an IRU containing vibratory gyroscopes that are integral parts of...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Improved Bearingless Switched-Reluctance Motor

The Morrison rotor, named after its inventor, is a hybrid rotor for use in a bearingless switched-reluctance electric motor. The motor is characterized as bearingless in the sense that it does not rely on conventional mechanical bearings: instead, it functions as both a magnetic bearing and a motor....

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Compact, Pneumatically Actuated Filter Shuttle

A compact, pneu- matically actuated filter shuttle has been invented to enable alternating imaging of a wind-tunnel model in two different spectral bands characteristic of the pressure and temperature responses of a pressureand temperature-sensitive paint. This filter shuttle could also be used in...

Briefs : Software
Software for Planning Scientific Activities on Mars

Mixed-Initiative Activity Plan Generator (MAPGEN) is a ground-based computer program for planning and scheduling the scientific activities of instrumented exploratory robotic vehicles, within the limitations of available resources onboard the vehicle. MAPGEN is a combination of two prior...

Briefs : Software
Software for Training in Pre-College Mathematics

The Intelligent Math Tutor (IMT) is a computer program for training students in pre-college and college-level mathe- matics courses, including fundamentals, intermediate algebra, college algebra, and trigonometry. The IMT can be executed on a server computer for access by students via the...

Briefs : Software
Software for Simulating a Complex Robot

RoboSim (Robot Simulation) is a computer program that simulates the poses and motions of the Robonaut — a developmental anthropomorphic robot that has a complex system of joints with 43 degrees of freedom and multiple modes of operation and control. RoboSim performs a full kinematic simulation of all...

Briefs : Software
Software Helps Retrieve Information Relevant to the User

The Adaptive Indexing and Retrieval Agent (ARNIE) is a code library, designed to be used by an application program, that assists human users in retrieving desired information in a hypertext setting. Using ARNIE, the program implements a comp- utational model for interactively learning what...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
A Reference Design for a RapidIO End Point

The new high-speed interconnect standards will dramatically change the way computer and communication systems are designed. Switch- based systems will be the winners in new high-performance designs, and RapidIO is positioned to be one of the more popular serial switch-based standards.

Briefs : Software
Software for Diagnosis of Multiple Coordinated Spacecraft

Distributed Real-Time Model-Based Diagnosis (DRMD) is a computer program for diagnosing faults in multiple spacecraft cooperating in a specific task (e.g., flying in formation to constitute an inter- ferometer). DRMD takes advantage of both (1) the superiority of model-based software for...

Briefs : Software
Software for Refining or Coarsening Computational Grids

A computer program performs calculations for refinement or coarsening of computational grids of the type called “structured” (signifying that they are geo- metrically regular and/or are specified by relatively simple algebraic expressions).

This program is designed to facilitate...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Simulation System for Training in Laparoscopic Surgery

A computer-based simulation system creates a visual and haptic virtual environment for training a medical practitioner in laparoscopic surgery. Heretofore, it has been common practice to perform training in partial laparoscopic surgical procedures by use of a laparoscopic training box that...

Briefs : Software
Software For Displaying Data From Planetary Rovers

Science Activity Planner (SAP) DownlinkBrowser is a computer program that assists in the visualization of processed telemetric data [principally images, image cubes (that is, multispectral images), and spectra] that have been transmitted to Earth from exploratory robotic vehicles (rovers) on...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Toroidal-Core Microinductors Biased by Permanent Magnets

The designs of microscopic toroidalcore inductors in integrated circuits of DC-to-DC voltage converters would be modified, according to a proposal, by filling the gaps in the cores with permanent magnets that would apply bias fluxes (see figure). The magnitudes and polarities of the bias...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Improved Autoassociative Neural Networks

Improved autoassociative neural networks, denoted nexi, have been proposed for use in controlling autonomous robots, including mobile exploratory robots of the biomorphic type. In comparison with conventional autoassociative neural networks, nexi would be more complex but more capable in that they could...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Flasher Powered by Photovoltaic Cells and Ultracapacitors

A unique safety flasher powered by photovoltaic cells and ultracapacitors has been developed. Safety flashers are used wherever there are needs to mark actually or potentially hazardous locations. Examples of such locations include construction sites, highway work sites, and locations of...

Briefs : Medical
Fluorescent Quantum Dots for Biological Labeling

Fluorescent semiconductor quantum dots that can serve as "on/off" labels for bacteria and other living cells are undergoing development. The "on/off" characterization of these quantum dots refers to the fact that, when properly designed and manufactured, they do not fluoresce until and unless they...

Briefs : Medical
Growing Three-Dimensional Corneal Tissue in a Bioreactor

Spheroids of corneal tissue about 5 mm in diameter have been grown in a bioreactor from an in vitro culture of primary rabbit corneal cells to illustrate the production of optic cells from aggregates and tissue. In comparison with corneal tissues previously grown in vitro by other...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Flight Test of an Intelligent Flight-Control System

The F-15 Advanced Controls Technology for Integrated Vehicles (ACTIVE) airplane (see figure) was the test bed for a flight test of an intelligent flight control system (IFCS). This IFCS utilizes a neural network to determine critical stability and control derivatives for a control law, the...

Briefs : Information Technology
Finite-Element Methods for Real-Time Simulation of Surgery

Two finite-element methods have been developed for mathematical modeling of the time-dependent behaviors of deformable objects and, more specifically, the mechanical responses of soft tissues and organs in contact with surgical tools. These methods may afford the computational efficiency...

Briefs : Information Technology
Detecting Moving Targets by Use of Soliton Resonances

A proposed method of detecting moving targets in scenes that include cluttered or noisy backgrounds is based on a soliton-resonance mathematical model. The model is derived from asymptotic solutions of the cubic Schroedinger equation for a one-dimensional system excited by a...

Briefs : Materials
Multiaxial Temperature- and Time-Dependent Failure Model

A temperature- and time-dependent mathematical model predicts the conditions for failure of a material subjected to multiaxial stress. The model was initially applied to a filled epoxy below its glass-transition temperature, and is expected to be applicable to other materials, at least...

Briefs : Materials
Environmentally Safer, Less Toxic Fire-Extinguishing Agents

Fire-extinguishing agents comprising microscopic drops of water micro- encapsulated in flame-retardant polymers have been proposed as effective, less toxic, non-ozone- depleting, non-global- warming alternatives to prior fire-extinguishing agents. Among the prior fire-extinguishing...

Briefs : Materials
Switching and Rectification in Carbon-Nanotube Junctions

Multiterminal carbon-nanotube junctions are under investigation as candidate components of nanoscale electronic devices and circuits. Three-terminal "Y" junctions of carbon nanotubes (see Figure 1) have proven to be especially interesting because (1) it is now possible to synthesize them...

Briefs : Materials
Scandia-and-Yttria-Stabilized Zirconia for Thermal Barriers

Zirconia stabilized with both scandia and yttria in suitable proportions has shown promise of being a superior thermal-barrier coating (TBC) material, relative to zirconia stabilized with yttria only. More specifically, a range of compositions in the zirconia/scandia/yttria material...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Single-Vector Calibration of Wind-Tunnel Force Balances

An improved method of calibrating a wind-tunnel force balance involves the use of a unique load application system integrated with formal experimental design methodology. The Single-Vector Force Balance Calibration System (SVS) overcomes the productivity and accuracy limitations of prior...

Webcasts

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Using Portable Scenarios and Coverage Metrics to Ensure...

Upcoming Webinars: Robotics, Automation & Control

Impact of Autonomous and Electric Vehicles in New Product...

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Autonomous Vehicles Sensors: How to Ensure They Work Well and...

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Connectivity Solutions for Robust Data Transmission in Future...

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Transforming the Grid: New Technologies for the Transmission and...

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Military Robotics