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
Lightweight, Self-Deployable Wheels

Ultra-lightweight, self-deployable wheels made of polymer foams have been demonstrated. These wheels are an addition to the roster of cold hibernated elastic memory (CHEM) structural applications. Intended originally for use on nanorovers (very small planetary-exploration robotic vehicles), CHEM wheels could...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Hopping Robot With Wheels

A small prototype mobile robot is capable of (1) hopping to move rapidly or avoid obstacles and then (2) moving relatively slowly and precisely on the ground by use of wheels in the manner of previously reported exploratory robots of the "rover" type. This robot is a descendant of a more primitive hopping robot...

Briefs: Motion Control
Grease-Resistant O Rings for Joints in Solid Rocket Motors

There is a continuing effort to develop improved O rings for sealing joints in solid-fuel rocket motors. Following an approach based on the lessons learned in the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, investigators have been seeking O-ring materials that exhibit adequate resilience...

Efforts are under way to develop a special class of thin-shell curved mirrors for high-resolution imaging in visible and infrared light in a variety of terrestrial or...

A strategy for autonomous navigation of a robotic vehicle across hazardous terrain involves the use of a measure of traversability of terrain within a fuzzy-logic conceptual...

An eight-pole radial magnetic bearing has been modified into a switched-reluctance electric motor capable of operating at a speed as high as 8,000 rpm at a temperature as high as 1,000 °F...

Briefs: Motion Control
Linear Back-Drive Differentials

Linear back-drive differentials have been proposed as alternatives to conventional gear differentials for applications in which there is only limited rotational motion (e.g., oscillation). The finite nature...

Briefs: Medical
Semiselective Optoelectronic Sensors for Monitoring Microbes

Sensor systems are under development for use in real-time detection and quantitation of microbes in water without need for sampling. These systems include arrays of optical sensors; miniature, portable electronic data-acquisition circuits; and optoelectronic interfaces between the...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Survivable Failure Data Recorders for Spacecraft

A spacecraft may be unable to communicate critical data associated with a serious or catastrophic failure. A brief report proposes a system, somewhat like a commercial aircraft "black box," for retrieving these data. A microspacecraft attached to the prime spacecraft would continually store recent...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Bit-Serial Adder Based on Quantum Dots

A proposed integrated circuit based on quantum-dot cellular automata (QCA) would function as a bit-serial adder. This circuit would serve as a prototype building block for demonstrating the feasibility...

Architectures that would exploit the distinct characteristics of quantum-dot cellular automata (QCA) have been proposed for digital communication networks that connect advanced digital...

A radio receiver system that features enhanced capabilities for remote sensing by use of reflected Global Positioning System (GPS) signals has been developed. This system was...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Miniature Gas-Turbine Power Generator

A proposed microelectromechanical system (MEMS) containing a closed- Brayton-cycle turbine would serve as a prototype of electric- power generators for special applications in which high energy densities are required and in which, heretofore, batteries have been used. The system would have a volume of about...

Pneumatically actuated miniature peristaltic vacuum pumps have been proposed for incorporation into advanced miniature versions of scientific instruments that depend on vacuum for...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
A Reactive-Ion Etch for Patterning Piezoelectric Thin Film

Reactive-ion etching (RIE) under conditions described below has been found to be a suitable means for patterning piezoelectric thin films made from such materials as PbZr1-xTixO3 or BaxSr1-xTiO3. In the original...

A process for transferring an entire wafer-level micromachined silicon structure for mating with and bonding to another such structure has been devised. This process is intended...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Pressure-Sensor Assembly Technique

Nielsen Engineering & Research (NEAR) recently developed an ultrathin data acquisition system for use in turbomachinery testing at NASA Glenn Research Center. This system integrates a microelectro-...

Briefs: Information Technology
Quantum Search in Hilbert Space

A proposed quantum-computing algorithm would perform a search for an item of information in a database stored in a Hilbert-space memory structure. The algorithm is intended to make it possible to search relatively quickly through a large database under conditions in which available computing resources would...

A new method of robust, autonomous real-time diagnosis of a time-varying complex system (e.g., a spacecraft, an advanced aircraft, or a process-control system) is presented here. It is...

A new method of calculating the root-mean-square (rms) pointing jitter of a scientific instrument (e.g., a camera, radar antenna, or telescope) is introduced based on a state-space...

Briefs: Information Technology
Software for Estimating Costs of Testing Rocket Engines

A high-level parametric mathematical model for estimating the costs of testing rocket engines and components at Stennis Space Center has been implemented as a Microsoft Excel program that generates multiple spreadsheets. The model and the program are both denoted, simply, the Cost...

Briefs: Information Technology
Software for Building Models of 3D Objects via the Internet

The Virtual EDF Builder (where "EDF" signifies Electronic Development Fixture) is a computer program that facilitates the use of the Internet for building and displaying digital models of three- dimensional (3D) objects that ordinarily comprise assemblies of solid models created...

Briefs: Information Technology
CLARAty Functional-Layer Software

Functional-layer software for the Coupled Layer Architecture for Robotics Autonomy (CLARAty) is being developed. [CLARAty was described in "Coupled-Layer Architecture for Advanced Software for Robots" (NPO-21218), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 26, No. 12 (December 2002), page 48. To recapitulate: CLARAty was proposed...

Briefs: Information Technology
Java Library for Input and Output of Image Data and Metadata

A Java-language library supports input and output (I/O) of image data and metadata (label data) in the format of the Video Image Communication and Retrieval (VICAR) image-processing software and in several similar formats, including a subset of the Planetary Data System (PDS) image...

Briefs: Information Technology
"Virtual Cockpit Window" for a Windowless Aerospacecraft

A software system processes navigational and sensory information in real time to generate a three- dimensional- appearing image of the external environment for viewing by crewmembers of a windowless aerospacecraft. The design of the particular aerospacecraft (the X-38) is such that the...

The performance of a composite part is primarily determined by the orientation of fibers in the plies. Designers wishing to exploit the full potential of...

Briefs: Materials
Low-EC-Content Electrolytes for Low-Temperature Li-Ion Cells

Electrolytes comprising LiPF6 dissolved at a concentration of 1.0 M in three different mixtures of alkyl carbonates have been found well suited for use in rechargeable lithium-ion electrochemical cells at low temperatures. These and other electrolytes have been investigated...

High-energy-density alkaline electrochemical capacitors based on electrodes made of transition-metal nitride nanoparticles are undergoing development. Transition-metal nitrides (in...

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