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
Multifunctional Hot Structure (HOST) Heat Shield

Traditional heat shield design isolates the functions of the thermal protection system (TPS) from the underlying load-carrying structure. This is due to the use of brittle TPS material that cannot carry the structural loads and that ablate during planetary entry. To isolate the TPS, the...

Briefs : Software
Pegasus 5.2 Software for Automated Pre-Processing of Overset CFD Grids

Pegasus software is used as a pre-processor for overset-grid Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations. It provides the hole-cutting and connectivity information between structured overset grids. The main features of the software include automated hole-cutting...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Fast, Sensitive Hydrogen Sensor

Hydrogen is a promising potential fuel for cars, buses, and other vehicles, and can be converted into electricity in fuel cells. It already is used in medicine and space exploration, as well as in the production of industrial chemicals and food products.

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Feed Mechanism and Method for Feeding Minute Components
Feed Mechanism and Method for Feeding Minute Components

Electrical circuits such as printed wiring boards or hybrid microcircuits designed to utilize surface mount electrical components are commonly assembled by computer-controlled automated...

Feed Mechanism and Method for Feeding Minute Components
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Vibration-Dampening Pedestal for MEMS

Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) are critical devices for various highly sensitive applications; however, the development and potential fielding of these next-generation smart systems is currently impeded by the inability to satisfy the stringent performance standards for precision and control. These...

Briefs : Materials
Self-Healing, Self-Lubricating Tribofilm

Tribologists have developed a diamond-like film that is generated by the heat and pressure of an automotive engine. The ultra-durable, self-lubricating tribofilm — a film that forms between moving surfaces — can be made to develop self-healing, diamondlike carbon (DLC) tribofilms. The film generates...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Fiber-Optic Environmental Radiation Dosimeter

An all-optical, fiber-optic-coupled remote radiation sensor was developed using luminescent, copper-doped quartz material. The key to the technology is the doped quartz material, which produces a luminescence signal that is directly proportional to the radiation dose.

Briefs : Materials
Functionally Graded Metal-Metal Composite Structures

NASA Langley Research Center has developed a functionally graded metal-metal composite structure. The structure is created using a method that avoids deleterious reactions between the different metal constituents, as would be observed via conventional melt processing. The results are unique...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Compact, Portable Device for Structural Vibration Reduction
Compact, Portable Device for Structural Vibration Reduction

Tuned mass dampers are used worldwide to mitigate vibrations in structures like buildings and bridges where excessive movement can be alarming or even sickening to occupants. The...

Compact, Portable Device for Structural Vibration Reduction
Briefs : Motion Control
Robotic Inspector Traverses Water Pipes

Today's water distribution systems lose an average of 20 percent of their supply because of leaks. Current leak-detection systems are expensive and slow to operate, and they don't work well in systems that use wood, clay, or plastic pipes. A robotic system developed by researchers at MIT could provide a...

Briefs : Motion Control
Robotic Gripper Cleans Up Space Debris

Large amounts of existing space debris pose a threat to satellites, space vehicles, and astronauts aboard those vehicles. However, cleaning up the debris is problematic. For example, suction cups don't work in a vacuum, and traditional sticky substances like tape are largely useless because the chemicals...

Briefs : Motion Control
Computational Tool Simplifies Creating Machines That Bend

Replacing rigid joints and linkages with mechanisms that bend offers a number of potential advantages, even as it makes designing devices more difficult. A computational design tool developed by Disney Research promises to make this transition from rigid to compliant mechanisms easier....

Briefs : Motion Control
Electromagnetic Actuator Decouples Linear and Rotary Motions

A lightweight module for rapid, accurate, and versatile positioning of semiconductor chips features a novel electromechanical actuator that can move objects both linearly and rotationally. The technology was developed by researchers at the A*STAR Singapore Institute of Manufacturing...

Briefs : Motion Control
Wireless Magnetic Field Powers Folding Robots

Folding robots based on origami have emerged as an exciting new frontier of robotic design. However, they generally require onboard batteries or a wired connection to a power source, making them bulkier and clunkier than their paper inspiration and limiting their functionality. A team of researchers...

Briefs : Motion Control
Harmonic Air Motor Offers Very High Efficiency

Currently available air motors have many advantages over electric motors. They are more compact, lighter-weight, instantly reversible without sparking, create no heat buildup, are undamaged by stalling or overloading, and supply extremely broad torque and speed range. Generally available commercial...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Optical Sensor for Unknown Gas Detection

Gas sensors are usually engineered to detect a specific molecule in one of many potential categories: toxic gases, combustible gases, and VOCs. A number of technologies, such as infrared, photoionization, catalytic, and electrochemical, are used to test for differing molecular species. Each method has...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Occupancy Sensing Using Wi-Fi Routers

In 2015, commercial and residential buildings accounted for 40% of the energy consumption in the United States according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. As the owners of these buildings seek to decrease costs and reduce energy consumption they have begun to adopt building energy management...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Expert in A Suitcase Cuts Power Bills 10% In Small Commercial Buildings

The Sensor Suitcase is a portable case that contains easy-to-use sensors and other equipment that make it possible for anyone to identify energy-saving opportunities in small commercial buildings. The automated and reusable system combines hardware and software in one...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Clean Water with Sandia Sensor Solution

Water utilities have a Goldilocks problem: If they don't add enough chlorine, nasty bacteria that cause typhoid and cholera survive the purification process. Too much chlorine produces disinfection byproducts such as chloroform, which increase cancer risks. The amount of chlorine needs to be “just...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Project Helps Provide More Precise Detection and Understanding of Seismic Activity In Oklahoma

Induced seismicity is earthquake activity that occurs because of changes in subsurface stress brought about by human activity. Using geology, geophysics, reservoir modeling, and rock mechanics to develop assessment models, this project evaluated the...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Flying Metal Detectors?

Scientists have demonstrated a new way to detect buried and submerged mines. Data is collected by sensors aboard an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The information can then be used to create images to display locations of submerged mines on a device such as an Android. The system was demonstrated by successfully...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Printed Sensors Monitor Tire Wear in Real Time

Electrical engineers at Duke University have invented an inexpensive printed sensor that can monitor the tread of car tires in real time, warning drivers when the rubber meeting the road has grown dangerously thin. If adopted, the device will increase safety, improve vehicle performance, and reduce...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Self-Regulating, Freezable Heat Exchanger for Spacecraft

Aspacecraft thermal control system must keep the vehicle, avionics, and atmosphere (if crewed) within a defined temperature range. Water coolant loops are typically used to transport heat to or from the cabin of a crewed spacecraft via heat exchangers to the heat sink systems that reject...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Low-Power, Lightweight, Ultra-Compact Reverse Water Gas Shift Reactor

Utilizing CO2 to produce H2O and O2 is critical for sustained manned missions in space, and supports both NASA’s cabin Atmosphere Revitalization System (ARS) and ln-situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) concepts. For long-term missions beyond low...

Briefs : Software
Software Suite for Identifying Suspicious Individuals

It can be very useful to know about activities among individuals; for example, which individuals are associated with other individuals? When two or more individuals get together, is there an intended purpose? Who are the leaders or important individuals of a group? What is the organizational...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Inflatable Airlock Technologies

An airlock used in space can provide the ability to leave a pressurized volume and enter free space. This is necessary to perform maintenance or make repairs to the pressurized volume or visiting spacecraft, construct or repair structures or devices, tend in-space experiments, etc. The airlock is used to provide...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Nanowire “Inks” for Paper-Based Printable Electronics

Printed electronics must be heated to melt all the nanoparticles together into a single conductive wire, making it impossible to print circuits on inexpensive plastics or paper. A study shows that tweaking the shape of the nanoparticles in the ink could eliminate the need for heat.

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Portable Kit Recovers Traces of Chemical Evidence

An arson investigation typically requires collecting one or two liters of ashes and debris from various locations within a fire scene in metal cans similar to those used for paint, and sending the material to a lab. The testing methods typically include gas and liquid chromatography or various...

Briefs : Software
Optimized Route Finding for Air and Ground Vehicles

The Automated Impacts Routing (AIR) software is advanced route finding technology for air and ground vehicles. The software provides users the ability to find optimized paths through airspace or ground space, taking into consideration multiple and dynamic adverse conditions that can determine...

Briefs : Software
Automated Transfer Function Generator

When designing or analyzing electrical systems, it is important to understand the relationship between input and output. Power conversion occurs in a “black box,” and transfer functions can be used to provide a better understanding of the processes occurring in this black box. Although they provide a...