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 : Wearables
Modular Blocks Enable Plug-and-Play Diagnostic Devices
Modular Blocks Enable Plug-and-Play Diagnostic Devices

Over the past decade, many researchers have been working on small, portable diagnostic devices based on chemical reactions that occur on paper strips. Many of these tests make use of...

Modular Blocks Enable Plug-and-Play Diagnostic Devices
Briefs : Wearables
Wearable Ultrasound Patch Monitors Blood Pressure
Wearable Ultrasound Patch Monitors Blood Pressure

Wearable devices have been limited to sensing signals either on the surface of the skin or right beneath it. A new wearable ultrasound patch non-invasively monitors blood pressure in arteries...

Wearable Ultrasound Patch Monitors Blood Pressure
Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Programming Light on a Chip
Programming Light on a Chip

Microwave signals are ubiquitous in wireless communications but interact too weakly with photons. A technique was developed to fabricate high-performance optical microstructures using lithium niobate, a material...

Programming Light on a Chip
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Double-Fed Induction Linear Alternator

This technology was developed to address the limitations of traditional, single-fed linear alternators that require permanent magnets, adhesive bonding organics, and heavy iron laminations for flux control. They experience eddy-current losses and require electromagnetic interference protection. Furthermore,...

Briefs : Energy
Wood-Based Technology Creates Electricity from Heat

Researchers have transformed a piece of wood into a flexible membrane that generates energy from the same type of electric current (ions) on which the human body runs. This energy is generated using charged channel walls and other unique properties of the wood’s natural nanostructures. With...

Briefs : Transportation
Battery Electrolyte Doubles Driving Range for Electric Vehicles

Conventional electrolytes used in lithium-ion batteries that power household electronics like computers and cellphones are not suitable for lithium-metal batteries. Lithium-metal batteries that replace a graphite electrode with a lithium electrode are the holy grail of energy...

Briefs : Aerospace
Generating Electrical Power from Waste Heat
Generating Electrical Power from Waste Heat

Directly converting electrical power to heat is easy; however, converting heat into electrical power is not as easy. To address this issue, a tiny silicon-based device was developed that can...

Generating Electrical Power from Waste Heat
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Joining Gun Bonds Metal and Plastic in Seconds
Joining Gun Bonds Metal and Plastic in Seconds

The connection of plastics and metals poses a challenge due to the different physical properties of the two materials. All conventional joining options, such as bonds using adhesives or rivets,...

Joining Gun Bonds Metal and Plastic in Seconds
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Smart, Soft, Back Orthosis Uses Real-Time Motion Detection

Back pain is inevitable with constrained posture over a number of hours. Permanent damage such as premature spine wear is not uncommon in people who do not adopt proper ergonomic posture. The same applies to those who frequently lift heavy objects.

Briefs : Software
Algorithm Predicts How Electromagnetic Waves Interact with Materials at the Smallest Scales

Magnetic materials can attract or repel each other based on their polar orientation — positive and negative ends attract each other, while two positives or two negatives repel. When an electromagnetic signal like a radio wave passes through such...

Briefs : Energy
One-Pot Bioconversion of Distiller’s Grains to Advanced Biofuels
One-Pot Bioconversion of Distiller’s Grains to Advanced Biofuels

Increase in bioethanol production throughout the US has led to an increase in the process coproduct — distiller’s grains with solubles (DGS). DGS can be used to feed...

One-Pot Bioconversion of Distiller’s Grains to Advanced Biofuels
Briefs : Aerospace
Improved Directed Flux Motor

Electromagnetic motors typically convert electrical energy into rotational mechanical energy and are employed across a wide array of applications. While motors represent relatively mature technology, practitioners continue to seek ways to enhance motor operation including a decrease in cost, drop in size/weight,...

Briefs : Materials
Eliminating Corrosion Extends Life of Lightweight Batteries
Eliminating Corrosion Extends Life of Lightweight Batteries

Metal-air batteries are one of the lightest and most compact types of batteries but when not in use, they degrade quickly, as corrosion eats away at their metal electrodes. While...

Eliminating Corrosion Extends Life of Lightweight Batteries
Briefs : Test & Measurement
Full-Spectrum Infrasonic Stethoscope for Screening Heart, Carotid Artery, and Lung-Related Diseases
Full-Spectrum Infrasonic Stethoscope for Screening Heart, Carotid Artery, and Lung-Related Diseases

Microphones and stethoscopes are regularly used by physicians to detect sounds when monitoring physiological conditions. These monitors are...

Full-Spectrum Infrasonic Stethoscope for Screening Heart, Carotid Artery, and Lung-Related Diseases
Briefs : Motion Control
Rotary Electrical Contact
Rotary Electrical Contact

Researchers have developed a fundamentally new type of rotary electrical contact that addresses the two limitations of conventional brush/slip ring technology: 1) short operating lifetime due to sliding-contact...

Rotary Electrical Contact
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Direct-Write Quantum Calligraphy in Monolayer Semiconductors
Direct-Write Quantum Calligraphy in Monolayer Semiconductors

In contrast with conventional light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that emit billions of photons simultaneously to form a steady stream of light, a single photon emitter (SPE) generates...

Direct-Write Quantum Calligraphy in Monolayer Semiconductors
Briefs : Materials
All-Fiber, Optically Controlled Optical Switch

An optical switch is a device where information-bearing light may be directed to one of several outputs. Prior art optical switches have mainly been integrated optical waveguide structures such as titanium-diffused (Ti) waveguides in lithium-niobate (LiNbO3) or gallium-arsenide (GaAs)...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Ingestible, Expanding Pill Monitors the Stomach for Up to a Month
Ingestible, Expanding Pill Monitors the Stomach for Up to a Month

An ingestible pill was developed that, upon reaching the stomach, quickly swells to the size of a soft, squishy ping-pong ball big enough to stay in the stomach for an...

Ingestible, Expanding Pill Monitors the Stomach for Up to a Month
Briefs : Test & Measurement
Systems and Methods for Correcting Optical Reflectance Measurements

Optical spectroscopy can be used to determine the concentration of chemical species in samples. The amount of light absorbed by a particular chemical species is often linearly related to its concentration through Beer’s Law. For nontransparent materials such as powders,...

Briefs : IoMT
Electroceutical Bandages Destroy Bacteria
Electroceutical Bandages Destroy Bacteria

Used since 2013, electroceutical bandages — which use electrical impulses to treat medical issues — kill bacteria around a wound, allowing wounds to heal faster. In addition, if infection is...

Electroceutical Bandages Destroy Bacteria
Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Non-Destructive Evaluation (NDE) of Structures Using Transient and Lock-in Thermography
Non-Destructive Evaluation (NDE) of Structures Using Transient and Lock-in Thermography

Researchers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center improved their Flash Thermography capabilities by incorporating transient and lock-in thermography. By...

Non-Destructive Evaluation (NDE) of Structures Using Transient and Lock-in Thermography
Briefs : RF & Microwave Electronics
Graphene-Silicon Devices for Optoelectronics Applications
Graphene-Silicon Devices for Optoelectronics Applications

Silicon is a naturally occurring material commonly used as a semiconductor in electronic devices; however, researchers have exhausted the potential of devices with semiconductors made...

Graphene-Silicon Devices for Optoelectronics Applications
Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Safety Analysis: The Key to a Single-Pass ISO26262 Random Fault Workflow
Safety Analysis: The Key to a Single-Pass ISO26262 Random Fault Workflow

Advanced driver-assistance systems and autonomous drive technologies increase the complexity of automotive integrated circuits (ICs), making it harder to ensure that...

Safety Analysis: The Key to a Single-Pass ISO26262 Random Fault Workflow
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Infrared Light-Focusing Platform
Infrared Light-Focusing Platform

Researchers have integrated two technologies widely used in applications such as optical communications, bio-imaging, and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) systems to create a new infrared light-focusing...

Infrared Light-Focusing Platform
Briefs : Lighting
Self-Powered, Washable, Wearable Displays

Clothing usually is formed with textiles and has to be both wearable and washable for daily use; however, smart clothing has had a problem with its power sources and moisture permeability, which causes the devices to malfunction. To solve this problem, a textile-based, wearable display module technology...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Impact-Resistant Battery Electrolyte Solidifies When Hit
Impact-Resistant Battery Electrolyte Solidifies When Hit

Lithium-ion batteries commonly used in consumer electronics are notorious for bursting into flame when damaged or improperly packaged. Inspired by the unusual behavior of some liquids...

Impact-Resistant Battery Electrolyte Solidifies When Hit
Briefs : Materials
Stretchable, Rubbery Semiconductors
Stretchable, Rubbery Semiconductors

Researchers have created stretchable, rubbery semiconductors including rubbery integrated electronics, logic circuits, and arrayed sensory skins fully based on rubber materials. The semiconductors have...

Stretchable, Rubbery Semiconductors
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Running an LED in Reverse Could Cool Future Computers
Running an LED in Reverse Could Cool Future Computers

Researchers devised a method in which running a light emitting diode (LED) with electrodes reversed was able to cool another device nanometers away. They harnessed the chemical potential...

Running an LED in Reverse Could Cool Future Computers
Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Micro UV Aerosol Detector

The detection of aerosols within fluid samples can be accomplished by optical methods. Such methods are useful in detecting potentially harmful aerosols such as biological aerosols that may be present after a biological agent attack or industrial accident. It is well known that biological molecules fluoresce when...

Briefs : Wearables
Flexible, Transparent, Wearable Bio-Patch

Silicon nanoneedle patches are currently placed between skin, muscles, or tissues where they deliver exact doses of biomolecules. Commercially available silicon nanoneedle patches are usually constructed on a rigid and opaque silicon wafer. The rigidity can cause discomfort and cannot be left in the body...