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.

Vanadium dioxide’s unique properties make it ideally suited for outperforming silicon and giving rise to a new generation of low-power electronic devices. This compound can...

Briefs: Medical
All-Terrain Wheelchair

Researchers have developed an innovative design for a wheelchair that can more easily navigate on soft and uneven outdoor terrain such as grass and gravel. The chair uses three wheels — two wheels in the front...

Moving from electrical communication to optical communication is attractive to chip manufacturers because it could significantly increase chips’ speed and reduce power consumption,...

Briefs: Aerospace
Auto-Zero Differential Amplifier

Engineers in the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Instrument Electronics Development Branch have developed a chopper-stabilized auto-zero amplifier capable of amplifying signals with extremely small amplitude originating from a thermopile-based infrared (IR) sensor. The instrument is self-adjusting in that it...

Overt symptoms of many diseases often do not manifest until days after a person’s initial exposure to the causative pathogen, typically a virus or bacteria. By then, the disease may...

Briefs: Test & Measurement
Mobile Health Platform

A mobile health technology was developed to monitor and predict a user’s psychological status, and to deliver an automated intervention when needed. The technology uses smart-phones to monitor the user’s location and ask questions about psychological status throughout the day.

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Polymer-Based 2D-to-3D Transformable Surfaces

Technologies using stretchable materials are increasingly important. Yet, in general, it is not possible to control how they stretch with much more sophistication than inflating balloons. A method was developed that allows the calculated transformation of 2D stretchable surfaces into targeted 3D...

Large-scale liquid rocket engines with regeneratively cooled nozzles will enable reliable and reduced-cost access to space. The coolant that circulates through the internal...

When testing composite structures, it is important to understand the response of the structure to the load. Of significance is the formation of damage and growth of that damage leading...

Briefs: Data Acquisition
Compact Science Experiment Module

Crew time on the International Space Station (ISS) is extremely limited for any operations on science payloads. Autonomous science experiments in small, self-contained, cubical payloads are highly desirable...

Briefs: Test & Measurement
Laser Technique Detects Toxic Agents in the Atmosphere

A real-time instrument was developed that could scan the atmosphere for toxic agents in order to alert communities to a biological or chemical attack.

Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Correlation Spectrometer

Correlation spectroscopy is an attractive technique for sensing and analysis applications because it combines the attributes of mechanical and optical simplicity, high selectivity, and good sensitivity. In...

Briefs: Test & Measurement
Mobile Instrument Detects and Samples Aerosol Particles

Hazardous airborne particles pose a risk for health and safety in a variety of environments; thus, detection of these small particles is essential. Current particle magnification systems are bulky and require a lot of power for operation, making them unsuitable to easily detect and analyze...

Briefs: Aerospace
Method for Transferring a Spacecraft from Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit to Lunar Orbit

This novel innovation from Ames Research Center allows spacecraft to share rides with larger spacecraft that are headed to Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO). The secondary spacecraft is dropped off Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) at any time during the day...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Freeform Fabrication Using Electrically Conductive Filaments

The use of multifunctional composites such as mechanically reinforced, electrically and thermally conductive parts is of interest in a range of application areas. Especially interesting and important is where tailorability of function is achieved by strategic placement of materials...

Thinning a material down to a single-atom thickness can dramatically change that material’s physical properties. Graphene, the best known two-dimensional (2D) material, has...

Briefs: Materials
Printing Ink Removes Oxygen in Sealed Packages

Oxygen adversely impacts food flavor and nutrition. NASA’s proposed five-year shelf life for astronaut food requires aggressive measures to minimize oxygen. Previously, NASA packaged foods in containers with a high oxygen and moisture barrier. These materials have limiting properties. They contain...

Researchers at NASA’s Glenn and Langley Research Centers have developed a groundbreaking bio-mimicking acoustic liner for quieting noisy environments. Conventional approaches have not been able to absorb...

Soft robots inspired by nature can crawl, swim, grasp delicate objects, and even assist a beating heart, but none of them has been able to sense and respond to the...

Briefs: Semiconductors & ICs
Fabric Converts Kinetic Energy into Electric Power

A fabric was developed that converts kinetic energy into electric power. The greater the load applied to the textile and the wetter it becomes, the more electricity it generates. The woven fabric generates electricity when it is stretched or exposed to pressure. The fabric can currently generate...

Winter weather such as snow, freezing precipitation, and ice can impact airport surface operations. These conditions may result in significant disruptions in arrival and departure rates. To address...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Surface-Field-Enhanced Detection of Deep UV Photons in Silicon Carbide Avalanche Photodetectors

While silicon carbide (SiC) is an ideal material for building ultraviolet (UV) photodetectors, the absorbed photons get recombined in the first few nanometers at the surface due to a large absorption coefficient in the 200- to 250-nm wavelength band....

A working, rechargeable proton battery was developed that could store more energy than currently available lithium-ion batteries. Potential applications include household storage of...

NASA Langley Research Center has developed a novel aircraft design that can carry 150+ passengers over a range of 3,500 nautical miles. Key features include a turboelectric propulsion system, twin...

Briefs: Test & Measurement
Miniature Mass Spectrometer

For decades, mass spectrometers have offered a relatively fast and highly sensitive way to analyze and detect chemical compounds. But their bulky size has been a hindrance, limiting the in-field potential of the...

Briefs: Semiconductors & ICs
Novel Radiation Shielding Material for Dramatically Extending the Orbit Life of CubeSats

NASA Langley Research Center has developed an innovative radiation shield made by layering metal materials in the Z-shielding method. It is a new, low-cost, and easy-to-implement method to protect CubeSat electronic circuits from ionizing radiation found in...

NASA Langley Research Center has developed a breakthrough technology called Safeguard that can alleviate hazards with unmanned aircraft (UA) flying beyond their authorized perimeters and...

Piezoelectric materials, which generate an electric current when compressed or stretched, are familiar and widely used; for example, lighters that spark when a switch is...

Briefs: Materials
Technique Measures Temperature of 2D Materials at the Atomic Level

Newly developed two-dimensional (2D) materials such as graphene — which consists of a single layer of carbon atoms — have the potential to replace traditional microprocessing chips based on silicon, which have reached the limit of how small they can get. But engineers have...

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