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
Coupling Fixture Aligns and Seals Ends of Two Tubes

The figure presents a partial cross section of two poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) tubes with machined ends butted and sealed together in a special coupling fixture. This coupling scheme, in conjunction with the careful selection of PMMA tubes to match inner diameters, ensures the precise...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Ceramic Hybrid Electromechanical Systems

Ceramic hybrid electromechanical systems (CHEMS) have been proposed to overcome some of the disadvantages while retaining most of the advantages of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). Whereas MEMS are fabricated mostly by micromachining of silicon and have typical feature sizes of the order of microns...

Briefs : Materials
Cold Hibernated Elastic Memory (CHEM) Expandable Structures

Experiments have confirmed the feasibility of a new class of lightweight, reliable, simple, and low-cost expandable structures. The concept called "cold hibernated elastic memory" (CHEM) utilizes the shape memory polymers (SMPs) in open cellular structures. Basically, these structures...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Metal/Dielectric-Film Interference Color Filters

Color interference filters for individual pixels in solid-state electronic image and display devices would be made of thin metal and dielectric films, according to a proposal. The proposed filters would overcome the primary disadvantage (high cost) of dye color filters like those used in...

Electronics Tech Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Interdigital Overlay Capacitors for Integrated Circuits

Interdigital overlay capacitors have been invented to decrease the amount of integrated-circuit chip area needed to accommodate a given amount of capacitance. In most very-large-scale integrated (VLSI) circuits and monolithic microwave integrated circuits (MMIC), the integrated capacitors...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Pressurization and Leak Testing of Sample-Return Canisters

A technique that involves pressurization with a radioactive gas has been proposed to solve two problems associated with canisters used to transport samples from remote bodies (planets, moons, asteroids, or comets) back to Earth. The canisters must be sealed at the sampling locations. The...

Electronics Tech Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Optical Power Supply and Data Communication for APS Circuits

Active-pixel-sensor (APS) circuits and perhaps other dense complementary metal oxide/semiconductor (CMOS) very-large-scale integrated (VLSI) circuits would be powered by infrared beams transmitted by laser diodes and received by photodetectors, according to a proposal. Clock signals...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
A Technique for Axial/Torsional Thermomechanical Fatigue Testing

A technique for thermomechanical fatigue testing of thin-walled tubular specimens involves the application of cyclic axial (tension/compression) and torsional (shear) strains, along with thermal cycling. In this technique, the phase relationships among the two strain waveforms and...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Equipping Quick-Disconnect Fittings To Detect Leaks

Quick-disconnect fittings on hoses and bellows can be equipped with sensors to detect leaks and misalignments that cause leaks. Experiments have shown that four types of sensors are effective for this purpose: force sensors, strain gauges, pressure transducers, and microphones. Of these, force...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
"Natural Computing" System

A patent (U.S. Patent No. 5,680,557, "Natural Computing System and Environment") describes an invention that allows people to do computations by using time-tested and trusted ways of representing data and information. This method relies on equations, tables, graphs, worksheets, unit strips, text, and so forth in...

Briefs : Materials
High-Performance Thermoelectric Materials Based on β-Zn4Sb3

Materials based on β-Zn4Sb3have been found to exhibit unusually high values of the dimensionless thermoelectric figure of merit at temperatures between 200 and 400 °C. The discovery that p-type β-Zn4Sb3 is a high-performance thermoelectric...

Briefs : Software
Software for Developing Autopilots for Launch Rockets

Three integrated software products are being developed for use in the further development of autopilot systems for reusable launch vehicles (RLVs). The need for these products arises because of the unique nature of RLVs:

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Novel Full-Color Cathode Ray Tube for Miniature-Display Applications

A novel cathode ray tube (CRT), using a single electron gun and a movable screen, has been developed that now enables miniaturization of a full-color CRT with the same excellent viewing quality customarily found in larger-screen CRTs. In addition to the benefits of wide viewing...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Optoelectronic Liquid-Level Gauges for Aircraft Fuel Tanks

Gauges that would measure liquid levels optically have been proposed for use in aircraft fuel tanks. These gauges would contain no moving parts (no floats) and no wiring inside the tanks. Their overall function could be characterized as that of permanently immersed, self-reading...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Thermoplastic Weld Has Ergonomic and Environmental Benefits

Thermoplastic coupling is a patented welding process that is used to join thermoplastic parts. At the drill press, during a connector design brainstorming session, an engineer at Lucent Technologies' Bell Laboratories inserted a plastic rod into a cavity that was slightly too small in...

Briefs : Motion Control
Surface Micromachining of Diamond for Fabrication of MEMS Microstructures

A surface-micromachining process has been devised for use in fabricating microscopic polycrystalline diamond structures (e.g., bridges and cantilevers) as integral parts of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). The general concept of MEMS encompasses such diverse objects...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Prolonging the Lives of Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Cells

Several modifications of the design and operation of lithium-ion rechargeable electrochemical cells have been proposed to prolong the cycle lives of the cells. As explained below, overdischarge can result in dissolution of a metal current collector in the anode of a cell, with consequent...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
GaAs-Membrane-Diode Mixer for Operation at 2.5 THz

A prototype mixer designed for operation at input frequencies near 2.5 THz incorporates a planar Schottky-barrier diode and a radio-frequency (RF) filter that are parts of an integrated circuit on a GaAs membrane strip, plus several other unique features for which there are numerous potential...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Surface-Plasmon Reflective Flat-Panel Color Displays

Reflective flat-panel color display devices based on surface plasmons are undergoing development. Heretofore, no reflective flat-panel color display devices have been available. The active matrix liquid-crystal devices now used to provide flat-panel color displays must be lit internally, are...

Briefs : Materials
Nonchromic Acid Brightener for Brass and Copper

A process for precleaning brass and copper parts before processing them further in a clean room includes a brightening chemical treatment in solution of 85 volume percent phosphoric acid, 3 volume percent nitric acid, and 12 volume percent acetic acid. This solution acts rapidly and can be...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Shape-Memory-Alloy Thermal-Conduction Switches

Variable-thermal-conduction devices containing shape-memory-alloy (SMA) actuators have been proposed for use in situations in which it is desired to switch on (or increase) thermal conduction when temperatures rise above specified values and to switch off (or decrease) thermal conduction when...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Using Surface-Plasmon Filters To Generate Scrolling Colors

Surface-plasmon tunable filters (SPTFs) have been proposed for use in generating scrolling colors on the faces of liquid-crystal display (LCD) devices. In comparison with a conventional color LCD device equipped with primary-color filters, a LCD device equipped with SPTFs according to...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Desktop Computer System Processes Satellite Data

The Desktop Satellite Data Processor (DSDP) is a prototype computer system for processing telemetry data received from, and command data to be transmitted to, a spacecraft in orbit around the Earth (see figure). The design of the system utilizes very-large-scale integrated (VLSI)...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Analysis of Flutter of the APEX Sailplane

This airplane is expected to be safe from destruction by flutter instabilities.

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Video-Based Foreign Object Detection

The Boeing Company has developed an overhead camera system that can automatically spot small pieces of debris on a work surface that might otherwise go unnoticed. The system automatically analyzes inputs from one or more video cameras to detect undesirable colors representing materials that, if left in...

Briefs : Materials
Composite-Matrix Regenerators for Stirling Engines

A prototype Stirling-engine regenerator containing a matrix made of carbon-fiber-based composite materials has been developed. The concept underlying this development effort is one of exploiting the properties of composite materials (e.g., the anisotropy of thermal conductivity of carbon fibers...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Fabry-Perot Fiber-Optic Temperature Sensor

A class of developmental photonic temperature-measuring systems is based on the use of miniature, fiber-optic-coupled Fabry-Perot interferometers as temperature transducers. These systems are intended for monitoring and control of advanced aircraft engines, conventional and nuclear powerplants,...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Luneberg Lenses Made of Open-Cell Polyurethane Foams

A Luneberg lens is a microwave lens consisting of a series of concentric shells of differing dielectric constants. The highest dielectric constant, or refractive index, resides at the core and the lowest, at the outer shell. Microwaves passing through this arrangement of shells are focused in...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Integrated Electrochemical Sulfur Dioxide Sensors

Integrated electrochemical sensors are being developed for use in measuring concentrations of sulfur dioxide in gas mixtures. These sensors are based on the electrochemical oxidation of SO2 and measurement of the resulting electric current. Conceived for sensing SO2 in...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Dual-Function Microelectronic Sensors

Integrated-circuit image sensors of a proposed type would be capable of operation in either the wavelength band of 0.5 to 2.5 *m, the wavelength band of 2.8 to 5.8 *m, or both bands simultaneously. Called "dual function, thermal optical image sensors" (DTOISs), these sensors could be useful in a variety of...

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

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