Materials & Manufacturing

Browse innovative developments in materials and manufacturing that significantly impact military, medical devices, automotive, and industrial manufacturing. Advances in plastics, metals, and composites are transforming 3D printing and rapid prototyping.

Electronic devices with unprecedented efficiency and data storage may someday run on ferroelectrics — remarkable materials that use built-in electric polarizations to read...

News: Materials
Fast-Charging Batteries Have 20-Year Lifespan

Scientists at Nanyang Technology University (NTU) have developed ultra-fast charging batteries that can be recharged up to 70 percent in only two minutes.

The new-generation batteries also have a long lifespan of over 20 years, more than 10 times compared to existing lithium-ion batteries.

In...

News: Motion Control
Underwater Robot Skims for Port Security

MIT researchers unveiled an oval-shaped submersible robot, a little smaller than a football, with a flattened panel on one side that it can slide along an underwater surface to perform ultrasound scans.

Originally designed to look for cracks in nuclear reactors’ water tanks, the robot could also...

University of Illinois at Chicago researchers have discovered a way to create a highly sensitive chemical sensor based on the crystalline flaws in graphene sheets. The...

News: Materials
New Material Steals and Stores Oxygen from Air

Researchers from the University of Southern Denmark have synthesized crystalline materials that can bind and store oxygen in high concentrations.The stored oxygen can be released again when and where it is needed.

Depending on the atmospheric oxygen content, temperature, or pressure, it takes...

Terahertz (THz) frequency radiometers, spectrometers, and radars are promising instruments for the remote sensing of planetary atmospheres such as Mars, Venus, Jupiter, and...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Plasma Reduction of Lunar Regolith for In-Space Fabrication

The in situ production of vital gases and raw materials on the lunar surface is an integral part of NASA’s exploration vision. Development of processes for extraction of oxygen and metallics from the lunar regolith will be vital not only for life support on the lunar surface, but also...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Method for Determining Self-Reacting Friction Stir Weld Schedules

This invention establishes a process to define a viable self-reacting friction stir weld (SR-FSW) schedule (parameter settings) for a given material combination. The focus of this process results in a SR-FSW schedule that is insensitive to intentional changes or normal process...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Flexible, Lightweight Vacuum Shell for Load-Responsive Multilayer Insulation for High Thermal Performance

Better thermal insulation is needed to insulate cryogenic propellants used by NASA for launch vehicles, spacecraft, and orbiting fuel depots. In particular, cryotank insulation during in-air pre-launch and launch ascent stages currently uses...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Bulk Separation and Manipulation of Carbon Nanotubes by Type

The utility of this invention is to extract metals (semi-metals) or semiconductors from bulk nanotube samples. The bulk material is a mixture of the two. These materials can then be used to clone a particular type of nanotube, place a particular type in a device, generate smart...

Briefs: Materials
PICA-on-Edge

The current baseline ablator material for the Advanced Development Program (ADP) for the thermal protection system (TPS) of the Orion heat shield is phenolic impregnated carbon ablator (PICA). PICA is a low-density, low-strength material that must be isolated from mechanically and thermally induced deformations and strains of the...

Briefs: Materials
Layered Composite Thermal Insulation System for Non-Vacuum Applications

Ambient air insulation systems for low-temperature (sub-ambient) applications are difficult to achieve because of moisture ingress and environmental degradation, as well as thermal stress-cracking. Most currently accepted methods for externally applied outdoor environments...

Briefs: Materials
White, Electrically Dissipative Thermal Control Coating

A highly reflective, white conductive coating system was developed using various layered coatings to maximize the structural, electrical, and optical reflectance properties for spacecraft radiators. The top layer of the system contains a highly reflective white pigment within a dissipative...

Briefs: Materials
Ultra-High-Temperature Ceramic Composites with SiC Reinforcements

Future-generation materials for use on space transportation vehicles require substantial improvements in material properties, leading to increased reliability and safety, as well as intelligent design to allow for current materials to meet future needs. Ultra-high-temperature...

Briefs: Materials
Cathode Discharge Catalytic Systems for Hydrogen Recovery from Methane

In the process of recovery and regeneration of cabin atmosphere to supply oxygen to facilitate extended-duration manned missions, including expeditions to Mars or a return to the Moon, one of the byproducts of this reaction is waste methane, which is vented into space. This...

Briefs: Materials
Beneficiation of Planetary Regolith by Pneumatically Enhanced Tribocharging of Granular Material

Liberation of oxygen from the mineral ilmenite (FeTiO3), which may be found on the Moon, Mars, or asteroids, is inefficient due to the abundance of other minerals in the excavated regolith that are present but not needed during the...

News: Semiconductors & ICs
3D Printer That Could Build a Home in 24 Hours Wins Global Design Competition

New York, NY – Contour Crafting, a computerized construction method that rapidly 3D prints large-scale structures directly from architectural CAD models, has been awarded the grand prize of $20,000 in the 2014 "Create the Future" Design Contest.

Contour...

News: Motion Control
Robotic Fabric Moves and Contracts

Researchers are developing a robotic, sensor-embedded fabric that moves and contracts. Such an elastic technology could enable a new class of soft robots, stretchable garments, "g-suits" for pilots or astronauts to counteract acceleration effects, and lightweight, versatile robots to roam alien landscapes...

News: Materials
3D Printer Heads to International Space Station

The first 3D printer is soon to fly into Earth orbit, finding a home aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The size of a small microwave, the unit is called Portal. The hardware serves as a testbed for evaluating how well 3D printing and the microgravity of space combine. The soon-to-fly 3D...

News: Photonics/Optics
Researchers Equip Robot with Novel Tactile Sensor

Researchers at MIT and Northeastern University have equipped a robot with a novel tactile sensor that lets it grasp a USB cable draped freely over a hook and insert it into a USB port.

The sensor is an adaptation of a technology called GelSight, which was developed by the lab of Edward Adelson,...

News: RF & Microwave Electronics
Researchers Control Surface Tension of Liquid Metals

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a technique for controlling the surface tension of liquid metals by applying very low voltages, opening the door to a new generation of reconfigurable electronic circuits, antennas and other technologies. The technique hinges on...

News: Materials
'Squid Skin' Metamaterial Yields Vivid Color Display

The quest to create artificial "squid skin" — camouflaging metamaterials that can "see" colors and automatically blend into the background — is one step closer to reality, thanks to a color-display technology by Rice University's Laboratory for Nanophotonics (LANP).

The new full-color...

News: Materials
Untethered Soft Robot Walks Through Flames

Developers from Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have produced the first untethered soft robot — a quadruped that can stand up and walk away from its designers.

The researchers were able to scale up earlier...

News: Semiconductors & ICs
Researchers Create See-Through Solar Concentrator

A team of researchers at Michigan State University has developed a new type of solar concentrator that when placed over a window creates solar energy.

The device is called a transparent luminescent solar concentrator and can be used on buildings, cell phones, and any other device that has a...

Articles: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Products of Tomorrow: September 2014

The technologies NASA develops don’t just blast off into space. They also improve our lives here on Earth. Life-saving search-and-rescue tools, implantable medical devices, advances in commercial...

NASA’s next-generation launch vehicles will be enabled by high-performance composite materials and innovative manufacturing methods. As such, NASA uses...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Ohmic Contact to N- and P-Type Silicon Carbide

Electrical ohmic contacts can be simultaneously formed on silicon carbide (SiC) semiconductors having donor and acceptor impurities (n- and p-type doping, respectively). This implies that such contacts can be formed on SiC layers in one process step during the fabrication of the semiconductor...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Flap Edge Noise Reduction Fins

Aircraft noise is a significant problem with both economic and public health implications, especially for communities near airports. As a result, increasingly stringent constraints are being placed on aircraft carriers worldwide to reduce this noise. The current disclosure focuses on airframe noise generated at or...

Briefs: Materials
Toughened Uni-piece Fibrous Reinforced Oxidation-Resistant Composite (TUFROC)

TUFROC has an exposed surface edge design and an appropriate materials combination for a space vehicle that will survive the mechanical stresses induced in the initial ascent, and will subsequently survive the extreme heating and mechanically stressful environment of...

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