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.

A Northwestern University research team has developed a new material that absorbs a wide range of wavelengths and could lead to more efficient and less expensive solar technology. The researchers used...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Microfabrication of a High-Throughput Nanochannel Delivery/Filtration System

A microfabrication process is proposed to produce a nanopore membrane for continuous passive drug release to maintain constant drug concentrations in the patient’s blood throughout the delivery period. Based on silicon microfabrication technology, the dimensions of...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Monolithic Flexure Pre-Stressed Ultrasonic Horns

High-power ultrasonic actuators are generally assembled with a horn, backing, stress bolt, piezoelectric rings, and electrodes. The manufacturing process is complex, expensive, difficult, and time-consuming. The internal stress bolt needs to be insulated and presents a potential internal discharge...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Improved Design and Fabrication of Hydrated-Salt Pills

A high-performance design, and fabrication and growth processes to implement the design, have been devised for encapsulating a hydrated salt in a container that both protects the salt and provides thermal conductance between the salt and the environment surrounding the container. The unitary...

Articles: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Safety & Security Category Winner
AquaSonus Passive-Sonar Pool Alarm William C. Roberts, Bob Hoenig, and Paula Bailey,, Merrimack, NH

Drowning is the second leading cause of death for children, and most drownings...

Articles: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Create the Future Design Contest 2011

The 2011 Create the Future Design Contest — sponsored by COMSOL, Inc., PTC, and Tech Briefs Media Group (publishers of NASA Tech Briefs) — recognized innovation in product design in seven categories: Electronics (new this year), Consumer Products, Machinery & Equipment, Medical, Safety &...

Articles: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Consumer Products Category Winner
UVA+B SunFriend Karin Edgett, Washington, DC, and Shahid
Aslam, Greenbelt, MD

About 90% of non-melanoma and 65% of melanoma skin cancers are associated with ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the...

Briefs: Materials
Temperature-Sensitive Coating Sensor Based on Hematite

A temperature-sensitive coating, based on hematite (iron III oxide), has been developed to measure surface temperature using spectral techniques. The hematite powder is added to a binder that allows the mixture to be painted on the surface of a test specimen. The coating dynamically changes...

Briefs: Materials
Detection of Carbon Monoxide Using Polymer-Carbon Composite Films

A carbon monoxide (CO) sensor was developed that can be incorporated into an existing sensing array architecture. The CO sensor is a low-power chemiresistor that operates at room temperature, and the sensor fabrication techniques are compatible with ceramic substrates.

Briefs: Materials
Substituted Quaternary Ammonium Salts Improve Low-Temperature Performance of Double-Layer Capacitors

Double-layer capacitors are unique energy storage devices, capable of supporting large current pulses as well as a very high number of charging and discharging cycles. The performance of double-layer capacitors is highly dependent on the nature...

Briefs: Materials
Standardization of a Volumetric Displacement Measurement for Two-Body Abrasion Scratch Test Data Analysis

A limitation has been identified in the existing test standards used for making controlled, two-body abrasion scratch measurements based solely on the width of the resultant score on the surface of the material. A new, more robust method is...

Briefs: Materials
Sustainably Sourced, Thermally Resistant, Radiation Hard Biopolymer

This material represents a breakthrough in the production, manufacturing, and application of thermal protection system (TPS) materials and radiation shielding, as this represents the first effort to develop a non-metallic, nonceramic, biomaterial-based, sustainable TPS with the...

Articles: Manufacturing & Prototyping
YouTube and NASA Want Student Experiments

NASA has partnered with Space Adventures to support the YouTube Space Lab competition that invites students to envision and design their own experiment with the ultimate prize -- flying it on the International Space Station.

The contest opened on October 11, and will continue to accept submissions...

News: Materials
Physicists Localize 3D Matter Waves

For the first time, University of Illinois physicists have experimentally demonstrated how three-dimensional conduction is affected by the defects that plague materials. An understanding of these effects is important for many electronics applications, including ultrasonic waves in medical imaging, lasers for...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Pallet Manufacturing Process and Machinery Using Recycled Plastic Materials

As the recycling of plastic continues in the United States, there is a great need for the increased utilization of recycled products. Some of the plastic being recycled is extruded into a product known as plastic lumber, which is similar in shape and texture to its wood...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Technique for Configuring an Actively Cooled Thermal Shield in a Flight System

Broad area cooling shields are a massefficient alternative to conductively cooled thermal radiation shielding. The shield would actively intercept a large portion of incident thermal radiation and transport the heat away using cryogenic helium gas. The design concept...

Briefs: Materials
Use of Additives to Improve Performance of Methyl Butyrate-Based Lithium-Ion Electrolytes

This work addresses the need for robust rechargeable batteries that can operate well over a wide temperature range. To this end, a number of electrolyte formulations have been developed that incorporate the use of electrolyte additives to improve the...

Briefs: Materials
Li-Ion Cells Employing Electrolytes With Methyl Propionate and Ethyl Butyrate Co-Solvents

Future NASA missions aimed at exploring Mars and the outer planets require rechargeable batteries that can operate at low temperatures to satisfy the requirements of such applications as landers, rovers, and penetrators. A number of terrestrial...

Multi-Layer Insulation (MLI) materials
Dunmore Corporation
Bristol, PA

The final flight of the Space Shuttle...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Silicon Carbide Mounts for Fabry-Perot Interferometers

Etalon mounts for tunable Fabry-Perot interferometers can now be fabricated from reaction-bonded silicon carbide structural components. These mounts are rigid, lightweight, and thermally stable. The fabrication of these mounts involves the exploitation of post-casting capabilities that (1)...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Measuring the In-Process Figure, Final Prescription, and System Alignment of Large Optics and Segmented Mirrors Using Lidar Metrology

The fabrication of large optics is traditionally a slow process, and fabrication capability is often limited by measurement capability. While techniques exist to measure mirror figure with nanometer precision,...

NASA Tech Needs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Establishing a Network of pFab Innovators
Nancy M.H. Holloway, Section Head
Advanced Fabrication Processes Section
Fabrication Technology Development Branch
NASA Langley Research Center
Hampton, VA

The Fabrication...

Briefs: Materials
Fiber-Reinforced Reactive Nano-Epoxy Composites

A family of metal/ceramic composite materials has been developed that are relatively inexpensive, lightweight alternatives to structural materials that are typified by beryllium, aluminum, and graphite/epoxy composites. These metal/ceramic composites were originally intended to replace beryllium...

Briefs: Materials
Iridium-Doped Ruthenium Oxide Catalyst for Oxygen Evolution

NASA requires a durable and efficient catalyst for the electrolysis of water in a polymer-electrolyte-membrane (PEM) cell. Ruthenium oxide in a slightly reduced form is known to be a very efficient catalyst for the anodic oxidation of water to oxygen, but it degrades rapidly, reducing...

Dispersion-strengthened molybdenum-rhenium alloys for vacuum plasma spraying (VPS) fabrication of high-temperature-resistant components are undergoing development. In comparison with...

Briefs: Materials
Polymerization Initiated at the Sidewalls of Carbon Nanotubes

A process has been developed for growing polymer chains via anionic, cationic, or radical polymerization from the side walls of functionalized carbon nanotubes, which will facilitate greater dispersion in polymer matrices, and will greatly enhance reinforcement ability in polymeric...

Briefs: Materials
Piezoelectrically Enhanced Photocathodes

Doping of photocathodes with materials that have large piezoelectric coefficients has been proposed as an alternative means of increasing the desired photoemission of electrons. Treating cathode materials to increase emission of electrons is called “activation” in the art. It has been common practice...

Briefs: Materials
Metal-Matrix/Hollow-Ceramic-Sphere Composites

A family of metal/ceramic composite materials has been developed that are relatively inexpensive, lightweight alternatives to structural materials that are typified by beryllium, aluminum, and graphite/epoxy composites. These metal/ceramic composites were originally intended to replace beryllium...

In a new series, the editors of NASA Tech Briefs magazine catch up with everyday engineers about their unique responsibilities and challenges. This week, we highlight fellow...