Special Coverage

NASA Supercomputer Simulations Reveal 'Noisy' Aerodynamics
Robotic Gripper Cleans Up Space Debris
Soft Robot “Walks” on Any Terrain
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Using Microwaves to Produce High-Quality Graphene
Transducer-Actuator Systems for On-Machine Measurements and Automatic Part Alignment
Wide-Area Surveillance Using HD LWIR Uncooled Sensors
Heavy Lift Wing in Ground (WIG) Cargo Flying Boat
Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems
Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems
NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space

Learning to Crawl: Origami Robot Moves Like an Earthworm

A new mechanical innovation unfolded this month at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a team of engineers built a new kind of crawler robot. The wheel-less design takes inspiration from two unconventional sources: origami and the earthworm.

Posted in: News, Materials, Motion Control, Motors & Drives, Robotics
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Do you see valuable applications for 3D-printed Kapton?

Our lead INSIDER story today showcased a new Kapton-like material, developed by a team at Virginia Tech. The researchers hope that the 3D-printed polymer will support new applications, including deep space exploration.

"We're only used to designing a product and then wrapping it in this foil," engineer Chris Williams told Tech Briefs. "The fun part now is to actually show this to a designer and get them to start dreaming about what is possible."

What do you think? Do you see valuable applications for 3D-printed Kapton?

Posted in: Question of the Week, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Rapid Prototyping & Tooling, Coatings & Adhesives, Materials
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Researchers Print the Unprintable: Kapton

Kapton, a material used in electronics and aerospace applications, has only been available in sheet form. Researchers from Virginia Tech have found a way to 3D-print a polymer with Kapton's structural characteristics.

Posted in: News, News, Aerospace, Electronic Components, Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Coatings & Adhesives, Materials
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Ultralight, Scalable, High-Temperature-Resilient Ceramic Nanofiber Sponges

Researchers have made ultralight, highly porous, compressible, and heat-resistant sponge-like materials from nanoscale ceramic fibers. The highly deformable material is made by tangling ceramic nanofibers into a sponge. The method used is inexpensive and scalable for making large quantities.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Ceramics, Heat resistant materials, Lightweight materials, Nanomaterials
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Products of Tomorrow: September 2017

This column presents technologies that have applications in commercial areas, possibly creating the products of tomorrow. To learn more about each technology, see the contact information provided for that innovation.

Posted in: Articles, Electronics & Computers, Materials, Windows and windshields, Solar energy, Medical equipment and supplies, Product development
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Water-Based, Recyclable Membrane Filters all Types of Nanoparticles

Separation technology is at the heart of water purification, sewage treatment, and reclaiming materials, as well as numerous basic industrial processes. Membranes are used to separate out the smallest nanoscale particles, and even molecules and metal ions. A new type of membrane was developed that could extend the life of a separation system, lower its cost, and in some cases, increase its efficiency as well.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Particulate matter (PM), Water reclamation, Materials properties, Nanomaterials, Industrial vehicles and equipment
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Using Sunlight to Activate the Flow of Electrical Current in a New Material

Mined to make the first compass needles, the mineral magnetite is also made by migratory birds and other animals to allow them to sense north and south, and thus navigate in cloudy or dark atmospheric conditions or under water. Researchers have compositionally modified magnetite to capture visible sunlight and convert this light energy into electrical current. This current may be useful to drive the decomposition of water into hydrogen and oxygen. The team generated this material by replacing one third of the iron atoms with chromium atoms.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Sustainable development, Solar energy, Chromium, Iron, Magnetic materials
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New Materials Could Turn Water into Solar Fuel

Solar fuels are created using only sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide (CO2). Researchers are exploring a range of target fuels, from hydrogen gas to liquid hydrocarbons, but producing any of these fuels involves splitting water.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Carbon dioxide, Sun and solar, Water, Alternative fuels, Research and development, Materials properties
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Modified Surface Having Low Adhesion Properties to Mitigate Insect Residue Adhesion

NASA Langley Research Center, in collaboration with ATK Space Systems, has developed a method to reduce insect adhesion on metallic substrates, polymeric materials, engineering plastics, and other surfaces. The method topographically modifies a surface using laser ablation patterning followed by chemical modification of the surface. This innovation was originally developed to enhance aircraft laminar flow by preventing insect residue buildup, but the method provides a permanent solution for any application requiring insect adhesion mitigation as well as adhesion prevention of other typical environmental contaminants.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Finite element analysis, Lasers, Lasers, Finishing, Biomaterials, Chemicals, Coatings Colorants and Finishes, Coatings, colorants, and finishes
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Microfabricated Particles as MRI Contrast Agents

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has become an invaluable, widely used medical diagnostic and research tool, but despite numerous chemically synthesized image-enhancing agents, MRI still lacks the sensitivity and the multiplexing capabilities of optical imaging that benefit from colored fluorophores — multi-spectral quantum dots for multi-functional encoding and biomolecular/cellular labeling.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Magnetic materials, Materials properties, Nanomaterials
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