Special Coverage

Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems
Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems
NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space
Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators
Automating Optimization and Design Tasks Across Disciplines
Vibration Tables Shake Up Aerospace and Car Testing
Supercomputer Cooling System Uses Refrigerant to Replace Water
Computer Chips Calculate and Store in an Integrated Unit
Electron-to-Photon Communication for Quantum Computing

Bio-Detection System is a Handheld Chemistry Lab

The device miniaturizes bench-scale analyses in a handheld, low-power device.

Devices for manipulating fluids on the microscale have been developed to store, hold, and manipulate small amounts of fluids, and have been applied to the detection of analytes in sample fluids. Manipulating fluids and performing capillary electrophoresis in microfluidic devices promises advantages of small size, high throughput, low sample volumes, and low cost.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement

Wireless Virtual Reality Headset

This system allows VR headsets to communicate without a cord.

One of the limits of today's virtual reality (VR) headsets is that they must be tethered to computers in order to process data well enough to deliver high-resolution visuals. Wearing an HDMI cable reduces mobility, and can even lead to users tripping over cords. Researchers have developed a prototype system called MoVR that allows use of any VR headset wirelessly.

Posted in: Briefs, Communications

Alpha-STREAM Convertor

Innovations offer a reliable and efficient way to generate power from any heat source.

Innovators at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have developed two novel technologies that make Stirling engines more efficient and less costly. First, Glenn’s thermoacoustic power converter uses sound to turn heat into electric power. Utilizing heat-driven pressures and volume oscillations from thermoacoustic sources to power piezoelectric alternators or other power-converter technologies, this device can generate electricity with unprecedented efficiencies. Unlike conventional Stirling-based devices, this thermoacoustic engine achieves high thermal-to-electrical efficiencies with no moving parts. Glenn’s second advancement for Stirling engines replaces the conventional linear alternator with a magnetostrictive alternator that converts the oscillating pressure wave into electric power (see figure). These innovations offer a reliable and efficient way to generate power from any heat source, benefiting applications such as combined heat and power (CHP) systems, distributed generation, solar power generation, and heating and cooling systems.

Posted in: Briefs, Energy

Aircraft Landing Noise Reduction Liners

The liners reduce aircraft noise that occurs during landing, helping aircraft comply with increasingly stringent airport noise restrictions.

NASA Langley Research Center has developed two new implementations of acoustic liners for aircraft noise reduction whereby curved channels within tight spaces can be outfitted to provide noise reduction. The two implementations are flap side edge liners and landing gear door liners for airframe noise reduction. In these applications, the acoustic liner is designed primarily to reduce aircraft noise that occurs during landing, which will help aircraft comply with increasingly stringent airport noise restrictions.

Posted in: Briefs, Aeronautics, Aerospace

Corrosion-Inhibiting Self-Expanding Foam

This anti-corrosion, self-expanding foam is designed for use in hard-to-protect internal structures.

Surfaces such as metal and other corrodible surfaces are often exposed to extreme weathering, temperatures, moisture, impurities, and otherwise damaging external forces that accelerate corrosion. Conventional methods of corrosion protection include applying paints and other coatings, such as petroleum-based undercoatings, with a sprayer to the exposed surface. To be effective, the entire exposed surface must be covered or the corrosion process will be accelerated at the unprotected areas. While open-area surfaces may be easier to protect, those surfaces found in internal cavities within an overall framework can be more challenging to protect. Achieving full coverage on internal surfaces can be extremely difficult, and in some cases impossible without drilling several access openings in the structure. These extraneous openings can compromise the strength of the structure as well as create more entryways for water and debris. This increases the opportunity for corrosion to initiate at the edges of the openings.

Posted in: Briefs, Coatings & Adhesives, Materials

Reusable Sponge Absorbs Oil from Entire Water Column

This sponge can be wrung out, the oil collected, and the material reused in oil spill and diesel cleanup situations.

When the Deepwater Horizon drilling pipe blew out seven years ago, beginning the worst oil spill in U.S. history, those in charge of the recovery discovered that the millions of gallons of oil bubbling from the sea floor weren’t all collecting on the surface where it could be skimmed or burned. Some of it was forming a plume and drifting under the surface of the ocean.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials

Stop-Rotor Rotary Wing Aircraft

This aircraft eliminates the need for long runways or other large launch and recovery systems.

Some unmanned aircraft designs attempt to combine the vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) and hover capabilities of a helicopter with the increased speed and range capabilities of fixed-wing airplanes. Stop-rotor “nose-sitter” configurations — so named because the aircraft takes off and lands from a nose-down orientation — may offer good hover efficiency and aerodynamic design, but can require complex mechanical systems. These designs can also suffer a significant loss in altitude during transition from helicopter to airplane mode, and involve uneven weight distributions, rendering the aircraft “top heavy” and unwieldy during takeoff and landing. Further, the counter-rotating fuselage and tail of some nose-sitter designs are less practical than aircraft designs with a conventional fuselage orientation and tail rotor. Tiltrotor configurations with tiltable rotating propellers also involve mechanically complex systems and decreased hover efficiency due to higher disk loading. “Tail-sitter” designs — so named because the aircraft takes off and lands from a tail-down orientation — are associated with poor hover efficiency due to high disk loading and an awkward 90-degree attitude change between hover and forward flight modes.

Posted in: Briefs, Aeronautics, Aerospace

External Aircraft Noise Reduction Liners

This technology strategically places acoustic liners on the external surface of the aircraft to reduce such engine noise.

NASA Langley Research Center, in collaboration with Boeing and Lockheed Martin, has developed a new external acoustic liner for aircraft noise reduction. While the acoustic liner can be placed on any external aircraft surface, one attractive application is for open-rotor noise reduction. Airframe manufacturers are considering open rotor engines for future aircraft designs as they provide significant fuel savings. However, open rotor engines have no nacelle and thus, do not allow the use of conventional nacelle liners for noise abatement. This technology strategically places acoustic liners on the external surface of the aircraft to reduce such engine noise.

Posted in: Briefs, Aeronautics, Aerospace

Silicon Nanoparticles Enable Energy-Collecting Windows

Photovoltaic cells are hidden in the window frame, blending invisibly into the built environment.

Technology that embeds silicon nanoparticles into efficient luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs) has been developed. The LSCs are the key element of windows that can efficiently collect solar energy. When light shines through the surface, the useful frequencies of light are trapped inside and concentrated to the edges, where small solar cells can be put in place to capture the energy.

Posted in: Briefs, Energy

In-flight Global Nonlinear Aerodynamics Modeling and Simulation

Potential applications include aircraft, spacecraft, watercraft, and self-driving cars and trucks.

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed an in-flight global nonlinear aerodynamics modeling and simulation system. The technology replaces the normal labor-intensive iterative process of repeated flight tests and combining locally valid models with a single flight and automatically developed globally valid model. The technology is highly accurate and efficient for developing global aerodynamic and thrust models for aircraft.

Posted in: Briefs, Aeronautics, Aerospace

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