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

Owl wing design to suppress noise pollution

Owl wing design

Rear edge noise is the dominant source of sound from aircraft and turbine engines such as aircraft, drones and wind turbines. Suppression of this noise pollution is a major environmental goal for some urban areas. Researchers at Xi’an Jiaotong University have used the characteristics of owl wings to inform the design of the airfoil and significantly reduce noise from the trailing edge. The team used noise calculation and analysis software to conduct a series of detailed theoretical studies of simplified profiles with characteristics reminiscent of owl wings. They applied their findings to suppress the noise of rotating machines. Improving the flow conditions around the trailing edge and optimizing the shape of the edge suppressed the noise. This study has the potential to serve as an important guide for airfoil design and noise control.

Contact: Larry Froome
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“Concealment system” for the supply of medicines

A “cover-up” system that temporarily hides therapeutic bacteria

Researchers at Columbia Engineering have developed a “cover-up” system that temporarily hides therapeutic bacteria from the immune system, allowing them to more effectively deliver drugs to tumors and kill cancer cells in mice. By manipulating the DNA of microbes, they program gene chains that control the surface of bacteria, building a molecular “cloak” that encapsulates bacteria. According to the team, they can regulate the time during which bacteria survive in human blood and increase the maximum tolerated dose of bacteria. The ideal bacteria must be able to bypass the immune system when it enters the body and effectively reach the tumor. And once they are in the tumor, they must be eliminated in other parts of the body to minimize toxicity.

Contact: Holly Evars
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Stabilization of smart grids

Artificially intelligent networks

Inspired by psychology, NASA has developed algorithms that can be applied to create stable, predictable and artificially intelligent networks. The Evolving Neural Software System (ENSS), the Emotion Embedding Formulation in Logical Systems (FEELS), the Neural Object Stability Algorithm (SANE), and the Autonomous Reconfigurable Neural Systems Extension (LEARNS), together represent ways of identifying correcting unpredictable or unstable behavior by creating stable emotional states that control behavior in specific circumstances, and establishing an evolving synthetic neural network that can ultimately be scaled from low-level functions to decision-making processes -high level. These algorithms may be key to research in autonomous spacecraft, nanorobotic swarms, and sensor networks.

Contact: NASA Licensed Porter
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