TechConnect Innovation Program

Electric field imaging system

NASA, Virginia, United States


A new system produces electric field images of objects based on their dielectric properties. The system consists of a sensor array, processing equipment, and an output device. A sensor array measures the magnitude and direction of the electric field present. The technique has applications in materials NDE, human health, security.

Primary Application Area: Instrumentation & Manufacturing

Technology Development Status: Prototype

Technology Readiness Level: TRL 3


Value Proposition: The subject EFI system, while at an early stage of development has potential uses that include Materials-NDE, human health monitoring and Security/defense surveillance.
For NDE, in-use hardware already generating electric fields will be easily imaged. For human monitoring, the system uses very low frequencies without radiation risk.


Organization Type: Academic/Gov Lab

Showcase Booth #: 819



Government Funding/Support to Date: The subject technology has been under development for several years (<$1M total) as a new means to evaluate materials (or humans) for possible anomalies. The approach involves imaging the electric field (EFI) around the dielectric material of interest.
For objects that do not already produce an electric field, an electric field generator can be added to the EFI platform. The generator emits a low-current, human-safe electric field that may be either constant or quasi static (changing with very low frequency over time). Uniform, symmetrical, or asymmetrical fields can be produced to fit various applications. Using the generator, the EFI platform can image dielectric (i.e. non-conductive) objects, detecting even relatively small differences in dielectric properties (less than 0.1%).
For objects that already produce an electric field (e.g. shielded wires), the EFI platform can be used to “see” electric fields, such as those leaking from poorly shielded areas of wires or casings.
This technology is at a relatively low TRL level. Images have been produced demonstrating detection of voids in polymeric materials and images of a human torso have been obtained, albeit not yet with high resolution.
Patents have been applied for, based on work to date.
NASA-Langley is seeking to license the technology to companies with the resources to continue the development effort toward specific applications related to materials NDE, human/animal health diagnostics and security/defense.

Primary Sources of Funding: Federal Grant

Looking for: Development / License Partners