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Sensor Pinpoints Location of Impacts Using Piezoelectric Polymer Film
August 26, 2011

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Innovators at NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) have developed an electronic sensor system that can detect and locate impacts of rapidly moving particles on spacecraft and satellites. The building blocks of the system are multilayer sensor panels covered with a piezoelectric polymer film that can be electronically daisy-chained and assembled to cover as large an area as is needed. The film generates an electrical potential at the place and time of impact, and the electronic circuitry within the multilayer structure detects this potential, thereby detecting and locating the impact. Earth-based applications include situations where it is necessary to quickly locate impacts to prevent or minimize danger from munitions, hailstones, burglary tools, or vehicular collisions. JSC has applied for patent protection for this technology.


  • Accurate: Features reliable impact detection on a wide variety of surfaces
  • Customizable: Offers protection to as small or as large an area as needed
  • Low power requirements: Requires very little power (only requires power to integrated panel circuits and for external digital processor and display unit
  • Adaptable: Functions over wide environmental extremes of temperature and pressure, including in a vacuum
  • Adjustable: Allows for remote monitoring


  • Spacecraft
  • Satellites
  • Tanks and other military vehicles
  • Cargo containers
  • Storage tanks and containers
  • Weather stations


Johnson Space Center has applied for patent protection for this technology.

Licensing and Partnering Opportunity

This technology is being made available through JSC's Technology Transfer and Commercialization Office, which seeks to transfer technology into and out of NASA to benefit the space program and U.S. industry. NASA invites companies to consider licensing this technology for commercial applications.

Contact Information

If you would like more information about this technology or about NASA's technology transfer program, please contact:

Technology Transfer and Commercialization Office
NASA's Johnson Space Center
Phone: 281-483-3809
E-mail: jsc-techtran@mail.nasa.gov

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Page Last Updated: January 16th, 2014
Page Editor: NASA Administrator