African American Inventors at NASA

Joycelyn Harrison (Joycelyn Simpson)

Joycelyn Harrison reads to seven children in the stegasaurus room.
Joycelyn Harrison reads "Saturday Night at the Dinosaur Stomp" to seven children in the stegasaurus room. Sean Smith/NASA

Joycelyn Harrison is a NASA engineer at the Langley Research Center researching piezoelectric polymer film and developing customized variations of piezoelectric materials (EAP). Materials that will link electric voltage to motion, according to NASA, "If you contort a piezoelectric material a voltage is generated. Conversely, if you apply a voltage, the material will contort." Materials that will usher in a future of machines with morthing parts, remote self-repairing abilities, and synthetic muscles in robotics.

Concerning her research Joycelyn Harrison has stated, "We're working on shaping reflectors, solar sails and satellites. Sometimes you need to be able to change a satellite's position or get a wrinkle off of its surface to produce a better image."

Joycelyn Harrison was born in 1964, and has bachelor's, master's and Ph.D. degrees in Chemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Joycelyn Harrison has received the:

  • Technology All-Star Award from the National Women of Color Technology Awards
  • NASA's Exceptional Achievement Medal (2000}
  • NASA'a Outstanding Leadership Medal {2006} for outstanding contributions and leadership skills demonstrated while leading the Advanced Materials and Processing Branch
Joycelyn Harrison has been granted a long list of patents for her inventing and received the 1996 R&D 100 Award presented by R&D magazine for her role in developing THUNDER technology along with fellow Langley researchers, Richard Hellbaum, Robert Bryant, Robert Fox, Antony Jalink, and Wayne Rohrbach.

THUNDER

THUNDER, stands for for Thin-Layer Composite-Unimorph Piezoelectric Driver and Sensor, THUNDER's applications include electronics, optics, jitter (irregular motion) suppression, noise cancellation, pumps, valves and a variety of other fields.
Its low-voltage characteristic allow it to be used for the first time in internal biomedical applications like heart pumps.

The Langley researchers, a multi-disciplinary materials integration team, succeeded in developing and demonstrating a piezoelectric material that was superior to previous commercially available piezoelectric materials in several significant ways: being tougher, more durable, allows lower voltage operation, has greater mechanical load capacity, can be easily produced at a relatively low cost and lends itself well to mass production.

The first THUNDER devices were fabricated in the lab by building up layers of commercially available ceramic wafers. The layers were bonded using a Langley-developed polymer adhesive. Piezoelectric ceramic materials can be ground to a powder, processed and blended with an adhesive before being pressed, molded or extruded into wafer form, and can be used for a variety of applications.

Continue > Joycelyn Harrison List of Issued Patents

  • #7402264, July 22, 2008, Sensing/actuating materials made from carbon nanotube polymer composites and methods for making
    An electroactive sensing or actuating material comprises a composite made from a polymer with polarizable moieties and an effective amount of carbon nanotubes incorporated in the polymer for a predetermined electomechanical operation of the composite...
  • #7015624, March 21, 2006, Non-uniform thickness electroactive device
    An electroactive device comprises at least two layers of material, wherein at least one layer is an electroactive material and wherein at least one layer is of non-uniform thickness...
  • #6867533, March 15, 2005, Membrane tension control
    An electrostrictive polymer actuator comprises an electrostrictive polymer with a tailorable Poisson's ratio. The electrostrictive polymer is electroded on its upper and lower surfaces and bonded to an upper material layer...
  • #6724130, April 20, 2004, Membrane position control
    A membrane structure includes at least one electroactive bending actuator fixed to a supporting base. Each electroactive bending actuator is operatively connected to the membrane for controlling membrane position...
  • #6689288, February 10, 2004, Polymeric blends for sensor and actuation dual functionality
    The invention described herein supplies a new class of electroactive polymeric blend materials which offer both sensing and actuation dual functionality. The blend comprises two components, one component having a sensing capability and the other component having an actuating capability...
  • #6545391, April 8, 2003, Polymer-polymer bilayer actuator
    A device for providing an electromechanical response includes two polymeric webs bonded to each other along their lengths...
  • #6515077, February 4, 2003, Electrostrictive graft elastomers
    An electrostrictive graft elastomer has a backbone molecule which is a non-crystallizable, flexible macromolecular chain and a grafted polymer forming polar graft moieties with backbone molecules. The polar graft moieties have been rotated by an applied electric field...
  • #6734603, May 11, 2004. Thin layer composite unimorph ferroelectric driver and sensor
    A method for forming ferroelectric wafers is provided. A prestress layer is placed on the desired mold. A ferroelectric wafer is placed on top of the prestress layer. The layers are heated and then cooled, causing the ferroelectric wafer to become prestressed...
  • #6379809, April 30, 2002, Thermally stable, piezoelectric and pyroelectric polymeric substrates and method relating theret
    A thermally stable, piezoelectric and pyroelectric polymeric substrate was prepared. This thermally stable, piezoelectric and pyroelectric polymeric substrate may be used to prepare electromechanical transducers, thermomechanical transducers, accelerometers, acoustic sensors...
  • #5909905, June 8, 1999, Method of making thermally stable, piezoelectric and proelectric polymeric substrates
    A thermally stable, piezoelectric and pyroelectric polymeric substrate was prepared. This thermally stable, piezoelectric and pyroelectric polymeric substrate may be used to prepare electromechanical transducers, thermomechanical transducers, accelerometers, acoustic sensors, infrared...
  • #5891581, April 6, 1999, Thermally stable, piezoelectric and pyroelectric polymeric substrates
    A thermally stable, piezoelectric and pyroelectric polymeric substrate was prepared. This thermally stable, piezoelectric and pyroelectric polymeric substrate may be used to prepare electromechanical transducers, thermomechanical transducers, accelerometers, acoustic sensors, infrared..