Radiation Shielding System Using a Composite of Carbon Nanotubes Loaded With Electropolymers

A lightweight and replenishable system is effective against all types of radiation particles.

Single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) coated with a hydrogen-rich, electrically conducting polymer such as polyethylene, receive and dissipate a portion of incoming radiation pulse energy to electrical signals that are transmitted along the CNT axes, and are received at energy-dissipating terminals.

In this innovation, an array of highly aligned nanowires is grown using a strong electric field or another suitable orientation procedure. Polyethylene (PE), polymethymlethacrylate (PMMA), or other electrically conducting polymer is spin-coated onto the SWCNTs with an average thickness of a few hundred nanometers to a few tenths of micrometers to form a PE/SWCNT composite. Alternatively, the polymer is spin-coated onto the nanowire array or an anodized alumina membrane (AAM) to form a PE/metal core shell structure, or PE can be electropolymerized using the SWCNTs or the metal nanowires as an electrode to form a PE/SWCNT core shell structure.

The core shell structures can be extruded as anisotropic fibers. A monomer can be polymerized in the presence of SWCNTs to form highly cross-linked PE/SWCNT films. Alternatively, Pb colloid solution can be impregnated into a three-dimensional PE/SWCNT nanostructure to form a PW/SWCNT/Pb composite structure. A face-centered cubic (FCC) arrangement provides up to 12 interconnection channels connected to each core, with transverse channel dimensions up to 20 nm, with adequate mechanical compressive strength, and with an associated electrical conductivity of around 3 Seimens/cm for currents ranging from 0.01 to 10 mA. This three-dimensional nanostructure is used as a host material to house appropriate radiation shielding material such as hydrogen-rich polymer/CNT structures, metal nanoparticles, and nanowires.

Thicknesses of this material required to attenuate 10 percent, 50 percent, and 90 percent of an incident beam (gamma, X-ray, ultraviolet, neutron, proton, and electron) at energies in the range of 0–440 MeV are being determined, for example, by measuring fluence rate reduction.

For example, a radiation field arrives first at an exposed surface of the innovation and produces an associated first electric field within the metal-like fingers of the three-dimensional nanostructure. This field is intensified near the exposed tips of the fingers, and this intensified field generates an intensified second electric field near the adjacent exposed tips of the coated CNSs. This generates an associated electrical current in the CNSs, and the associated electropolymer coating. The current is received by the second substrate transport component and is transported to the dissipation mechanism located contiguously to the second substrate.

This work was done by Chris McKay of Ames Research Center and Bin Chen of LC Tech (a co-op agreement with NASA). ARC-15983-1

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