Ultra-Lightweight Nanocomposite Foams and Sandwich Structures for Space Structure Applications

Microcellular nanocomposite foams and sandwich structures have been created to have excellent electrical conductivity and radiation-resistant properties using a new method that does not involve or release any toxicity. The nanocomposite structures have been scaled up in size to 12×12 in. (30×30 cm) for components fabrication. These sandwich materials were fabricated mainly from PE, CNF, and carbon fibers. Test results indicate that they have very good compression and compression-afterimpact properties, excellent electrical conductivity, and superior space environment durability.

Compression tests show that 1000 ESH (equivalent Sun hours) of UV exposure has no effect on the structural properties of the sandwich structures. The structures are considerably lighter than aluminum alloy (≈36 percent lighter), which translates to 36 percent weight savings of the electronic enclosure and its housing. The good mechanical properties of the materials may enable the electronic housing to be fabricated with a thinner structure that further reduces the weight. There was no difficulty in machining the sandwich specimens into electronic enclosure housing.

This work was done by Seng Tan of Wright Materials Research for Marshall Space Flight Center. For more information, contact Sammy Nabors, MSFC Commercialization Assistance Lead, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . MFS-32922-1