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Flexible, High-Temperature Polyimide/Urea Aerogels

Cross-linked polyimide/urea aerogels are potential candidates for insulation for clothing, wrap-around items such as hoses, and refrigeration units. John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio Cross-linked silica-based aerogels with polymeric materials, as well as incorporating a flexible linkage into the underlying metal oxide, have been proven to improve strength and resilience over their native, or non-cross-linked, counterparts without adversely affecting porosity and density. In this invention, high-temperature, stable, all-organic polyimide aerogels are prepared as reacting linear polyimide chains with a functional monomer to create branchings that are further room-temperature-cured with multifunctional isocyanate to form a three-dimensional network.

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Multilayer Insulation Systems

Applications exist where cryogenic fluids or liquefied gases are required, and in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), power transmission in big cities, food freezing, and blood banks. John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio Cryogenic fluid management (CFM) is a critical technical area that is needed for the successful development of future space exploration. A key challenge is the storability of LH2, LCH4, and LOX propellants for long durations. The storage tanks must be well insulated to prevent over-pressurization and venting, which lead to unacceptable propellant losses for long-duration missions to Mars and beyond.

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Colorimetric Indicator for Detection of AF-M315E

John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida An easy and instant method of detection was needed for AF-M315E, a “green” propellant that produces very little vapor. This makes it hard to detect by smell or other active sensors.

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Oriented Nanofibers Embedded in a Polymer Matrix

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas A method of forming a composite of embedded nanofibers in a polymer matrix with a high degree of alignment has been created using a nanofiber continuous fiber (NCF) system. This innovation incorporates nanofibers in a plastic matrix forming agglomerates, and then uniformly distributes them by exposing the agglomerates to hydrodynamic stresses that force the agglomerates to break apart. In combination, or additionally, elongational flow is used to achieve small diameters and alignment.

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Low-Scatter Starshade Edges

This technology has applications in flexible optical masks, apertures, and encoders where sharp edges and material robustness are important. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California A starshade occulter is a large space structure whose shape is specially designed to produce a diffraction pattern in starlight that can aid a telescope in direct imaging of exoplanets. The diffraction pattern produces extremely high-contrast dark regions in the starshade’s shadow on the order of 10-9 or 10-10. To do so, the edge shape of the structure must be held to extremely tight tolerances. In addition, potentially obscuring glint light from the Sun must be minimized to prevent loss of contrast.

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Method to Improve the Synthesis Process of High-Purity Bulk Multi-Element Compounds

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama Multi-element compounds have been used ubiquitously in various applications, including electronics, optics, opto-electronics, thermoelectrics, superconductivity, and the recently developed application of spintronics. Besides being the main components of some of these devices, the bulk form of these compounds is needed as a standard for fundamental property characterizations as well as the starting materials for thin-film deposition. Hence, the chemical purity and crystalline quality of these bulk compounds are critical for the applications.

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Laser Subdivision of the Genesis Concentrator Target Sample 60000

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas A need arose for approximately 1 cm2 of a diamond-like-carbon (DLC) concentrator target for the analysis of solar wind nitrogen isotopes. The original target was a circular quadrant with a radius of 3.1 cm; however, the piece did not survive intact when the spacecraft suffered an anomalous landing upon returning to Earth. An estimated 75% of the DLC target was recovered in at least 18 fragments. The largest fragment, Genesis sample 60000, was designated for this allocation, and is the first sample to be subdivided using a laser scribing system. Laser subdivision has associated risks, including thermal diffusion of the implant if heating occurs, and unintended breakage during cleavage. In order to minimize the possibility of unintended breakage of the actual target wafer during subdivision, a careful detailed study involving numerous laser scribing plans was undertaken. The innovation described here involves the results of this study that yielded a cutting plan essentially guaranteeing ~100% cleaving success of this precious space-exposed wafer.

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