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Researchers Develop Self-Healing, Shape-Changing Smart Material

Washington State University researchers have created a multi-functional smart material that changes shape when subjected to heat or light; the material then assembles and disassembles itself.

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Method for Exfoliation of Hexagonal Boron Nitride

Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed a method for exfoliating commercially available hexagonal Boron Nitride (hBN) into nanosheets a few atomic layers thick. Currently, hBN has limited use because it is insoluble with limited dispersibility, despite hBN having excellent thermal conductivity and electrical insulation. Langley’s novel method provides for exfoliated hBN nanosheets that are soluble or suspendable in a variety of solvents, allowing for their bulk preparation and incorporation into composites, coatings, and films.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials

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Sucrose-Treated Carbon Nanotube and Graphene Yarns and Sheets

Applications include structural materials for aerospace vehicles, space habitats, and lightweight but mechanically robust consumer devices. Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed a method to consolidate carbon nanotube yarns and woven sheets and graphene sheets via the dehydration of sucrose. The resulting materials are lightweight and high strength. Sucrose is relatively inexpensive and readily available; therefore the process is cost-effective.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials

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Method for Manufacturing a Thin Film Structural System

Applications include Earth- and space-based inflatable structures, and chemical and radiation sensors. Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed a technology that uses commercially available additive print manufacturing to add various levels of structural hierarchy to thin-film surfaces. The approach adds very little mass to thin films, but provides substantial performance enhancements, such as increased damage tolerance to tearing and ripping. NASA developed this technology to provide new and improved ways to produce robust, ultra-lightweight space structures such as solar sails, solar shades, and antennas. Beyond space applications, the technology is well suited for other thin-film applications.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials

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Integrated Ceramic Matrix Composite-Carbon/Carbon Structures for Large Rocket Engine Nozzles and Nozzle Extensions

The material system could be used in rocket propulsion components in which temperature, environmental reactivity, and economy are increasingly demanding. Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama Low-cost access to space demands durable, cost-effective, efficient, and low-weight propulsion systems. Key components include boost and upper stage rocket engine nozzles and extensions. Nozzle material options include ablatives, actively cooled alloys, and radiation-cooled composites and metals, each of which has known limitations. Metallic nozzles have high density and limited temperature capability. Carbon/carbon (C/C) is an attractive alternative, but has manufacturability, oxidation resistance, and joining ability concerns.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials

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Aromatic Thermosetting coPolyester (ATSP) Composites for High-Temperature and Cryogenic Applications

This family of polymers has utility in diverse applications ranging from structural composites to circuit boards, wear-resistant coatings, and rigid structural foams. Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama Advanced composite materials processable by cost-effective manufacturing play an important role in developing lightweight structures for future space and planetary exploration missions. With the growing demand for improved performance in the aerospace sector, advances in polymer systems with extreme thermomechanical properties are critical in providing excellent retention of performance in high-temperature environments, and high resistance to microcracking at cryogenic temperatures.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials

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Ultralow-Temperature-Operable Solid Propellant Binder

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama A unique binder was developed that exhibits a glass transition temperature of –100 °C, which is more than 50 °C lower than that of traditional HTPB (hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene) and CTPB (carboxyl-terminated polybutadiene) binders. This innovation would be a solid propellant that would ameliorate low-temperature operability problems for the two-stage Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV).

Posted in: Briefs, Materials

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