Adhesive Strength Enhancement of Shape Memory Polymer Composite and Metal Joint

This technology has applications in adaptive space structures, smart fabrics, intelligent medical devices, morphing structures, and packaging.

NASA Langley Research Center has developed technology to increase the adhesive strength between shape memory polymer composites (SMPs) and metal alloys. Shape memory materials, including SMPs, have been explored for numerous applications because of their unique shape memory capabilities. These materials can change shape and/or other properties in response to changes in an external stimulus such as stress, temperature, or an electric field.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Alloys, Composite materials, Materials properties, Polymers, Smart materials
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System for Repairing Cracks in Structures

This thermally activated coating heals cracks in metallic materials.

NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed an innovative coating to heal cracks in metal components, such as in aircraft and bridges. Currently, the coating is used for in-laboratory repairs of surface cracks. Development continues with the ultimate goal of an in-situ healing mechanism that can work autonomously with structural health monitoring detectors.

Posted in: Briefs, Coatings & Adhesives, Materials, Aircraft structures, Sensors and actuators, Sensors and actuators, Thermodynamics, Thermodynamics, Maintenance, Repair and Service Operations, Maintenance, repair, and service operations, Coatings Colorants and Finishes, Coatings, colorants, and finishes, Fatigue
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Corrosion-Inhibiting Self-Expanding Foam

This anti-corrosion, self-expanding foam is designed for use in hard-to-protect internal structures.

Surfaces such as metal and other corrodible surfaces are often exposed to extreme weathering, temperatures, moisture, impurities, and otherwise damaging external forces that accelerate corrosion. Conventional methods of corrosion protection include applying paints and other coatings, such as petroleum-based undercoatings, with a sprayer to the exposed surface. To be effective, the entire exposed surface must be covered or the corrosion process will be accelerated at the unprotected areas. While open-area surfaces may be easier to protect, those surfaces found in internal cavities within an overall framework can be more challenging to protect. Achieving full coverage on internal surfaces can be extremely difficult, and in some cases impossible without drilling several access openings in the structure. These extraneous openings can compromise the strength of the structure as well as create more entryways for water and debris. This increases the opportunity for corrosion to initiate at the edges of the openings.

Posted in: Briefs, Coatings & Adhesives, Materials, Corrosion, Foams, Metals
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Reusable Sponge Absorbs Oil from Entire Water Column

This sponge can be wrung out, the oil collected, and the material reused in oil spill and diesel cleanup situations.

When the Deepwater Horizon drilling pipe blew out seven years ago, beginning the worst oil spill in U.S. history, those in charge of the recovery discovered that the millions of gallons of oil bubbling from the sea floor weren’t all collecting on the surface where it could be skimmed or burned. Some of it was forming a plume and drifting under the surface of the ocean.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Water pollution, Lubricating oils, Tools and equipment, Materials properties, Marine vehicles and equipment
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Aqueous Solution Dispersement of Carbon Nanotubes

NASA’s Langley Research Center researchers have developed a novel method to disperse carbon nanotubes in aqueous solutions using chemical buffers. By avoiding the common use of surfactants to achieve dispersion, the researchers have provided a means to maintain biocompatibility of the carbon nanotubes, while also providing a means to functionalize the nanotube surfaces for specific biological and chemical activity. One particular example is the use of this approach to functionalize the surface with nano platinum catalysts to use as electrodes for fuel cells or biofuel cells. Additional surface functionality could provide use for biosensors or delivery of functionalized molecules for medical applications.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Fuel cells, Biological sciences, Chemicals, Nanomaterials
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Products of Tomorrow: July 2017

This column presents technologies that have applications in commercial areas, possibly creating the products of tomorrow. To learn more about each technology, see the contact information provided for that innovation.

Posted in: Products, Materials, Sensors
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Combination Structural Support and Thermal Protection System

Applications include engine firewalls in general aviation aircraft, turbine engines, automobiles, or other ground vehicles; and in building construction for fire protection.

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed a system that provides both structural support and protection attributes in a failsafe manner. This innovation incorporates the use of a pre-ceramic polymer (PCP) composite structure that when overheated or exposed to fire or plasma will convert to a ceramic matrix composite (CMC), retaining structural integrity and still functioning effectively. When damage causes the thermal protection system (TPS) to fail, the underlying PCP structure converts to a CMC material that has high-temperature structural properties, will not catch fire or melt, and continues to perform its structural function.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Ceramics, Composite materials, Heat resistant materials, Polymers, Reliability, Reliability
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Composite Insulated Conductor

These extreme fire-resistant insulation systems show promise for use in high-voltage, high-power systems.

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed a new class of polyimide composite electrical insulation materials for wires, cable, and bus pipe. These new insulation materials have been shown to withstand a 12-hour gas flame test while maintaining structural and electrical circuit integrities. These extreme fire-resistant insulation systems show promise for use in high-voltage, high-power systems. They can improve survivability and continuity of the electrical power supply. Besides fire resistance, these materials also provide weight and space savings because of their lightweight nature and exceptionally high-performance capability. NASA developed the wire insulation for exploration and space operations; however, the technology also has applicability to other high-voltage, high-power systems for maritime, high-rise building construction, and other industries.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Electric cables, Wiring, Electric cables, Wiring, Composite materials, Insulation, Durability, Durability
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Multifunctional Platelet Composites for Tin Whisker Mitigation

Applications include consumer electronics, automotive, and electronic weapons systems.

To comply with the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive, pure tin is replacing lead-tin alloys in commercial electronic devices. Unfortunately, tin can grow whiskers that can lead to electrical short circuits or metal vapor arcing, both of which threaten the long-term reliability of electronic systems, and cause critical systems to fail catastrophically. A current method of whisker mitigation utilizes coatings based on glassy or rubbery unfilled polymers; such coatings are not impenetrable to tin whiskers.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Electronic equipment, Electronic equipment, Coatings Colorants and Finishes, Coatings, colorants, and finishes, Composite materials, Tin alloys
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Electrically Conductive, Optically Transparent Polymer/Carbon Nanotube Composites

A templated growth process provides uniform-sized carbon nanotubes.

NASA's Langley Research Center researchers have developed a novel method for making carbon nanotubes that are very uniform in size. A template is used to guide the carbon nanotube growth so that all nanotubes are uniform in size. The carbon nanotubes can be used as-grown, uniformly dispersed, and aligned within the template or isolated from the template for use as carbon nanotubes. The solution-based process uses sugar as a carbon source, does not require vacuum, and is thus simple and low-cost in nature.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Fabrication, Composite materials, Conductivity, Nanomaterials
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