Materials & Coatings

Light-Absorbent Material Keeps Buildings Cool

Engineers at the University of California San Diego have created a thin, flexible, light-absorbing material that absorbs more than 87 percent of near-infrared light. The technology could someday support the development of solar cells; transparent window coatings to keep cars and buildings cool; and lightweight shields that block thermal detection.

Posted in: News, Materials
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Metallic Glass Shatters Gear Limitations

Gears play an essential role in precision robotics, and they can become a limiting factor when the robots must perform in space missions. In particular, the extreme temperatures of deep space pose numerous problems for successful gear operation. At NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, CA, technologist Douglas Hofmann and his collaborators aim to bypass the limitations of existing steel gears by creating gears from bulk metallic glass (BMG).

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Metals, Mechanical Components, Motion Control, Motors & Drives, Power Transmission, Robotics, Robotics, Alloys, Glass, Gears, Durability, Spacecraft
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Damage Detection System for Flat Surfaces

This multidimensional system detects damage to surfaces and vessels.

NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) seeks to license its Multidimensional Damage Detection System for Flat Surfaces technology. The ability to detect damage to composite surfaces can be crucial, especially when those surfaces are enclosing a sealed environment that sustains human life and/or critical equipment or materials. Minor damage caused by foreign objects can, over time, eventually compromise the structural shell resulting in loss of life and/or destruction of equipment or material. The capability to detect and precisely locate damage to protective surfaces enables technicians to prognosticate the expected lifetime of the composite system, as well as to initiate repairs when needed to prevent catastrophic failure or to extend the service life of the structure.

Posted in: Briefs, Composites, Materials, Sensors, Diagnostics, Maintenance, repair, and service operations, Prognostics, Composite materials, Protective structures
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Methods for Intercalating and Exfoliating Hexagonal Boron Nitride

Innovators at NASA's Glenn Research Center have developed a number of materials and methods to optimize the performance of nanomaterials by making them tougher, more resistant, and easier to process. Glenn's scientists are generating critical improvements at all stages of nanomaterial production, from finding new ways to produce nanomaterials, to purifying them to work more effectively with advanced composites, to devising innovative techniques to incorporate them into matrices, veils, and coatings. These advances can be used to deposit protective coatings for textile-based composite materials, layer carbon nanotubes to add reinforcement, upgrade the properties of carbon ceramic matrix composites (CMCs), and integrate nanomaterial fibers into polymer matrix composites (PMCs). The field of nanomaterials is expanding rapidly, and NASA's Glenn Research Center is just as rapidly creating newer and better ways to deploy nanomaterials in industry and research.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Research and development, Production, Nanomaterials
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Method for Fabricating Diamond-Dispersed, Fiber-Reinforced Composite Coating on Low-Temperature Sliding Thrust Bearing Interfaces

Innovators at NASA's Glenn Research Center have developed a method for fabricating a fiber-reinforced diamond composite coating on the surfaces of sliding thrust bearings at low and cryogenic temperatures. The innovative composite coating is a mixture of diamond particles, organic chemicals, and fibers or fabrics. The diamond particles provide high hardness, and the fibers and binding matrix provide high-fracture toughness. Glenn's fabrication method can be tailored to meet a range of performance requirements for lightweight, low-temperature sliding thrust bearing applications. For example, the volume fraction of diamond particles can be increased to enhance the hardness of the composite coating, or the volume fraction of binding matrix can be increased to enhance its crack or fracture resistance. Glenn's method offers a diamond composite coating that is more cost-effective, wear-resistant, and fracture-tough than existing alternatives.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Particulate matter (PM), Fabrication, Coatings, colorants, and finishes, Composite materials, Fibers, Bearings
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Enhanced Composite Damping Through Engineered Interfaces

Material damping is important in the design of structures as it limits vibration amplitudes, increases fatigue life, and affects impact resistance. This is particularly true for composite materials, which are currently used extensively in applications that experience frequent dynamic loading. Furthermore, the damping capacity of composites can be significantly greater than that of standard engineering materials. Like other performance parameters of composites (e.g., stiffness, strength, density), the effective damping capacity of composite materials is dependent not only on the damping properties of the constituent materials, but also microstructural details such as fiber volume fraction, fiber orientation, ply stack up, fiber packing array, and weave pattern in woven composites. Therefore, like other performance parameters, composite damping capacity can be engineered.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Composite materials, Insulation, Vibration
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Mechanoresponsive Healing Polymers

Polymer strands utilize mechanically responsive chemical groups to induce self-healing.

NASA's Langley Research Center is developing an innovative self-healing resin that automatically reacts to mechanical stimuli. Current structural materials are not self-healing, making it necessary to depend on complicated and potentially destructive repair methods and long down times. Unlike other proposed self-healing materials that use microencapsulated healing agents, this technology utilizes viscoelastic properties from inherent structure properties. The resulting technology is a self-healing material with rapid rates of healing and a wide range of use temperatures.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Maintenance, repair, and service operations, Materials properties, Resins, Smart materials
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Methodology for the Effective Stabilization of Tin-Oxide-Based Oxidation/Reduction Catalysts

NASA Langley researchers, in work spanning more than a decade, have developed a portfolio of technologies for low-temperature gas catalysis. Originally developed to support space-based CO2 lasers, the technology has evolved into an array of performance capabilities and processing approaches, with potential applications ranging from indoor air filtration to automotive catalytic converters and industrial smokestack applications. The technology has been used commercially in systems that provide clean air to racecar drivers, as well as incorporated into commercially available filtration systems for diesel mining equipment. Backed with extensive research on these technologies, NASA welcomes interest in the portfolio for other commercial and industrial applications.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Catalysts, Gases, Air cleaners
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Polymer-Reinforced, Non-Brittle, Lightweight Cryogenic Insulation for Reduced Lifecycle Costs

The objective of this project was to develop inexpensive structural cryogenic insulation foam that has increased impact resistance for launch and ground-based cryogenic systems. Two parallel approaches were used: a silica-polymer co-foaming technique and a post-foam coating technique. Structures were fabricated using both techniques to formulate insulation for the specified applications. The insulation will survive in space and terrestrial environments, provide a good moisture barrier, and exhibit thermal insulation properties.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Life cycle analysis, Fabrication, Foams, Insulation, Polymers
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Will metallic hydrogen improve transportation?

This week's Question: Today's lead INSIDER story featured the development of metallic hydrogen, a technology that has a range of potential applications, from advanced rocket propellants to room-temperature superconductors. According to the Harvard University researchers, the material could support the magnetic levitation of high-speed trains. What do you think? Will metallic hydrogen improve transportation?

Posted in: Question of the Week, Materials, Metals
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