Materials

Accounting for Uncertainties in Strengths of SiC MEMS Parts

Fracture strength of a part can be predicted as one statistical distribution. A methodology has been devised for accounting for uncertainties in the strengths of silicon carbide structural components of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). The methodology enables prediction of the probabilistic strengths of complexly shaped MEMS parts using data from tests of simple specimens. This methodology is intended to serve as a part of a rational basis for designing SiC MEMS, supplementing methodologies that have been borrowed from the art of designing macroscopic brittle material structures.

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Progressive Failure Analysis of Composite Structures with FEA Software

A combination of analysis programs simulates the stochastic nature of fiber breakage in composites. The Micromechanics Analysis Code with Generalized Method of Cells (MAC/GMC) is core technology in a software suite called ImMAC, developed at NASA’s John Glenn Research Center. An abbreviation for Integrated Multiscale Micromechanics Analysis Code, ImMAC is used in the design and analysis of advanced composite structures.

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Wholly Aromatic Ether-Imides as n-Type Semiconductors

Some of the compounds exhibit promising electron-transport properties. Some wholly aromatic ether-imides consisting of rod-shaped, relatively-low-mass molecules that can form liquid crystals have been investigated for potential utility as electron-donor-type (n-type) organic semiconductors. It is envisioned that after further research to improve understanding of their physical and chemical properties, compounds of this type would be used to make thin-film semiconductor devices (e.g., photovoltaic cells and field-effect transistors) on flexible electronic-circuit substrates.

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Carbon-Nanotube-Carpet Heat-Transfer Pads

The compliance and high longitudinal thermal conductivity of carbon nanotubes are exploited. Microscopic thermal-contact pads that include carpetlike arrays of carbon nanotubes have been invented for dissipating heat generated in integrated circuits and similarly sized single electronic components. The need for these or other innovative thermal-contact pads arises because the requisite high thermal conductances cannot be realized by scaling conventional macroscopic thermal-contact pads down to microscopic sizes. Overcoming limitations of conventional thermal-contact materials and components, the carbon-nanotube thermal-contact pads offer the high thermal conductivities needed to accommodate the high local thermal power densities of modern electronic circuits, without need for large clamping pressures, extreme smoothness of surfaces in contact, or gap-filling materials (e.g., thermally conductive greases) to ensure adequate thermal contact. Moreover, unlike some conventional thermal-contact components, these pads are reusable.

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Organic/Inorganic Hybrid Polymer/Clay Nanocomposites

The exfoliation and dispersion of clay particles are improved. A novel class of polymer/clay nanocomposites has been invented in an attempt to develop transparent, lightweight, durable materials for a variety of aerospace applications. As their name suggests, polymer/clay nanocomposites comprise organic/ inorganic hybrid polymer matrices containing platelet- shaped clay particles that have sizes of the order of a few nanometers thick and several hundred nanometers long. Partly because of their high aspect ratios and high surface areas, the clay particles, if properly dispersed in the polymer matrix at a loading level of 1 to 5 weight percent, impart unique combinations of physical and chemical properties that make these nanocomposites attractive for making films and coatings for a variety of industrial applications. Relative to the unmodified polymer, the polymer/clay nanocomposites may exhibit improvements in strength, modulus, and toughness; tear, radiation, and fire resistance; and lower thermal expansion and permeability to gases while retaining a high degree of optical transparency.

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Less-Toxic Coatings for Inhibiting Corrosion of Aluminum

It is no longer necessary to use highly toxic and carcinogenic chromates. Two recently invented families of conversion- coating processes have been found to be effective in reducing or preventing corrosion of aluminum alloys. These processes offer less-toxic alternatives to prior conversion- coating processes that are highly effective but have fallen out of favor because they generate chromate wastes, which are toxic and carcinogenic. Specimens subjected to these processes were found to perform well in standard salt-fog corrosion tests.

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Liquid Coatings for Reducing Corrosion of Steel in Concrete

Structures could be protected more easily and less expensively. Inorganic coating materials are being developed to slow or stop corrosion of reinforcing steel members inside concrete structures. It is much simpler and easier to use these coating materials than it is to use conventional corrosion-inhibiting systems based on impressed electric currents. Unlike impressed electrical corrosion-inhibiting systems, these coatings do not require continuous consumption of electrical power and maintenance of power-supply equipment. Whereas some conventional systems involve the use of expensive arc-spray equipment to apply the metallic zinc used as the sacrificial anode material, the developmental coatings can be applied by use of ordinary paint sprayers.

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