Materials & Coatings

In-Situ Chemical Analysis of Material Surfaces

Composition by freezing uses laser ablation and laser ionization mass spectrometry for detection of chemical, pharmaceutical, biotech, and hazardous materials. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California In order to understand whether the ablation laser would cause chemical reactions within the trapped organic molecules during resonant laser ablation of water ice containing organic molecules, a two-layer approach was devised. The first layer consisted of D2O ice containing organics that are inactive for the laser wavelength used (2.94 microns), and shown not to ablate under these conditions. When an additional layer of H2O ice was deposited on top of the D2O layer, both H2O and D2O layers, and the organics embedded in the D2O layer, became ablated due to resonant excitation of the H2O ice layer that transferred energy to the D2O layer. This showed that the organic matter is not damaged.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Lasers, Water, Chemicals, Hazardous materials, Test equipment and instrumentation, Test procedures


New Material Increases Lifetime of Solar-Powered Electrons

Nobody wants a laptop computer that stops working when a cloud passes by. Storing sunlight as fuel that can be later used to drive fuel cells requires new materials. Scientists demonstrated just such a material by combining two oxides on the atomic scale.

Posted in: Articles, News, Energy, Energy Storage, Materials


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.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.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Heat resistant materials, Materials properties, Polymers


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.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.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Liquid propellants, Spacecraft fuel, Thermal management, Storage, Insulation


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.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Sensors and actuators, Propellants, Chemicals, Test equipment and instrumentation


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.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Forming, Composite materials, Fibers, Nanomaterials, Polymers


Low-Scatter Starshade Edges

This technology has applications in flexible optical masks, apertures, and encoders where sharp edges and material robustness are important.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.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Imaging and visualization, Optics, Spacecraft


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