Materials

Researchers Create See-Through Solar Concentrator

A team of researchers at Michigan State University has developed a new type of solar concentrator that when placed over a window creates solar energy.The device is called a transparent luminescent solar concentrator and can be used on buildings, cell phones, and any other device that has a clear surface.And, according to Richard Lunt of MSU’s College of Engineering, the key word is “transparent.”The solar harvesting system uses small organic molecules developed by Lunt and his team to absorb specific nonvisible wavelengths of sunlight.The “glowing” infrared light is guided to the edge of the plastic where it is converted to electricity by thin strips of photovoltaic solar cells.“Because the materials do not absorb or emit light in the visible spectrum, they look exceptionally transparent to the human eye,” said Richard Lunt of MSU’s College of Engineering.SourceAlso: Learn about High-Efficiency Nested Hall Thrusters for Robotic Solar System Exploration.

Posted in: Materials, Plastics, Solar Power, Renewable Energy, Energy, Semiconductors & ICs, News

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Toughened Uni-piece Fibrous Reinforced Oxidation-Resistant Composite (TUFROC)

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California TUFROC has an exposed surface edge design and an appropriate materials combination for a space vehicle that will survive the mechanical stresses induced in the initial ascent, and will subsequently survive the extreme heating and mechanically stressful environment of re-entry. It provides a thermal protection tile attachment system, suitable for application to a space vehicle leading edge, and for other uses in extreme heating environments [up to 3,600 °F (1,982 °C), and possibly higher, for short time intervals].

Posted in: Materials, Briefs

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High-Efficiency Tantalum-Based Ceramic Composite Structures

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California High-efficiency tantalum-based ceramic (HETC) composite structures are suitable for use in thermal protection systems. These composite structures have high-efficiency surfaces (low catalytic efficiency and high-emittance), thereby reducing heat flux to a spacecraft during planetary reentry. These low catalytic efficiency and high-emittance ceramic materials were developed in order to increase the capability of a Toughened Uni-Piece Fibrous Insulation (TUFI)-like thermal protection system, with its high-impact resistance, to temperatures above 3,000 °F (≈1,650 °C). These ceramics have been applied to various aerodynamic configurations, such as wedge, wing-leading segment, and conventional tile shapes used on high-speed atmospheric entry vehicles. In addition, this family of tantalum-based ceramics exhibits low catalytic efficiency to atom recombination during exposure to highenergy dissociated hypersonic flow.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs

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Use of Solvent-Free Conditions/Dry Mixing for Functionalizing Carbon Nanotubes

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas Two methods have been developed for functionalizing carbon nanotubes in solvent-free conditions. In one method, purified single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) and a diazonium salt are added to a metal vial, which is loaded with a stainless steel ball bearing. The metal vial is clamped into a mill mixer, and is mixed for one hour. The unreacted diazonium salt is then dissolved in a volume of acetonitrile that efficiently solubilizes the salt to remove the unreacted functionalization reagent. The functionalized nanotubes are then collected by filtration.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs

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Synthesis of Novel Copoly(alkyl ether imide)s With Unique Surface Properties

These materials have potential applications in marine biofouling, biomedical devices, microfluidics, corrosion and stain resistance, ice and water adhesion, and drag reduction. Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia Copoly(alkyl ether imide)s were synthesized for the purposes of tailoring surface chemistry. Alkyl ether oligomers with amine end groups were synthesized from the hydroxyl-terminated species, and subsequently reacted with aromatic dianhydrides and diamines to make the copolymers. Films were solution-cast from the copolymers and exhibited reduced surface energy and increased surface fluorine content at extremely low loadings relative to the imide matrix. These copolymers are currently being evaluated for mitigation of particle adhesion and fouling from exposure to various particle and biological contaminants. Additionally, the surface migration of the oxetane segments can be used as a shuttle to bring other designed chemical constituents to the surface.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs

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Inkjet-Assisted Creation of Self-Healing Layers Between Composite Plies

Inkjet printing provides the ability to rapidly transfer this technology into a prepreg manufacturing process. University of Sheffield, United Kingdom A self-healing advanced composite system was designed and optimized using minimum self-healing (SH) agent (~0.02%) deposited in microscopically ordered arrays through inkjet printing, to arrest cracks along interfaces between plies (see figure). The approach consisted of depositing thermoplastic, low-viscosity microdroplets with chemically and mechanically comparable properties to epoxy matrix in aerospace-grade composites onto fiber-reinforced epoxy prepregs before curing. The SH agents remained arrested and encapsulated between epoxy plies without direct contact with neighboring microdroplets. This ensured consistent integrity of the composite while preserving the SH capability.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs

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Multi-Species Turbulent Mixing Under Supercritical-Pressure Conditions

This mixing model under high-pressure conditions would be useful for automotive, gas turbine engine, and liquid rocket engine companies. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California A model describing supercritical-pressure, multi-species turbulent mixing has been developed to simulate situations prevailing in diesel, gas turbine, and HCCI (homogeneous charge compression ignition) engines. It is also a situation occurring in atmospheric planetary science, such as the Venus atmosphere. Previously, there had been no model to describe this high-pressure mixing under turbulent conditions.

Posted in: Materials, Software, Briefs

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