Materials

NASA Simulator Recreates Space Dust

A team of scientists at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, has successfully reproduced, on Earth, the processes that occur in the atmosphere of a red giant star and lead to the formation of planet-forming interstellar dust.Using a specialized facility, called the Cosmic Simulation Chamber (COSmIC), scientists now are able to recreate and study dust grains similar to the grains that form in the outer layers of dying stars. Scientists plan to use the dust to gather clues to better understand the composition and the evolution of the universe.In the past, the inability to simulate space conditions in the gaseous state prevented scientists from identifying unknown matter. Because conditions in space are vastly different from conditions on Earth, it is challenging to identify extraterrestrial materials. Thanks to COSmIC, researchers can successfully simulate gas-phase environments similar to interstellar clouds, stellar envelopes, or planetary atmospheres environments by expanding gases using a cold jet spray of argon gas seeded with hydrocarbons that cools down the molecules to temperatures representative of these environments.COSmIC integrates a variety of state-of-the-art instruments to allow scientists to recreate space conditions in the laboratory to form, process, and monitor simulated planetary and interstellar materials. The chamber is the heart of the system. It recreates the extreme conditions that reign in space where interstellar molecules and ions float in a vacuum at densities that are billionths of Earth's atmosphere.SourceAlso: Learn about Coatings for Lunar Dust Removal.

Posted in: Materials, Test & Measurement, Monitoring, Aerospace, News

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Self-Repairing Plastic Regenerates After Damage

Illinois researchers have developed materials that not only heal, but regenerate. The restorative material is delivered through two, isolated fluid streams (dyed red and blue). The liquid immediately gels and later hardens, resulting in recovery of the entire damaged region. For regenerating materials, two adjoining, parallel capillaries are filled with regenerative chemicals that flow out when damage occurs. The two liquids mix to form a gel, which spans the gap caused by damage, filling in cracks and holes. Then the gel hardens into a strong polymer, restoring the plastic’s mechanical strength.Such self-repair capabilities would be a boon not only for commercial goods – imagine a mangled car bumper that repairs itself within minutes of an accident – but also for parts and products that are difficult to replace or repair, such as those used in aerospace applications.SourceAlso: Learn about new Materials tech briefs.

Posted in: Materials, Plastics, Aerospace, News

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Testing Composite Structures for Stronger Bridges

The J. Lohr Structures Laboratory at South Dakota State University helps companies develop new materials and products — self-consolidating concrete columns and pre-stress concrete bridge girders — that bridge a physical gap. Over the past decade, researchers have conducted structural testing on large- and full-scale test specimens for private companies and government entities.

Posted in: Materials, Composites, Test & Measurement, Transportation, News

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The Flexibility of ITO Films in Electronic Coating Applications

Indium-tin oxide (ITO) is used in nearly all flat panel displays, laptop screens, and mobile phones, in addition to solar panels and “smart” windows. Indium Corporation, Utica, New York ITO is a doped metal oxide semiconductor that combines two properties that usually are mutually exclusive in most materials: optical transparency and electrical conductivity. It is critical to understand the importance of this combination of optical transparency and electrical conductivity. A flat panel display cannot work without both properties. Yet the very nature of electrical conductivity normally excludes optical transparency. Doped metal oxide semiconductors conduct electricity in a different manner than metals, and hence, are not doomed to be opaque.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs

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Electride Mediated Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California A new sensor substrate supports Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy. A ceramic electride is demonstrated to provide surface enhanced Raman scattering. This provides a sensitive method for monitoring the chemistry and electronic environment at the electride surface. The electride, an ionic crystal in which the electrons serve as anions, is a conductive calcium aluminate with a mayenite structure. The textured electride surface is found to strongly enhance the Raman scattering of an organic analyte at 532-nm and 785-nm excitation wavelengths. This provides a sensitive method for monitoring the chemistry and electronic environment at the electride surface.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs

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Patterned Carbon Nanotube Arrays for Displays

Applications include aviation/avionics, HD displays, lightweight displays for mobile devices, and virtual reality and games. Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California Multi-colored electronic displays that are dynamically reconfigurable require substantial electrical power and are limited in the amount of fine detail provided by the physical size of the light sources. For example, where phosphor elements are used, as in a television screen or computer monitor, the pixel size is generally no smaller than about 0.1 mm. This limits the resolution available, where much finer work is desired.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs, TSP

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Puncture Self-Healing Polymer for Aerospace Applications

A document discusses a puncture self-healing polymer for space exploration that is capable of puncture healing upon impact. Puncture healing occurs instantaneously, providing mechanical property retention in lightweight structures.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs, TSP

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