Materials & Coatings

Adjustable Membrane Mirrors Incorporating G-Elastomers

Lightweight, flexible, large-aperture mirrors of a type being developed for use in outer space have unimorph structures that enable precise adjustment of their surface figures. A mirror of this type includes a reflective membrane layer bonded with an electrostrictive grafted elastomer (G-elastomer) layer, plus electrodes suitably positioned with respect to these layers. By virtue of the electrostrictive effect, an electric field applied to the G-elastomer membrane induces a strain along the membrane and thus causes a deflection of the mirror surface. Utilizing this effect, the mirror surface figure can be adjusted locally by individually addressing pairs of electrodes.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Mirrors, Calibration, Electronic control units, Elastomers

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High-Temperature Crystal-Growth Cartridge Tubes Made by VPS

Mechanical properties and maximum useful temperature exceed those of tungsten-alloy tubes. Cartridge tubes for use in a crystal-growth furnace at temperatures as high as 1,600°C have been fabricated by vacuum plasma spraying (VPS). These cartridges consist mainly of an alloy of 60 weight percent molybdenum with 40 weight percent rhenium, made from molybdenum powder coated with rhenium. This alloy was selected because of its high melting temperature (≈2,550°C) and because of its excellent ductility at room temperature. These cartridges are intended to supplant tungsten/nickel-alloy cartridges, which cannot be used at temperatures above ≈1,300°C.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Fabrication, Manufacturing equipment and machinery, Spraying, Alloys, Heat resistant materials

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Hall-Effect Thruster Utilizing Bismuth as Propellant

A laboratory-model Hall-effect spacecraft thruster was developed that utilizes bismuth as the propellant. Xenon was used in most prior Hall-effect thrusters. Bismuth is an attractive alternative because it has a larger atomic mass, a larger electron- impact- ionization cross-section, and is cheaper and more plentiful.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Propellants, Spacecraft fuel, Rocket engines, Performance tests

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Coated Glass for Transparent Heating Elements

This coated glass can be used in high-humidity and high-altitude applications such as architectural and aircraft windows. Applying an electric current to specially coated glass results in radiant heat energy. This process creates a transparent heating element with near- uniform surface temperatures. Manufacturing the heating element requires an ordinary pane of float glass. A fluorine-doped tin oxide coating (SnO2:F) measuring 0.25 micron thick is applied to one surface of the glass during fabrication. The coating conducts electricity, has a very tightly controlled resistance, has no appreciable color or structure, and is quite transparent. The coating has low emissivity properties that help contribute to the efficiency of the heated glass.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials

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Method of Cross-Linking Aerogels Using a One-Pot Reaction Scheme

A document discusses a new, simplified method for cross-linking silica and other oxide aerogels, with a polymeric material to increase strength of such materials without adversely affecting porosity or low density. The usual process is long and arduous, requiring multiple washing and soaking steps to infiltrate oxide with the polymer precursor after gelation. Additionally, diffusion problems can result in aerogel monoliths that are not uniformly cross-linked.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Forming, Nanomaterials, Nanotechnology, Polymers

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CO₂ Sensors Based on Nanocrystalline SnO₂ Doped With CuO

Miniature CO2 sensors could be mass-produced inexpensively.Nanocrystalline tin oxide (SnO2) doped with copper oxide (CuO) has been found to be useful as an electrical-resistance sensory material for measuring the concentration of carbon dioxide in air. SnO2 is an n-type semiconductor that has been widely used as a sensing material for detecting such reducing gases as carbon monoxide, some of the nitrogen oxides, and hydrocarbons. Without doping, SnO2 usually does not respond to carbon dioxide and other stable gases. The discovery that the electrical resistance of CuO-doped SnO2 varies significantly with the concentration of CO2 creates opportunities for the development of relatively inexpensive CO2 sensors for detecting fires and monitoring atmospheric conditions. This discovery could also lead to research that could alter fundamental knowledge of SnO2 as a sensing material, perhaps leading to the development of SnO2-based sensing materials for measuring concentrations of oxidizing gases.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Materials

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Coating Reduces Ice Adhesion

Developed for the space shuttle, this coating may be used on aircraft and automobiles. The Shuttle Ice Liberation Coating (SILC) has been developed to reduce the adhesion of ice to surfaces on the space shuttle. SILC, when coated on a surface (foam, metal, epoxy primer, polymer surfaces), will reduce the adhesion of ice by as much as 90 percent as compared to the corresponding uncoated surface. This innovation is a durable coating that can withstand several cycles of ice growth and removal without loss of anti-adhesion properties.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Coatings, colorants, and finishes, Durability, Icing and ice detection, Reusable launch vehicles and shuttles

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