Materials & Coatings

Nematic Cells for Digital Light Deflection

Smectic A (SmA) prisms can be made in a variety of shapes and are useful for visible spectrum and infrared beam steerage. Smectic A (SmA) materials can be used in non-mechanical, digital beam deflectors (DBDs) as fillers for passive birefringent prisms based on decoupled pairs of electrically controlled, liquid crystalline polarization rotators, like twisted nematic (TN) cells and passive deflectors. DBDs are used in free-space laser communications, optical fiber communications, optical switches, scanners, and in-situ wavefront correction.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Materials, Optics, Materials properties


Precipitation-Strengthened, High-Temperature, High-Force Shape Memory Alloys

Shape memory alloys capable of performing up to 400 °C have been developed for use in solidstate actuator systems. Shape memory alloys (SMAs) are an enabling component in the development of compact, lightweight, durable, high-force actuation systems particularly for use where hydraulics or electrical motors are not practical. However, commercial shape memory alloys based on NiTi are only suitable for applications near room temperature, due to their relatively low transformation temperatures, while many potential applications require higher temperature capability. Consequently, a family of (Ni,Pt)1–xTix shape memory alloys with Ti concentrations x ≤ 50 atomic percent and Pt contents ranging from about 15 to 25 at.% have been developed for applications in which there are requirements for SMA actuators to exert high forces at operating temperatures higher than those of conventional binary NiTi SMAs. These alloys can be heat treated in the range of 500 °C to produce a series of fine precipitate phases that increase the strength of alloy while maintaining a high transformation temperature, even in Ti-lean compositions.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Materials, Sensors and actuators, Heat treatment, Alloys, Smart materials


Heat-Storage Modules Containing LiNO3•3H2O and Graphite Foam

Heat capacity per unit volume has been increased. A heat-storage module based on a commercial open-cell graphite foam (PocoFoam or equivalent) imbued with lithium nitrate trihydrate (LiNO3•3H2O) has been developed as a prototype of other such modules for use as short-term heat sources or heat sinks in the temperature range of approximately 28 to 30 °C. In this module, the LiNO3•3H2O serves as a phase-change heat-storage material and the graphite foam as thermally conductive filler for transferring heat to or from the phase-change material. In comparison with typical prior heat-storage modules in which paraffins are the phase-change materials and aluminum fins are the thermally conductive fillers, this module has more than twice the heat-storage capacity per unit volume.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Energy storage systems, Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems (HVAC), Foams, Graphite


Polymer-Based Composite Catholytes for Li Thin-Film Cells

It should be possible to increase charge capacities and cycle lives. Polymer-based composite catholyte structures have been investigated in a continuing effort to increase the charge/ discharge capacities of solid-state lithium thin-film electrochemical cells. A cell according to this concept contains the following layers (see figure): An anode current-collecting layer, typically made of Cu; An Li metal anode layer; A solid electrolyte layer of Li3.3PO3.8N0.22 (“LiPON”) about 1 to 2 μm thick; The aforementioned composite catholyte layer, typically about 100 μm thick, consisting of electronically conductive nanoparticles in an Li-ion- conductive polymer matrix; and A metallic cathode current collector, typically made of Mo and about 0.5 μm thick.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Materials, Battery cell chemistry, Composite materials, Lithium, Polymers


Using ALD To Bond CNTs to Substrates and Matrices

CNT-based field emitters could be made more durable. Atomic-layer deposition (ALD) has been shown to be effective as a means of coating carbon nanotubes (CNTs) with layers of Al2O3 that form strong bonds between the CNTs and the substrates on which the CNTs are grown. It should also be possible to form strong CNT/ substrate bonds using other coating materials that are amenable to ALD — for example, HfO2, Ti, or Ta. Further, it has been conjectured that bonds between CNTs and matrices in CNT/matrix composite materials could be strengthened by ALD of suitable coating materials on the CNTs.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Joining, Coatings, colorants, and finishes, Nanomaterials


Alternating-Composition Layered Ceramic Barrier Coatings

These coatings are expected to be more durable, relative to prior thermal/environmental barrier coatings. Ceramic thermal and environmental barrier coatings (T/EBCs) that contain multiple layers of alternating chemical composition have been developed as improved means of protecting underlying components of gas-turbine and other heat engines against both corrosive combustion gases and high temperatures. A coating of this type (see figure) is configured using the following layers: An outer, or top oxide layer that has a relatively high coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) and serves primarily to thermally protect the underlying coating layers and the low-CTE ceramic substrate structural material (the component that is ultimately meant to be protected) from damage due to exposure at the high temperatures to be experienced in the application; An inner, or bottom silicon-containing/ silicate layer, which is in contact with the substrate, has a low CTE and serves primarily to keep environmental gases away from the substrate; and Multiple intermediate layers of alternating chemical composition (and, hence, alternating CTE).

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Materials, Thermal management, Ceramics, Chemicals, Coatings, colorants, and finishes, Engine mechanical components


Special Polymer/Carbon Composite Films for Detecting SO₂

These films offer distinct advantages over prior SO2-sensor materials.A family of polymer/ carbon films has been developed for use as sensory films in electronic noses for detecting SO2 gas at concentrations as low as 1 part per million (ppm). Most previously reported SO2 sensors cannot detect SO2 at concentrations below tens of ppm; only a few can detect SO2 at 1 ppm. Most of the sensory materials used in those sensors (especially inorganic ones that include solid oxide electrolytes, metal oxides, and cadmium sulfide) must be used under relatively harsh conditions that include operation and regeneration at temperatures >100 °C. In contrast, the present films can be used to detect 1 ppm of SO2 at typical operating temperatures between 28 and 32 °C and can be regenerated at temperatures between 36 and 40 °C.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Materials


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