Materials & Coatings

Making Carbon-Nanotube Arrays Using Block Polymers: Part II

A nanoscale phase separation would be utilized to form regularly spaced catalytic dots. Some changes have been incorporated into a proposed method of manufacturing regular arrays of precisely sized, shaped, positioned, and oriented carbon nanotubes. Such arrays could be useful as mechanical resonators for signal filters and oscillators, and as electrophoretic filters for use in biochemical assays.

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Rod/Coil Block Copolyimides for Ion-Conducting Membranes

Lithium cells and fuel cells could function over wider temperature ranges. Rod/coil block copolyimides that exhibit high levels of ionic conduction can be made into diverse products, including dimensionally stable solid electrolyte membranes that function well over wide temperature ranges in fuel cells and in lithium-ion electrochemical cells. These rod/coil block copolyimides were invented to overcome the limitations of polymers now used to make such membranes. They could also be useful in other electrochemical and perhaps some optical applications, as described below.

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Processable Polyimides Containing APB and Reactive End Caps

Properties can be tailored through choice of proportions of dianhydrides and APB. Imide copolymers that contain 1,3-bis (3- aminophenoxy) benzene (APB) and other diamines and dianhydrides and that are terminated with appropriate amounts of reactive end caps have been invented. The reactive end caps investigated thus far include 4-phenylethynyl phthalic anhydride (PEPA), 3-amino- phenoxy-4'- phenylethynyl benzophenone (3-APEB), maleic anhydride (MA), and 5-norbornene-2,3-dicarboxylic anhydride [also known as nadic anhydride (NA)]. The advantage of these copolyimides terminated with reactive groups, relative to other polyimides terminated with reactive groups, is a combination of (1) higher values of desired mechanical-property parameters and (2) greater ease of processing into useful parts.

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Liquid Coatings for Reducing Corrosion of Steel in Concrete

Structures could be protected more easily and less expensively. Inorganic coating materials are being developed to slow or stop corrosion of reinforcing steel members inside concrete structures. It is much simpler and easier to use these coating materials than it is to use conventional corrosion-inhibiting systems based on impressed electric currents. Unlike impressed electrical corrosion-inhibiting systems, these coatings do not require continuous consumption of electrical power and maintenance of power-supply equipment. Whereas some conventional systems involve the use of expensive arc-spray equipment to apply the metallic zinc used as the sacrificial anode material, the developmental coatings can be applied by use of ordinary paint sprayers.

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Less-Toxic Coatings for Inhibiting Corrosion of Aluminum

It is no longer necessary to use highly toxic and carcinogenic chromates. Two recently invented families of conversion- coating processes have been found to be effective in reducing or preventing corrosion of aluminum alloys. These processes offer less-toxic alternatives to prior conversion- coating processes that are highly effective but have fallen out of favor because they generate chromate wastes, which are toxic and carcinogenic. Specimens subjected to these processes were found to perform well in standard salt-fog corrosion tests.

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Organic/Inorganic Hybrid Polymer/Clay Nanocomposites

The exfoliation and dispersion of clay particles are improved. A novel class of polymer/clay nanocomposites has been invented in an attempt to develop transparent, lightweight, durable materials for a variety of aerospace applications. As their name suggests, polymer/clay nanocomposites comprise organic/ inorganic hybrid polymer matrices containing platelet- shaped clay particles that have sizes of the order of a few nanometers thick and several hundred nanometers long. Partly because of their high aspect ratios and high surface areas, the clay particles, if properly dispersed in the polymer matrix at a loading level of 1 to 5 weight percent, impart unique combinations of physical and chemical properties that make these nanocomposites attractive for making films and coatings for a variety of industrial applications. Relative to the unmodified polymer, the polymer/clay nanocomposites may exhibit improvements in strength, modulus, and toughness; tear, radiation, and fire resistance; and lower thermal expansion and permeability to gases while retaining a high degree of optical transparency.

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Thin Thermal-Insulation Blankets for Very High Temperatures

One blanket would have about the thickness of several sheets of paper. Thermal-insulation blankets of a proposed type would be exceptionally thin and would endure temperatures up to 2,100 °C. These blankets were originally intended to protect components of the NASA Solar Probe spacecraft against radiant heating at its planned closest approach to the Sun (a distance of 4 solar radii). These blankets could also be used on Earth to provide thermal protection in special applications (especially in vacuum chambers) for which conventional thermal-insulation blankets would be too thick or would not perform adequately.

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