Tech Briefs

In-Situ Formation of Reinforcement Phases in Ultra-High- Temperature Ceramic Composites

This technology could be used in re-entry vehicles, reusable launch vehicles, hypersonic vehicle leading edges, and commercial spacecraft.Future-generation materials for use on space transportation vehicles require substantial improvements in material properties leading to increased reliability and safety, as well as intelligent design to allow for current materials to meet future needs. Ultra-high-temperature ceramics (UHTC), composed primarily of metal diborides, are candidate materials for sharp leading edges on hypersonic re-entry vehicles. NASA has demonstrated that it is possible to form high-aspect-ratio reinforcement phases in-situ during the processing step for both ceramic composites and UHTCs. Initial characterization of these systems has demonstrated that crack deflection along the matrix-reinforcement interface is observed yielding a system of improved toughness over the baseline system, leading to improved mechanical performance. The reinforced composites should therefore reduce the risk of catastrophic failure over current UHTC systems.

Posted in: Briefs, Coatings & Adhesives, Materials

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Multi-Phase Ceramic System

Bearing surfaces are typically either metal-on-metal (MOM), ceramic-on-ceramic (COC), or metal-on-polyethylene (MOP). MOM and MOP couplings have the drawback that metallic or polyethylene particles can sometimes separate from the couplings, which can cause significant problems, particularly in a hip or joint replacement. COC couplings are less likely to lose particles due to wear, which makes them more biocompatible, but they are more susceptible to fracture. COC couplings also have a tendency to squeak as they move. Innovators at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have developed a technique using rare earth elements to fabricate a dual-phase ceramic composite that combines a wear-resistant phase and a solid-state lubricant phase. The result is a coupling material that, compared to currently used materials, exhibits a tenfold reduction in the friction coefficient, a sixfold reduction in wear, and a significant reduction in debris caused by wear. Glenn’s groundbreaking rare-earth aluminate composite has considerable potential, not only in biomedical applications, but also in commercial and industrial sectors.

Posted in: Briefs, Ceramics, Materials

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Minimally Machined HoneySiC Panels and T300 HoneySiC

The materials are intended for low areal density and near-zero CTE optomechanical structures.The primary purpose of this work is to develop and demonstrate technologies to manufacture ultra-low-cost precision optical systems for very large x-ray, UV/optical, or infrared telescopes.

Posted in: Briefs, Coatings & Adhesives, Materials

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Flexible Volumetric Structure

These composite elastic skins can be tailored for specific applications.NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed composite elastic skins for covering shape-changing (morphable) structures. These skins are intended especially for use on advanced aircraft that change shapes in order to assume different aerodynamic properties. Examples of aircraft shape changes include growth or shrinkage of bumps, conformal changes in wing planforms, cambers, twists, and bending of integrated leading and trailing-edge flaps. Prior to this invention, there was no way of providing smooth aerodynamic surfaces capable of large deflections while maintaining smoothness and sufficient rigidity.

Posted in: Briefs, Coatings & Adhesives, Materials

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Aeroplastic Composites

Aeroplastic refers to a family of polymeric composites with properties that provide a significant reduction in heat transfer. These composites reduce the thermal conductivity of the base polymer resin between 20%-50% without changing its mechanical properties or modifying the original techniques for processing those polymers. The composites can be made into fibers, molded, or otherwise processed into usable articles. Aeroplastic composites are superior alternatives to prior composite materials with respect to both their thermal conductivity and physical properties.

Posted in: Briefs, Coatings & Adhesives, Materials

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An Apparatus and Method for Communication Over Power Lines

NASA’s Glenn Research Center is offering a sensor and actuator networking innovation applicable to smart vehicle or component control. This innovation requires no additional connectivity beyond the wiring providing power. This results in lower system weight, increased ease and flexibility for system modifications and retrofits, and improved reliability and robustness. The technology was specifically designed for harsh, high-heat environments, but has applications in multiple arenas. The device is compatible with most communication protocols.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers

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A High-Efficiency Power Module

Innovators at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have developed a microwave power module to power radar, communications, and/or navigation interchangeably. This high-efficiency, all-solid-state microwave power module (MPM) is based on a multi-stage distributed-amplifier design, which is capable of very wideband operation. This MPM is extremely durable and can last a decade or longer. Already more compact and lightweight than conventional designs, Glenn’s patented technique offers further size reduction by eliminating the need for either a traveling-wave tube amplifier or its accompanying kV-class electronic power conditioner. The performance of this MPM is exceptional, with much higher cut-off frequency and maximum frequency of oscillation than metal-semiconductor field-effect transistors offer, and the distributed amplifier’s wide bandwidth also results in much faster pulse rise times. Finally, Glenn’s design allows the module to operate in both pulsed and continuous wave modes, so it can single-handedly drive exceptional performance for radar, navigation, and communications.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics

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