NASA Langley developed a coating material made of a novel copolyimide containing surface-modifying agents (SMAs) that is designed to prevent the accumulation of insect residue on aircraft wings. These residues have the potential to significantly disrupt laminar airflow over the wings and eliminating them can reduce air resistance and improve fuel economy.
Accumulation of undesirable species such as insect residue is mitigated by use of copolyimide coatings incorporating fluorine and silicon SMAs in a novel chemical formulation. The coating minimizes adhesion while at the same time maintaining the bulk properties of the polyimide coating. The specific SMAs used here are designed to be thermodynamically drawn to the coating surface. Further, the SMAs react chemically with the polymer backbone and are thus chemically bonded, so the SMAs will not evaporate or migrate out of the coating material. The coating adheres well to a range of relevant materials including aluminum, composites, and plastics.