NASA SBIR 2003 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER:03-E2.01-8915 (For NASA Use Only - Chron: 034090)
SUBTOPIC TITLE:Structures and Materials
PROPOSAL TITLE:Structural Composites with Intrinsic Multifunctionality

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
EIC Laboratories, Inc.
111 Downey Street
Norwood ,MA 02062 - 2612
(781) 769 - 9450

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Michael D. Gilbert
EIC Laboratories, 111 Downey Street
Norwood ,MA  02062 -2612
(781) 769 - 9450
U.S. Citizen or Legal Resident: Yes

Development of a multifunctional, structural material for applications in terrestrial and space-based platforms used for instrumentation in earth observation is proposed. The principal innovation is the development of an epoxy-based thermoset that undergoes a phase separation reaction during cure to form two interpenetrating networks of a structural thermoset (epoxy) phase and a second phase that is tailored to provide ancillary function. Both phases are co-continuous and nanostructured, having typical dimensions of 40-200 nm. The second phase has controllable viscoelastic properties to provide mechanical damping and other strain-rate dependent behavior. Additional functionality is obtained by sequestering appropriate materials into the second phase. Examples include reactive species for composite self-repair, ionizable salts to provide ionic conductivity, reducible and oxidizable materials for power source applications, and nanoscale materials, such as carbon nanotubes, for mechanical, electrical, and thermal properties enhancements. The thermoset will be used as a matrix in structural fiber composites. In Phase I, incorporation of functional species into the thermoset and fabrication of fiber composites will be demonstrated. In Phase II a structural composite for a specific NASA application would be developed. These multifunctional composites will reduce weight and allow incorporation of novel designs and functional features into terrestrial and space-based platforms.

NASA deploys or anticipates deploying a variety of space and terrestrial vehicles and systems for earth exploration, unmanned planetary exploration, and manned exploration of space. These include launch vehicles, nanosats, high-altitude balloons, Martian rovers, International Space Station, Shuttle, space observing satellites (e.g. HST), and others. All these systems employ or will employ composite materials in one form or another. All will benefit from weight savings, design flexibility, and new functions available in structural composites with multifunctional thermoset matrices that are intrinsically vibration damping, self-repairing, or provide power storage, EMI shielding, and ESD protection.

The usefulness of the multifunctional composites in defense-related applications for space and ground-based observation and weapons systems is obvious. Vibrational damping, power storage, EMI and ESD control, and self-repair are properties sought in many structural materials used in these systems. Vibrational damping and self-repair are also attractive properties for composites used in commercial aircraft, automobiles and other vehicles. Successful development of a structural composite with either of these features should have significant commercial value. Other industries, such as ship building and manufactured heavy machinery are also expected to benefit from the availability of the proposed multifunctional composites.