NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 04 X2.07-8646
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Space Environmental Effects
PROPOSAL TITLE: High Transparent Metal Oxide / Polyimide Antistatic Coatings

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
220 Ballardvale St., Suite D
Wilmington, MA 01887-1050

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Jack Salerno
220 Ballardvale Street, Ste D
Wilmington, MA 01887-1050

NASA requires clear antistatic coatings that can withstand exposure to the rigors of the space environment. Agiltron proposes a coating consisting of inorganic conducting particles and space environment resistant polymer that shares the best features of inorganics and organics currently available. Such a coating could potentially be processed by common polymeric routes yet have the optical/electrical performance advantages of inorganic materials. The electric resistance of the coating can be easily adjusted by changing the composition and concentration of the inorganic conducting particles for a resistance required for antistatic applications (106-1010 ohm/sq). This new material system would overcome traditional drawbacks, such as the light scattering due to the aggregation of the inorganic particles, providing the high transparency and desired conductivity for many applications. Elimination of light scattering is achieved by dispersing transparent conducting particles into an optically matched polymer matrix. Moreover, the transparent and conducting particles are designed to chemically bond to the engineered polymer composite for excellent stability and reliability that are required in space environment applications. The process of applying this type of transparent antistatic film is as simple as applying paint, which would allow the application of these coatings to flexible and rigid materials suggesting potential even in very cost-sensitive applications.

Static build-up is particularly problematic in space vacuum environments. Friction driven static and charge from free ions have no available discharge path in the absence of an atmosphere. Resulting electrostatic forces can interfere with proper mechanical functioning and sudden high-voltage discharge can damage critical electronic components. The proposed technology can render otherwise insulating structural materials sufficiently conductive to dissipate charge without otherwise altering properties carefully selected for the space application. Equally important, the proposed materials are stable in the presence of UV radiation and atomic oxygen which are particular problems in various space environments. Particular applications include electrostatic discharge (ESD) protection, electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding, antistatic packaging and rendering insulating materials suitable for electrostatic painting and powder coating. The proposed technology can also be applied as UV protective coating or transparent electrodes on electro-optical components.

In addition to critical applications in oil/gas and electronic applications, antistatic materials and coatings are widely employed by uniform apparel manufactures, targeting the petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, precision machinery, household appliances, foods, and other industries where antistatic performance is of prime importance in controlling dust generation. Coating face shields, plastic eyeglass lenses and displays can keep them clean by preventing static adhesion of dust. Conducting films made from the proposed technology with different electric resistances can be used in many military and civil applications such as flexible displays, robust EMI shields, robust circuitry components for navigational systems, weapons systems, engine components, electrodes in optoelectronic devices, smart windows, IR reflecting layers in oven windows and heatable layers as defrosting windows. Combining the flexibility and low cost of organic processes with the performance of inorganic conductors can have significant impact in many of these applications.