NASA SBIR 2005 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:Nanostructured Materials
PROPOSAL TITLE:Multifunctional Metal-polymer Nanocomposites for Space Applications

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
International Scientific Technologies, Inc.
P O Box 757
Dublin ,VA 24084 - 0757
(540) 633 - 1424

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Russell J Churchill
P O Box 757
Dublin, VA  24084 -0757
(540) 633 - 1424

NASA has identified a need for new high performance-to-weight materials capable of protecting critical components from the space environment, mitigating threat of uncontrolled electrostatic discharge, and reducing vulnerability to radiation or thermally induced damage. Recent advances in metallic nanoparticle-polymer composites have shown promise of meeting these multifunctional design goals, but their achievement has been hampered by non-uniform dispersion of nanoparticles within the polymeric matrix. To address these problems, International Scientific Technologies - Aerospace Systems Division will modify metal nanoparticle surfaces with organic ligands to fabricate reliable nanocomposites. The proposed material development is responsive to NASA Subtopic X2.03 by providing a means by which a wide-range of multifunctional nanostructured materials may be designed and fabricated. The Phase I Technical Objectives include fabrication of conductive nanocomposites incorporating metallic nanoparticles in polymeric materials, measurement of nanocomposite properties in simulated space environments, and optimization of proof-of-concept conductive multifunctional nanocomposites. In the Phase I program, metallic nanoparticles will be functionalized for incorporation into polymeric matrices for electrostatic control and prevention of atomic oxygen degradation. The project innovation is the development of ligand-modified nanoparticle additives to realize multifunctional nanocomposites for space applications. Successful completion of the Phase I program will result in multifunctional spacecraft materials that are inherently anti-static for electrostatic control, and self-healing following degradation in harsh space environments. During Phase II, prototype multifunctional nanocomposites will be evaluated for control of electrostatic charging, and resistance to atomic oxygen and/or radiation degradation in simulated space environments prior to commercialization in Phase III.

The multifunctional nanocomposites will find application in the Exploration Systems mission in protecting sensitive optical, electronic, thermal and acoustic components from environmental hazards including dust, radiation, thermal transients, atomic oxygen and spacecraft charging. The nanoparticle composites will be developed to provide transparent conductive layers of considerable importance to sensor systems employed in planetary surface exploration. It is expected that nanoparticle systems will also provide a high-performance-to-weight radiation shield that can be used as a layer within human habitations and space protective apparel. Other missions supported by NASA could also make use of conductive layers amenable to use in low earth orbit or in orbital paths traversing high radiation regions of space.

The nanocomposites developed under the proposed SBIR program will find application to the protection of sensors, antennas and critical components aboard commercial satellites. The development of conductive nanocomposites will provide International Scientific an entry to the burgeoning flexible electronics market. The flexible conducting film market is expected to increase considerably as a result of demands for larger flat panel displays, the growth of distributed chemical, biological and radiation sensor markets for Homeland Security applications and the establishment of improved methods of static discharge control for touch screens. Further uses of the nanocomposites may be found in the development of variable dielectric constant materials utilizing ferroelectric nanoparticles and the fabrication of transparent magnetic components using ferromagnetic nanoparticles within the polymer matrix.

NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.

Multifunctional/Smart Materials

Form Printed on 09-19-05 13:12