NASA's Extravehicular Mobility Unit, or EMU, is a personal mini-spacecraft that comprises the space suit assembly and life support systems. The current EMU has a manually operated extravehicular visor assembly (EVVA) that provides protection from micrometeoroids and from solar ultraviolet and infrared radiation. For the integration of EVVA with NASA’s next generation space suits helmet bubble, dynamically switching technologies are needed to provide tint-ability, radiation protection, and optimized transmittance. Giner proposes to develop an electrochromic space suit helmet visor that would provide high optical contrast between its light (transparent) and dark (opaque) states, tunable switching, and a control module that would allow for both user and ambient light control. This electrochromic visor will provide >55% contrast at 550 nm, rapid switching, and low power requirements. Taking advantage of flexible transparent electrodes and a new generation of solution processable electrochromic polymers, Giner will develop and thoroughly test a prototype visor that meets or exceeds the performance and durability requirements listed by NASA. At the end of the program, a self-powered prototype visor integrated with a curved polycarbonate window will be delivered.
The main application for our electrochromic polymer laminate is the EVVA Spacesuit Visor. Our device would allow the visor to instantly darken when exposed to sunlight or by user input to protect the astronaut’s eyes from solar glare. In addition, our device could provide tunable change in transparency on windows used in space stations and vehicles, or on deep space shelters.
The ability to tune the color of helmet visors would be useful for military personnel such as aircraft pilots. There is also a broad range of civilian applications for our electrochromic polymer laminate including building windows, automotive glass, commercial aerospace, eye wear and helmet visors.