Low reflectivity surfaces are required for numerous space-borne instruments, such as telescope housings and baffles, for reducing stray light from optical payloads in order to improve image resolution and clarity for a number of future NASA missions. Low reflective black coatings thus need to be developed for suppressing scattered light across visible-near infrared wavebands. Furthermore, the coatings should withstand launch conditions, resist radiation effects, and resist atomic oxygen erosion. Therefore, in this Phase II SBIR program Faraday, with the help from Aerospace Corporation and Physical Sciences Inc., will develop an approach to scalably apply carbon nanotube based black coatings to large area surface and demonstrate the coating’s potential to suppress scattered light, withstand launch conditions, and resist radiation effects and atomic oxygen erosion. This will be accomplished by: 1) Optimizing the electrophoretic deposition process to prepare and apply CNT coatings, 2) Evaluating the surface reflectivity, 3) Evaluating the effect of launch conditions on the CNT coatings adhesion, 4) Evaluating the effect of LEO space environments, including radiation and atomic oxygen on bleaching, 5) Designing and building tools to coat exemplar parts of interest to NASA and commercial partners, and 6) Preparing an economic analysis. The materials and technology enabled by the proposed work are anticipated to provide significant benefit to future NASA missions requiring suppression of scattered light, as well as to earthbound entities seeking low reflective surfaces for advanced optical instruments or systems.
The key first customer for the proposed technology is NASA and their prime contractors for space missions. The applications include optical components where broadband absorption of electromagnetic radiation is critical, including for detectors and high-sensitivity optical systems. Solar coronagraphs and space-borne instruments, for example telescope housings and baffles, require stray light reduction.
Availability of black optical coating technology may open up new markets such as military applications including missile seeker, surveillance, night vision cameras, thermal imaging and shielded windows. This technology also applies to: electronics and telecommunications, semiconductors, solar panels, automobile industry or any other technology that suffers from scattered light reflection.