Future NASA missions will require system operation at extreme environmental conditions with temperatures as low as -180°C. Current state-of-practice is to place the hardware in bulky and power-inefficient environmentally protected housings. Hence, NASA is seeking systems that can readily operate in these extreme environments without needing environmental protection systems.
TDA Research, Inc. will develop a chip-sized hybrid supercapacitor that can operate in extremely cold temperatures (-180°C). The supercapacitor electrodes will use a 3D printed microstructure to provide high areal capacitance and power in a small package suitable for high power delivery and low temperature operation. On-chip micro supercapacitors provide the unique capability to store electrical energy and deliver it very quickly and efficiently, enhancing peak-load performance. They also offer excellent cycling capability (1-2 orders of magnitude better than batteries). The devices developed here would find use as energy storage devices in NASA space systems that operate in the extreme environments of space missions, and will not require special environmental housings. In Phase I, we will prepare the electrode materials and fabricate chip-sized supercapacitors. We will then demonstrate their ability to store energy at temperatures down to -180⁰C over 5,000 charge/discharge cycles, elevating the TRL to 4. We will benchmark our 3D printed hybrid supercapacitor against COTS devices and complete a techno-economic feasibility study of the proposed on-chip energy storage device.
TDA’s proposed 3D printed hybrid supercapacitor can withstand extreme low temperature environments found on Titan, the Moon. Mars, asteroids, comets, and other small bodies and can be used during the descent through kilometers of cryogenic ice expected in these planetary survey missions. The applications include supplementing batteries during high power transients: power precision actuators and sensors, high-torque force actuators, radio-frequency (RF) electronics, guidance and navigation avionics and instruments.
Micro supercapacitors can also be used to supplement batteries, enhancing peak-load performance. Other commercial applications could include energy storage in various MEMS sensors that are being used in: (i) Personal Wearable Devices; (ii) Transportation Systems; (iii) Photovoltaic Technologies; (iv) Power Grid Applications; (v) Medical Devices; (vi) Defense.