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Multifunctional Space Skin Created to Withstand Extreme Conditions in Space

The coating adds less than 1 micrometer of thickness, keeping the material it is applied to lightweight

by University of Surrey
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A new nano-barrier coating could help protect ultra-lightweight carbon composite materials from extreme conditions in space, according to a study from the University of Surrey and Airbus Defence and Space.

The new functionality added to previously developed “space skin” structures adds a layer of protection to help maintain space payloads while traveling in space, similar to having its very own robust ultralight protective jacket. 

The research team has shown that their innovative nano-barrier would help drastically increase the stability of carbon fiber materials, while reducing radiation damage. 

Professor Ravi Silva, corresponding author of the study and Director of the Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) at the University of Surrey, said: 

"Current aluminum shielding is not thermally stable or fully conformal, and therefore usually undesired for stable structures. Not to mention that aluminum shielding contributes to the mass and cost of satellites. Our nano-barrier addresses these issues and is a promising upgrade to the industry standard, which could become a key accessory to all space and aircraft structures that are both mobile and static.” 

The coating is a highly dense superlattice structure applied to carbon fiber materials at room temperature that does not add over 1 μm of thickness, therefore keeping the materials lightweight.

- This press release was provided by the University of Surrey