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NASA Award Supports New Coating Materials

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

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Last month, the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced the recipients of its Early Career Faculty Award.

Among the awardees, an assistant professor of mechanical, aerospace and nuclear engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Shankar Narayanan, received his award for micro- or nano-structuring multilayer insulation shields for ultra-low emissivity.

According to RPI, the award will support Narayanan’s development of new materials for space insulation to protect a variety of spacecraft equipment from harsh conditions and solar radiation.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Last month, the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced the recipients of its Early Career Faculty Award.

In Narayanan’s project, “Three-dimensional Hierarchical Structures as Multi-layer Insulation for Terrestrial and Space Applications,” he intends to design and manufacture three-dimensional hierarchical structures (3DHS) using scalable fabrication techniques. The new coating materials are expected to improve thermal insulation, provide freeze-protection for electronic systems in space and provide insulation for cryogenic systems enabling space exploration.

Other benefits of the coatings could also benefit applications on Earth, including helpful control of liquid-vapor phase change to improve the performance of thermal power plants and electronic cooling technologies, in addition to oil-water separation, seawater desalination, food processing, heat recovery, biomedical applications, optics, photonics and energy storage.

“The overall objective is to understand how different geometries and materials affect the optical and thermal characteristics of coatings,” Narayanan said. “Unless you understand that, there’s no way to design something that works.”

“You can take these fundamental building blocks consisting of nanoscale beads, cylinders, and fibers, arrange them to form a stacked layer, and you can get some really interesting reflective behavior quite different from the constituent materials.”

In conducting computational studies performed by Narayanan’s lab, researchers found that when fabricated in different geometries, some materials could be more reflective than the coatings currently being used for insulation in space. Narayanan believes that if the materials and the geometries are optimally selected, the coatings could be mechanically robust, optically reflective, thermally insulating, and electrically conductive.

With NASA’s support, Narayanan and his team plan to explore how different polymers and metals can be combined to provide this type of protection and as an end result, fabricate novel multi-layered coatings of different geometries to test their performance for space applications.

A full list of awardees of the NASA Early Career Faculty 2020 can be viewed here.


Tagged categories: Aerospace; Asia Pacific; Awards and honors; Coating Materials; Coating Materials; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Insulation; Latin America; NASA; North America; Protective Coatings; Protective coatings; Research and development; Z-Continents

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