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The University of Science and Technology of China has developed a bionic nano-composite membrane for space protection

Time : 2021-12-13 Hits : 12

Because of its excellent mechanical properties, excellent thermal stability and outstanding chemical resistance, polyimide film has become an excellent material for space probe "protective clothing". However, like other hydrocarbon polymers, polyimide materials are vulnerable to atomic oxygen attack in the space environment, resulting in a sharp decline in their physical and mechanical properties. At present, there is no good solution to this problem. In addition, extreme environments such as cosmic ray radiation and space debris impact have also posed severe tests to its stability.

Yu Shuhong, a professor at the University of Science and Technology of China and a Member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, has developed a new polyimide-nano-mica composite membrane material for space protection applications. The material adopts unique bionic design, and its mechanical properties and tolerance of extreme space environment are significantly improved. Researchers from the natural mother of pearl "- mud brick layer structure, ingenious design constructed with double class pearl layer structure of polyimide - mica nano composite film, make its top distribution has more dense mica nano film, with the help of intrinsic properties of mica and the advantages of the building unit, in the realization of the material mechanics performance effectively increased at the same time, The resistance of its top layer to atomic oxygen, ultraviolet radiation and space debris has also been significantly improved. Related research results showed that double-layer nacre-inspired Polyimide-mica Nanocomposite Films with Excellent Mechanical Stability for LEO Environmental Conditions, in Advanced Materials.

Commun.,2018, 9, 2974), which has excellent mechanical properties and UV shielding function and can be prepared in large quantity, was co-assembled with polyimide precursor to obtain polyimide-mica nanocomposite membrane. The superior intrinsic characteristics of mica were used to make up for the deficiency of polyimide. Different from the previous monolayer structure design of nano-composite film imitating pearl layer, in this study, the research team constructed a polyimide-mica nano-composite film with double layer like pearl layer structure by means of spraying and thermal curing, so that the top layer had more dense mica nano-sheet (Figure A-F). This design strategy achieves an effective improvement in the mechanical properties of the material and makes its upper surface more resistant to atomic oxygen, ultraviolet radiation and space debris.

The results show that the tensile strength, Young's modulus and surface hardness of the new bionic composite film are 125 MPa, 2.2 GPa and 0.37 GPa, respectively, which are 45%, 100% and 68% higher than those of pure polyimide film (Figure G). Due to the unique two-layer mother-of-pearl structure and the inherent advantages of the mica nanosheets, the two-layer polyimide-mica composite membrane exhibits superior atomic oxygen resistance (erosion rate ≈0.17×10-24 cm-3 Atoms -1). It is obviously superior to pure polyimide film, monolayer polyimide mica composite film with mother-of-pearl structure and polyimide matrix composite material reported in the past. In addition, its uv aging resistance (313 nm) and high temperature stability (380 oC) were significantly improved compared with pure PI film.

The polyimide-mica nanocomposite film with a double layer like mother-of-pearl structure is expected to replace the existing polyimide-mica nanocomposite film as an effective new material for the outer protection of spacecraft in low orbit environment. The unique double-layer mother-of-pearl structure design strategy proposed in this study also provides a new idea for the design and construction of other high-performance nanocomposites.

The research work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) Innovation Research Group Project/Key project, cas Key Research Program of Frontier Science, The Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, Anhui Provincial Collaborative Innovation Project and THE Synchrotron Radiation Joint Fund of USTC.

Schematic diagram of preparation process of polyimide - nanometer mica bionic composite film and its microstructure, mechanical properties and atomic oxygen tolerance


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