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Bio-Inspired Ultra Light-Weight Nanocomposite Materials for Application to Large and Gossamer Structures in Space

Project Funding:
Project Coordination:
BOKU, Austria
Project Partners:
AAC, Medical University of Vienna, Raumfahrt Technologie Beratung Vienna (RTBV)
24 months

Main objective of BII-NACO was the development of light-weight Bio-inspired Nanocomposite Materials (BIMs) with advanced nanostructural features and their evaluation for space applications. These “Second Generation Nanocomposites” were tested for their potential to achieve desired mechanical properties simultaneously (e.g. strength and elasticity) and to use nano-scale matrix modification to solve existing issues in composites for space applications, such as matrix-fiber delamination.

Emphasis was put on binary and ternary systems combining different nanofillers forming dedicated substructures in the host matrix. It has been observed that introduction of more than one nano-species may lead to synergistic effects, i.e. more than additive improvement of material properties. Moreover, spatial arrangement and orientation of nano-species are known to be crucial factors in determining overall material properties, but are typically poorly controlled.

By contrast, in biology strong and light-weight materials generally exhibit exquisite structural control on the nanometer scale. Some of them still surpass the mechanical performance of technical materials weight by weight. Therefore, bio-inspired construction principles shall be extracted by review and implemented into modification of existing materials based on space relevant polymer matrix systems. Technical approaches will include the combination and chemical modification of nano-species and measures of structural control.

Interdisciplinary expertise in space technology, physics, chemistry, materials science and biology are used to develop such novel materials for large and gossamer structures.

biinacoSEM image of CNTs used in BIINACO project