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