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May 30th, 2007

Emerging material for space applications

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL, Hattiesburg, Miss.) and Hybrid Plastics (Hattiesburg, Miss.), an AFRL spinoff, report that they have fabricated a survivable, drop-in POSS (polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxanes) polymer replacement for the ubiquitous but short-lived Kapton material that many space components currently use. Funding for the effort is provided by the United States Air Force and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

POSS is a nanomaterial based on silicon-derived building blocks that provide nanometer-scale control to dramatically improve the thermal and mechanical properties of traditional polymers while offering easy incorporation using existing manufacturing protocols. These compounds have an average diameter of just 1.5 nanometers. POSS nanomaterials can be used both as direct replacements for hydrocarbon-based materials or as low-density performance additives in traditional plastics. They release no VOCs, and, thereby, produce no odor or air pollution. They are biocompatible, recyclable, non-flammable, and competitively priced with traditional polymer feedstocks. POSS materials reportedly can be incorporated into any existing polymer system through blending, grafting or copolymerization.


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