Ultralightweight PV Array Materials for Deep Space Mission Environments
Photovoltaic arrays for future deep space NASA missions demand multiple functionalities. They must efficiently generate electrical power, have very large areas and very low areal mass densities, mechanical flexibility to allow them to be compactly stowed and deployed in space, and the ability to simply survive and operate in the deep space environment. The objective of this NASA program is to develop ultra low mass density fabric materials with patterned conductive traces capable of conducting high electrical current densities and able to survive the harsh thermal and mechanical environmental conditions required by deep space missions. Such multifunctional Gossamer materials would provide both adequate mechanical support and low loss electrical interconnect network functionalities for power generation arrays. NanoSonic won one of NASA's 13 "nanotechnology product awards" for 2006, recently announced in NASA Technical Briefs, for its electrically conducting and mechanically flexible Metal RubberTM sheet materials. The proposed program would build on this successful Metal RubberTM technology to synthesize patterned, electrically conductive, low-weight fabrics rather than sheet materials. During Phase I, NanoSonic would produce prototype high performance, ultra low mass density support fabrics with integrated patterned electrically conductive vias and demonstrate properties, and demonstrate the feasibility of large-scale rapid production of such materials.
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