Novel Ultralow-Weight Metal Rubber Sensor System for Ultra Long-Duration Scientific Balloons
NanoSonic proposes to develop an innovative, ultralow mass density, and non-intrusive sensor system for ultra long duration balloons that will operate in the most extreme environmental conditions. Specifically, the sensors would be integrated onto the load bearing seams and/or outer balloon mesh surface of the pressurized balloon system to accurately and continually measure axial loads. Large axial load forces and wide/extreme temperature ranges (-90oC to >450oC) are typical for planetary balloon missions, therefore a durable, flexible, and thermally stable sensor material. NanoSonic would use its highly flexible, low-modulus Metal RubberTM (MRTM) materials as strain/pressure sensors that are capable of large cyclic deformation without failure. MRTM is a free-standing nanocomposite material produced by the layer-by-layer combination of high performance polymers and electrically-conducting metal nanoparticles that provide durability and recoverability for sensor transduction, and a wide thermal operation range. Importantly, MRTM can behave like a rubber band in that it can be folded and compressed for stowage and then can be deployed and continually pressurized and stretched without failure during operation. Also, because of the very low amount of metallic nanoclusters in the system (<0.02 volume %), the sensor system is extremely low-weight and would not alter the performance of the balloon.
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