Highly Deformable Electrically Self-Healing Metal RubberT Skins for Morphing UAVs
Agency / Branch:
DOD / USAF
NanoSonic has developed Metal RubberT, a highly electrically conductive nanocomposite with tailored surface resistivity (as low as 0.2 /) and EMI shielding up to 70dB that can be repeatedly strained to greater than 1000% while maintaining electromagnetic integrity. Unlike typical dense, brittle nanocomposites that require up to 80 volume % filler; NanoSonic employs an elegant layered processing technique to achieve electrical percolation with <0.01 volume % of non-oxidizing metal nanoparticles. Lightweight (0.98g/cc) Metal RubberT is not a conducting polymer or a sputter coated polymer film, rather a free standing nanocomposite formed in-situ by chemically reacting monolayers of well defined electrically conductive nanostructured constituents with high performance copolymers. Durable elastomeric materials are realized; providing stable electrical conductivity over a wide dynamic thermomechanical range, currently from -60oC through 350oC, and in the presence of UV and ozone. New Shape Memory Metal RubberT (SM-MR) Active Skins are envisioned as a unique enabling technology allowing morphing unmanned aerial vehicles to maintain stable electromagnetic properties under disparate vehicle configurations. SM-MRT wireless active skins shall be demonstrated on NanoSonic and defense prime substructure frames to verify mechanical durability in simulated environments (wind tunnel) and < 20% change in RF conductivity (in bend, shear and extension modes). BENEFIT: Highly deformable and electrically conductive Metal RubberT will serve as lightweight skins for morphing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that will maintain electrical conductivity under disparate vehicle configurations. Low modulus Metal RubberT films can also function as conducting electrodes for high strain mechanical actuator and sensor devices, and as low-weight, electrically conductive and mechanically flexible coatings for systems requiring physically-robust electromagnetic shielding, ground planes or electrical interconnection. When combined with shape memory polymers, Metal RubberT offers a durable in-situ electrode that resists cracking and spalling under large reversible deformations for rapidly deployable space structures. The high performance polymers are engineered for tailored thermal and harsh weather environments, making the skins suitable for use in future near space and space vehicles. Additional applications for Metal RubberT include ultra-lightweight sensors/actuators for shape changing inflatables, and as protective coatings against electrostatic charging, radiation, and abrasion for flexible gaskets, hoses and flexible electronics.
Small Business Information at Submission:
P.O. Box 618 Christiansburg, VA 24068
Number of Employees: