Metal Coated Carbon Nanofibers as Pyrophoric IR Countermeasures
Department of Defense
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AbstractInfrared (IR) countermeasures to protect combatant aircraft now use pyrophoric metal foils to generate a decoy IR signature. These foils have a number of drawbacks, such as a limited and known signature that will eventually be defeated and a supply that comes from a non-competitive sole source. Also pyrophoric foils occasionally fail to ignite at high altitude. This project will develop a family of novel metal coated carbon nanofibers (CNF) as an alternative IR pyrophoric material. Vapor phase nickel coated CNF have been observed to be pyrophoric. Furthermore, there are now controlled methods for submicron deposition of nickel and aluminum, which can react pyrophorically to form nickel aluminide. Refinement and characterization of these materials are all that is required to obtain a crucial second source of IR countermeasure material. It is anticipated that control of the coating thickness and content, as well as the IR absorbing and radiating properties of the host CNF will permit new methods of IR spectral control that can be exploited to maintain a renewable technological edge over IR seeker technology. Also, the CNF can be intercalated with an alkali metal as an initiator to ensure pyrophoric ignition under adverse conditions.
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