AFRL, Academia Investigate Heat-Resistant Polymides for Spacecraft Production

Jeff Brody

The Air Force Research Laboratory has collaborated with academic and corporate institutions to study polymides, a type of heat-resistant material used in the spacecraft and spacecraft component production, in order to enhance the defenses and operational capabilities of current and future space vessels. When Kapton, a polymide film, is exposed to space-like radiation, only certain, but not all, chemical bonds are changed through a process called irradiation, according to a U.S. Air Force statement published Monday.

Afterwards, when the polymide has been given time to ‘recover,’ the investigation team, through a modeling method that emulated real-world conditions, discovered that Kapton “forms a new material with the pieces left behind after the damage.” For their modeling system, the team used Reactive Force Field molecular dynamics, also known as Reaxff.

By using this model, scientists can investigate different chemical bonds and potentially learn how to develop better radiation-hardened materials. The partnership included the AFRL, Assurance Technology Corporation, Johns Hopkins University, Pennsylvania State University and Hunter College of the City University of New York.

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