ALD NanoSolutions Protects Polymers on International Space Station

May 1, 2009

ALD NanoSolutions, Inc. has announced that its proprietary ALD films are protecting polymer samples from the space environment on the International Space Station (ISS).  Ultrathin protective barrier films grown by atomic layer deposition (ALD) have already shown great promise in protecting sensitive polymers in laboratory experiments that simulate the space environment.   This compelling protection is now being verified aboard the ISS.  Polymer samples coated with thin multilayer metal oxide coatings deposited by ALD have been mounted on the exterior of the ISS.  These samples are being exposed to the perils found in low Earth orbit, which include high velocity oxygen atom and high energy UV radiation.  Data from these experiments is being sent back to Earth for evaluation, and the samples will be examined once they are brought back to Earth later this year.

Space Shuttle Atlantis brought ALD coated polymer samples to the International Space Station in November 2009 aboard mission STS-129, as part of MISSE-7B.  MISSE-7 is composed of two suitcase-sized Passive Experiment Containers (PECs), identified as MISSE-7A and MISSE-7B. Once installed on the exterior of ISS by space walking astronauts, the PECs were opened. The orientation of MISSE-7A is space facing/Earth facing while MISSE-7B faces forward/backward relative to the ISS orbit.

The evaluation of ALD coated polymer samples on the ISS is part of a Phase II Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) for “Protecting Polymers from the Natural Space Environment with Films Grown Using Atomic Layer Deposition.”  The award, effective December 8, 2008 – December 7, 2010, is focused on developing customized coating solutions for protecting polymers commonly used on space vehicles from damage due to radiation, ions, and oxidation.

The patented process of depositing ALD films on polymers is allowing ALD NanoSolutions to protect polymers used on space vehicles with a multifunctional, nano-thin, multilayer film containing alumina, titania, and zinc oxide.  The composition and thickness of these films can be customized to protect polymers from specific space environments.  This grant, done in partnership with the University of Colorado at Boulder and Montana State University, is an important part in the company’s continuing effort to demonstrate the flexibility of atomic layer deposition for custom designing of composite protective films.

About ALD NanoSolutions

As the leader in digital coating solutions for composite materials, ALD NanoSolutions (ALDN) is dedicated to bringing next generation performance to materials used across a wide range of industries. ALDN’s mission is to accelerate the commercial success of its customers by delivering superior materials solutions based on its proprietary atomic layer deposition platform. The ALDN web site is www.aldnanosolutions.com.