Development of Polymer-Graphene Nanocomposites as Lightweight Materials for Spacesuit

Proponente Susanna Laurenzi - Professore Associato
Sottosettore ERC del proponente del progetto
Componenti gruppo di ricerca
Componente Categoria
Luigi Schirone Componenti il gruppo di ricerca
Mariagabriella Santonicola Componenti il gruppo di ricerca
Stefano Materazzi Componenti il gruppo di ricerca
Componente Qualifica Struttura Categoria
Valeria La Saponara Associate Professor Dept. of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of California Davis, USA Altro personale Sapienza o esterni

Most of human experience in spaceflight has been in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) - in fact, only about 0.5% of total human spaceflight time has occurred beyond LEO, during the Apollo lunar missions. Now, with six decades of LEO experience behind us, planning for long-duration missions beyond LEO is a priority. The idea of setting a permanent human base on Mars and Moon is considered achievable within our lifetime, but, in order to make this dream come true, there are several technological issues that must be considered. The most important issue is to create the adequate protection against space radiation that is the main risk to astronaut health. Shielding can be a difficult task because of the high energy of the primary charged particles and the secondary particles produced as a fission product of the primary radiation sources with the soil or the spacecraft or the spacesuits. One of the chief technical barriers to feasible distant-destination missions by humans is space radiation.
New materials, to facilitate and improve extra-vehicular activities (EVAs), will be an essential component to be able to work and live in these airless environments safely. These new materials can provide special protection to particularly vulnerable organs in humans and engineering systems for critical operability.
This project will address how to design, manufacture and incorporate new materials (in particular, based on graphene and polyethylene polymer) with synergistic capabilities (radiation protection, mechanical strength, thermal and electrical conductivities), that will lead to the design of improved EVA suits (with focus on radiation resistance and mobility). In particular, the team will focus on the development of novel composite polymer materials containing graphene oxide. The polymer composites are expected to yield highly flexible, lightweight polymers that have high thermal and electrical conductivities while maintaining high mechanical strengths.


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