Zyvex Corporation today announced the Phase II award of a NASA SBIR program entitled, “Hierarchical composites comprising continuous carbon nanotube composite fibers in a nanotube-reinforced matrix.” The program’s objective is to develop ultra-high-strength, low-weight composites for aerospace applications. Specifically, this work will enable the combination of continuous CNT fibers with a CNT-reinforced host polymer.
The two-year program builds on a carbon nanotube functionalization approach that increases carbon nanotube solubility without damaging or degrading nanotube properties, and on continuous carbon nanotube composite fibers with high specific strength and toughness. This program combines these approaches for the first time and is expected to result in mechanical properties exceeding those of any current carbon fiber/polymer composites.
“The fact that our SBIR award has been extended into Phase II is extremely gratifying and a clear indication of the importance of nanocomposite materials to NASA,” said John Randall, Ph.D., Chief Technology Officer at Zyvex. “Zyvex’s functionalization technology is a real breakthrough in the ability to produce excellent dispersions and CNT interaction with the composite matrix.”
The original program was started with the Phase I award in February 2003. The Zyvex team will continue their work on an innovative nanotube surface chemistry and demonstrate the fabrication of hierarchical composites with enhanced performance.
The current materials research industry needs to be able to effectively process CNTs in order to take advantage of their extraordinary material properties for commercial applications. The NASA award on nanocomposites is just one application of Zyvex’s rational engineering of CNT surfaces.
This project is an integral part of Zyvex’s mission of providing flexible, automated manufacturing at ever decreasing size scales.