Editorial Feature

Aerospace Industries And The Application Of Novel Nanomaterials

Development of novel materials with the desired properties has a great impact on aerospace industries. Producing light weight structures with superior properties is the main objective of material scientists and engineers, and nanotechnology developments are likely to play an important role.

The Aerospace Industry in Australia

While Australia has no major aerospace manufacturers present, it is playing a significant role in the Joint Strike Fighter Program with the USA: This program is a US$200 billion joint venture between eight countries.

Victoria has a number of critical aerospace components manufacturers and a recent history of key innovations in the field. Victorian industries can participate in the above program.

Nanotechnology Victoria - Aerospace Projects

Nanotechnology Victoria has a program focused on developing the following materials for the aerospace industry:

  • High strength light weight composite laminates for use in ballistic protection and novel damping materials, incorporating carbon nanotubes in a variety of resins
  • Carbon nanotube filled resins as wear resistant coatings, high temperature adhesives and fillers for repairing corrosion damage
  • Fire retardant materials
  • Composites that enhance the impact resistance of aircraft skin material
  • New light alloys

Further Opportunities for Nanotechnology

Structural Materials

The properties required in aerospace materials are strength, stiffness, impact resistance, long fatigue life, toughness, ductility and lightness of weight. Some developments include:

  • Developing "super-alloys" and amorphous metals (metals with glass-like structure).
  • Enhancing fibre structure (carbon nanotubes) of composites such as Fibre Reinforced Polymers (FRP). This includes improving the bonding mechanism between the fibres and the resin, and developing resins with improved properties.
  • Improving the weak properties of metallic and ceramic composites, especially the brittleness of the ceramics.
  • Enhancing the bonding between metallic sheets and FRP laminates (as in GLARE); this also applies on metallic repairs using FRP patches.
  • Developing safer (non-toxic) anti-corrosion coatings, super paints (so aircraft do not need to be repainted as regularly), insulator coatings for heat and chemicals, radar absorbing coatings and bio-nanomaterial coatings to keep airplane surface clean and free of micro-organisms.


  • Using nano-particles with liquid jet and rocket fuel (aluminium nano-particles with liquid hydrogen) to increase the propulsion energy.
  • Adding nano-particles (iron-oxide) to act as a catalyst for solid propellants.


  • Developing better lubricants, and safer (non-hazardous) nano-fluids for hydraulic use.
  • Developing fire-retardant materials for use in the interior of aircraft to meet aviation standards.
  • Developing materials and coatings that withstand low temperatures and cosmic radiation.
  • Developing micro- and nano-scale electronic devices to reduce weight with better reliability (for example, longer-lasting batteries for satellites).
  • Increasing the safety and security of aerospace craft by developing antiballistic materials for sensitive parts (cockpit door) and sensors for biological and chemical toxins.
  • Developing materials (such as clothes) and equipment with better ergonomic characteristics especially for astronauts.

Source: NanoVic

For more information on this source please visit NanoVic.

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