High Performance, Low-Cost Nanostructured Mirror Surfaces

Period of Performance: 01/01/2006 - 12/31/2006

$100K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Nanosonic, Inc.
158 Wheatland Drive Array
Pembroke, VA 24136
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Abstract

The generation of solar thermal energy requires a large number of mirror concentrators. These mirrors are expensive to produce, which raises the initial investment in the system. Moreover, the mirrors lose their reflectivity over time, reducing system efficiency and increasing cost due to periodic maintenance. This project will develop an inexpensive, environmentally friendly, electrostatic self-assembly process to produce high performance mirrors. The process not only will require significantly less-expensive equipment than most common mirror production methods but also will use relatively small quantities of metallic particles, thereby providing cost advantages over other methods. Phase I will construct and evaluate gold and silver reflective coatings on coupon-sized substrates. Concurrently, specialized hardcoat materials will be developed to protect the reflective coatings from environmental damage (e.g, wind, rain, and sand abrasion) as well as UV damage. In additon to coatings on susbstrates, the application of Metal Rubber¿ as an elastomeric membrane mirror also will be investigated. Finally, a multilayer mirror will be constructed on a coupon size substrate for evaluation. Phase II will involve the construction of a full prototype parabolic reflector. Commercial Applications and other Benefits as described by the awardee: The new materials and processing techniques would allow the production of mirrors for less costly, more efficient, solar thermal energy. The mirror technology also should find use in a broad number of applications, ranging from lighter weight mirrors for space-based NASA and military missions to less expensive consumer products incorporating precision optics. The conductive elastomer technology should find application in biomedical technology, aerospace, and microelectronics..