Incorporation of Metallic Nanoparticles in Lightweight Composite Materials for Radiation Shielding in Space-Based Monitoring of Nuclear Explosions

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

$100K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

International Scientific Technologies, Inc.
P.O. Box 757
Dublin , VA 24084
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Abstract

The potential availability of nuclear weapons technology in rogue states has led to the emergence of a new threat. Space-based monitoring of nuclear explosions can be an important tool, but the electronic sub-systems must be shielded against both nuclear explosions and background space radiation. Weight considerations have led to the requirement for lightweight composite materials, which must provide radiation resistance while reducing, or at least not adding to, the mass of the monitoring satellite vehicle. This project will develop metallic nanoparticle additives for incorporation in graphite fiber/polymer matrix composites. The resulting materials will provide radiation hardening of structural materials in the face of nuclear events and background space radiation. Phase I will select and design the nanoparticle metallic additives and then fabricate graphite-fiber/polymer-matrix composite materials containing these additives. The resulting composite materials will be tested for radiation-shielding effectiveness in the face of various classes of radiation, such as neutrons and gamma rays at different energy levels. The thermo-mechanical, electrostatic, and dielectric properties of the material will be determined and used to optimize the material design. A taxonomy of system parameters will be established for further development during Phase II .Commercial Applications and other Benefits as described by the awardee: The advanced radiation-hardened materials should find commercial applications in the defense and homeland security sectors, and in medical and power-generation industries. Economic benefit would accrue from cost reductions in the space-based monitoring of nuclear explosions. Social benefits would result from greater security and from enhanced radiation protection for ground-based personnel in nuclear facility maintenance.