Aerospace Materials

CU Aerospace is developing specialty materials for aerospace applications.

We are interested in bringing self-healing composite technologies that are being heavily pursued by the University of Illinois faculty into an aerospace market that is vast and diverse. Both microcapsule and microvascular approaches are being pursued for aerospace structures, when the material is cracked/ruptured, the reactive components flow to the injured region where they mix, polymerize, and self-heal thus greatly extending reliability and service-life.

Microvascular multifunctional materials are a crosscutting technology that will improve components for inflatable structures, structural composites, and propulsion/cryogenic tanks by imparting new capabilities such as micrometeoroid and orbital debris (MMOD) protection, self-healing functionality, thermal management and damage system monitoring – blending both structural and higher order utility into one material system in a weight efficient manner. Multiple functionalities are achieved by distributing different fluids throughout the 3-D microvascular network, which can be seamlessly integrated into both rigid and flexible materials.

Additionally, CU Aerospace has examined Aromatic ThermoSetting coPolyesters (ATSP) as the matrix for a high performance ablative composite. ATSP exhibit good char yield, a glass transition temperature of 285°C, stability in air up to 350°C, and the capability to be fabricated with adaptable density. This new material demonstrated very low recession rates utilizing laser ablation (approximately zero for q less than 1 kW/cm^2).