Atomic-Oxygen-Durable and Electrically-Conductive CNT-POSS-Polyimide Flexible Films for Space Applications

Nurit Atar*, Eitan Grossman, Irina Gouzman, Asaf Bolker, Vanessa J. Murray, Brooks C. Marshall, Min Qian, Timothy K. Minton, Yael Hanein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In low Earth orbit (LEO), hazards such as atomic oxygen (AO) or electrostatic discharge (ESD) degrade polymeric materials, specifically, the extensively used polyimide (PI) Kapton. We prepared PI-based nanocomposite films that show both AO durability and ESD protection by incorporating polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane (POSS) and carbon nanotube (CNT) additives. The unique methods that are reported prevent CNT agglomeration and degradation of the CNT properties that are common in dispersion-based processes. The influence of the POSS content on the electrical, mechanical, and thermo-optical properties of the CNT-POSS-PI films was investigated and compared to those of control PI and CNT-PI films. CNT-POSS-PI films with 5 and 15 wt % POSS content exhibited sheet resistivities as low as 200 Ω/□, and these resistivities remained essentially unchanged after exposure to AO with a fluence of ∼2.3 × 1020 O atoms cm-2. CNT-POSS-PI films with 15 wt % POSS content exhibited an erosion yield of 4.8 × 10-25 cm3 O atom-1 under 2.3 × 1020 O atoms cm-2 AO fluence, roughly one order of magnitude lower than that of pure PI films. The durability of the conductivity of the composite films was demonstrated by rolling film samples with a tight radius up to 300 times. The stability of the films to thermal cycling and ionizing radiation was also demonstrated. These properties make the prepared CNT-POSS-PI films with 15 wt % POSS content excellent candidates for applications where AO durability and electrical conductivity are required for flexible and thermally stable materials. Hence, they are suggested here for LEO applications such as the outer layers of spacecraft thermal blankets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12047-12056
Number of pages10
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number22
StatePublished - 10 Jun 2015


  • CNT sheets
  • LEO space environment
  • POSS
  • atomic oxygen
  • electrical conductivity
  • nanocomposites
  • polyimide


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