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About this book

This book provides insight into research and development of key aerospace materials that have enabled some of the most exciting air and space technologies in recent years. The stories are shared with you by the women who experienced them, those engineers and scientists in the labs, on the shop floors, or on the design teams contributing to the realization of these technologies. Their work contributes to the world in the challenging and vital field of aerospace materials, and their stories seethe with a pride and a passion for the opportunity to make these important contributions. As an important part of the Women in Science and Engineering book series, the work highlights the contribution of women leaders in Aerospace Materials, inspiring women and men, girls and boys to enter and apply themselves to secure our future in an increasingly connected world.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Aerospace Trailblazers

Women’s contributions to aerospace materials ensure aircraft and rockets that survive the rigors of air and space travel. This chapter covers six women trailblazers who have helped improve the safety and efficiency of air and space travel. Beatrice Hicks, the first president of the Society of Women Engineers, invented the gas density sensor used to monitor artificial atmospheres protecting sealed airborne electric equipment. Yvonne Brill invented the hydrazine/hydrazine resistojet propulsion engine used to keep communication satellites aloft. The “Queen of Carbon Science” Mildred Dresselhaus made crucial advances in the understanding of the thermal and electric properties of carbon nanomaterials. Astronaut Bonnie Dunbar played a key role in the development of the ceramic tiles that form the heat shield for the space shuttle. Tresa Pollock is known worldwide for her expertise in advanced structural alloys with applications in the aerospace, energy, and automotive industries. Astronaut Cady Coleman worked as a research chemist investigating organic polymers.
Jill S. Tietjen

Chapter 2. Peeking Inside the Black Box: NMR Metabolomics for Optimizing Cell-Free Protein Synthesis

When considering materials synthesis techniques for aerospace materials, cell-free protein synthesis (CFPS) may seem unconventional and futuristic to many aerospace researchers. CFPS has been utilized by biochemists to produce a variety of chemicals and therapeutics. While CFPS has spawned research in the biochemistry and medical communities, relatively little has been dedicated to aerospace materials. CFPS can be harnessed to produce aerospace materials that may be difficult to produce via traditional means or have a dwindling feedstock, such as petroleum-based materials, with alternative carbon sources. This chapter will explore the black box nature of CFPS reactions by analyzing the CFPS reactions in situ with nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. The aim of this research is to ascertain the metabolic features of the cell lysates that could lead to an eventual protocol for batch quality control, easing the industrial scale-up of CFPS.
Angela M. Campo, Rebecca Raig, Jasmine M. Hershewe

Chapter 3. Development of Organic Nonlinear Optical Materials for Light Manipulation

The development of nonlinear optical materials for light manipulation has been an area of interest for the US Air Force for over three decades. Here we cover details on the development of several classes of organic nonlinear optical materials including platinum acetylides, AFX dyes, combined platinum acetylide with AFX dyes, porphyrins, and phthalocyanines. A deep understanding of photophysical behavior through spectroscopic measurements of these materials drives our understanding of the nonlinear behavior. Some of this will be touched on briefly for the various classes of materials. Lastly, we explore the effects of incorporating nonlinear dyes into solid host matrices to see how the photophysical properties are affected and how this does lead to changes in the nonlinear properties.
Joy E. Haley

Chapter 4. 2D Materials: Molybdenum Disulfide for Electronic and Optoelectronic Devices

Monolayer molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), a 2D semiconducting dichalcogenide material with a bandgap of 1.8–1.9 eV, has demonstrated promise for future use in field-effect transistors and optoelectronics. Various approaches have been used for MoS2 processing, the most common being chemical vapor deposition. During chemical vapor deposition, precursors such as Mo, MoO3, and MoCl5 have been used to form a vapor reaction with sulfur, resulting in thin films of MoS2. Currently, MoO3 ribbons and powder and MoCl5 powder have been used. In addition, sputtering of Mo produces continuous MoS2 films as well. Here we compare the structural properties of MoS2 grown by sulfurization of pulse vapor deposited MoO3 and Mo precursor films. Transmission electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy results demonstrate uniform and continuous film growth for the MoS2 films produced from Mo when compared to the films produced from MoO3. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy results show that both precursors produce MoS2 films that were stoichiometric and had ~7–8 layers in thickness. We also found that, like other reports, infiltrating reduced graphene oxide during the sulfurization process increases MoS2 grain growth. Correlations between Mo and MoO3 layers and resulting 2D MoS2 film chemistry and structure are discussed.
Shanee Pacley

Chapter 5. Emerging Materials to Move Plasmonics into the Infrared

Enhancement of signal to noise ratio via gain and improved spectral selectivity are two areas that of are interest to the US Air Force for a myriad of applications including imaging, detection, and information processing, to name a few. Plasmonics has emerged as a promising solution that is both viable and offers the desired characteristics needed in these systems. Further, plasmonic devices and applications can be tailored to wavelength of interest with the correct choice of materials. This is the crux of this chapter which discusses the emerging materials in this field and their advantages and drawbacks when compared to traditional plasmonic materials, i.e., noble metals. The chapter concludes with a future outlook and research directions for this work with possible applications that will benefit from this research.
Monica S. Allen

Chapter 6. Materials for Flexible Thin-Film Transistors: High-Power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering of Zinc Oxide

The development of electronic materials for flexible electronics would be beneficial for aerospace systems that experience vibrations and other mechanical stresses. Thin-film transistors (TFTs) for transparent flexible displays and sensor technologies are particularly important for both commercial electronics and aerospace systems. Zinc oxide (ZnO), a transparent conducting oxide, is a promising channel material for these applications. Low-temperature synthesis of highly ordered ZnO films over large areas is necessary to facilitate the realization of ZnO-based TFTs on flexible substrates. Growth of columnar (002)-oriented ZnO has been demonstrated on a variety of substrates. The crystal orientation, grain size, mosaicity, and surface morphology of these films, however, are strongly dependent on growth technique and conditions. Energetic growth techniques and higher growth temperatures are typically needed to produce high-quality ZnO with high carrier mobility, but these approaches are not amenable to growth on temperature-sensitive flexible substrates. One potential method to overcome these limitations is the use of a technique with low-energy ions, such as high-power impulse magnetron sputtering (HiPIMS). This chapter discusses low-temperature and scalable deposition of semiconducting grade ZnO channels for TFT applications using reactive HiPIMS. Target currents, ion species, and their energies were measured at the substrate surface location with mass spectroscopy as a function of pressure and applied voltage during HiPIMS of a Zn target in O2/Ar. These plasma parameters were correlated to film microstructure, determined with x-ray diffraction, which helped establish film nucleation and growth mechanisms.
Amber N. Reed

Chapter 7. Printed Electronics for Aerospace Applications

Printed electronics refers to an area of additive manufacturing (AM) that focuses specifically on using AM printing techniques, such as inkjet, aerosol jet, or extrusion printing, for electronic device applications. These types of technologies have emerged in the last several years as a new way to manufacture electronic elements and have found multiple application areas in both commercial industry and the defense arena. This chapter will focus on the technology and materials considerations for printed electronics and highlight aerospace application areas. Starting with materials considerations, we provide an overview of types of materials and inks being used for printed electronics, including materials challenges, such as material system compatibility and performance, post-processing techniques, and material characterization. We conclude with aerospace applications, specifically, an overview of select unmanned aerial vehicle antenna applications.
Emily M. Heckman, Carrie M. Bartsch, Eric B. Kreit, Roberto S. Aga, Fahima Ouchen

Chapter 8. Challenges in Metal Additive Manufacturing for Large-Scale Aerospace Applications

Researchers at NASA’s Langley Research Center (LaRC) initiated development of electron beam freeform fabrication (EBF3) to address challenges in applying metal additive manufacturing to large-scale aircraft structures and launch vehicles. EBF3 uses an electron beam and wire feedstock to directly deposit onto a substrate. For larger-scale components, high deposition rates and the use of additive manufacturing to augment other manufacturing processes are key to achieving affordable manufacturing rates. The challenges of developing EBF3 are highlighted in several case studies: Inconel® 718 and Ti-6Al-4V simplified exhaust nozzles, an Inconel® 625 structural jacket deposited directly onto a GRCOP-84 rocket nozzle liner, and 2219 Al stiffeners on aluminum skin for aircraft and launch vehicle structures.
Karen M. Taminger, Christopher S. Domack

Chapter 9. Advanced Characterization of Multifunctional Nanocomposites

As the field of multifunctional polymer nanocomposites (MNCs) grows to provide new avenues for advancement of aerospace materials, some challenges remain for optimizing material properties. Characterization of local properties of nanocomposites, especially at the interphase region, has been of prime interest for a long time. Interphase is defined by a localized region between a filler particle and the surrounding matrix, which is known to influence the performance of MNCs. Detailed characterization at this length scale is critical for understanding the influence of nanofiller on the composite. Such information is vital for the development of advanced materials and next-generation high-performance computational models. This chapter is focused on methods of interphase characterization using atomic force microscopy (AFM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and atomic force microscopy with infrared spectroscopy (AFM-IR). Each characterization technique is able to independently give useful information about a sample; however, the ability to compare AFM-IR, AFM, and SEM images of the same region is invaluable for gaining a comprehensive understanding of the material. While AFM and AFM-IR are able to nondestructively inspect mechanical and chemical properties on the smallest possible length scales, SEM is vital for ensuring that the AFM and AFM-IR images are accurate representations of morphology, free of scanning artifacts.
Nellie Pestian, Dhriti Nepal

Chapter 10. Materials and Process Development of Aerospace Polymer Matrix Composites

Materials and process development is cross-cutting by nature as similar material properties are often required by multiple programs. At NASA, therefore, working as a materials research engineer provides a unique opportunity to be associated with a variety of programs and vehicle platforms. Furthermore, dual applicability in both aeronautics and space structures provides opportunity to work with legacy materials for aircraft and spacecraft but also to develop new materials as the architecture, operation, or mission of vehicles evolve. Materials work at NASA is often driven by the associated application, generally based on structural load requirements and operating temperature regime. My research, specifically, is focused on polymer-based composites, which are a lightweight alternative to metals for primary or secondary structures.
Sandi G. Miller


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