Materials and Structures

A major emphasis for NASA over the next 5 years will be the production scale-up of carbon nanotubes; the development of carbon nanotube-reinforced polymer matrix composites for structural applications; and the development of analysis, design, and test methods to incorporate these materials into new vehicle concepts and validate their performance and life. NASA also will explore the use of other materials, such as boron nitride, for high-temperature applications and will research the use of crystalline nanotubes to ultimately exploit the full potential of these materials. In the long term, the ability to create biologically inspired materials and structures provides a unique opportunity to produce new classes of self-assembling material systems without the need to machine or process materials. Some unique characteristics anticipated from biomimetics (that is, "mimicking" biology) include multifunctional material systems, hierarchical organization, adaptability, self healing/self-repair, and durability. Thus, by exploiting the characteristics of biological systems, mechanical properties of new materials can be tailored to meet complex, rigorous design requirements and revolutionize aerospace and spacecraft systems.

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