Applications of nanotechnology in space

The ANTARES study has identified a multiplicity of application potentials for nanotechnology in space both in the scientific as well as commercial range particularly within the fields of structure materials, energy generation and storage, data processing and storage, data communication (optical/EHF), sensor technology/instruments, life support systems, biomedical applications and thermal protection and control. Short term implementations however will be rather an exception due to the high efforts required for space specification and qualification and the partially low technological maturity of nanotechnology developments. The actual innovation impulse of nanotechnology for space is to be expected only in a period of 10 to 15 years.

In order to sustain a competitive European and German space industry in continous monitoring of the future, a continuous monitoring of the technology field appears advi- the topic field recom-sable to early identify space-relevant nanotechnology developments and mendable to derive measures for a space utilization. Further attention should be paid to an intensification of the communication processes between the r r Intensifying the commu-

space and nanotechnology scene, since in Germany, different to the USA, nication between both only a small linkage of the respective participants is to be determined. In communities order to advance potential applications of nanotechnology in space, a longer proclamation and knowledge diffusion phase seems to be necessary, similar to the activities in micro system engineering. The information flows should be improved here e.g. through focused expert discussions, workshops and newsletters on current developments in the technology field. An objective should be to reach an intensified consciousness and increased attention for technological requirements of the respective specialized scene.

nology in long term space programmes

Further a stronger integration of nanotechnology as a strategic cross section topic into long-term DLR and ESA research programs would be re- |ntegration of nanotech-commendable. With regard to ESA, nanotechnology is already integrated at least partly into long term research programmes e.g. the AURORA programme. Appropriate roadmaps and technological requirements are formulated at present. In this context it should be examined to what extent the DLR should be integrated into this process.

Likewise stronger activities of DLR research institutes in the frame of the nanotechnology competence centers should be aimed at. So far only four DLR research institutes are involved with the nanotechnology centers.

Further a stronger linkage of nanotechnology and micro system enginee-

nanotechnology institu-

ring (MST) in the range of space technology should be achieved, i.e. a tions in ESA-programmes stronger consideration of nanotechnology aspects within MST specific workshops and call for proposals. In particular within the ranges of elect-

ronics and sensor technology nanotechnology can contribute only com-Stronger linkage bet- ponents, which are not usable without integration into appropriate space

(micro)systems. An intensified consideration of nano/micro interfaces appears therefore to be essential in particular in the above mentioned technology fields.

ween micro- and nano technology

Measures for the space

Both nanotechnology and space technology are very broad, heterogeneous fields of technology. Nanotechnological developments are frequently still in the range of basic research and usually require high R&D expenditures for product development. In some fields however, nanotechnology has already reached a level of development, which could lead to short to medium-term applications in space. Here concrete measures should be accomplished for space utilization, which include detailed feasibility stu-utilization of selected dies as well as technological requirement catalogues for the respective nanotechnology compo- nanotechnological component/material in consideration of concrete space nents projects and missions and derived technological requirements of the space industry. With participation of technology developers from the space and nanotechnology scene the space specification and qualification demand should be determined as basis for deriving R&D projects for space utilization to be accomplished. In view of the limited resources for technology developments in space, it appears necessary to focus on nano-technological components, which are to be evaluated most favorably regarding the cost-benefit ratios. For the selection of possible R&D projects the following criteria should be considered:

• High technological competence in Germany in the respective nanotechnology and space technology field

• Readiness of the nanotechnolgy component in the terrestrial market will be reached in a short time

• The nanotechnological component leads to cost-benefit advantages compared with conventional components

• Demand/benefit for the German space industry

To avoid doubled efforts a coordination with other funding programs should be pursued, as in some ranges (e.g. QD solar cells, supercapaci-tors or ceramic nanocomposites) a number of nanotechnology projects for space applications are already promoted by some institutions (BMBF, research fundations etc.).

With regard to the further advancement of nanotechnology applications in space thus four action fields can be derived for a time horizon of three years:

I. Monitoring of the technology field

II. Intensified communication between nanotechnology and space travel scene

III. Strategic integration of nanotechnology into long-term space programs

IV. Measures for the space utilization of nanotechnological components

Four recommended action fields for further examination of the topic

Actvity field I: Monitoring of the technology field

Actvity field II: Intensification of communication

Actvity field III: Strategic integration in long term space programs

Input for

Input for

Actvity field IV: Measures for the space utilization of nanotechnological components

• Detailed feasibility studies

• Technological requirement catalogs

Illustration 31: Recommendations for measures and action fields regarding the further advancement of nano-technology applications in space (planning horizon 2003 to 2006)

As substantial objective the short to medium-term space utilization of nanotechnological components is to be mentioned in consideration of cost-benfit aspects. From the action fields I to III technical input is to be generated continuously to derive concrete measures for space utilization (action field IV). The following topics with potential for short to medium-term space applications are suggested for further promotion within the action field IV:

Selection of nanotech-nology topics for a short to medium term space utilization

7.1.1 Nano-optoelectronic components particularly QD lasers

Optoelectronic components offer application potential in space particularly within the ranges of sensor technology and telecommunications. QD lasers possess a high level of development and exhibit potential advantages for space applications due to their characteristics like a small energy consumption, an improved radiation hardness and an adjustable emission wavelength. Concrete application possibilities for QD lasers exist for example as pumping lasers for solid state lasers in space, which are used e. g. in optical satellite communication and in different scientific missions. Concerning the development of optical satellite communication systems and nano-optoelectronic components, a high technological competence exists in Germany. Optical satellite telecommunications is regarded as a future market for space.

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