Znak Politechniki Warszawskiej

New material for space and aeronautical applications

Anna Łapińska, Ph.D., and Prof. Mariusz Zdrojek, Ph.D., D.Sc., Eng.

Anna Łapińska, Ph.D., and Prof. Mariusz Zdrojek, Ph.D., D.Sc., Eng.

Lightweight, mechanically robust and thermally conductive and, above all, capable of shielding electromagnetic radiation, these are all the qualities of the new polymer nanocomposite that Anna Łapińska, Ph.D., of the Warsaw University of Technology Faculty of Physics is working on.

She has received funding for her project “Development of a Manufacturing Technology for Multi-Functional Polymer Nanocomposites for Space and Aeronautical Applications” under the eleventh edition of the LEADER Program managed by the National Centre for Research and Development.

Caution: danger!

Modern-day aircraft and space vehicles are incredibly advanced machines. A number of electronic systems play an essential role in both and their smooth integrated operation is vital for the life and health of the crew and passengers.

“The multitude of electronic devices implies a number of risks, such as electromagnetic interference, overheating of electronic components and a considerable weight of the whole structure,” says Anna Łapińska, Ph.D. Currently, those issues are solved mainly with electromagnetic shielding, dedicated earthing systems and short circuit prevention while issues of heat generation are addressed by using special materials (TIM). And a variety of composites are used to reduce the weight.

Anna Łapińska, Ph.D.

Anna Łapińska, Ph.D.

Need for change

The applied solutions are largely based on metals, which tend to be heavy, costly, hard to process, prone to corrosion and stiff. Therefore, alternative materials are very much needed, those that would be lightweight, flexible, cheaper and of excellent properties. This is what two-dimensional materials are and, combined with a polymer matrix, they would deliver a state-of-the-art and multi-functional product.

“Those 2D materials stand out for their multiple remarkable properties, which are primarily: thermal conductivity (it is over ten times better for graphene than for silver) and tensile strength (again, it is over 300 times better for graphene than for structural steel or kevlar),” Dr Łapińska clarifies. MXenes have the highest EMI shielding efficiency of all synthetic materials; at 93 dB, it is comparable to the best metals currently available in the EMI market.” Hexagonal boron nitride in the polymer composite provides improved conductivity and adhesive strength and enhanced dielectric parameters (including dielectric constant). In addition, all these materials are ultra-lightweight.

Dr Łapińska’s project is expected to deliver a multi-functional polymer nanocomposite based on 2D materials that would offer EMI radiation shielding, thermal conductivity, mechanical robustness and light weight.

“My nanocomposite will make up passive electronic components and coating for electrical and telecommunication cables,” says the researcher of the WUT Faculty of Physics. “It will have applications, notably in the space and aeronautical sectors.”

 

The project “Development of a Manufacturing Technology for Multi-Functional Polymer Nanocomposites for Space and Aeronautical Applications” is funded under the LEADER XI Program by the National Centre for Research and Development (project No. 0031/L-11/2019).

Project Lead: Anna Łapińska, Ph.D.

Project duration: January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2023