This SBIR Phase I project will develop a lightweight, flexible, high-strength conductor that is easy to process and is capable of being deposited in a variety of form-factors. In previous work, large volumetric fractions of Au, Ag, and Cu nanoparticles (NPs) were incorporated into a porous aramid nanofiber (ANF) matrix to realize films that have high electrical conductivity, yet maintain superior mechanical strength, the properties, which are usually hard to achieve simultaneously. Furthermore, the composite films demonstrate excellent flexibility, which is superior to other related classes of reported flexible conductors including carbon based nanomaterials (CNTs and graphene) and other metallic nanomaterials. The unique network structure enables high electrical conductivity and robust mechanical behavior of the metal-ANF films. During Phase I, we will find the relationship between the conductor mass- via the volume fraction occupied by the conductive nanoparticles- and the conductivity. The main objective of the work is to produce a high conductivity cable with minimal mass for all of the conductive NPs employed. Our target is to reduce the mass density of the conductor by an order of magnitude but retain the conductivity so that it is at least 25 % of the bulk value. During the latter part of the Phase, we will implement the conductive composite in the form factor of a power-handling cable as well as a conductive structural element.
The conductor material modality is multi-use and cross-cutting for a broad range of NASA mission applications, including space mission applications that include planetary surface power, large-scale spacecraft prime power, small-scale robotic probe power, and small-sat power. For aeronautical applications, the conductor can efficiently distribute power to aircraft propulsors but with minimal mass overhead associated with the cabling.
Flexibility, retention endurance, and low power consumption are required for electric memory transistors. Energy storage systems must be flexible, robust, lightweight, and exhibit superior electrochemical activity. Flexible conductors are needed to meet the rapidly growing demand in smart sensors, roll-up displays, and other applications with unconventional form factors.