Fogging of polycarbonate spacesuit helmets is detrimental to astronaut safety and to the success of the mission. Currently used anti-fogging methods are temporary, and require the reapplication of a coating before each use. These temporary solutions have been shown to delaminate during use and have led to eye irritation and temporary blindless during spacewalks. Potential permanent solutions NASA has tested lack in durability and are prone to coating damage and delamination during cleaning. NASA seeks the development of a permanent anti-fog solution that (i) maintains visible light transmission above 70%, (ii) can be applied with uniform thickness, (iii) can be applied to objects regardless of geometry, and (iv) has demonstrated durable anti-fogging properties, such as maintained clarity over 216,000 steam cycle exposures, coating stability over 100 cycles of wiping with deionized water and a soft wipe, and a grade of 5B on the ASTM D3359 adhesion test. To address these requirements, Lynntech will leverage its experience with coating development to fabricate a permanent, durable, anti-fog coating that can be applied to polycarbonate. In the Phase I project, Lynntech will demonstrate the proof of concept by applying our coating to flat polycarbonate and verifying the durability of its anti-fogging properties. Additionally, Lynntech will develop an application method for coating curved objects, such as a prototype spacesuit helmet, to be utilized in Phase II.
The development of a permanent, durable anti-fog coating will be advantageous to NASA. The primary NASA application of this innovation would be as a permanent anti-fog coating on the interior of current and future spacesuit helmets. This would mitigate the risk of an astronaut-involved accident induced by lack of visibility.
The developed anti-fog coating may be broadly applicable to equipment where fogging is a safety concern and a permanent transparent coating would be advantageous, such as scuba masks, ski goggles, automotive windshields, endoscopes, and dental mirrors. Additionally, it may find use on equipment in industries where mitigating fogging may improve quality of life, such as sunglasses and oven windows.