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A material experiment for small satellites to characterise the behaviour of carbon nanotubes in space - development and ground validation

: Abbe, Elisabeth; Renger, Thomas; Sznajder, Maciej; Klemmed, Benjamin; Sachse, Elisa; Hübner, René; Schüler, Tilman; Bärtling, Yves; Muchow, Benjamin; Tajmar, Martin; Schmiel, Tino


Advances in Space Research 63 (2019), No.7, pp.2312-2321
ISSN: 0273-1177
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IWS ()
space environment; material experiment; CubeSat; carbon nanotube; electrical behaviour; solar light

Over the last years, Carbon Nanotubes (CNT) drew interdisciplinary attention. Regarding space technologies a variety of potential applications were proposed and investigated. However, no complex data on the behaviour and degradation process of carbon nanotubes under space environment exist. Therefore, it is necessary to investigate the performance of these new materials in space environment and to revaluate the application potential of CNTs in space technologies. Hence, CiREX (Carbon Nanotubes – Resistance Experiment) was developed as a part of a student project. It is a small and compact experiment, which is designed for CubeSat class space satellites. These are a class of nanosatellites with a standardized size and shape. The CiREX design, electrical measurements and the satellites interfaces will be discussed in detail. CiREX is the first in-situ space material experiment for CNTs. To evaluate the data obtained from CiREX, ground validation tests are mandatory. As part of an extensive test series the behaviour of CNTs under solar ultra violet light (UV) and vacuum ultraviolet light (VUV) was examined. Single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNT), multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWNT) and MWNT/resin composite (ME) were exposed to different light sources. After the exposure, the defect density was investigated with Raman spectroscopy. There is a clear indication that UV and VUV light can increase the defect density of untreated CNTs and influence the electrical behaviour.