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Coating protects instruments in space

Blue Earth in the space

A material developed for use in space could eventually have terrestrial applications.

29 January 2020

Researchers from the University of Surrey, UK, have developed a coating that can be used to protect precision instruments used in space missions. Damage caused by water is an issue on space assignments, where it can travel along fibres causing moisture to permeate the instrument’s structure and alter its dimensions.

The new coating comprises multiple repeat layers of poly(p-xylylene) which binds to carbon fibre reinforced polymers (CFRP) that conforms to the surface, along with a diamond-like carbon layer that is tough and prevents moisture entering.

Work on the material began around a decade ago and is the product of a collaboration between the University of Surrey and aerospace company Airbus. Researchers are now working closely with the European Space Agency on the next phase of experiments, which will determine the feasibility of the coating and its long-term durability. The team are aiming to have the coating used on space missions within the next two years. The researchers added that they have lots of ideas about where the material could be used terrestrially.

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