increased will allow for faster charge/discharge rates, higher power densities, new battery and fuel cell materials, and increased safety. Nano-engineered devices can also improve existing storage and energy generation technologies making previously inefficient technologies competitive. Large numbers of sensors monitoring system and structural health will result in larger energy needs not only to transmit the information, but also process it. Nanotechnology will enable sensors to be self-powered and allow for distributed sensing in a networked fashion. Nanomaterials are being aggressively studied to improve methods for solar energy harvesting, thermal scavenging, and harvesting energy from the structures themselves. Newer technologies such as nano-structured metamaterials and photonic or phononic crystals with spectral compression will improve collection efficiencies and provide new capabilities.

3. Propulsion Systems. Improve launch and in-space propulsion systems by using nanotechnologies.

Advances in nanotechnology will enable new propellants and improved propulsion technologies. Nanotechnology may impact propellant technology by providing higher combustion efficiency and enabling alternative fuel materials that are less hazardous and require less cooling. More energetic propellants will reduce fuel mass in solid motors, and provide tailorable ignition and reaction rates. Higher-temperature and lower-erosion structural materials based on nanomaterials could reduce the weight of engine nozzles and propulsion structures. In-space electric propulsion (EP) systems, which couple high efficiency and large specific impulse within a relatively small package, will also benefit from performance improvements in nanoparticle propellants and nano-fabricated emission thrusters

4. Sensors and Instrumentation. Develop sensors and instrumentation with unique capabilities and better performance using nanotechnologies.

The success of NASA space missions relies heavily on a variety of sensing methods and sensor technologies for numerous environments in addition to scientific data collection. Structural monitoring of the space vehicle and internal systems self-monitoring, in addition to astronaut health monitoring, will be required as vehicle complexity and mission durations increase. The ability of systems or structures to alert operators and spacecraft systems to changing conditions allows for a proactive approach to maintain capability. Nano-sensor technology allows the incorporation of sensors in structures and systems that are smaller, more energy efficient, and more sensitive, allowing for more complete and accurate health assessments. Nanotechnology also permits targeted sensor applications that improve functional efficiency. Future space missions will also require development of smaller, more efficient excitation sources (photon or electron) for scientific work. Nanotechnology also allows miniaturization of instruments with enhanced performance.

5. Thermal Management. Improve performance of thermal management systems by using nanotechnology.

Thermal management is a key technology area that enables and impacts all of NASA’s missions. Proper thermal management can reduce overall system cost and weight with direct benefit to reducing overall launch vehicle weight. Thermal control is often required at the system level as well as at the subsystem and component level. Often these requirements are at odds; for instance, the samples loaded into an instrument need to be heated, but the detector needs to be cooled. Nanotechnology can be used to tailor the thermal conductivity of materials, making them more efficient conductors or insulators. The use of nanomaterials as fillers in TPS ablators may enhance both char formation and ablator cohesion. This will reduce spalling and total erosion of the TPS materials. Such nanomaterial inclusions can result in a weight savings from using less TPS material.


A quality function deployment (QFD) matrix was employed to assist in the ranking of the nanotechnology level 3 technologies and to capture comments and concerns of the panel regarding the technology evaluation

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