Technology Demonstration of Graphene Ion Membranes for Earth and Space Applications

PI: H. Todd Smith, Andrew Monica (Co-I), Johns Hopkins University / Applied Physics Lab

Graphene is a material with a number of unique qualities including high impermeability and strength combined with low mass. This effort is focused on the space qualification and demonstration of graphene membranes for particle detection applications in Earth’s atmosphere as well as planetary systems. Considering the unique properties of graphene, successful flight qualification could help enable their use for the myriad applications outlined in the NASA Technology Roadmap area TA08 (Science Instruments, Observatories and Sensor Systems).

Technology Areas (?)
  • TA08 Science Instruments, Observations and Sensor Systems
Problem Statement

We are highly motivated to apply graphene membranes on particle detectors because the reduced mass and power requirement when combined with anticipated performance improvements could enable such critical scientific measurements where mission and/or environmental limitations would have precluded such investigations. With the proposed effort, we hope to enable the use of graphene membranes on future NASA Earth Sciences and Planetary missions. In addition to paving the way for future missions to other planetary systems, results from the experiment we describe have the potential to provide truly non-iterative leaps in our understanding of Earth atmospheric physics and coupled plasma-neutral physics in general.

Technology Maturation

This technology currently resides at a technology readiness level (TRL) of 3. We will fabricate graphene membranes with a test housing. We will then conduct laboratory environment tests and integrate this test housing on our existing Sub- orbital Observation and Development Platform (ASODP) in preparation for a technology test on a commercial suborbital reusable launch vehicle (sRLV). Through this proposed technology demonstration we intend to raise the TRL of graphene membranes to 7.

Technology Details

  • Selection Date
    NRA-2-APP-E (Aug 2013)
  • Program Status
  • Current TRL (?)
    Successful FOP Flights
  • 0 sRLV

Development Team

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