Article Image
IPFS News Link • Science, Medicine and Technology

Carbon nanotubes key to next-gen heat shields for hypersonic aircraft

• by David Szondy

Based on sheets of carbon nanotubes called "buckypaper," the new experimental shields can be made into a very thin, flexible skin that can be applied to airframes to both protect and support them.

For aircraft and spacecraft operating in the atmosphere at speeds above five times the speed of sound, heat shields are a necessity if the vehicle is to avoid severe damage at the very least. This is especially true today when many aerospace designs rely increasingly on carbon composites that provide strength and lightness, but are vulnerable to high temperatures.