New eco-coating for spaceships has a structure similar to seashells

The coating structure consists of alternating organic and inorganic layers. The organic layers are

from soot made from burnt sugar, and inorganic from silica, a mineral that is a combination of silicon with oxygen.

All this makes the material durable and lightweight.It weighs only a few micrograms per layer. In addition, the coating is cheap to manufacture, compared to the cost of a beryllium wafer, a material with the closest thermal and mechanical properties of a similar size.

Another benefit is that it is relatively environmentally friendly. Its production requires the addition of only ethanol.

In their study, the scientists were inspiredseashell structure, which is known for its strength. Layers of inorganic nanograins that provide strength alternate with organic proteins that "glue" the layers together. This provides shock absorption and prevents the propagation of cracks between the layers.

New material can be very useful forspacecraft protection, as it is able to withstand the heat of launch and protect against impacts from tiny debris. Minimizing weight and cost is also critical for space launches. It could also find use in protecting reactors against the onslaught of heat, radiation and debris.

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