DexMat Named as SpaceCom Entrepreneur Challenge Semi-Finalist

HOUSTON – SpaceCom – The Space Commerce Conference and Exposition, where NASA, aerospace and industry come together to connect, announces the finalists of the SpaceCom Entrepreneur Challenge. Taking place at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston November 27-28, this challenge is the culmination of the SpaceCom Entrepreneur Summit (SES). The Entrepreneur Challenge began with 56 startup applicants. Through the first round of judging, that number was narrowed to 23 and now 17 semi-finalists who will present during the first day of the SpaceCom Entrepreneur Summit, Tuesday, November 27.

The semi-finalists include:

  • Arlula
  • Benchmark Space Systems
  • Cemvita Factory Inc.
  • Devali Inc
  • DexMat, Inc. 
  • EXOS Aerospace Systems & Technologies
  • Finsophy Inc.
  • Hedy-Anthiel Space Systems
  • Lazarus 3D Inc.,
  • Lucid Drone Technologies, Inc.
  • LunaSonde, LLC
  • Molon Labe LLC
  • SaraniaSat Inc.,
  • Solstar Space Company
  • STARK Industries LLC
  • Sugarhouse Aerospace
  • Swift Data LLC

At the culmination of day one, five finalists will be selected to present during a pitch competition. The winner will then be selected after the final round of pitches during the general session November 28 at 1:30 PM. During this presentation, members of the audience and a panel of judges will select the grand prize winner. These finalists are eligible to win the below prizes provided by Google Cloud for Startups:

  •  $100,000 in Google Cloud credits to the competition winner
  • $20,000 in Google Cloud credits for runners up
  • $3,000 in Google Cloud credits for every qualified entrant in the competition

Additional prizes include:

  • Guaranteed extended meeting with an investment firm
  • Speaking role at SpaceCom 2019
  • A booth at SpaceCom 2019


DexMat Carbon Nanotube Yarn: Will it Burn?

This video highlights the high temperature stability of CNT yarns compared to copper wire by applying a 1430 C butane torch to both materials. The copper wire lasts about 5 seconds before melting, while the CNT yarn survives the torch for more than 30 seconds without any visible damage.  The high thermal stability and superior thermal conductivity of the CNT material is most likely the reason that it is able to survive exposure to the flame from the torch.  The impressive thermal properties of CNT fibers and films make them highly promising for application in flame retardant materials such as those used in firefighter suits.

DexMat Featured in Wire Journal International

Source: Original article appears in the October 2018 issue of the Wire Journal International.
Free subscription is required to read the digital version of the article. The feature on DexMat is on pages 52-53.

Space Dust Repelling Carbon Nanotube Fibers

Abstract: The above video demonstrates how carbon nanotube fibers are integrated into a spacesuit to help spacesuits mitigate dust contamination for future lunar and Mars missions.The spacesuit fabrication and testing was performed by researchers from the University of North Dakota, Boeing, and the NASA Glenn Research Center. CNT fibers were produced by DexMat.

Spacesuit dust mitigation has been a topic of high relevance and a critical path for future planetary exploration missions including Moon, Mars and Asteroids. A previous study demonstrated utilizing Carbon Nanotube (CNT) yarns as electrodes embedded into coupons made of spacesuit outer-layer material. When a multiphase Alternating Current (AC) voltage signal was applied to this material, the spacesuit fabric repelled greater than 80% lunar dust simulant with particle sizes between 10-75m in ambient conditions. As a continuation to this study, the feasibility of scaling the CNT embedded dust removal system on larger portions of spacesuit is investigated. A scaled prototype, representative of the knee joint section of a planetary spacesuit utilizing specifics of the NDX-2 lunar spacesuit developed by University of North Dakota was constructed. The outer-layer of this prototype is embedded with the CNT dust removal system and tested under various conditions. Fabrication of this system and results from the experiments using lunar dust simulant are detailed in this paper.

Source: Spacesuit Integrated Carbon Nanotube Dust Removal System: A Scaled Prototype

Carbon Nanotube Badminton Strings In Action

Above is a video demonstrating the performance of a badminton racket that uses strings made solely out of CNT yarn! The racket is strung with 700 micron diameter braided CNT yarn from DexMat.

Badminton Racket Strung with CNT Yarn [Demo]

This is no ordinary badminton racket! The strings are made entirely out of DexMat CNT yarn, offering superior performance, durability, and the ability to embed sensors and electronics directly into the rackets of the future because these CNT strings have high electrical conductivity. 700 micron diameter braided CNT yarn was used for the strings on this racket to match the typical diameter of polymer-based strings used in badminton rackets. Check out the video of the racket in action below:


DexMat Awarded Phase I SBIR: Robust Lightweight CNT Wiring for Space Systems

NASA is challenged to find ways of effectively shielding sensitive electronic equipment from electromagnetic interference (EMI) without adding significant weight to space flight vehicles and satellites (the heavier they are the more fuel they need to achieve orbit).  EMI shielding for wire and cables is an attractive opportunity for weight reduction. However, with the advent of highly reusable next generation space vehicles, wiring must be not only light weight, but also strong and robust, capable of withstanding extreme conditions, intense vibration and long lifecycles. It is important that wire weight reductions do not come at the expense of mechanical strength or EMI shielding effectiveness.  DexMat is developing a novel and highly conductive Carbon nanotube (CNT) EMI shield product that will allow for significant weight reduction without compromising mechanical strength or shield effectiveness. CNTs are advancing as the most promising solution for reducing the weight of spacecraft wires.  The shielding effectiveness of CNT materials is comparable to that of heavy metal braids, but at a fraction of the weight.  Compared to a copper wire with the same diameter, a CNT fiber has 6 times higher strength, more than 6 times lower density,  and at least 25 times higher flexure tolerance, essential qualities for conductors in aerospace applications. Under this Phase I project, DexMat will develop CNT shielding braid (made from CNT yarn from Dexmat) that can potentially increase the mechanical strength of CNT tape used as a primary EMI shield. These CNT braids will be of different thicknesses and area coverage, to augment the performance and product appeal of CNT tapes. Additionally, DexMat will begin to conduct the first accelerated aging tests to determine the impact on mechanical strength of shielding made with CNT tapes, CNT yard braids, and hybrid CNT tape/braid combinations.

Potential NASA Applications: 
The first planned product to contain DexMat technology is lightweight CNT cables. CNT cables combine high strength, electrical and thermal conductivity with low density, making them ideal for aerospace applications where weight reduction is a priority, including reusable next generation space vehicles and satellites. Given the tremendous costs associated with satellite launches, NASA and the aerospace industry will see substantial savings from our CNT-based wire.

Potential Non-NASA Applications: 
DexMat CNT technology has applications in the military aircraft and commercial aviation markets, to effectively reduce weight of aircraft and satellite designs.  For a single-aisle aircraft, a 1% reduction of in weight can lead to a net cost savings of $240K-$1.6M per year in use. For larger aircraft, the savings can reach $2.4-5M. Additional applications include wearable electronics, eTextiles and bioelectronics.

Carbon nanotube yarn taps nerves for electroceutical treatments and diagnostics

(Nanowerk News) Ingested or injected pharmaceuticals can target specific molecules involved in disease processes, but get distributed throughout the body where they can cause unwanted side effects. An approach known as electroceuticals aims to avoid systemic exposure by using small wires to electrically monitor and manipulate individual nerves that control organ function and carry information about disease. Despite the promise of electroceuticals, it has been challenging to develop long-term therapies due to the lack of biocompatible wires.
Now, NIBIB-funded researches have spun carbon nanotubes into flexible, nerve-sized wires or yarns capable of high-fidelity long-term connections in live animals. The development of these biocompatible yarns opens the possibility of new bioelectric diagnostics and therapies through regulation of internal organ function at the single nerve level.
Individual carbon nanotubes are pulled from a substrate and spun into the flexible carbon nanotube yarn
Individual carbon nanotubes are pulled from a substrate and spun into the flexible carbon nanotube yarn. (© NPG)
All the organs of the body such as the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys are automatically controlled by nerves that stretch from the brainstem to each organ. These nerves control organ functions such as heartbeat, breathing rates, and blood pressure, making constant adjustments in response to environmental and physiological changes. Variations in the electrical activity in this area of the brain, known as the autonomic nervous system, can also be predictors, indicators or causes of disease development.
“Monitoring and manipulating the autonomic nervous system to both understand and potentially treat disease has been an intriguing yet understudied approach to medicine,” explains Michael Wolfson, Ph.D., director of the NIBIB program in Rehabilitation Engineering and Implantable Medical Devices. “This is largely due to technical limitations in being able to insert wires into nerves that can reliably and safely record electrical activity over long periods of time and under different physiological conditions.”
In a study reported in the journal Scientific Reports (“Chronic interfacing with the autonomic nervous system using carbon nanotube (CNT) yarn electrodes”), bioengineers at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio describe the development of highly flexible carbon nanotube (CNT) yarn electrodes that were capable of months-long electrical recording in major nerves of the autonomic nervous system in rats.
The CNT yarns are essentially, just that, yarns made from a “forest” of hundreds of carbon nanotubes that are pulled from the metal surface they are grown on and spun into a highly flexible, highly conductive wire 1/100th the size of a human hair.
carbon nanotube yarn is wound around a tungsten needle for insertion into a nerve
The carbon nanotube yarn is wound around a tungsten needle for insertion into a nerve. The coiling of the yarn causes it to remain solidly embedded in the nerve after the needle is withdrawn. Actual needle and yarn (top). Diagram showing detail of how yarn is wrapped around the needle for insertion (bottom). (© NPG)
Current technologies for recording electrical signals from nerves include relatively large stiff tungsten needles used by neurologists to obtain readings from single nerves of patients for several hours, but must be removed before causing lasting nerve damage. Other wire electrode technologies can record nerve signals for short periods but because of their dimensions and stiff mechanical properties they are not suitable for long-term recording in small nerves.
“The currently available electrode technologies simply do not match the mechanical properties of nerves,” explains Dominique Durand, Ph.D., Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Case Western and senior researcher on the CNT yarn work. “With those types of electrodes, it’s often like sticking glass into spaghetti. Our CNT yarns are similar in size and flexibility to actual nerves. These properties allow them to be stealthily inserted into specific nerves and remain there for months without destroying the tissue or inducing an attack by the immune system.”
The combination of the biocompatibility of the CNT yarns and their outstanding ability to carry an electrical signal that is 10 times stronger than current technologies makes them ideal for long term recording of specific nerve signals. Finally, the lack of nerve damage keeps the surrounding axons intact, which helps to eliminate background noise. Thus, the CNT yarns have an excellent signal to noise ratio (SNR), which is critical for this type of research.
The group tested the CNT yarns in two major nerves in the autonomic system in rats. One study involved the vagus nerve, which stretches throughout the body to connect to numerous organs. The nerve is known to control and monitor a range of functions including heart rate, digestive tract movement, sweating, and immune response.
CNT yarn electrodes were also inserted into the glossopharyngeal nerve. The nerve is connected to a number of organs including the carotid artery, and parts of the ear, tongue and salivary glands where it is known to be involved in swallowing.
Carbon nanotube yarn embedded into the vagus nerve of a rat
Carbon nanotube yarn embedded into the vagus nerve of a rat. (© NPG)
In both nerves, recordings of stable electrical activity were maintained over a 10-week period. Pulses of nerve activity were also monitored while the animal responded to physiological challenges. The challenges included distension of the rat’s stomach with saline solution, and short durations where the rats were in low oxygen environments. In each case, the physiological changes induced by the challenge resulted in easily detectable changes in electrical activity that were recorded using the CNT yarn implants over the entire 10-week period of the experiments.
“Although this is early research, we believe the results demonstrate that this technology can be used for reliable long term electrical monitoring of physiological functions,” says Durand. “This is an important step in pursuing monitoring of disease progression through the nerves that control the function of the diseased organ.”
Durand explains that the goal is to learn what electrical signatures or profiles are indicative of disease development and to use that for early intervention, potentially by electrical stimulation or even blocking of the nerve. For example, one therapy for severe hypertension is the cutting of the renal nerve. This is obviously irreversible. Durand, explained that CNT yarn electrodes could be used to block the nerve impulse without cutting the nerve, making the treatment reversible.
The group is also excited about the potential of this recording method to improve prosthetics. “When an arm has been amputated there are tens of thousands of neurons remaining,” said Durand. “The approach would be to insert the CNT yarns into individual nerves and record the electrical signals that are created as the individual thinks about moving the missing arm—essentially learning the electrical signals that are formed by the intention to move the arm.” The ultimate goal is to develop neural interfaces capable of translating those electrical signals into better control of the prosthetic by the user.
Source: National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering

Physics Charge Smartphones Clothes Made From Carbon Nanotubes

Physicists from the University of Cincinnati will soon be able to charge smartphones using clothes made from carbon nanotubes. With the assistance of their colleagues from the BBC, Wright-Patterson, the experts intend to create a special material, which because of the peculiarities of carbon nanotubes would be exceptionally heat-resistant conducting electricity, and will also differ for their durability. Professor mark Schultz, is also involved in the study declared that the task of scientists is to use the resistance and conductivity for energy storage, which can charge a variety of gadgets.

Schulz said that at the moment the science is on the verge of a “carbon revolution,” as this material may soon completely replace metals because of its strength, low weight and various additional properties. Yarns made from nanotubes can store energy, replacing bulky batteries, which soon altogether sink into oblivion.

Full Article:

Mil-Aero Industries Eye Carbon Nanotubes as They Target Cost Savings

Ultra-lightweight carbon nanotubes may replace copper wires.

Today’s aerospace and aircraft industries focus on size, weight, power, and cost (SWaP-C), and cost is now often figured for program or operational life, which may total thousands of dollars per pound. This gives tremendous impetus and justification to accept high-cost new technology to obtain weight savings.

Reducing F-35 by 20 Pounds Could Provide $230M Savings

Satellites have always paid extra to reduce weight since each payload pound may cost more than $5,000 to launch. Studies by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) show that the new F-35 has a $4,500 cost per pound over the aircraft’s operational program life

until 2070. (For comparison, the cost per pound for the F-22 is estimated at $3,500.) The F-35 has projected production of2,557 aircraft for the U.S. and nine for export customers scheduled through 2037. Therefore, a weight reduction of just 20lbs per plane could result in savings of $230,000,000! Even if this is off by 50%, the expected benefits already are driving new industry developments.

In addition to fighter aircraft, each ounce is also critical in future soldier wearables, UAVs, portable radars, vehicle communications, and other equipment to increase survivability, mission endurance, and success.

Interconnect weight savings are being obtained by incorporating higher contact density, composite materials, combinational multi-port connectors, and other approaches. However, a new technology involving carbon nanotubes (CNTs) is emerging and offers a lightweight alternative to copper wire and other conductive shielding materials. A carbon nanotube is produced as a layer of carbon atoms in a tubular configuration, in single- or multiple-walled versions.

CNTs are being mixed with polymers to create high-strength, lightweight composite materials. CNT fibers can be made into conductive sheets and tapes, which offer a myriad of potentials. Optimal performance may result from spinning CNT fibers into conductive threads (referred to as yarn) to potentially replace copper wires in harnesses, motor windings, and shields.

Another important gain is reliability. CNT fibers and yarn can withstand millions of bending cycles, while standard fiber/wire would have yielded many times. The minimum bending radius requirements of today’s cable is not applicable for CNT fibers and cables.

Market potentials for CNT technology are bringing new companies into the forefront. Nanocomp Technologies offers commercial CNT fibers created using a carbon vapor deposition (CVD) reactor and then formed into sheets or fibers that can be twisted into shields or primary conductors. Another supplier is Syscom Advanced Materials Inc., which provides a variety of metal-clad fibers.

DexMat Inc. in Houston produces CNT fiber using a wet acid process that draws multiple fibers that can be shaped into a shield or primary conductor, and future developments for  include flat tape. The company boasts a strong Ph.D. cadre from nearby Rice University where they have successfully fabricated coaxial cable inner and outer conductors by coating a solution of CNTs in chlorosulfonic acid to achieve a two-times better conductivity than seen previously. This may prove an attractive alternative to commercial coax cable using tin-coated-copper with comparable attenuation and greater mechanical durability with 97% reduced mass, according to the company.

Usually, the outer conductor is the heaviest portion of today’s cables. In coax, the outer conductor provides both signal transmission and electromagnetic shielding. While shielding does not require high conductivity in the outer conductor, signal loss (i.e., signal attenuation) through the transmission line is significantly affected by the conductivity and architecture of the outer conductor. The new solution-coated CNT outer conductors offer near-term application potentials. Several connector companies are reportedly studying termination techniques.

Carbon Nanotube Materials Provide Shielding

TE Connectivity has been working to use CNT materials for shielding and data transmission cables. In a paper presented at the 2012 IWCS Conference, Dr. Stefanie Harvey, senior manager for corporate strategy, reported that they had achieved greater than 50dB shielding effectiveness in the GHz range, and their “data transmission cables using a yarn format perform comparably to MIL-STD-1553.” In the January 5, 2016 issue of ASSEMBLY, Dr. Harvey reviewed how replacing the braid in RG-58 cable would reduce weight from 38.8 grams per meter (g/m) to 11.5g/m, while replacing the center conductor with CNT yarn would further reduce weight to 7.3g/m for a combined weight reduction of 80%.

Composites are used to replace heavy copper wire with metal plated aramid fibers for use in wire and cable EMI shielding. EMI shielding made with plated aramid fibers can reduce weight by as much as 80%, leading to major weight reduction depending on the size of the aircraft or satellite. Aramid fibers are a class of strong, heat-resistant synthetic fibers, the best known of which is DuPont™ Kevlar®, used in ballistic-rated body armor.

Carlisle Interconnect Technologies (formerly Micro-Coax Inc.) provides a unique weight-reducing EMI/RFI shielding solution using their proprietary high-strength ARACON® brand metal clad fibers. Ron Souders, technical director, Carlisle Interconnect Technologies, advises that, for typical applications, switching to ARACON allows a weight savings of 80% when compared to traditional metal braided or woven EMI shielding products. This offers the conductivity of an outer metal coating with the strength, light weight, and flexibility of aramid fiber.

*Note: DexMat also provides products for shielding applications not mentioned in this article.

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Ron Souders further explained that the specific gravity of aramid fiber is only 1.44g/cc, compared to copper at 8.9g/cc, and that, even with the addition of metal coatings, the specific gravity of ARACON fibers ranges from 3 – 5g/cc. The tensile strength (measured in kilopounds per square inch, or Ksi) of the aramid core (350Ksi) is from three to 10 times higher than that of traditional or high-strength copper cores, which typically span 35 to 95Ksi. Since ARACON fibers behave like a textile, they are far more flexible and compliant than metal.

Industry Standardization is Underway

The benefits offered by CNT fiber, whether as EMI/RFI shielding, signal or coaxial cable, or other new components, have prompted the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) in Patuxent River, Maryland, to sponsor the establishment of suitable “Military Specification for Conductive Carbon Conductors used in Aircraft Wiring,” eventually with QPL sources. The proposed formal qualification program should stabilize components and materials for future use.

CNT technology also was included in a recent multiple-day RF coordination meeting held in February by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) at the Defense Supply Center Columbus (DSCC). Suppliers of basic CNT materials, wire, cables, cable assembles, and signal and RF/microwave connectors are now working on both application-specific and generalized products to achieve the weight reduction and reliability benefits offered by CNT and other metallized fibers.

Original story by David Shaff – April 28, 2017