Surface modification of polymers used in the Low Earth Orbit space environment
SURFACE MODIFICATION OF POLYMERS USED IN THE LOW EARTH
ORBIT SPACE ENVIRONMENT
Jacob I. Kleiman
Integrity Testing Laboratory Inc.; University o f Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies 4925 Dufferin Street, North York, Ontario, Canada, M3H 5T6
A review o f current activities at Integrity Testing Laboratory Inc. (ITL) and University o f Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS) in the field o f surface modification o f polymers is being presented. A number o f new surface modification technologies were developed recently at ITL and UTIAS for protection of polymer materials from the space environment. Using a new approach to silicon functionalization o f high-performance polymers, a new chemical surface modification process Photosil™ was developed that allows to incorporate high concentrations of silicon into surface regions o f polymer materials. In another process, named Implantox™, a modified ion implantation process was used that allowed to form oxide-based highly protective surface layers on high-performance polymers. A novel, proprietary surface modification process was also demonstrated recently for fluorine-containing polymers. A variety o f space bound polymer materials were treated by all three processes and all these demonstrated, through extensive testing, excellent resistance to fast atomic oxygen (FAO) erosion.