Team Invention May Help To Protect Astronauts From Radiation in Space

Protecting astronauts or satellites with an ultra-thin film.

Team Invention May Help To Protect Astronauts From Radiation in Space
The sample here contains hundreds of thousands of nanoparticles that manipulate the incoming light. Credit: Stuart Hay, ANU

Scientists at The Australian National University (ANU) have designed a new nanomaterial that transmits light if necessary to protect astronauts in space from harmful radiation. The material is so thin that fits on the tip of a needle and could be applied to any surface, including spacesuits.

Build on more than 15 years of research, the invention has a lot of potential applications. It could efficiently protect astronauts or satellites with an ultra-thin film that can be adjusted to reflect various dangerous ultraviolet or infrared radiation in different environments.

Team Invention May Help To Protect Astronauts From Radiation in Space
Australian National University (ANU) have designed a new nanomaterial that transmits light if necessary to protect astronauts in space from harmful radiation.

Dr. Mohsen Rahmani from ANU said, “Our technology significantly increases the resistance threshold against harmful radiation in space compared to today’s technologies, which rely on absorbing radiation with thick filters.”

According to a co-researcher, Andrey Miroshnichenko, the invention could be modified for other light spectrums including visible light, which opened up a whole array of innovations, including architectural and energy saving applications.

Team Invention May Help To Protect Astronauts From Radiation in Space
Associate Professor Andrey Miroshnichenko (left) and Dr. Mohsen Rahmani demonstrate how the nanomaterial can reflect or transmit light on demand with temperature control. Credit: Stuart Hay, ANU

Dr. Miroshnichenko said, “For instance, you could have a window that can turn into a mirror in a bathroom on demand, or control the amount of light passing through your house windows in different seasons.”

“What I love about this invention is that the design involved different research disciplines including physics, materials science and engineering.”

Team Invention May Help To Protect Astronauts From Radiation in Space
The material is so thin that fits on the tip of a needle and could be applied to any surface, including spacesuits.

Co-lead researcher Dr. Lei Xu said, “achieving cost-efficient and confined temperature control such as local heating was feasible.”

“Much like your car has a series of parallel resistive wires on the back windscreen to defog the rear view, a similar arrangement could be used with our invention to confine the temperature control to a precise location.”