Carbon nanomaterials are an enabler for technology with seemingly endless potential applications: detecting cancer before it spreads, self-repairing buildings and bridges, filtering water, and powering mobile devices from body heat or movement. Carbon nanotubes are incredibly small and incredibly strong, 100 times stronger than steel at one-sixth of the density and 10,000 times smaller than one human hair. Graphene is a carbon membrane that, at just one atom thick, is stronger than steel and can tolerate of wide temperature and pH ranges.
Lockheed Martin has also been issued a patent from the United States Patent and Trademark Office for Perforene™--graphene with nanoscale holes in it that the company is developing to ultimately filter water and other substances more efficiently and effectively than today’s industry standards.
Carbon nanostructures (CNS) are at the heart of our focus in nanotechnology. Lockheed Martin’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Applied NanoStructured Solutions, LLC (ANS) has created a high volume continuous process to mass produce CNS, a cross-linked and highly entangled arrangement of carbon nanotubes on a base material. CNS can be grown at scale on various substrates including glass and carbon fiber and formed into materials with superior structural and conductive properties. ANS has already fielded this technology to make static dissipative actuator covers and electrostatic discharge shields for the Juno spacecraft solar array support mechanisms. Another application is for the Littoral Combat Ship where CNS materials are being used to protect composite-based parts from lightning strikes. Also, having received premanufacture notifications from the EPA, ANS products are available for commercial sale.
Low-cost manufacturing processes and the unique architecture and properties of CNS offer cost-effective, multi-functional performance across multiple applications in defense, aerospace, automotive and commercial applications. As we move forward with research and development, we are ensuring the environmental safety and health aspects of our work are addressed.
The APEX platform embraces a holistic, multi-disciplinary approach to product development that considers materials design and manufacturing in parallel. The first aerospace qualified member of the APEX family, APEXn-1, was developed as a low-cost alternative for use in non-structural applications intended for land, air, sea, and space platforms. Thus far, this chemical- and corrosion-resistant, carbon nanofiber-reinforced thermoplastic composite has met stringent Department of Defense qualification standards for use in non-structural components. The APEXn-1 composite has also passed flame, smoke, and toxicity testing as well as secondary process testing demonstrating that this material is both safe and environmentally sustainable.