화학공학소재연구정보센터
Polymer, Vol.48, No.1, 19-24, 2007
Residual stress effect on degradation of polyimide under simulated hypervelocity space debris and atomic oxygen
Polyimides are used as the outer layer of thermal control insulation blankets covering most of the external spacecraft surfaces that are exposed to space environment. The combined effect of ground simulated hypervelocity space debris impacts and atomic oxygen (AO) on the fracture of polyimide films was studied. A laser-driven flyer system was used to accelerate aluminum flyers to impact velocities of up to 3 km/s. The impacted films were exposed to an RF plasma source, which was used to simulate the effect of AO in the low Earth orbit. Scanning electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy were used to characterize the fracture and surface morphology. When exposed to oxygen RF plasma, the impacted polyimide film revealed a large increase in the erosion rate, the damage being characterized mainly by the formation of new holes. This effect is explained by the formation of residual stresses due to the impact and enhancement of oxygen diffusivity and accumulation. A complementary experiment, in which a stressed polyimide was exposed to RF plasma, supports this model. This study demonstrates a synergistic effect of the space environment components on polymers' degradation, which is essential for understanding the potential hazards of ultrahigh velocity impacts and AO erosion for completing a successful spacecraft mission. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.