Thermo-optical coatings with high optical absorptance and high thermal emittance are a critical technology for a range of different space applications, including stray light suppression, and also passive thermal control of the internal surfaces of satellites. Development of new space coatings with high thermal emittance have also been highlighted as important for accurate absolute temperature calibration (Section 4.9.2 N28b of the European Commision/ESA/EDA Draft Critical Space Technologies for European Strategic Non-Dependence).
In the past few years, the use of additive manufacturing for satellite components (both structural and functional elements) has increased rapidly. This has fuelled a shift towards topologically optimised hardware. Although topological optimisation reduces component mass, it typically results in very complex geometries, which are difficult to coat by conventional means.
The applicant company is seeking to develop a thermo-optical coating for space applications with suitable optical properties for use as a stray light suppression coating, which is conducive to deposition on complex shaped geometries produced by additive manufacture (AM). Specifically, the coating would require high optical absorptance (≥ 0.96) and high thermal emittance (≥ 0.90) along with suitable rheological properties. A coating with these optical properties could additionally be used for coating the internal surfaces of satellites in order to maximise heat dissipation from high power density payloads.
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