AFOSR Supports Heat-Resistant Ceramic Coatings Research at University of Arizona
January 20, 2011
Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) supported research at the University of Arizona is investigating high temperature resistant ceramic coatings that will provide thermal protection for Air Force hypersonic flight vehicles. The research team led by Dr. Erica Corral of the University of Arizona is using advanced chemical synthesis and ceramic processing methods to process the ceramic compositions onto carbon composites, which are the materials used to fabricate lightweight and high-strength aerospace vehicles. "The major steps in advancing this technology are based on relevant testing of the ceramic coatings under extreme temperature, heat flux and gaseous species environments," said Dr. Corral. Even now there are challenges in performing some of the relevant tests that require simulating extreme aerothermal environments where temperatures on the surface of the aircraft can go as high as 2800 degrees Celsius or one-half the surface temperature of the sun. The researchers have also been harnessing the power of the sun and focusing the solar radiation at a specific heat flux to investigate high-temperature oxidation resistance that their coatings provide. Scientists anticipate future hypersonic vehicles with ultra-high temperature ceramic coatings will be capable of sustained flight at Mach 7 or more, making it possible to travel from Los Angeles to New York in 30 minutes.