NU Professor's Invention Is Out of This World

Materials Could Be Used to Build Satellites

By Jaime Elich
|  Friday, Apr 29, 2011  |  Updated 8:05 AM CDT
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A Chicago scientist earned top honors when his invention was picked for a trip into space.
   
Mark Hersam, a professor of materials science and engineering at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, created a set of highly conductive carbon nanotube and graphene thin films that could help high frequency transistors for communication devices and conductors in solar cells and displays.

The products will launch into space Friday on shuttle Endeavor's final mission to see how they fare in the harsh enviornment of deep space.

"Our samples must go into space to prove themselves,"  Hersam said in a release.  This is the ultimate test. If the materials are resistant to radiation there, they could be used to dramatically improve the technology currently used in space, such as that found in satellites."

The carbon nanotube and graphene thin films  will be mounted outside the International Space Station. 

If they pass tests after returning to Earth in about six months, they could be used to make satellites in the future.

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