Resistance of POSS Polyimide Blends to Hyperthermal Atomic Oxygen Attack


Min Qian, Vanessa J Murray, Wei Wei, Brooks C Marshall, Timothy K Minton


ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces`


Copolymers of polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane (POSS) and polyimide (PI) have shown remarkable resistance to atomic oxygen (AO) attack and have been proposed as replacements for Kapton on the external surfaces of spacecraft in the harsh oxidizing environment of low Earth orbit (LEO). POSS PI blends would be an economical alternative to the copolymers if they also resisted AO attack. Thus, blends of trisilanolphenyl (TSP) POSS and PI with different weight percentages of the Si7O9 POSS cage were cast into films and exposed to a hyperthermal AO beam, and they were characterized in terms of their recession, mass loss, surface morphology, and surface chemistry. In order to compare the AO resistance of the blends with POSS PI copolymers, samples of previously studied copolymers were also investigated in parallel with the blends. For all POSS PI materials, the AO resistance increased with increasing AO fluence and with increasing POSS cage loading. At similar POSS cage loadings and exposure conditions, the TSP POSS PI blends showed comparable erosion yields to the POSS PI copolymers, with specific samples of blends and copolymers achieving erosion yields as low as 0.066 × 10–24 cm3 atom–1 with an AO fluence of 5.93 × 1020 O atoms cm–2. SEM and XPS analyses indicated that passivating SiOx layers were formed on the surfaces of all POSS-containing polymers during AO exposure. Thus, a TSP POSS PI blend is proposed as a low-cost variant of a POSS polyimide for use in extreme oxidizing environments, such as LEO.



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