In-space fabrication and repair via frontal polymerization
Composites are materials that are comprised of a matrix binder and filler. The choice of the filler and matrix materials will dictate the physical and mechanical properties of the cured composite. Composites are generally applied in a monomer form and cure slowly via chemical reactions that produce a network that serves as a binder for the filler. Frontal polymerization is a self-propagating localized reaction that allows rapid curing without any intrinsic limits to the size of the sample. The front propagates from the coupling of the heat release of the reaction, thermal diffusion and the strong dependence of the reaction rate on temperature. It is basically a 'flame' that propagates through the liquid resin and instead of leaving ash in its wake, the front leaves a solid polymer. In the photoinitated process, light is used to initiate a thermal front that converts monomer into a crosslinked network. It is also possible to start the front using a heat lamp or localized heat source such as a soldering iron.
Publication Source (Journal or Book title)
43rd AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit - Meeting Papers
Pojman, J., Nason, C., & Hoyle, C. (2005). In-space fabrication and repair via frontal polymerization. 43rd AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit - Meeting Papers, 7383-7388. Retrieved from https://digitalcommons.lsu.edu/chemistry_pubs/1182