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26 September, 2017 - 16:27 By Kate Sweeney

Space the new frontier for Cambridge Graphene Centre

Lucia Lombardi and Dr Yarjan Samad

The Cambridge Graphene Centre is reaching for the stars after launching a pilot programme to test the viability of graphene-enabled devices for space applications.

The programme will be run alongside the Graphene Flagship partners Leonardo and Université Libre de Bruxelles with the support of the European Space Agency.

Lucia Lombardi, Dr Yarjan Samad, and Professor Andrea Ferrari, director of the Cambridge Graphene Centre, will participate in two zero-gravity campaigns in November and December.

Graphene will be tested in zero-gravity conditions using six parabolic flights to determine its potential in space applications by applying it in novel loop-heat pipes to improve the thermal management of satellites and spacecrafts without the need of moving parts.

The wick of the loop heat pipe, made of a porous metal, will be enhanced with different types of graphene-based coatings to improve the efficiency. During each three-hour flight, the specially modified Novespace plane will make a series of 30 parabolic ascents with more than 20 seconds of weightlessness in each parabola.

Lucia Lombardi said: “The idea is to use graphene to improve the thermal conductivity and the capillary pressure by growing a sponge in the pores of the wicks.”

Professor Ferrari, who is also Science and Technology Officer and chair of the management panel of the Graphene Flagship, added: “Space is the new frontier for the Graphene Flagship. This initial experiment will test the viability of graphene-enabled devices for space applications. 

“The combined strengths of the Graphene Flagship partners and ESA give a strong basis to reach a high technology readiness level.”

• Photograph (above) shows Lucia Lombardi and Dr Yarjan Samad of the Cambridge Graphene Centre.

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