Space film

Mat Celina of Sandia National Laboratories has spent the last few years investigating the performance of various piezoelectric polymer films that could one day be used as ultra-lightweight mirrors for space telescopes. The team hopes to send an experimental package of promising polymers up to the Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE-6) to be launched into low Earth orbit (LEO) in 2007. "This will be the first time these polymers will be remotely operated in an actual space environment," Celina explains, "We hope to learn which polymer materials will work best in space. The materials will boldly go where they have not been before." The piezoelectric polymers are based on polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) and its copolymers and so far have not been used much in space because they degrade when exposed to atomic oxygen, solar ultraviolet, and extreme temperature variations. However, a metallic coating will protect the materials to be tested as space mirror films from the rigors of space.