Scientists have designed a new nanomaterial that can reflect or transmit light on demand and may be applied on spacesuits to protects astronauts from harmful cosmic radiation. The material is so thin that hundreds of layers can fit on the tip of a needle and can be applied to any surface, researchers said. "Our invention has a lot of potential applications, such as protecting astronauts or satellites with an ultra-thin film that can be adjusted to reflect various dangerous ultraviolet or infrared radiation in different environments," said Mohsen Rahmani from Australian National University (ANU).
"Our technology significantly increases the resistance threshold against harmful radiation compared to todays technologies, which rely on absorbing radiation with thick filters," Rahmani said. The material can also be tailored for other light spectrums including visible light, which opened up a whole array of innovations, including architectural and energy saving applications. "You could have a window that can turn into a mirror in a bathroom on demand, or control the amount of light passing through your house windows in different seasons," said Andrey Miroshnichenko, associate professor at ANU.
The material is cost effective and confined temperature control such as local heating are also feasible. "Much like your car has a series of parallel resistive wires on the back windscreen to defog the rear view, a similar arrangement could be used with our invention to confine the temperature control to a precise location," said Lei Xu from ANU. The study was published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.