Synthesis of silica-supported ZnO pigments for thermal control coatings

In a new study scientists targeted to improve thermal control coatings that are used for i. e. spacecrafts. Therefore they synthesized silica-supported ZnO pigments for thermal control coatings and analysed their reflection model.

A spacecraft in orbit undergoes extreme temperature cycling -

A spacecraft in orbit undergoes extreme temperature cycling, space radiations, and other extreme conditions that can potentially raise the temperature of spacecraft to harmful levels. Hardware and sensitive detectors utilized in spacecrafts require that temperatures be maintained within specified ranges. Thermal control coatings (TCCs) help to maintain the thermal equilibrium of the spacecraft at a level acceptable for vital components. This is done by employing the diffused reflection of all effective ultraviolet (UV), visible (VIS), and near-IR (NIR) wavelengths of solar radiation and emitting the infrared (IR) energy.

The most commonly used TCCs have utilized potassium silicate as the binder and ZnO as the pigment (Z-93), but absorption of UV light by ZnO pigment affects the ideal scheme of these TCCs. In the present study, silica-supported zinc oxide particles with different ZnO contents were synthesized as pigments for white thermal control coatings and the optimized one was selected based on the experimental determination of the optical properties of the prepared coatings.

A model for reflectance

The results revealed that the optimized TCCs containing pigment with the zinc to silicon ratio of 1.91 had better reflection and emission properties in comparison with Z-93, due to the improvement in the refractive index and the dispersion quality of pigment. Then, the scattering properties (S) of the synthesized pigments and ZnO in TCC were investigated based on the reflectance data, according to the Kubelka–Munk analysis. The general trend in scattering coefficients for each formulation showed the same shape, such that with the increase in S values, the zinc to silicon ratio of pigments was raised too. Also, this trend revealed that scattering was more efficient at longer rather than shorter wavelengths.

For Z-93, this trend was completely opposite. Also, S values for Z-93 in the wavelength range of 200–400 nm were around zero, while for the prepared coatings, this was not the case. Finally, the statistical nonlinear regression method was utilized to prepare a model for reflectance as a function of the zinc to silicon ratio of pigments and the wavelength of light.

The study is published in: Journal of Coatings Technology and Research  January 2018, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 223–230.

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