Astronomy Invention may help protect astronauts from radiation

Invention may help protect astronauts from radiation

ANU scientists have designed a new nano-material that can reflect or transmit light on demand, opening the door to technology that protects astronauts in space from harmful radiation.

The new tech could also be used for precise temperature control and energy applications.

Lead researcher Dr Mohsen Rahmani from ANU said the material was so thin that hundreds of layers could fit on the tip of a needle and it could be applied to any surface, including spacesuits.

“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 dangerous ultraviolet or infrared radiation in different environments,” he said.

“Our technology significantly increases the resistance threshold against harmful radiation compared to today’s technologies, which rely on absorbing radiation with thick filters.”

Co-researcher Associate Professor Andrey Miroshnichenko said the invention could also be applied to visible light, leading to architectural and energy-saving innovations.

“For instance, you could have a window in a bathroom that can turn into a mirror on demand or control the amount of light passing through your house windows in different seasons,” Dr Miroshnichenko said.

The innovation builds on more than 15 years of research supported by the ARC through CUDOS, a Centre of Excellence, and the Australian National Fabrication Facility.

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