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Space technologies: the next-generation Optical Solar Reflector

13 December 2021

Since the first years of activity, ODL has collaborated on various projects to produce Optical Coatings specially designed for the Aerospace Sector

 

Reflectors for Solar Radiation on Flexible Surfaces: in collaboration with the Electro-Optics Research Center (CREO) and the European Space Agency (ESA), starting in 2015, ODL gains an active role in the technology and product development of the “First-Surface Flexible Optical Solar Reflectors (FIRST-FLEX)” project.

The project comes from an earlier CREO study in the frame of the BepiColombo Mission to Mercury. The study has led to the qualification of an extremely durable fully inorganic thermo-optical coating named Interferential CERMET, designed to protect the High Gain Antenna feed from the strong solar radiation flows (up to 17 KW/m2) of Mercury orbits. In 2015, ODL enters the project as CREO’s partner, to adapt and optimize the CERMET process for large surfaces of flexible materials. Its aim is to meet the requirements of an industrial application and develop a radically new type of Solar Optical Reflector (OSR) to protect satellites and space vehicle antennas from solar radiation.

 

Coating Stands-Out:

  • extreme durability
  • excellent adhesion on a variety of substrates: from metal foils to carbon fiber or polymer films
  • low solar absorbance
  • high thermal emissivity
  • good electro-static dissipation properties
  • applicability to large surfaces, both rigid and flexible

 

The project, successfully completed in 2017, is now in a further phase of refinement. Space product qualification will soon be completed, and FIRST-FLEX will be launched into the market as the next-generation Optical Solar Reflector. FIRST-FLEX combines high performance with affordable costs and ease of use, and is suitable for space missions of any type, from Earth observation, geolocation, telecommunications and scientific exploration. Dichroic filters and mirrors manufactured by ODL are produced with interference multilayer treatments of dielectric materials, through PVD processes by Sputtering and Evaporation technology.

 

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