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Proceedings Paper

Advanced composite materials for optomechanical systems
Author(s): Carl Zweben
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Paper Abstract

Polymer matrix composites (PMCs) have been well established in optomechanical systems for several decades. The other three classes of composites; metal matrix composites (MMCs), ceramic matrix composites (CMCs), and carbon matrix composites (CAMCs) are making significant inroads. The latter include carbon/carbon (C/C) composites (CCCs). The success of composites has resulted in increasing use in consumer, industrial, scientific, and aerospace/defense optomechanical applications. Composites offer significant advantages over traditional materials, including high stiffnesses and strengths, near-zero and tailorable coefficients of thermal expansion (CTEs), tailorable thermal conductivities (from very low to over twice that of copper), and low densities. In addition, they lack beryllium’s toxicity problems. Some manufacturing processes allow parts consolidation, reducing machining and joining operations. At present, PMCs are the most widely used composites. Optomechanical applications date from the 1970s. The second High Energy Astrophysical Observatory spacecraft, placed in orbit in 1978, had an ultrahigh-modulus carbon fiber-reinforced epoxy (carbon/epoxy) optical bench metering structure. Since then, fibers and matrix materials have advanced significantly, and use of carbon fiber-reinforced polymers (CFRPs) has increased steadily. Space system examples include the Hubble Space Telescope metering truss and instrument benches, Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS), James Webb Space Telescope and many others. Use has spread to airborne applications, such as SOFIA. Perhaps the most impressive CFRP applications are the fifty-four 12m and twelve 7m moveable ground-based ALMA antennas. The other three classes of composites have a number of significant advantages over PMCs, including no moisture absorption or outgassing of organic compounds. CCC and CMC components have flown on a variety of spacecraft. MMCs have been used in space, aircraft, military and industrial applications. In this paper, we review key PMC, MMC, CCC, and CMC optomechanical system materials, including properties, advantages, disadvantages, applications and future developments. These topics are covered in more detail in SPIE short courses SC218 and SC1078.

Paper Details

Date Published: 18 September 2013
PDF: 19 pages
Proc. SPIE 8836, Optomechanical Engineering 2013, 883608 (18 September 2013); doi: 10.1117/12.2021378
Show Author Affiliations
Carl Zweben, Zweben Consulting (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8836:
Optomechanical Engineering 2013
Alson E. Hatheway, Editor(s)

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