the wagner group

Melissa Gordon

Curriculum Vitae
B.S. Chemical Engineering, 2012
Lafayette College

office: 047 CLB
phone: 302-831-0877

Smart and Healing Materials for Inflatable Habitats and EVA Suits in Space

Inspired by the capacity of biological systems to intrinsically repair damage, we are synthesizing a new class of self-healing polymers capable of regenerating functionality after material fatigue or failure. The intended application of these materials is for protective materials enabling successful human habitation in space. In this extreme setting, micrometeorites and orbital debris (MMOD) as well as secondary ejecta can compromise the air barrier. Of particular concern are pinhole punctures that are difficult to identify and repair. The objective of this research is to synthesize a self-healing polymer that can be integrated into a composite capable of responding to environmental stress by automatically repairing mechanical punctures. Such a composite is intended to provide resilient protection to humans during extraterrestrial exploration and habitation. To accomplish this, we will utilize a multi-tiered healing approach which includes mechanochemistry, dynamic covalent chemistry and fracture-induced polymerization. The resulting materials will be subsequently characterized to understand and predict their behavior under conditions specific to space applications.