This paper describes the development and testing of Metal Rubber sensors for the nondestructive, normal force detection of ice accretion on aerospace structures. The buildup of ice on aircraft engine components, wings and rotorblades is a problem for both civilian and military aircraft that must operate under all weather conditions. Ice adds mass to moving components, thus changing the equations of motion that control the operation of the system as well as increasing drag and torque requirements. Ice also alters the surface geometry of leading edges, altering the airflow transition from laminar to turbulent, generating turbulence and again increasing drag. Metal Rubber is a piezoresistive material that exhibits a change in electrical resistance in response to physical deformation. It is produced as a freestanding sheet that is assembled at the molecular level using alternating layers of conductive metal nanoparticles and polymers. As the volume percentage of the conductive nanoparticle clusters within the material is increased from zero, the onset of electrical conduction occurs abruptly at the percolation threshold. Electrical conduction occurs due to electron hopping between the clusters. If a length of the material is strained, the clusters move apart so the efficiency of electron hopping decreases and electrical resistance increases. The resulting change in resistance as a function of the change in strain in the material, at a specific volume percentage of conductive clusters, can be interpreted as the transduction response of the material. We describe how sensors fabricated from these materials can be used to measure ice buildup.
Multilayered optical filters have been formed using layer-by-layer self-assembly processes. Unlike conventional vapor deposition coating techniques, molecular-level self-assembly is an aqueous solution-based process that is performed at room temperature and pressure. This allows the incorporation of a wider range of possible materials, including polymers, oxide and other nanoclusters, and other molecules. We review the general filter deposition method and give generalized results for nominal substrate materials.