FLC News

Seashell-inspired Sandia shield protects materials in hostile environments

Sugar: the new supermaterial? A new shield developed by Sandia National Laboratories is made of very thin layers of confectioners’ sugar from the grocers, burnt to a state called carbon black, interspersed between only slightly thicker layers of silica, the most common material on Earth, and baked. The result resembles the organic and inorganic layering of a seashell, each layer helping the next to contain and mitigate shock. It is extraordinarily inexpensive, lightweight enough to protect satellites against debris in the cold of outer space, cohesive enough to strengthen the walls of pressurized vessels experiencing average conditions on Earth and heat-resistant enough to shield instruments against flying debris. The new material has multiple potential applications, including possible electrode applications delaying, rather than blocking, surface electron emissions. The work was done in anticipation of the increased shielding that will be needed to protect test objects, diagnostics and drivers inside the more powerful pulsed power machines of the future.  

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