Nanotechnology is also present in the components and technologies used in aviation. However, there are many more nanotechnology proposals to implement in the medium or long term than those actually applied today in commercial aircraft.
Actually, the expectations created are great: from the improvement in the materials used in the aeronautical structures to own designs of the science fiction.
As a reminder, in aeronautical design, it is paramount to maximize the strength/weight ratio, or what means to look for materials with properties that simultaneously meet high mechanical strength and low weight.
In addition, there are other areas for improvement in which the use of nanotechnology could be considered as possible new coatings for corrosion protection or for use as fire retardants.
Among nanotechnology materials, one of the most popular is carbon nanotubes. But what are their characteristics so that they are going to be such an important material? Its two main properties are to present rigidity much superior to that of other materials, as well as a great tenacity.
It makes them ideal for aeronautical engineering. In spite of this, these materials still have to overcome very important limitations such as the small length of their fibers.
Another set of materials used in nanotechnology is known as nanostructured metals, which have the characteristics that their grains are on a nanometric scale.
It gives them excellent properties of hardness and mechanical strength. Among the possible uses that would be investigated, one would be for the improvement of corrosion coatings for aircraft landing gear.
Commercial Applications of Nanotechnological Materials
Nanotechnology is seen as an opportunity to develop new detectors, sensors and other electronic elements. It would serve to optimize the flight of the aircraft as well as to increase flight safety.
It speaks from extremely sensitive sensors for the detection of gases to sensors embedded in materials to improve the technologies for monitoring the state of damage structures (SHM).
In the case of gas sensors, the detection is based on the measurement of a single potential difference. But the sensitivity is given by the fact that the wire is of extremely small diameter (nanoscale), with the result that are superior to a sensor manufactured with other conventional technologies.
The future will almost certainly be the use of the thermal, electronic and optical properties of nanomaterials to make intelligent materials with integrated sensors that are capable of reacting to external stimuli such as radiation; nanomaterials that form real mechanism.
Finally, to say that there are various initiatives in the field of Research and Development of nanotechnology both from large aeronautical companies and from state agencies.