Flexible electronics for space applications

Erik Brandon, William West, Lisong Zhou, Tom Jackson, Greg Theriot, Rod A.B. Devine, David Binkley, Nikhil Verma, Robert Crawford

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


NASA is currently developing a host of deployable structures for the exploration of space. These include balloons, solar sails, space-borne telescopes and membrane-based synthetic aperture radar. Each of these applications is driven by the need for a thin, low mass, large area structure (e.g., polymer-based) which could not be implemented using conventional engineering materials such as metals and alloys. In each case, there is also the need to integrate sensing and control electronics within the structure. However, conventional silicon-based electronics are difficult to integrate with such large, thin structures, due to a variety of concerns including mass, reliability and manufacturing issues. Flexible electronics, particularly thin film transistors (TFTs), are a potentially key enabling technology that may allow the integration of a wide range of sensors and actuators into these types of structures. There are numerous challenges, however, regarding the survivability of such devices during stowage and deployment of the structure, as well as during operation in the harsh environments of space. We have fabricated TFTs on polyimide substrates, and are investigating the durability of these devices with respect to relevant space environments. We are also developing flexible sensor technologies for the integration of distributed sensor networks on large area structures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-230
Number of pages12
JournalMaterials Research Society Symposium Proceedings
StatePublished - 2004
EventFlexible Electronics 2004 - Materials and Device Technology - San Francisco, CA, United States
Duration: Apr 13 2004Apr 16 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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