As the leader in Parylene technology, over the years SCS has had the honor to work on some of the most cutting edge, fascinating and simply historically significant projects. This is a collection of just a few of the projects we are especially proud to support.
On April 12, 1912 The RMS Titanic hit an iceberg as it made its maiden transatlantic voyage. The wreckage of the Titanic sat undisturbed for close to 80 years in the harsh chilled salt-water environment 5000 ft below the surface of the North Atlantic.
Recovery efforts ran into a difficult problem when recovering paper products such as magazines, luggage tags and boarding passes from the wreckage site. Paper products recovered from the wreckage were left too delicate to take the transition from a waterlogged state to a natural dried state.
SCS was called in to find a method to use Parylene to stabilize these items so that generations would be able to see these items first hand. Today these items can be touched, picked up, and shared by many. These items would have been otherwise lost to the ocean if not for SCS.
International Space Station
Neptec Design Group, Ltd. of Kanata, Ontario, Canada, is building the Space Vision System (SVS) that will be used in the construction of the International Space Station by NASA and the space agencies of 12 other countries.
The components of the Space Station will be carried into orbit by a series of shuttle missions, and assembled over six year period.
The SVS uses special electronics, software and graphic displays to give improved vision and thereby enhance control of the huge shuttle robot arm. The system functions by tracking visual targets on items being handled, using cameras on both the shuttle and the space station.
This tracking will give operators a precise, moving graphic image of load position in three dimensions, and allow for more accurate control than could be achieved using earlier robot arm controls. Before the SVS concept was developed, astronauts had to rely on images from video cameras, and on limited views through small spacecraft windows to guide them in controlling robot functions. The new vision system will be used on each shuttle mission as the station is assembled, allowing astronauts to precisely control the spacecraft’s robotic arm for docking, moving cargo, and assembling components.
The Canadian electronics company is supplying NASA with vision systems for both ground training of astronauts at the Johnson Space Flight Center in Houston, Texas, and for use with the International Space Station.
Deep Space Propulsion Test
Parylene was used in a particularly exciting aerospace project with Southwest Research – coating objects for Deep Space 1. This 770 lb. spacecraft was launched in July of 1998 to demonstrate a variety of new technologies that will support ambitious future orbital and deep space missions.
This NASA project includes an ion engine for propulsion in the vacuum of deep space. It operates by expelling positively charged atoms generated from an inert gas, and uses solar energy to create the reaction. The engine’s collimator, a device that aligns and controls ion flow, was coated with Parylene to protect its surface before launch, during the rigors of departure from the earth’s atmosphere, and throughout the life of the mission. While an ion engine creates only about 90 millinewtons (20 thousandths of a pound) of thrust, this force creates slow but constant acceleration in the vacuum of deep space, builds to very high speed over a period of months, and operates far more efficiently than conventional chemical propulsion. Less than 12-inches long, and requiring a fuel supply of only 145 lbs., an ion engine can be carried aloft by a relatively small, inexpensive launch vehicle.
The Deep Space 1 ion engine was fired on September 18, 1999, and will thrust almost continuously over the next three months as the NASA probe approaches two comets for study. Deep Space 1 is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, for the NASA Office of Space Science, Washington, DC.
Holocaust Era Bibles
In late 1994, an unassuming package arrived at the SCS Coating Facility in Clear Lake Wisconsin. This package contained six small, battered books, included a prayer book and the first five books of the Biblical Old Testament known to Jewish people as the Torah.
The history of these careworn volumes sets them apart, for they survived the Nazi Holocaust. It seems that these volumes were saved through the efforts of a Swiss physician living in Germany, a Dr. Rupp who was instrumental in rescuing a number or Polish and German Jews during World War II.
The books were given to Dr. Rupp in Berlin by a Dr. Rosenblat; after Dr. Rosenblat’s escape from the Warsaw ghetto. They had been entrusted to him, in turn, by a captive who requested that they be saved, treated with reverence, and passed to a synagogue or other Jewish Institution.
It was too dangerous to take religious books out of Germany at the time, so Dr. Rupp buried them before fleeing the city near the end of the war. When the war ended, he returned to Berlin and dug up the books.
The years and the historic events had taken their toll on the books. SCS was contacted to preserve the books by Yoram Curiel (An acquaintance of Dr. Rupp’s son). SCS devised a way to coat and preserve these books, and stop the further disintegration. These books have since been donated to a Jewish institution.
IRS Evidence Recovery
As one of the unique ways SCS is helping our criminal justice system, SCS has been involved in various projects with the Internal Revenue Service on tax fraud cases.
It seems that in some cases of tax fraud, important evidence and/or tax records are burned beyond recognition. Parylene is used to reinforce the burned records so that they can be examined and used for evidence.
In one particular example, the IRS forensic experts were having problems reviewing charred evidence critical in a particular tax fraud case. The writing on the paper was still distinguishable, however the ash segments were curled and extremely brittle.
A light Parylene coating reinforced the ashes so that they could be reassembled (like a puzzle) into a single document. The individual pieces were put between glass, examined, and submitted as critical evidence in the relevant court case.
JSTARS Surveillance System
Parylene conformal coating makes an important contribution to the performance of the U.S. military’s recently-developed Joint Tactical Information Distribution System – known as JSTARS. This airborne radar system, used effectively during the Gulf War and by peacekeeping forces in Bosnia, provides high resolution images of moving ground targets. It gives commanders timely and accurate information on mobile enemy forces operating within a very large area.
According to Jon Harris, the JSTARS Program Manager for Electromagnetic Sciences, Inc., Norcross, Georgia, a critical JSTARS circuit board and microwave antenna assembly is Parylene coated to protect it from the harsh airborne environment. This microwave phase shifter subassembly is mounted on the exterior of JSTARS surveillance aircraft, where it is exposed to mechanical shock as well as wide variations in temperature and humidity.
Electromagnetic Sciences (ELMG) manufactures key components of the JSTARS system. Harris explains that the company is a long-time user of Parylene. “This is virtually the only coating that can do the job for the JSTARS microwave phase shifter. It provides moisture resistance, pinhole-free coverage, and dielectric protection – without adding significant mass or thermal forces. Parylene ideally suits our protective coating requirements,” he said.
The unique protective properties of Parylene are achieved in a thin film layer, adding very little weight to the complex radar subassembly. JSTARS microwave phase shifter assembly.