The objective of this research is to improve the atomic oxygen resistance of KaptonTM, a polyimide (PI) made from pyromellitic acid dianhydride (PMDA) and 4,4'-oxydianiline (ODA), while retaining or enhancing the desirable properties of the pure polymer. Toward this end, zirconium-containing complexes and polymers were used to make composites and blends. Tetra(acetylacetonato)zirconium(IV), Zr(acac)4, which is commercially available, was identified as the best zirconium-containing complex for enhancing the atomic oxygen resistance of polyimide composites of the 10 complexes screened. Films prepared from the commercially-available polyamic acid (PAA) of PMDA-ODA (DuPont) have good uniformity, flexibility, and tensile strength. A 24-layer 10% (mol) Zr(acac)4/PI composite film showed significant improvement (ca. 20 fold) of atomic oxygen resistance over the pure polyimide. However, 10% (mol) Zr(acac)4 represents an upper concentration limit, above which films undergo cracking upon thermal imidization. In order to increase the Zr complex concentration in PMDA-ODA PI films, while retaining good film properties, [Zr(adsp)2-PMDA]n coordination polymer [bis(4-amino-N,N'-disalicylidene-1,2-phenylenediamino)zirconium(IV)-pyromellitic dianhydride] and [Zr(adsp)2-PMDA-ODA-PMDA]n terpolymer were synthesized and blended with commercial PAA, respectively. Several techniques were used to characterize the films made from the polymer containing Zr(acac)4. Plasma studies of films having 2% (mol) incremental concentrations of Zr in the Kapton up to 10% (mol) show that the overall rate of erosion is reduced about 75 percent.

Publication Date



NASA/TM-2001-211099Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works in February 2014.

Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

School of Chemistry and Materials Science (COS)


RIT – Main Campus