Production of High Performance Nanomaterials in Microgravity (Nanoskeleton) - 11.22.16

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
The Production of High Performance Nanomaterials in Microgravity (Nanoskeleton) investigation aims to clarify the effect of gravity on oil flotation, sedimentation and convection on crystals generated in microgravity.
Science Results for Everyone
Tiny structures, big possibilities. Titanium Dioxide crystalline-based nanoskeletons  --  nano means one-billionth or 10 to the -9  -- were created on the space station as part of an investigation to clarify how gravity affects oil flotation, sedimentation, and convection in crystals grown in microgravity. Some samples were infused with Tri-methylbenzene (TMB) oil to increase the size of pores in the crystalline structure. Samples from the space station appeared almost the same as those on Earth, but microgravity had a significant effect on the distance between pores on nanoskeletons prepared with the TMB oil. Those prepared without TMB oil had more uniform pores, which improved photo-catalytic activity.

The following content was provided by Masahiko Abe, Ph.D., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Information provided courtesy of the Japan Aerospace and Exploration Agency (JAXA).
Experiment Details


Principal Investigator(s)
Masahiko Abe, Ph.D., Tokyo University of Science, Tokyo, Japan

Hideki Sakai, Tokyo University of Science, Noda, Japan
Kenichi Sakai, Tokyo University of Science, Japan
Mikijiro Torigoe, Tokyo University of Science, Japan
Toshiro Sakai, Shinshu University, Japan
Kenji Endo, Tokyo University of Science, Japan
Akira Miyamoto, Nihon University, Tokyo, Japan
Nozomu Hatakeyama, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan

Information Pending

Sponsoring Space Agency
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

Sponsoring Organization
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

Research Benefits
Information Pending

ISS Expedition Duration
October 2009 - March 2010

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
Nanoskeleton was scheduled for its first operations on ISS Increment 19/20.

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • The Nanoskeleton experiment is one of the microgravity experiments conducted for industrial application. Nanoskeleton is a coined word for new-functional nano-materials.

  • The TiO2 Nanoskeleton is synthesized with a mixture of CTAB surfactant solution and TiOSO4-H2SO4 solution under isothermal conditions (40 degrees Celsius).

  • Nanoskeleton will quantitatively investigate the effects of gravity during a chemical reaction process.

  • Nanoskeleton uses oil (TMB) to enlarge the pore size of the honeycomb structure; therefore, this experiment will attempt to clarify the effects of gravity such as the flotation of oil and convective flow, by evaluating the retrieved samples.

  • All of the experiment samples are retrieved and evaluated on the ground.

  • Experiment data gathered on orbit consists of the temperature samples and images.

    Information Pending

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    Space Applications
    Information Pending

    Earth Applications
    The target of this research is to develop the new TiO2 photo catalyst. The experiment data will be inputted into the computational chemistry simulation for Nanoskeleton synthesis, and the simulation will be used for the prediction of the proper parameter for synthesis on the ground.

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    Operational Requirements and Protocols
    Information Pending

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    Decadal Survey Recommendations

    Information Pending

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    Results/More Information

    Samples were flown aboard the International Space Station (ISS), whereupon polyethylene based films were immersed in a solution to create the TiO2 crystalline-based nanoskeleton samples. Some of the samples were infused with Trimethylbenzene (TMB) and Triethylbenzene(TEB) oil in order to increase the size of the pores of the nanoskeleton. All samples were successfully retrieved from the ISS and analyzed. The appearance of the ISS samples subjected to microgravity was almost the same with that of the Earth bound control samples. However, the microgravity environment samples revealed a significant effect on the distance between pores of the nanoskeletons prepared with oil (TMB and TEB), while uniformity and regularity of the pores was improved for the samples prepared without TMB. It was also noted that samples with more ordered structures had improved photo catalytic activity.

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    Results Publications

      Sakai T, Yano H, Shibata H, Endo T, Sakamoto K, Fukui H, Koshikawa N, Sakai H, Abe M.  Pore-size expansion of hexagonal-structured nanocrystalline titania/CTAB Nanoskeleton using cosolvent organic molecules. Colloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects. 2010 November; 371(1-3): 29-39. DOI: 10.1016/j.colsurfa.2010.08.054.

      Shibata H, Ohshika S, Ogura T, Watanabe S, Nishio K, Sakai H, Abe M, Hashimoto K, Matsumoto M.  Preparation and photocatalytic activity under visible light irradiation of mesostructured titania particles modified with phthalocyanine in the pores. Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology A: Chemistry. 2011 January; 217(1): 136-140. DOI: 10.1016/j.jphotochem.2010.09.029.

      Dai S, Wu Y, Sakai T, Du Z, Sakai H, Abe M.  Preparation of highly crystalline TiO2 nanostructures by acid-assisted hydrothermal treatment of hexagonal-structured nanocrystalline titania/cetyltrimethyammonium bromide nanoskeleton. Nanoscale Research Letters. 2010 August 11; 5(11): 1829-1835. DOI: 10.1007/s11671-010-9720-0.

      Onodera M, Nagumo R, Miura R, Suzuki A, Tsuboi H, Hatakeyama N, Endou A, Takaba H, Kubo M, Miyamoto A.  Multiscale simulation of dye-sensitized solar cells considering Schottky barrier effect at photoelectrode. Japanese Journal of Applied Physics. 2011 April 20; 50(4): 04DP06. DOI: 10.1143/JJAP.50.04DP06.

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    Ground Based Results Publications

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    ISS Patents

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    Related Publications

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    Related Websites

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