SmartSat by SmartIR: Pioneering Spacecraft Thermal Control with Graphene Radiators

SmartIR logo

In a groundbreaking venture at the intersection of aerospace innovation and infrared technology, SmartIR proudly introduces SmartSat—a two-year project set to redefine spacecraft thermal control.

SmartIR, a leading spinout from the University of Manchester Innovation Factory, is at the forefront of this ambitious initiative, leveraging their expertise in patented graphene technology to usher in a new era of efficiency and reliability in extreme space environments.

AI generated: layer of graphene showing its flexibility

The qualities of Graphene are plentiful, including thermal radiation control.

Revolutionising Spacecraft Thermal Control

SmartSat represents a leap forward in how spacecrafts manage thermal control. By harnessing the exceptional properties of graphene, SmartIR aims to enhance the efficiency and reliability of thermal management systems, not only for current space missions but also as a cornerstone for future explorations.

The SmartIR Advantage: Dynamic Infrared Patterns and Adaptive Solutions

At the core of SmartIR’s contributions to SmartSat is their expertise in dynamic infrared patterns, thermal management solutions, and adaptive camouflage systems. The spinout was founded with the vision of commercialising a patented graphene technology capable of adapting emissivity and absorption of infrared and visible light. This technology allows for the masking or reflection of thermal radiation.

infrared image showing SmartIR's smart tiles working (Right), the smart cube using smart tiles in space (Left).

SmartIR have already tested their thermal management technology at the edge of space

Innovations Beyond SmartSat: Flexible Graphene-Based Tile System

While SmartSat takes center stage, SmartIR’s broader initiatives extend to a flexible, lightweight, and switchable graphene-based tile system. This system, designed to coat surfaces, offers dynamic control over infrared emissivity and visible color. Notably, these tiles can be interconnected, covering large surfaces and providing on-demand thermal radiation control at a granular tile-by-tile level.

By replacing conventional industry solutions, SmartIR’s innovations represent a significant leap in efficiency, leading to reduced operational and manufacturing costs while simultaneously extending the lifetime of satellites. This strategic focus highlights the broader implications for industries such as aerospace, defense, and domestic sectors.

image on the left shows a mans' torso. He is wearing a black polo shirt. Images on the right show (top) infrared image of man wearing polo with the smart tile turned off = thermal radiation is detected, (bottom) smart tile turned on = thermal radiation is not detected.

The smart tiles in action, showing applications in defence.

6 people (5 men, 1 woman), smartly dressed, stand in front of a window looking towards camera and mostly smiling. This is the SmartIR team.

The SmartIR team (L to R: John Patterson (Chairman) Coskun Kocabas (Chief Scientist and Co-Founder) Margherita Sepioni (CEO and Co-Founder) Paul Kahn (Non-Executive Director and Co-founder) Pietro Steiner (Product Development Manager) Daniel Melendrez (Electronic Engineer)

Future Prospects: Seeking Collaborations and Investments

As SmartSat progresses, SmartIR Ltd. actively seeks collaborations, investments, contract research, and joint development opportunities. Their commitment to advancing technology in the aerospace and associated markets, particularly in thermal management and thermal signature management applications, shows their dedication to driving transformative change.

This represents a significant stride in advancing spacecraft thermal control, with SmartIR’s patented graphene technology offering not just solutions for the present but laying the groundwork for a dynamic and adaptive future in aerospace technology.

Contact the SmartIR Project Manager to find out about collaborative opportunities.