Industrial Crystal Facility (ICF)
Developing New Materials In Space
Made In Space, Inc. continues the development of the orbital economy with the Industrial Crystal Facility (ICF). The ICF is designed to explore the growth and formulation of inorganic large single crystals and other exotic materials microgravity with size and quality relevant to terrestrial use. The ICF project focuses on advanced materials engineering and expands the utilization of the International Space Station (ISS) into new product areas not previously investigated. The ISS National Lab serves as an ideal platform to explore whether industrial crystals can be grown in microgravity to larger sizes and/or improved quality as compared to terrestrial sources.
Terrestrial systems are either high-temperature frequency-limited or low-temperature and confounded by gravity effects. Existing low-temperature solution growth methods take days to weeks to complete, so parabolic flights and suborbital vehicles are not suitable for establishing process baselines and making effective comparisons. The Industrial Crystal Facility would eliminate the negative effects of sedimentation, convection buoyancy and wall interaction on the sample in microgravity.
Microgravity production holds the potential for room-temperature production of nonlinear optic (NLO) materials for high-energy applications with size and quality undiminished by the effects of sedimentation and convection. NLOs enable frequency shifting, optical modulation, optical switching, optical logic, and optical memory functions in opto-electronics. Opto-electronic systems enable the use of quantum mechanical effects of light to create new computational operations.
Intended applications include NLO single crystals and other large material formulations, such as bulk single-crystal thin films and high-temperature optical fiber. The benefits of these mirco-gravity crystals include ultra-fast optical switches, optical waveguides, optical circuit lithography, high-efficiency ultraviolet light production, and terahertz wave sensors