The International Space Station’s upgraded microscope, the Light Microscopy Module (LMM) has allowed scientists to see microscopic particles in 3D. Researchers first viewed particles called colloids, which are suspensions of microscopic particles in liquid, according to a NASA article. These particles are often in anything from milk to fabric softener.
Researchers are using the Advanced Colloids Experiment-Temperature-6 (ACE-T-6) investigation, which has been in the making for eight years, to study the behavior of colloids in different gels and creams. They plan to use their findings to improve product shelf life with more sustainable product packaging.
After the upgrade to LMM, researchers could view micron-sized particles in 2D layers or slices, and combine them into 3D models that are viewed from all angles. This has increased their ability to observe how colloidal systems evolve.
In a microgravity environment, these particles settle 100,000 times slower than on Earth, which allows researchers to observe the process over days and weeks rather than minutes. This has shed light on previously hidden thermo-dynamic interactions.
Researchers hope to use the knowledge obtained from the Advanced Colloids Experiments to help stabilizers in gels and creams in consumer products. Additionally, this could lead to commercial enhancements such as better battery performance and solar cells, and overall better consumer pharmaceutical products.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense