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SystemX: In-Space Research and Manufacturing of Materials

Divya Panchanathan (Axiom Space)
Shriram 104
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About the talk: The commercial space economy is rapidly expanding and creating opportunities for ‘future cities in space’ where we will live and working off the planet. Axiom Space is leading the way by building the world’s first commercial space station, with a first module attached to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2024 that provides crew living quarters, external and internal payload capabilities, and state-of-the-art science and manufacturing facilities. This offers innovation opportunities for academic and industry researchers to perform discovery research that leads to manufacturing of advanced materials and biomedical products in low-Earth orbit (LEO).

Microgravity offers a unique environment to achieve materials innovation in ways that cannot be accomplished on Earth. Changes in fluid behavior such as the lack of buoyancy-driven convection and sedimentation in microgravity lead to beneficial characteristics in materials like semiconductor crystals, metal alloys, optical fibers, and colloids. Some of the demonstrated benefits of the microgravity environment include the ability to isolate and study non-gravitational phenomena, preparing defect-free materials and containerless processing of materials. This talk will highlight: (1) the fundamental ways in which microgravity affects materials processes; (2) the use of Axiom Station as an innovation platform; and (3) potential future in-space manufacturing applications.


BIO: Divya Panchanathan is a Business Development Manager within the In-Space Manufacturing and Research team at Axiom Space, focusing on materials and physical science work in the Low-Earth Orbit. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree from IIT Madras (Chennai, India) and her Master’s and PhD degrees from MIT (Cambridge, US) in the field of Mechanical Engineering with a research focus on interfacial science. Her prior academic and industry projects span across aerosol filtration, microfabrication, droplet levitation, drag reduction, and catalytic coatings. Her doctoral work was featured among the top three Gallery of Fluid Motion winners at APS Division of Fluid Dynamics. At Axiom Space, she seeks to leverage microgravity and the space environment to spur innovation in the materials and physical sciences through academic and industrial partnerships.