Now plastic turned into power conductor

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

SYDNEY - Plastics used in insulating power cables can be made to conduct electricity with the help of a thin metal film, opening the way to plastic electronics.

Applying this technique, University of New South Wales researchers can now make cheap, strong, flexible and conductive plastic films.

Ion beam techniques are widely used in the microelectronics industry to tailor the conductivity of semiconductors such as silicon, but attempts to adapt this process to plastic films have met only with limited success since the 1980s, the journal ChemPhysChem reports.

“What the team has been able to do here is use an ion beam to tune the properties of a plastic film so that it conducts electricity like the metals used in the electrical wires themselves,” says Paul Meredith, from New South Wales, who led the research.

These new materials can be easily produced with equipment commonly used in microelectronics and are vastly more tolerant of exposure to oxygen compared to standard semiconducting polymers, according to a New South Wales statement.

Combined, these advantages may give ion beam processed polymer films a bright future in the on-going development of soft materials for plastic electronics applications - a fusion between current and next generation technology, researchers say.

Filed under: Science and Technology

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