Weird Science: Mixing Carbon NanoTubes With Plastic

May 17, 2009

(ChattahBox)—A team of researchers from the University of Houston has been busy in their laboratories mixing carbon nanotubes, which are approximately 1/50,000th of the width of a human hair, with polycarbonates to create a new kind of plastic that has ultra-high electrical conductive properties.

The new plastics could be used in the next generation of sophisticated electronic components in Air Force fighters, iPhones and computers.

Lead researcher, Professor Shay Curran has devoted the last ten years of his professional career to improving the conductivity of plastics. Polycarbonates have excellent mechanical and optical properties, but have a very low conductivity rate, making them impractical for use in electronic components.

That’s all about to change with the success of Curran’s recent research. Curran devised a method and an exact formula for mixing carbon nanotubes with polycarbonate plastic to create a new material named, nanocomposites.

The resulting nanocomposites have the amazing tensile strength and elasticity of carbon nanotubes, as well as a super charged level of conductive properties.

“By being able to tailor the amount of nanotubes we can add to the composite, we also can change it from the conductivity of silicon to a few orders below that achieved by metals,” said Curran.

Besides having a high conduction rate, the nanocomposite is inexpensive to produce and has the potential for uses in all sorts of electronic components.

The use of nanocomposite electronics in computers could prevent the buildup up of thermal and electrical charges, extending the life of not only computers, but PDAs as well.

Curran plans to develop the nanocomposites into an ink formulation that can be sprayed onto various electrical components, providing lightweight properties that are ideal for Air Force jets.

This intriguing study is available in the recent issue of the Journal of Applied Physics.

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Comments

One Response to “Weird Science: Mixing Carbon NanoTubes With Plastic”

  1. Nanotubes on May 21st, 2009 7:06 am

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