Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Electrically conductive plastics promising for batteries, solar cells

10.10.2014

An emerging class of electrically conductive plastics called "radical polymers” may bring low-cost, transparent solar cells, flexible and lightweight batteries, and ultrathin antistatic coatings for consumer electronics and aircraft.

Researchers have established the solid-state electrical properties of one such polymer, called PTMA, which is about 10 times more electrically conductive than common semiconducting polymers.


An emerging class of electrically conductive plastics are called "radical polymers.” The graphic at left depicts the structure of a polymer. At right, transparent polymer overlays the Purdue logo. (Purdue University photo)

"It's a polymer glass that conducts charge, which seems like a contradiction because glasses are usually insulators," said Bryan Boudouris, an assistant professor of chemical engineering at Purdue University.

The polymer is easy to manufacture, resembling Plexiglas, an inexpensive transparent plastic found in numerous products. However, unlike Plexiglas it conducts electricity.

"We make billions of tons of plastic every year," Boudouris said. "So imagine if you could produce that same kind of material at that same scale but now it has electronic properties."

The PTMA is in a class of electrically active polymers that could bring inexpensive transparent solar cells; antistatic and antiglare coatings for cellphone displays; antistatic coverings for aircraft to protect against lightning strikes; flexible flash drives; and thermoelectric devices, which generate electricity from heat.

The polymers have seen commercial use in new types of batteries. However, finding widespread practical applications for the polymers will require increasing the conductivity another 100 to 1,000 times, Boudouris said.

Recent research findings were detailed in a paper published online in May in the journal Macromolecules. A review article on the subject appeared in September in the same journal and is featured on the cover. The American Chemical Society also has recorded a series of podcast with Boudouris, accessible at http://pubs.acs.org/page/mamobx/audio/index.html.

The review article is authored by Purdue graduate students Edward P. Tomlinson and Martha E. Hay, and Boudouris. The research article published in May was authored by graduate student Lizbeth Rostro, undergraduate student Si Hui Wong, and Boudouris.

Polymers are strings of molecules with a central backbone and may contain side chains called "pendant groups” that dangle from the central structure. In radical polymers, it's these pendant groups that allow charge to be transported, conducting current.

To create the radical polymer, the researchers used a procedure called deprotection, which involves replacing a specific hydrogen atom in the pendant group with an oxygen atom, converting it into a so-called radical group.

"We just finally studied deprotection in a way others had not to learn how it affects the electronic properties of the radical polymers,” Boudouris said.

Electrons surround an atom's nucleus in "shells," and these electrons are usually paired. The oxygen atom in PTMA, however, has one unpaired electron in its outer shell, making it amendable to transporting charge.

"You have to control the deprotection process very well because it makes the conductivity vary by orders of magnitude," he said.

The researchers have determined that the deprotection step can lead to four distinct chemical functionalities of the radical polymer, two of which are promising for increasing the conductivity of the polymer.

"So manipulating the reaction conditions for this deprotection step, and monitoring closely the resultant chemical functionalities, is critical in tuning the electrical properties of radical polymers,” Boudouris said.

The research is ongoing and has been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).    

Writer: Emil Venere, 765-494-4709, venere@purdue.edu 

Source: Bryan Boudouris, 765-496-6056, boudouris@purdue.edu 

ABSTRACT

Radical Polymers and Their Application to Organic Electronic Devices       

Edward P. Tomlinson , Martha E. Hay , and Bryan W. Boudouris *  

School of Chemical Engineering, Purdue University

Macromolecules, 2014, 47 (18), pp 6145–6158

*E-mail: boudouris@purdue.edu    

Macromolecules bearing stable radical groups have emerged as extremely useful active materials in organic electronic applications ranging from magnetic devices to flexible batteries. Critical to the success of these open-shell polymers has been the readily tunable nature of their molecular architectures; this important molecular structure–property–performance design paradigm has allowed for significant device performance metrics to be achieved. In this Perspective, the recent advancements regarding the design and device functionality of a common class of open-shell macromolecules, radical polymers, are discussed. Here, radical polymers are defined as macromolecules with nonconjugated carbon backbones, whose optoelectronic functionalities arise due to the presence of stable radical sites on the pendant groups of macromolecular chains. This class of materials provides a unique platform for the design of unique optical and electronic properties in soft materials; however, as with many organic electronic materials, transitioning these gains from the laboratory to the commercial scale remains a primary challenge. As such, we provide context for the significant accomplishments that have been made in the field, describe how these advances have been translated to high-performance devices, and discuss future areas of evaluation for these next-generation polymer electronic materials.

Emil Venere | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Further information:
http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2014/Q4/electrically-conductive-plastics-promising-for-batteries,-solar-cells.html

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Silicon solar cell of ISFH yields 25% efficiency with passivating POLO contacts
08.12.2016 | Institut für Solarenergieforschung GmbH

nachricht Robot on demand: Mobile machining of aircraft components with high precision
06.12.2016 | Fraunhofer IFAM

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>