Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Plastic as a conductor

10.12.2008
Plastic that conducts electricity and metal that weighs no more than a feather? It sounds like an upside-down world. Yet researchers have succeeded in making plastics conductive and cutting production costs at the same time.

You could hardly find greater contrasts in one and the same team. Plastic is light and inexpensive, but insulates electric current. Metal is resilient and conducts electricity, but it is also expensive and heavy.

Up to now, it has not been possible to combine the properties of these two materials. The IFAM in Bremen has devised a solution that combines the best of both worlds without requiring new machinery to process the components. The greatest challenge for the researchers was getting the plastic to conduct electricity, for plastic-metal hybrids are to be used in the very places where plastic components are equipped with printed circuit boards, for instance in cars or aircraft. Until now, this was only possible via the roundabout route of punching and bending metal sheets in an elaborate process in order to integrate them in a component.

The new solution is simpler: a composite material. The different materials are not merely slotted together or bonded, but mixed in a special process to form a single material. This process produces a homogeneous and fine-meshed electrically conductive network. The composite possesses the desired chemical stability and low weight, coupled with the electrical and thermal conductivity of metals. As it will no longer be necessary in future to integrate metal circuit boards and the components will soon be able to be produced in a single work step, the production costs and the weight of the material are drastically reduced.

Automobile and aircraft manufacturers, in particular, will benefit from this development. The headlamp housings on a car, for example, are made of plastic. Until now, punched metal sheets have been installed in order to illuminate the headlamps. If the housings were fitted with circuit boards made of the conductive plastic-metal hybrids, they could be produced more efficiently and at lower cost than ever before. Many components of an aircraft, such as the fuselage, are partly made of carbon fiber composites (CFC). However, they lack the ability to conduct electricity. A stroke of lightning would have fatal consequences. A plastic-metal hybrid would be a good alternative for discharge structures on components.

Arne Haberkorn | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ifam.fraunhofer.de

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht IHP presents the fastest silicon-based transistor in the world
05.12.2016 | IHP - Leibniz-Institut für innovative Mikroelektronik

nachricht High-precision magnetic field sensing
05.12.2016 | ETH Zurich

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: 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...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

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

Speed data for the brain’s navigation system

06.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

What happens in the cell nucleus after fertilization

06.12.2016 | Life Sciences

IHP presents the fastest silicon-based transistor in the world

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>