Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Tunable plastic thermometers

15.12.2010
Scientists use an ion beam to produce conductive plastic films for electrical resistance thermometers

Researchers at the Universities of Queensland and New South Wales in Australia have discovered that the ability of a plastic to conduct electricity can be tuned by exposure to an ion beam. Usually plastics conduct electricity so poorly that they are used as the insulation around electrical cables.

However, the team was able to tune the properties of a plastic film using an ion beam so that it conducted electricity like the metals used in the electrical wires themselves – and even passed electric current without resistance, materials which do this are known as superconductors.

To demonstrate a potential application of this low-cost, robust, and flexible material, the team produced electrical resistance thermometers that meet industrial standards. These results are published in the journal ChemPhysChem.

Ion beam techniques are widely used in the microelectronics industry to tailor the conductivity of semiconductors such as silicon. Attempts have been made to adapt this process to plastic films since the 1980s, with limited success. While the use of argon and krypton ion beams leads to a substantial increase in electrical conductivity, the resulting films remain insulators.

The team took an alternative approach, known as ion beam metal-mixing, where a thin film of metal is deposited on a plastic sheet and mixed into the polymer surface using an ion beam. They found that this can produce conducting plastics with metallic or even superconducting properties.

"The process allows us to cover over ten orders of magnitude in electrical resistance and access three distinct regimes of conductivity – insulator, metal and superconductor – with a single material system", says Andrew P. Stephenson, lead author of the paper. This remarkable tunability is achieved by a careful choice of the species used for the ion beam. Stephenson and colleagues start with a polyetheretherketone (PEEK) film coated with a nanoscale layer of tin-antimony alloy, and use a tin ion beam to mix the metal into the plastic surface.

This results in an efficient and stable blending of the metal-polymer surface. Furthermore, the conductivity of the resulting material can be tailored precisely by tuning the initial metal film thickness, beam energy and beam dose.

This level of tunability and control in electrical resistance lends itself naturally to the application of resistance temperature measurement. As a demonstration of this potential application, the team tested their films against an industry standard platinum resistance thermometer, obtaining comparable accuracy. As well as being inexpensive, flexible and easily produced with equipment commonly used in the microelectronics industry, these materials are vastly more tolerant of exposure to oxygen compared to standard semiconducting polymers such as polyhexylthiophene or pentacene. "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", the researchers say.

Author: Andrew P. Stephenson, Ben J. Powell, University of Queensland, Brisbane (Australia), http://www.uq.edu.au/

Title: A Tunable Metal-Organic Resistance Thermometer

ChemPhysChem 2011, 12, No. 1, Permalink to the article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cphc.201000762

Andrew P. Stephenson | Wiley-VCH
Further information:
http://www.wiley-vch.de

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Symbiotic bacteria: from hitchhiker to beetle bodyguard
28.04.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
28.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>