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Hardware Technology

Electrically Conductive Plastic Polymer 118

AustinSlacker writes to mention Fox news is reporting that a Dutch researcher is announcing a breakthrough in plastics. A new way of rebuilding plastics could allow them to conduct electricity just as well as the silicon wafers currently used in electronic gadgets. "Prins discovered that in plastics, the movement of electric charges was mainly hindered by the shape of the polymer, the chain-like molecular structure [that is] the basis of each kind of plastic. Prins extended the work of a German group that had reshaped a polymer to form a ladder-like structures. By bombarding the specially developed plastic with electrons from a particle accelerator, she was able to study rapid electrical reactions and demonstrate the new plastic's ability to conduct electricity much better than regular plastic and as well as silicon chips."
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Electrically Conductive Plastic Polymer

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  • by swschrad ( 312009 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @02:13PM (#18518225) Homepage Journal
    conductive plastic actually has some uses, but being a larger molecule than molecular silicon or germanium, doesn't make it look like the next New Chip Substrate.
  • by DRAGONWEEZEL ( 125809 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @02:22PM (#18518345) Homepage
    The real benefit is things renewed potential for things like sensors, and smart clothing.

    Maybe it will make short but wide networks possible, who knows.

    I think mostly though, that it could be used to replace the small electronic devices that get used everyday that you don't think of from a techies perspective. Automotive pieces certain types of switches, small controllers, toys, medical devices, spoilage detectors for food/ food processing etc. These would be the key industries I can think of off the bat
  • Neat! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by drewzhrodague ( 606182 ) <> on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @02:27PM (#18518437) Homepage Journal
    That's neat! How long until we can print circuits with something like an ink-jet?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @02:29PM (#18518473)
    If this type of plastic can be a conductive substance similar to silicon and costs less to produce, then this could be a huge advantage to those advocating the use of solar power. Currently one of the largest costs in creating solar cells is the high price for silicon which is used in them. The use of a cheap plastic polymer with properties similar to silicon might make solar cells much more reasonable to purchase for a lot of people.
  • by gemtech ( 645045 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @02:56PM (#18518813)
    If it is only partially conductive, the ESD (Electro-Static Discharge) properties would get my attention (safe discharge paths for cheap). And if it could shield the circuits from emissions and susceptibility, it would be a winner in my book.
  • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @04:20PM (#18519851) Journal
    ... why not run a test current through it to measure the conductivity instead of using an accelerator?

    She did.

    But hooking up molecule-sized test prods to an ohmmeter was a pain.

    So she used a particle accelerator to inject the electrons. (TFA doesn't say what else she used to measure the current.)

    I've contemplated using scanning electron beams for electrical measurements. Say: a low-energy electron beam for the negative supply, a high-energy one (creating more secondary electrons than injected electrons) for the positive, and a third one at an energy that turns it back around near the surface (or gets sucked in, depending on voltage) for a voltage probe.

    But that's both too large and too energetic for testing single molecules of plastic.

    Going the other way and using a particle accelerator to excite some observable side-effect of conduction is quite the hack. (I'd propose giving her an award but her university already did. Waytago!)
  • by DRAGONWEEZEL ( 125809 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @05:07PM (#18520483) Homepage
    Except that you can layer plastics easily, create meshes like cloth, and for instance your horizontil strands could be electrical while your vertical fibers could be of a non conducting polymer, like POLYESTER or something.

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell