HOUSTON, May 15, 2009 If one University of Houston professor has his way, the inexpensive plastic now used to manufacture CDs and DVDs will one day soon be put to use in improving the integrity of electronics in aircraft, computers and iPhones.
Thanks to a pair of grants from the U.S. Air Force, Shay Curran, associate professor of physics at UH, and his research team have demonstrated ultra-high electrical conductive properties in plastics, called polycarbonates, by mixing them with just the right amount and type of carbon nanotubes.
The findings are chronicled in a paper titled "Electrical Transport Measurements of Highly Conductive Carbon Nanotube/Poly(bisphenol A carbonate) Composite," appearing in a recent issue of the Journal of Applied Physics, the archival publication of the American Institute of Physics for significant new results in the field.
Curran, who initially began this form of research a decade ago at Trinity College Dublin, started to look at high-conductive plastics in a slightly different manner. Curran's team has come up with a strategy to achieve higher conductivities using carbon nanotubes in plastic hosts than what has been currently achieved. By combining nanotubes with polycarbonates, Curran's group was able to reach a milestone of creating nanocomposites with ultra-high conductive properties.
"While its mechanical and optical properties are very good, polycarbonate is a non-conductive plastic. That means its ability to carry an electrical charge is as good as a tree, which is pretty awful," Curran said. "Imagine that this remarkable plastic can now not only have good optical and mechanical properties, but also good electrical characteristics. 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."
Making this very inexpensive plastic highly conduc
|Contact: Lisa Merkl|
University of Houston