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News Flash

World’s first all-plastic LED lamp comes from Japan

Japanese scientists report a unique, smart and self-healing polymer nanocomposite hydrogels

Will your windows generate power one day?

Researchers develop unique printable thin film supercapacitor using SWCNT

Bio-succinic acid is becoming new green platform chemical for plastics

Using biodegradable polymer, University of Basque country researcher report on bone regeneration

Umass, Amherst researchers find ways to hold 300 kilograms of weight using sticky tape

Brazilian scientists are actively pursuing bioplastics research and innovation

Researchers show stretchy battery for flexible and stretchable electronics

Can you 3D print yourself? TwinKinds of Germany shows just that!

A team of researchers demonstrate plastics and graphene can work together to make touch screen device a reality

Plastic Logic sees mass production of flexible display in 2008

Wax could be green too – touts GreenMantra Technolgies!

GM recycles oil soaked booms from the Gulf of Mexico for its Chevrolet Volt under hood parts

US researchers develop shape memory polymer nanocomposites exhibiting fast actuation speed

Current trends and future prospects for flame retardants in polymeric materials

Scientists from IBM and Stanford University are developing new plastics recycling process

Arkema unveils a range of "green" polymers for its textile market

Austrian researcher reports new opportunities from Silicon oxide Nanofilms

ZogglesTM earns Invention of the year 2010 award and keeps the fog away

Korean scientists provide a different twist to the “Smart Window” technology

Block copolymers could create hard disks with 10 tera-bit-per-Square-inch:Researchers predict

James Cropper Speciality Paper touts recycling of disposable coffee cups

Polymers help Addidas to launch lightest soccer boots and 2010 FIFA World cup match ball never seen before in the field

German researchers unveiled a green approach to electrospinning technique for making biodegradable nanofibres

US and South Korean researchers develop a printing technique to make high performance CNT transistors

Scientists from Sweden and USA showed electronics can truly be organic or say truly be plastics

Austrian scientists claim to be the first to have developed an image sensor that is fully transparent

Can polymer reinforced aerogel make a space mission? University of Akron researchers think so!

UCLA scientists showed how simple it could be to make conducting polymer thin films

New ambipolar polymer beats others: reports US researchers

UC Berkley researchers have developed paper thin e-skin that responds to touch

USA researchers report polymeric blood-resistant surgical glue that can repair minimally invasive heart defects

Stanford university researchers detect mercury ions in sea water using organic polymer transistor sensor

Plastics help design non-shatter pint glass to prevent pub attacks

IKV researchers report thermoplastic/metal hybrid materials for Direct manufacturing electronic part

MIT researchers show how to draw Polyethylene as nanofibers and get a very high thermal conductivity

Binder free multilayer graphene based polymer composite for high performance supercapacitor electrodes

Are you an injection moulder, you may want to read the ultimate in mould cooling article

Braskem S.A. is leading the way to manufacture biobased polyethylene using catalytic dehydration

How plastics helping revolutionize stretchable electronics applications – a review, not to be missed!

Princeton university researchers embedded piezoelectric material onto polymer as energy harvester

In Milan, art and science get together to showcase Vegetal, weather resistant designer chair

A new microcellular injection molding process for polycarbonate using water

AMI unveils the North American Bioplastics technology agenda

Teijin Techno Products claims to be world’s first mass producer of aramid nanofibers

Nanoparticle coating prevents ice build up

For the first time, IBM researchers showed 3D molecular structure could be observed

Practical Devices provide useful power from the body

Oil-SAP, a novel development to clean-up oil spill & recovery from Penn State University, USA

Strain Paint: an alternative to strain gauges

Singapore researchers touts corn starch can help solve body armour and protective sports padding

Harvard Univ researchers show how soft robotics could navigate a difficult obstacle

Stanford Univ researchers make Jell-O-like conducting polymer hydrogels

MIT team aims to develop application specific surgical adhesives to seal tissues

Prof. Alan Heegers group demonstrated the potential of plastics solar cells

Stratasys touts World’s first color multi-material 3D printer for rubber & plastics products

Can you “Cool Your Roof” - reports researchers from Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing

Self-healing plastics healing like human skin

Can Gas Jet process challenge electrospinning in producing polymeric nanofibers?

It is time to make “Perfect Plastic” reports UK researchers

Sabic Innovative Plastics unveils its newly developed a clear flame retardant Polycarbonate copolymer

3D systems introduces non-halogenated flame retardant for aircraft applications

Researchers review how to characterize polymer nanocomposites by different microscopicy techniques

Alberta scientists help to make Canada’s first bio-composite based electric vehicle body design

University of Texas at Austin researchers show use of polymer membranes for fracking in shale gas

Rice Univ (USA) researchers grew high quality graphene from polystyrene, cookies, grass, cockroach leg & dog feces

Advanced nanocomposite membrane technology of NanoH2O turns it to a Global clean technology company

French scientists tout first use of nano-structured assemblies that could revolutionize dentistry

Rutgers Univ researchers moves plastic electronics with graphene based PS thin films

Norner touts major research project on polymers based on carbon dioxide

Researchers gather to discuss advances in organic photovoltaics (OPV)

Swedish researchers show highest reported charge capacities for all polymer paper-based battery

Polymer helps to designing higher capacity Li-ion battery

Mannigton converts large stickers from 2010 winter games into commercial flooring

Battelle researchers are improving PLA for injection molding applications

Current status in graphene based polymer nanocomposites – a review

Work of North Carolina State Univ. researchers shows how to remove radioactive elements from drinking water

Cima NanoTech flexes mussels with its non-Indium Tin Oxide, high performance transparent conductors

Canadian researchers claim world’s most efficient “inverted” OPV solar cells

Plastrec, a Quebec recycler unveils recycled PET production combining two plastics technologies

Yale scientists develop high performance thin film composite membrane

How computer modelling & 3D printing create fracture resistant composites – reports Stratasys and MIT researchers

Work of North Carolina State Univ. researchers shows how to remove radioactive elements from drinking water

Are you interested in self-healing polymers – must read reviews

How Collagen nanofibers could find use in Tissue Engineering

A review on polymer/bioactive glass nanocomposites provides current trends in polymer research

Polymers can be used to package insulin into a pill for diabetes treatment reports Indian scientists

Green Composites - all you wanted to know about

Harvard University researchers design stretchable, transparent ionic conductors

USA researchers develop all-polymer multilayer coating to retard fire and to suppress smoke

Japanese researchers are developing stereo-block type PLAs for high performance materials

Bayer uses PC film Makrofol? for it's new Innosec Fusion? technology to stop counterfeiting

If you follow plastics electronics - follow Unidym’s innovative product lines

Electric Glue: Another twist to make controlled polymer-surface adhesion

Can polymer reinforced aerogel make a space mission? University of Akron researchers think so!

Non-toxic, liquid bandage from Chesson Labs of Durham, NC is ready for the healthcare market

Can you “Cool Your Roof” - reports researchers from Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing

Univ of Texas @ Austin scientists reported method to produce a large scale reduced graphene oxide

How blood can clot to heal a wound - Science reports

A novel technique to manufacture continuous twisted yarn from aligned PAN nanofibers

Chinese researchers made a bendy polymer that could separate aromatics hydrocarbons from aliphatic

Polymer bank notes on the rise to avoid counterfeit paper currencies

McMaster university (Canada) researchers developed flexible solar cell technology

Siver nanowire electrodes for flexible electronics

Innovations in design come from plastics to win several 2009 International Design Excellence Awards

NIST develops greener solution to challenge commercial fire retardants

Something old... Something new.... produces an interesting marriage

Plastic News Trends

How blood can clot to heal a wound - Science reports

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Self-healing plastics has been around for a while. Applications include self-healing medical implants, self-repairing materials for use in airplanes and spacecrafts. Even scientists have made polymeric materials that can repair itself multiple times. A recent report in Science describes a significant advance in self-healing plastics. The authors describe a product that mimics how blood can clot to heal a wound. When the plastic is damaged a pair of pre-polymers in channels combines and rapidly forms a gel, which then hardens over 3 hours.

The authors demonstrated that holes up to 8 millimeters wide can be repaired. The repaired parts can absorb 62% of the total energy absorbed by undamaged parts.  Science never stops.

Reference:

S. R. White, J. S. Moore, N. R. Sottos, B. P. Krull, W. A. Santa Cruz, R. C. R. Gergely; Science, Restoration of Large Damage Volumes in Polymers, Vol. 344 no. 6184 pp. 620-623; (9 May 2014).

 

Cima NanoTech flexes mussels with its non-Indium Tin Oxide, high performance transparent conductors

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Knowingly or unknowingly, flexible electronics has become a part of our daily life.  Transparent conductive films (TCFs) are used in mobile phones, tablets, laptops and displays.  Currently, Indium Tin Oxide or commonly known as ITO is the material of choice.  But use of ITO has some major disadvantages and these are brittleness, higher conductivity at greater transparency, and supply of Indium.  This is where non-ITO materials come into play. 

Based in St. Paul, Minnesota (USA), Cima NaoTech’s uses its SANTETM nanoparticle technology, a silver nanoparticle conductive coating which self-assembles into a random mesh like network when coated onto a flexible substrate such as PET and PC.  According to a recent press release, the company stated SANTETM nanoparticle technology enabled transparent conductors in a multitude markets from large format multi-touch displays to capacitive sensors, transparent and mouldable EMI shielding, transparent heaters, antennas, OLED lighting, electrochromic and other flexible applications.  Cima NanoTech is working with Silicon Integrated Systems Corp. (SIS) of Taiwan and using its highly conductive SANTE FS200TM touch films to develop large format touch screens.

References:
Press release, San Diego, June 03, 2014; www.cimananotech.com ; http://www.cimananotech.com/sante-technology ; http://www.sis.com/

 

Stratasys touts World’s first color multi-material 3D printer for rubber & plastics products

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In an article appeared today (January 29, 2014) in The Guardian newspaper, Stuart Dredge wrote, “From jet parts to unborn babies, icebergs to crime scenes, dolls to houses: how new technology is shaking up making things1. Mr. Dredge was speaking about 3D printing technology.  The heart of this technology is the 3D printer itself. 

Stratasys, a company headquartered in Minneapolis, USA is the manufacturer of 3D printers.  It recently announced the launch of Color Multi-material 3D Printer, the first and only 3D printer to combine colors with multi-material 3D printing.  According to the press release2, by using cyan, magenta, and yellow, multi-material objects can be printed in hundreds of colors.  The technology is based on proven Connex technology.  While the base materials are plastics and elastomers, they can be combined and treated to make finished products of wide ranging flexibility and rigidity, transparency and opacity.  Designers, engineers and manufacturers can create models, mold, and parts that match the characteristics of the finished production part. This includes achieving excellent mechanical properties.  According to the manufacturer, print job in the newly revealed printer can run with about 30 kg of resin per cycle and prints as fine as 16 micron layers for models.  No wonder why some call the new Color Multi-material 3D printer a groundbreaking stuff.

References:
1. www.theguardian.com.technology/2014/jan/29/3d-printing-limbs-cars-selfies (January 29, 2014)
2. http://investors.stratasys.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=821134 (August 3, 2014)
 

USA researchers report polymeric blood-resistant surgical glue that can repair minimally invasive heart defects

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Instead of stitches or skin staples, doctors use skin glue to close wounds. The glue joins

the edges of a wound together while the wounds heal underneath. Most of the time
skin glue is used for simple cuts or wounds. According to the paper published in
Science Translational Medicine, there are no clinically approved surgical glues that

are non-toxic, bind strongly to tissue, and work well in wet and highly dynamic

environments within the body. This is the reason why this published work is promising

where infants born with heart defects would benefit tremendously.

 

Researchers at the Brigham and Women’s hospital in Boston have engineered ‘bio-inspired’ glue

that can bind strongly to tissues on demand, and work well in the presence of
actively contracting tissues and blood flow. The authors of the paper show how
the glue can effectively be used to repair defects of the heart and blood vessels

during minimally invasive procedures.

 

[References: P. J. del Nido et al; Sci. Transl. Med., DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3006557; See also, www.geckobiomedical.com/news/gecko-biomedicals-co-founde.html]

 

Stanford university researchers detect mercury ions in sea water using organic polymer transistor sensor

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Stability of organic electronics in water is a major research challenge. For this reason,

organic electronics has yet to see any sensing application in aqueous environment.

However, as understanding of underlying mechanism of stability aspect is becoming

clearer, new developmental efforts to make water compatible organic polymer devices

are taking place.

 

Recently, Professor Zhenan Bao’s group in the department of chemical engineering at Stanford
university revealed in a paper published in the journal of Nature Communications that

solution- processable organic polymer could be stable under both in freshwater and

in seawater. Developed organic field-effect transistor sensor is able to detect mercury ions

in the marine environment (high salt environment). Researchers believe that the work has

the potential to develop inexpensive, ink-jet printed, and large-scale environmental monitoring devices.

 

[References: O. Knopfmacher, M.L. Hammock, A.L. Appleton, G. Schwartz, J. Mei, T. Lei, J. Pei,
and Z. Bao; Nature Communications, 5, 2954, January 6, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/ncomms3954]

 

Polymers can be used to package insulin into a pill for diabetes treatment reports Indian scientists

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Insulin, the wonder medicine for diabetes was discovered about a century ago.

Since insulin does not get into the blood stream easily, diabetes patients often

have injected themselves with insulin. Now a group of scientists led by Dr. Sanyog Jain

at the Center for Pharmaceutical Nanotechnology of National Institute of
Pharmaceutical Education and Research in Punjab, India has designed a polymer
based package for oral insulin administration.

 

The package design addresses two major obstacles, 1) digestive enzymes must not

degrade insulin prior to its action and 2) the insulin gets into the blood stream.

The package contained folic acid functionalized insulin loaded in liposomes.

To protect the liposomes (lipids or fat molecules) they were alternately coated with
negatively charged polyacrylic acid (PAA), and positively charged poly allyl
amine hydrochloride. Studies were conducted to compare the efficacy of both
delivery systems: designed polyelectrolyte based insulin and standard insulin
solution. Effects of oral administration lasted longer than that of injected
insulin, authors reported in a recent article in Biomacromolecules.

 

[Reference: A.K. Agarwal, H. Harde, K. Thanki, and S. Jain; Biomacrmolecules, Nov. 27, 2013;

DOI: 10.1021/bm401580k]

 

Harvard University researchers design stretchable, transparent ionic conductors

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Research in the area of stretchable electronics is heating up!  Thanks to polymers. Led by Professor George M. Whitesides of Harvard University (USA), a team of researchers have demonstrated in a recently published paper in Science that ionic conductors can be used in devices requiring voltages and frequencies much higher than commonly associated with devices using ionic conductors.  The team showed for the first time that electrical charges carried by ions and not electrons, can be utilized in fast-moving, high voltage devices.

As a proof of concept, the authors of the study built a transparent loudspeaker that produces sound across the full audible range i.e., 20 Hz to 20 kHz.  Components [such as VHB 4910 tape (acrylic tape with PE liner), polyacrylamide hydrogel containing NaCl electrolyte] used for the high speed, transparent actuators are described in the paper.

Tissues and cells are soft and require stretchable conductors for biological systems. Many hydrogels are biocompatible which makes this work particularly an important one. The design of gel-based ionic conductors is highly stretchable, completely transparent and offer new opportunities for designers of soft machines.   

[Reference: C.Keplinger, J-Y. Sun, C.C. Foo, P. Rothemund, G.M. Whitesides, and Z. Suo; Science, 341 (6149), pp. 984-987 (2013); DOI: 10.1126/science.1240228]

 

Can you 3D print yourself? TwinKinds of Germany shows just that!

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Interweaving biological tissue with functional electronics, one can make bionic ears.  NASA has tested 3D-printed rocket engine part.  Then why not 3D print yourself?

Well, Twinkind, a German start-up company is now offering enthusiasts statues of themselves for display.  How this works?  A full body scanner takes an image of the customer’s body, transfers the file to the printer after which 3D printer laser sinters a composite powder layer by layer into the customer image.

Can we dare to say that Madame Tussauds wax figure of Voltaire can now be 3D printed in polymers soon!  

[Reference: www.twinkind.com ]

 

University of Texas at Austin researchers show use of polymer membranes for fracking in shale gas

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Polymer membranes have become a leading contender in numerous separation processes.  Be it in gas (air, hydrogen etc.) or be it in water purifications (salinated water, waste water etc.).  Not only polymer membrane technology helps reducing the environmental impact but also it is cost-effective.  Fracking in shell gas is one of many examples. New advances in drilling technology (such as horizontal drilling) have led to new hydraulic fractures called fracking.  Hydraulic fracturing requires about 2.5 to 5 million gallons of water per well.  Water management and its disposal are major costs for producers.

One major challenge, however, of the membrane technology is the fouling (damage caused by contaminants) mitigation.  This has been recently studied by a group of researchers from University of Texas at Austin led by Professor Benny Freeman to address efficiency and reuse of water for fracking in shale gas plays.

Researchers modified polydopamine coated UF (ultrafiltration) module by grafting polyethylene glycol brushes onto it.  The result is more hydrophilic surfaces which in turn improved cleaning efficiency relative to unmodified modules. The coating improves the membrane life, and can easily be applied to membrane surface by rinsing it through the recycling system.

[References: D.J. Miller, X. Huang, H. Li, S. Kasemset, A. Lee, D. Agnihotri, T. Hayes, D.R. Paul, and B. Freeman; J. Membrane Sci., 437, pp. 265-275 (2013); Also see www.advancedhydro.net ]

 

US and South Korean researchers develop a printing technique to make high performance CNT transistors

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Flexible electronics can change the way we use electronic devices.  It is a term used for assembling electronic circuits by mounting electronic devices on a flexible plastic. A recent review article captured the advancement of CNT and graphene based flexible thin film transistors from material preparation, device fabrication to transistor performance control compared to traditional rigid silicon1. Silicon is used almost exclusively in electronic devices.

Now Prof. Ali Javey led a team at the University of California, Berkley to develop a printing process to make nanotube transistors at room temperature with gravure printer.  The plastics used is polyethylene terephthalate (PET). The device exhibited excellent performance with mobility and on/off current ratio of up to ~9 cm2/ (V s) and 105 respectively.  Also, maximum bendability is observed.  The paper authors conclude that this high-throughput printing process serves as enabling nanomanufacturing scheme for range of large-area electronic applications based on nanotube networks2

References:

1. D-M. Sun, C. Liu, W-C. Ren and H-M Cheng; Small, DOI: 10.1002/smll.201203154

2. P.H. Lau, K. Takei, C. Wang, Y. Zu, J. Kim, Z. Yu, T. Takahashi, G. Cho, and Ali Javey; Nano Letters, 13 (8), pp. 3864-3869 (2013); DOI. 10.1021/nl401934a

 

James Cropper Speciality Paper touts recycling of disposable coffee cups

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Drinking coffee from paper cups are as common as drinking water from plastics bottle. The issue however, is recycling of disposable cups. The disposable cups are made up of 90-95% of high strength paper (fibers) with a 5% thin coating of plastic (PE).

To address the recycling issue, James Cropper Speciality Papers of UK have developed a process which involves softening the cup waste, and separating the plastic coating from the fiber.  After skimming off the plastic, remains are pulverised and recycled, leaving water and pulp behind.  According to the company news release, the high grade pulp is reused in luxury papers and packaging materials.

An innovative approach to address a common problem.

[Reference: www.jamescropper.com/news ]

 

UC Berkley researchers have developed paper thin e-skin that responds to touch

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A search for an alternative to rigid silicon wafers gave birth to the area of flexible or bendable electronics. Research has been intense for the past few years in the area flexible electronics as it opens up multitude of new applications. Polymers play an important role to exciting field of flexible electronics.

In a recent research report, a team of scientist led by Prof. Ali Javey of University of California, Berkeley (USA)  has shown for the first time user-interactive electronic skin or e-skin can conformally wrap irregular surfaces and spatially map and quantify various stimuli through a built-in active matrix OLED display.  Three electronic components namely thin film transistor (uniform carbon nanotube based), pressure sensor, and OLED arrays (red, green, and blue) are integrated over a plastic substrate.  Spin coated and cured polyimide on a silicon wafer is used as the flexible substrate.  Details are in the paper.

This work essentially provides a technology platform where integration of several components (organic and inorganic) can be done at a system level on plastic substrates. According to the paper, this e-skin technology could find applications in interactive input/control devices, smart wallpapers, robotics, and medical/health monitoring devices.    

[Ref: C. Wang, D. Hwang, Z. Yu, K. Takei, J. Park, T. Chen, B. Ma, and Ali Javey; Nature Materials, Published online July 21, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/NMAT3711]

 

How computer modelling & 3D printing create fracture resistant composites – reports Stratasys and MIT researchers

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Recent buzz in the technology world is 3D printing.  Researchers to designers are creating new products everyday using 3D printing technology.  Even eBay has unveiled its services to those looking to make their own creations using 3D printing App.

Since ages composites have played a crucial role in our society. Inspired by natural (biological) composites such as bone or nacreous abalone shell, researchers from MIT (USA) and Stratasys have developed composite materials that have fracture behaviour similar to bones.  Using computer model with soft and stiff polymers, the team has come up with a specific topological arrangements (hierarchical structures) of polymer phases to boost the mechanical behaviour in the composites.

Interestingly, the team has been able to manufacture (thanks to 3D printing) a composite material that is more than 20 times larger than its strongest constituent.  The referenced paper showed that one can use computer model to design composite materials of their choice, tailor the fracture pattern and then use 3D printing technology to manufacture the composites.

[Ref: L.S. Dimas, G.H. Bratzel, I. Eylon, and M.J. Buehler; Advanced Functional Materials, Published online June 17, 2013; DOI: 10.1002/adfm.201300215]

 

Researchers show stretchy battery for flexible and stretchable electronics

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Work on lithium ion battery technology has taken center stage these days. Designing a rechargeable battery is not an easy task.  Then there is the challenge of reducing battery size while maintaining its performance.

Researchers from USA, China, and Korea have reported that a battery can be designed which can be stretched 300% without compromising its performance.  Using a low modulus silicone elastomer as a stretchy substrate with a segmented design in the active materials, and unique “self similar” interconnect structures between them, scientists have designed the stretchy battery.  An interesting feature to the design is that the battery can be charged wirelessly.  For now the prototype batteries run through only 20 charge/discharge cycles.  More work needs to be done to make this stretchy battery commercially viable.

Reference:  John A. Rogers et al. Nature Communications, published February 26, 2013DOI: 10.1038/ncomms2553

 

Austrian scientists claim to be the first to have developed an image sensor that is fully transparent

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An Austrian research team has developed a new way to capture images based on a flat, flexible, transparent polymer sheet.  In an Open Access journal, Optic Express, the authors describe the new imager (looks like flexible plastic film) which utilizes fluorescent particles to capture incoming light and channel a portion of it to an array of sensors framing the polymer sheet.  This elegant design without electronics or internal components makes it a new generation of imaging technologies.

Application possibilities: a touch free, transparent user interface which could be television, video games to any other display technologies.

Reference: A. Koppelhuber and O. Bimber, Optic Express, 21 (4), pp. 4796 – 4810 (2013)

 

Are you interested in self-healing polymers – must read reviews

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Polymers have been termed as “smart”, “active”, and so on.  Self-healing or self-repairing polymers have numerous applications in modern day society.  Material design (chemistry) is the key to success of this class of polymers.  Two very distinct state of the art reviews describe how to design self-healing polymers.

In one review, authors distinguish between extrinsic materials and intrinsic materials while discussing their advantages and disadvantages.  Not only the review covers current research trends in self-healing polymers but also provides promising self-healing chemistries for the up and coming researchers.

[Reference: F.E. Du Prezl et al. Macromolecular Rapid Communications; DOI: 10.1002/marc.201200689]

The other type of self-healing materials is based on the concept of supramolecular chemistry where non-covalent transient bonds generate networks to heal the damaged site.  This recent review describes the concept of supramolecular polymers based on hydrogen bonding, ionomers, and coordinative bonds and discusses versatility of these supramolecular forces for the design of self-healing polymers.

[Reference: W.H. Binder et al. Macromolecular Rapid Communications; DOI: 10.1002/marc.201200675]

 

Oil-SAP, a novel development to clean-up oil spill & recovery from Penn State University, USA

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Should there be an oilspill, small or big, it always cause environmental concern. We have noticed it from Exxon-Valdez oil spill in Alaska (1989) and more recently in the Gulf of Mexico in the 2010.  Rightly so, T.C. Mike Chung of Penn State University, USA with his colleague have been motivated to come up with a novel idea that will change the conventional use of skimmers and booms to clean-up oil from the surface of a river or an ocean after an oil-spill

Professor Chung and his collegaue Xuepei Yuan designed a terpolymer from oil molecules to synthesize a supreabsorbent polymer (SAP) which can absorb oil up to 45 times their weight.  How the Oil-SAP works? The polymer (Oil-SAP) has aliphatic and aromatic side chains which have similar solubility parameters (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hildebrand_solubility_parameter) with the hydrocarbons in crude oil.  While 1-octene and styrene allows fast absorption, by manipulating cross-linking density of the oil-SAP terpolymer, latter controls the capacity of oil uptake. The bulk side chain of the polymer (containing di-vinyl benzene) has lower ceiling temperature for depolymerization which helps in recovering the oil through regular oil-refining process. Furthermore, this technology uses polymer from polyolefin family, the most inexpensive polymer.

The question remains how quickly the industry will recognize the promise of oil-SAP technology for its recovery of spilled oil than of its disposal!

[Reference: X. Yusn and T.C. Mike Chung; Energy Fuels, 26 (8), pp. 4896-4902 (2012).  DOI: 10.1021/ef300388h]

 

Can Gas Jet process challenge electrospinning in producing polymeric nanofibers?

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A team of scientists from the University of Akron, Ohio (USA) has reported a novel and yet an effective method to produce polymeric fibers. The fibers could range from a few tens of nanometers to a few micrometers in various morphological forms (smooth or wrinkled) at 10-20 times higher rate than the published rate of a single electrospinning jet. The authors of the report termed the process as Gas Jet Nanofibers (GJF).

How various processing variables influence polymeric fiber (such as polyethylene oxide and polyvinyl pyrrolidone ) diameter and its morphology have been described. According to the report, the GJF process benefits from the balance of various forces originating from viscous, surface tension, and aerodynamic sources.

Professor Sadhan Jana, lead researcher says, “The process gives us flexibility and opportunities to aid industry in quest for large quantities of nanofibers. In addition, the process already aided us in the discovery of unique nanofiber morphologies”.                                          

Reference: R.E. Benavides, S.C. Jana, and D.H. Reneker; ACS Macro Letters; 1; pp.1032-1036 (2012

 

A new microcellular injection molding process for polycarbonate using water

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Scientist from university of Wisconsin-Madison (USA) and South China university of Technology collaborated to develop a new microcellular process for polycarbonate (PC) using water as the physical blowing agent.

Water is not a new blowing agent to polymer scientists. It has been used both as a chemical blowing agent as well as physical blowing agent to make polyurethane foam. The main issue that a molder encounters is the surface imperfections (roughness). Roughness arises from released gas (from super critical nitrogen or carbon dioxide) from the melting polymer and from the rate of cell nucleation.

In this work, authors used a commercial grade PC (Lexan 141), water and salt (sodium chloride) to make microcellular polycarbonate part. A typical injection molding machine was used. Authors claimed that the solution dispensing valve and meter on the top of typical injection molding hopper is simpler and cost-effective than a commercial microcellular injection unit. A weight reduction of ~10% is easily obtained. The PC part using salt solution provided smooth surface comparable to that of solid PC surface.

Advances in microcellular injection molding process appear to be heating up again.

Reference: J. Peng, L-S. Turng, and X-F. Peng; Polym Eng. Sci., 52, pp 1464-1473 (2012). DOI: 10.1002/pen.23092
 

Strain Paint: an alternative to strain gauges

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Most products undergo stresses during their service conditions. As a result, strain develops and if the strain reaches a critical point, the product fails. We all are familiar with news of cracks in buildings, bridges, tunnels, aircrafts etc. Cracks are the final results of these stresses. When materials deform (strained), they do not fail immediately. Depending on the type, materials (such as metals, alloys, plastics etc.) resist deformations to different extent. Technically, one could use strain gauges to measure these deformations.

Researchers from Rice University (USA) have developed carbon nanotube (CNT) based composite paint to measure the amount of strain and termed itStrain Paint”. The idea is smart and simple. When polymer coating containing the single wall CNT is applied, strain is transmitted through the polymer to the nanotube. Spectral shifts of SWCNT at near-infra-red fluorescence can be easily studied to measure strain at any position of the targeted substrate. The advantage of this new coating optical measurement is that strain can be measured without any contact to the substrate.

Of course, the success of this work will depend on fine tuning of the optical measurements such as reproducibility, long term spectral shift stability and the interactions among the coating components.

Reference:  S. Nagarajaiah, R.B. Wiseman et al., Nanoletters; DOI: 10.1021/nl301008m
 

NIST develops greener solution to challenge commercial fire retardants

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Search for better flame retardants continues. Developments are either geared towards reducing toxicity, improving their effectiveness or both. Clay materials made their name after the clay based nanocomposites (PNC) development at the Toyota research lab. However, in the area of flame retardant, clay based PNC never made any real headway.

Recently, in interesting twist researchers from NIST, Gaithersburg (USA) fabricated layer-by-layer coatings of highly filled clay on porous polyurethane foam. Resulting clay based brick wall reduced the foam flammability 17% of the peak heat release while decreasing 21% of the total burn time.

This study provided two interesting results: 1) compared with commercial products, less (50%) amounts of coatings required to get similar performance and 2) non-halogenated ingredients were used to make the layer-by-layer coatings.  Readers may wish to read another interesting approach towards halogen free flame retardant*

References:  Y.S. Kim, R. Harris, and R. Davis; ACS Macro Letters. 1, pp. 820-824 (2012)

                         *S. Ravichandran, R. Nagarajan et al., Green Chem., 14, pp. 819-824 (2012)

 

Stanford Univ researchers make Jell-O-like conducting polymer hydrogels

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Conducting polymers have been around for decades and so are the hydrogels. How about marrying these two classes of polymeric materials and exploit both of their properties! This is what Stanford University (USA) scientists have done by creating conducting polymer hydrogels.

According to the report synthesized multifunctional polyaniline (PAni) hydrogel provides excellent electronic conductivity and electrochemical properties. Researchers used phytic acid which is abundant in nature (plant fibers) and made it react with PAni by protonating. The result is conducting polymer hydrogels. Feels like jelly but conducts electricity. While resultant gel can be manipulated to give desired structure, it can also be painted or sprayed as a liquid before the liquid is made to gel.

The invention has enormous potential for bioelectronics and energy storage electronics.

Reference: L. Pan, Y. Cui, Z. Ban et al., PNAS, 109 (24), pp. 9287-9292 (2012)
 

Current trends and future prospects for flame retardants in polymeric materials

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Fire retardants are substances those reduce the flammability of materials or delay their combustion. Due to its functionality and cost advantage, today polymeric materials are used in numerous industrial applications. For polymers to succeed in an application where flame retardancy is required, flame retardant chemicals play a vital role to the development of polymeric formulations. Requirements to meet regulatory standards are increasingly becoming stringent. Whether the polymers are petrochemical based or bio-based, regulatory standards add another dimension to the polymeric material formulation challenges.

In a recent review1, Alexander Morgan and Jeffrey Gilman (USA) provided a summary of commercial flame retardant technology. If you wish to pursue work on flammability of plastics, this review will provide you the fundamentals behind polymer combustion.

Another paper that elaborates phosphorus-based flame retardants is equally important read. Use of halogen-based flame retardants are diminishing due to safety and environmental reasons. Sometimes, phosphorus-based flame retardants (known as PFRs) are touted as alternatives to the brominated flame retardants. PFRs could be either chemically attached to the polymers or could be mixed physically into the polymers as additives. A detailed up to date review published recently in Chemosphere has addressed varieties of issues (properties, production, toxicity etc.) relating to PFRs. Different instrumental analyses of PFRs have been included in this report2.

 

1 A.B. Morgan and J.W. Gilman; Fire and Materials, Available online March 19, 2012 [ DOI:10.1002/fam.2128 ]

2 Ike van der Veen and Jacob de Boer; Chemosphere; Available online April 24, 2012 [ DOI:10.1016/j.chemosphere.2012.03.067 ]
 

Teijin Techno Products claims to be world’s first mass producer of aramid nanofibers

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Aramid is a heat resistant synthetic (man-made) polymer. It is basically aromatic polyamide. When this polymer is spun, one gets aramid fibers. Due to its heat resistant properties, aramid fibers find applications in military and in aerospace industries. 

According to Tejin Techno Products Limited, until now aramid nanofibers have been produced only in laboratories.  Announcement of today suggests that the company has developed the world's first mass-producible aramid nanofiber which offers reliable resistance to heat (no shape change until 3000C) and high oxidation resistance.  This development comes at a time when Lithium Ion Batteries (LIBs) are getting attention for its usage in vehicles and stationary storage applications.  Aramid nanofibers could be used in the form of non-woven sheet for seperators in LIBs.  High porosity of fibers will enhance the mobility of the electrolyte, resulting in higher output and faster charging while reducing its cost.

Given this new development, one could potentially find several other commercial applications. 

Reference: see press release

http://www.teijin.co.jp/english/news/2012/ebd120426.html
 

Polymer bank notes on the rise to avoid counterfeit paper currencies

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The House”, a CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) program is well-known to the Canadian radio listener. Veteran CBC News host Evan Solomon today interviewed the Governor of the Bank of Canada, Mark Carney, about the housing market and the household debt of Canadian domestic economy. The interview is worth listening for every Canadian. Interestingly, Mr. Carney mentioned in this interview that a CAN $20 polymer bill will come out before the end of 2012 which is cheaper, greener and safer.

Polymer banknote has become a trend in the global currency market. We published a brief note in 2001 entitled, “What do plastics and currencies have in common? The value” when first polymer banknote was marketed. Check out our Plastics Fact section of our web site. Since then plastics note have proven its value to numerous countries those who care for their currency. Bank of Canada has already released its $100 and $50 polymer bank notes with its leading-edge security features.

References: http://www.cbc.ca/thehouse/ see also http://www.bankofcanada.ca/banknotes/bank-note-series/polymer/
 

Wax could be green too – touts GreenMantra Technolgies!

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When we talk about wax, we think of candles. But wax is used in numerous other everyday products those we may not pay attention to. Just check out lipstick or chewing gum or plastics part. What is wax then?

Waxes are a class of organic compounds that consist of that consist of long carbon-hydrogen (hydrocarbon) based molecular chains. Depending on the chemical structure, one could classify wax as either natural or synthetic. These chemical species are derived from plants, animals or from petroleum. However, majority of the waxes come from petroleum refining. Waxes are insoluble in water (polar solvent) but are soluble in non-polar solvents. As demand for manufactured goods increase, so does the demand for the waxes. Production cost of waxes is also going North. Converting used/discarded plastics (which otherwise would go to landfill) to useful products (such as waxes, greases etc) could be a solution to the plastics waste management. This is where Canada’s GreenMantra Technologies could play a vital role.

GrenMantra Technologies based in Canada has developed a proprietary technology that converts plastics into waxes, greases and lubricating oils via a low-cost process. According to its web site, using off-the-shelf processing equipment, the company processes plastics into industrial waxes, lubricants and fuels. The chemicals that we produce can directly replace the existing sources of petroleum based waxes, greases or lubricants. Why the waxes manufactured by this technology are green? An argument could be the products created make use of the existing carbon footprint.

Reference: www.greenmantra.ca

 

Sabic Innovative Plastics unveils its newly developed a clear flame retardant Polycarbonate copolymer

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Sabic’s flagship family of high performance Polycarbonate (PC) materials, popularly known as Lexan® is well known in the plastics industry. Now the company has developed a clear flame retardant grade, called Lexan CFR. This Lexan CFR copolymer addresses the growing demand for fire retardancy and its regulatory requirements in the areas of consumer electronics and appliance manufacturers.

According to the press release announced at the NPE 2012, “Lexan CFR copolymer complies with the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) 94 V-0 standard down to 1.0 mm and the UL 94 5VA standard at 3.0 mm. This transparent resin provides a non-brominated, non-chlorinated, non-phosphate, non-Teflon® FR that complies with major environmental protocols like Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS), TCO99 International and Eco-Flower, making this product a viable alternative for those seeking sustainable solutions”.

 

For further details, see the press release (April 02, 2012) link as below:

 

http://www.sabic-ip.com/gep/en/NewsRoom/PressReleaseDetail/april_02_2012_sabicexpandsrenownedlexan.html


 

Self-healing plastics healing like human skin

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Excitement over self-healing plastics is heating up! In January 2012, Nissan announced that it has designed self-healing iPhone case (cover) using Nissan’s Scratch Shield technology. Scratch Shield paint was developed initially for automotive use by Nissan. Automotive technologies, if appropriate can be utilized for non-automotive applications1.    

At the 243rd National Meeting of American Chemical Society (ACS) on March 26, 2012, Professor Marek W. Urban2 and his team from the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg reported that the team has designed and developed a type of plastics (co-polymers) which tries to mimic nature. The plastics provides a red signal when damaged around the damaged area and then heal itself when exposed to external stimuli such as visible light, temperature or pH changes. Moreover, the designed plastic can heal itself many times. The chemistry (spiro-naphthoxazine to merocyanine) is based on well known ring opening and closing reaction.  

Potential applications of this technology are numerous. Time will tell where this technology will be applied in the future.

References: 1) Press release: Nissan International SA, Rolle, Switzerland, January 16, 2012.

                  2) ACS News release: San Diego, March 26, 2012 

 

How plastics helping revolutionize stretchable electronics applications – a review, not to be missed!

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Knowingly or not, polymers in electronics applications are pervading our modern life. Let’s look at a possible up and coming application where a circuit is made on a biodegradable polymer substrate which will cover a living organism and then disappear to leave the circuit in place. For instance a stretchable circuit could encapsulate a heart fully to sense and stimulate it while expanding and shrinking with the heart beat1 providing real time data while improving its conditions.

Numerous examples could be cited including sensors, displays, energy harvesters, electro-actuation, electronic muscles, electronic bio-interfaces and the list goes on.

In a recent issue of Materials Research Society (MRS) Bulletin, scientists who are at the forefront of this stretchable electronics research shared their recent results. Sigurd Wagner and Siegfried Bauer2, guest editors of this MRS Bulletin issue provided an excellent comprehensive review of the materials and its mechanics, devices and circuits along with future outlook for this exciting technology.

References:

1) D.-H. Kim et al. Nature Materials, 9, pp. 511(2010)

2) S. Wagner and S. Bauer; MRS Bulletin, 37, pp. 207-213 (2012)

 

Umass, Amherst researchers find ways to hold 300 kilograms of weight using sticky tape

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For years, Gecko feet have inspired scientists to develop material surface architecture that could be used as strong and yet reusable adhesives. Why Gecko feet attract scientists? Gecko precisely controls their movement and yet rapidly climbs any types of walls (surfaces).

According to the report appeared in the recent issue of Advanced Materials, researchers from University of Massachusetts, Amherst (USA) have shown that a hand-sized patch made of a thin elastomeric layer on a fabric of stiff carbon fibers could cling to a smooth glass surface while holding 300 kilograms of weight. Quite a remarkable sticky tape!

This study will allow researchers to understand how both natural and synthetic adhesive interfaces between two surfaces display the bonding strength and easy release. In other words, how nanoscopic features control the macroscopic systems. Authors of this study have developed a simple scaling theory where it described both natural and synthetic gecko-inspired adhesives, over 14 orders of magnitude in adhesive force capacity, from nanoscopic to macroscopic length scales.

Questions remain: could this adhesive patch be used in rough surfaces? If yes, when are we going to see its commercial applications?  

 

[Reference: M.D. Bartlett, A.B. Croll, D.R. King, B.M. Paret, D.J. Irschick, and A.J. Crosby; Advanced Materials, 24 (8), pp. 1078 – 1083 (2012). DOI: 10.1002/adma.201104191]

 

Canadian researchers claim world’s most efficient “inverted” OPV solar cells

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Researchers from National Research Council (NRC) of Canada in collaboration with Laval University have developed most efficient “inverted” organic photovoltaic (OPV) solar cells. The team claims the power conversion efficiency of these cells are 7.1%. In other words, the cells could convert 7.1 % of incoming solar light into electricity which beats the previous record of 6.9% set by Imec, a Belgian company. Not only the developed OPV cells are efficient but also they have larger active area meaning these cells could be a commercial reality soon. How OPV cells efficiency compare to amorphous silicon solar cells those are available in the market? Well, there is a gap of just over 2% to catch up with silicon solar cells.

Inverted OPV has some interesting advantages over its couterpart. It makes the cells more stable, making them less prone to environmental degradation. Also, these OPV cells have the optimum structure for roll-to-roll mass production and can be utilized in applications where the shapes are irregular such as briefcases, backpacks, tents and even a building.

How these solar cells could be made commercial one day?

NRC's solar cells are made of thin layers of plastic or a polymer called poly-carbazole. These polymers are electrically conductive due to its chemical structure.  According to the scientists, flexible active layer of these polymers can be "painted" or "printed" onto a thicker plastic backing layer, like an overhead projector transparency that can be rolled or folded like tough and yet light portable road maps.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Further Reading:        

http://www.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/eng/news/nrc/2012/01/03/opv-cells.html

http://www.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/eng/dimensions/issue4/solar_cell.html

 

Green Composites - all you wanted to know about

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Biocomposites are increasingly being used in automotive and in construction industries. Green Composites are a sub-class of bio-composites. However, there are challenges relating to processing of bio-composites. Also, to improving the performances of bio-composites. Research however, is intensifying to address issues such as adequate processing conditions, mechanical fatigue testing etc1. Technologies are emerging and Green Composites are making headway to the specific market segments.

How new trends in the selection of natural fibers from waste rather than valuable crops could provide an environmental benefits to making natural fiber based polymer composites are described in this review article. Zini and Scandola gave a lucid overview of the Green Composites. Should you be curious to know about current research trend and various applications of biocomposites including Agri-car, Kayak or Green-car, this review article provides a glimpse of what awaits for this new class of materials.

[Reference: E. Zini and M. Scandola; Polymer Composites, 32 (12), pp. 1905-1915, 2011]

1S.H.P. Bettini et al. Polym. Eng. Sci., 51 (11), pp. 2184-2190 (2011)

 

Harvard Univ researchers show how soft robotics could navigate a difficult obstacle

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Professor George Whiteside's team from Harvard University in Cambridge, USA designed a pneumatically driven robot which is able to do sophisticated manouvers. In a recent paper published in Proceedings of the National Acdemy of Sciences (PNAS), the team of researchers reported that the soft robot uses no sensors but five actuators, and a simple pneumatic valve system operating at a pressure below 10 psi. Robot has been termed as “soft” to differentiate it from the more rigid designs. In fact, the robot is made of soft elastomeric polymers. The inspiration of such design comes from the natural world animals such as squid, worms, starfish etc..

Design advantage of the soft robotics over rigid design come from hazardous real world. Can the polymeric skin able to withstand outside pressure (puncture) or higher stress if encountered in the field? Future research could only answer such questions.

[Reference: R.F. Shepherd, F. Ilievski, W. Choi, S.A. Morin, A.A. Stokes, A.D. Mazzeo, X. Chen, M. Wang, and G.M. Whitesides; PNAS, Online Nov. 28, 2011. doi: 10.1073/pnas.116564108]
 

Bio-succinic acid is becoming new green platform chemical for plastics

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Using its proprietary process, BioAmber produces bio-succinic acid which could make bio-renewable polymers such as polyester amides and polybutylene succinate (PBS). The uniqueness of BioAmber process relies on the fact that it utilizes much less sugar than other renewable products. This is due to the origin of carbon in its bio-succinic acid which comes from carbon dioxide.

The company touts that its aliphatic polyester composites are engineered and designed at the molecular level to meet end-user requirements for high performance biodegradable plastics. Properties and target applications for modified PBS (mPBS) are available from BioAmber’s web site.

An interesting application segment could be to make bio-succinic acid based plasticizerts which could replace phthalate based plasticizers.  

[For more information: www.bio-amber.com ]

 

It is time to make “Perfect Plastic” reports UK researchers

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Professor Daniel Read and his colleagues from University of Leeds and Durham University have put together a mathematical model that could be used as a recipe book to make the plastic which industry folks want. If one wishes to produce a plastic product item having specific properties for targeted applications, pick up the right raw materials (plastics) which will melt, flow and form as desired.

In a recent report published in the journal Science, authors presented a predictive scheme that allows one to calculate the linear and non-linear viscoelasticity of a polymer melt as a function of the chemical kinetics of its formation. This work provides insight to rheology of the polymer melt and thus connecting fundamental science to process in complex flow.

[Ref: D.J. Read, D. Auhl, C. Das, J.D Doelder, M. Kapnistos, T.C.B. MLeish; Science, 333 (6051), pp. 1871-1874 (2011); DOI: 10.1126/science.1207060]
 

Korean scientists provide a different twist to the “Smart Window” technology

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At the flick of a switch “Smart Window” allows user to regulate the light passage. One could enhance energy efficiency of a building or could use as an image projection screen. The applications of “Smart Window” technology are numerous including recently produced new Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Over the years various types of technologies have been tried including photochromic, thermotropic, suspended particle devices (SPDs), polymer dispersed liquid crystals devices (PDLCs) or micro-blinds. All of these technologies have advantages as well as disadvantages.

Recently, scientists from Republic of Korea reported a different kind of nanotechnology based platform for “Smart Windowswhich could become a game changer. They developed polymeric counter-anions which have different hydration energies. When spray casted over a glass substrate, it can alternate between extreme optical characteristics. In other words, coated glass could change from opaque to a clear one instantaneously. The immediate application: reduces the amount of heat loss in winter or increases the cooling in summer. This work has been reported in the journal ACS NANO.

[Ref: C.H. Lee, H.S. Lim, J. Kim, and J.H. Cho; ACS NANO; 5 (9), pp. 7397-7403 (2011); DOI: 10.1021/nn202328y]

Further reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smart_glass
 

AMI unveils the North American Bioplastics technology agenda

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In a recent article Dr. Sally Humphreys of Applied Market Information (AMI) writes

There are several different meanings to the term “bioplastics” being used today including medical plastics, natural polymers (like collagen), biodegradable plastics, oxo-degradable plastics and plastics from renewable sources.  In North America the latter is the primary designation, whereas in Europe the compostable and biodegradable materials have been more highly rated.  Each continent has set up its own standards and labelling protocols to aid purchasing managers and consumers in understanding what they are buying into.  A market study in 2009 by Utrecht University in Holland predicted a bio-based plastics market size of 2.3 million tonnes in 2013 including conventional polymers from renewable sources. 

Japan leads the world in its application of bioplastics with Fujitsu and Sony using PLA in mobile technology in 2002. The NEC Corporation has an environmental action plan to use bioplastics in most of its hardware products by March 2018.  It has developed materials specifically for electronic products, including flame-retardant polylactic acid (PLA), which is modified with aluminum hydroxide and other additives, giving a V-0 rating at 1.8-13 mm thickness. This PLA is in use in the housing of business PCs. NEC has also developed a new cellulose-based material bonded with cardanol, which is extracted from cashew nut shells. The inventor Michio Komatsu of Nissei has developed an injection molding system for PLA and a Mucell foaming system can be added.  It includes tools to optimise the cycle to provide the required crystallinity.  For more see the press release section of this web site.

 

USA researchers develop all-polymer multilayer coating to retard fire and to suppress smoke

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Professor James Grunlan’s group at Texas A&M University (College Station, Texas) termed it as an intumescent all-polymer multilayer nanocoating. The work is important because a) the nanocoating did not have any inorganic composent (such as halogens, Al, Mg etc.) as is the case for most of the fire retardant system; b) intumescent coatings have not been utilized on fabric before; c) nanocoating was deposited layer-by-layer on cotton fabric and thus coating thickness could be controlled as necessary; and d) this developmental work could be extended to many other systems.

Authors reported that fire is extinguished right after ignition on the fabric during vertical flame testing. How the coatings extinguish fire – by intumescent effect.  

Why the nanocoating is called intumescent?

Intumescent materials are those which swell when exposed to high heat, increasing its volume while decreasing the density. Intumescent coatings char and could expand up to several times (even to 100 times depending on the systems) their original thickness when exposed to heat or flame. Essentially, the char insulates the surface and limits oxygen supply to prevent combustion. Can this intumescent polymer nanocoating be used in other products so as to avoid the potentially toxic flame retardants those are still in use? The future research will tell!

The current intumescent polymer nanocoating as reported are not without its limitations: 1) the coated fabric becomes stiffer and 2) its durability is unknown. Further research is under way to address these issues.

[Reference: Y-C. Li; S. Mannen, A.B. Morgan, SC. Chang, Y-H. Yang, B. Condon, and J.C. Grunlan; Advanced Materials, DOI: 10.1002/adma.201101871
 

Rice Univ (USA) researchers grew high quality graphene from polystyrene, cookies, grass, cockroach leg & dog feces

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Graphene research has exploded in recent years. The price and performance advantages of graphene challenge carbon nanotubes (CNTs) in nanocomposites, coatings, sensors and energy-storage-device applications. Now the race has begun how to produce a large enough volume of graphene safely and in a cost efficient manner.

Given the above motivation, Professor James M. Tour of Rice University (USA) led his team to use much less expensive easily available carbon sources e.g., food, insects, and waste. The group showed a simple method to grow high quality graphene directly from fisher brand polystyrene, Petri dishes, chocolates, and grass (Ophiopogon, picked at the Rice univ.) on the backside of a copper foil at 1050°C under hydrogen/argon gas flow. When graphene produced from each of the starting materials was studied using Raman spectroscopy at 514 nm laser excitation, the peaks (G, 2D, and 2D/G) revealed the graphene was indeed of high quality monolayer graphene.

This study has shown that large quantity of high quality graphene could be generated from impure carbon feedstocks.

[Reference: G.Ruan, Z. Sun, Z. Peng, and J.M. Tour; ACS Nano, Published online 2011 DOI: 10.1021/nn202625c]
 

Japanese scientists report a unique, smart and self-healing polymer nanocomposite hydrogels

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For some time, polymeric hydrogels have been touted as smart materials. In general, smart materials are characterized by their one or more properties which can be significantly altered by external stimuli. In other words, “Smart” materials respond to changes in their environments.

Current research report, jointly conducted by academics and its industrial partner in Japan appear to suggest that polymer nanocomposite hydrogels consisting of polymer/clay network structure could be a promising candidate for “Smart” materials. The polymer nanocomposite material as developed, authors report that if damaged, it can auto heal via crosslinks across the damaged interface. The key feature of this new material is that self-healing could take place even after a long wait time.

[Reference: K. Haraguchi, K. Uyama, and H. Tanimoto; Macromol. Rapid Commn., DOI: 10.1002/marc.201100248]

Editor’s note: If you are interested to know more about applications of polymeric hydrogels, read following paper: Q. Yang, N. Adams, F. Tomicki, and M. Ulbricht; J. Mater. Chem, 21, pp. 2783-2811 (2011)
 

Electric Glue: Another twist to make controlled polymer-surface adhesion

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Adhesion between the two surfaces depends on surface properties of adhering materials. It is the surface energy (surface tension) which controls the adhesion or the stickiness. One can manipulate the surface chemistry and thereby the interfacial interactions between the two surfaces by nano-scale surface design.

In a recent paper published in Nano Letters, Professor Hermann Gaub’s group at the Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich (Germany) experimentally showed how polymer-surface non-covalent interactions can be manipulated by an externally controlled potential in electric glue.   

The team studied three different types of polymers: the neutral polyethylene glycol, 2,2-ionene (containing a positively charged backbone) and a negatively charged biopolymer (DNA) where 3 of the 4 bases contain primary amines.   Experiment was done between three different polymers and gold electrode.  The work is significant as this could open up innovative application possibilities such as biosensors.

What could we expect in the near future exploiting this knowledge?  Possibly, an electric glue design that could be reversible in its bonding properties as required. In other words, the glue could be activated or inactivated utilizing the applied electric potential [please see article at Nano Werk: http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=21210.php ]

[References: A.R. Fornof, M. Erdmann, R. David, and H.E. Gaub;  Nano Lett., 11 (5), pp 1993–1996 (2011)]

DOI: 10.1021/nl200353h

 

Work of North Carolina State Univ. researchers shows how to remove radioactive elements from drinking water

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North Carolina University (USA) researchers use natural polymers (hemicellulose and chitosan) to remove radioactive contaminants from potable water.

Hemicellulose and chitosan, both are natural polymers. Hemicellulose is a polysaccharide and found in most of the plant cell walls along with cellulose. Unlike cellulose, hemicellulose is amorphous and thus easily hydrolysable (undergoes hydrolysis). On the other hand, chitosan comes from chitin, another polysaccharide. Chitosan is known for its use in wastewater and potable water treatment plants. (for more on chitosan please read in the popular article section “Chitin and Chitosan” by Dr. Clermont Beaulieu of this site).

Prof. Joel Pawlak and Prof. Richard Venditti collaborated on the project. Researchers stated that the new material developed from hemicelluloses and chitosan binds iodide in the water and could be disposed easily without any risk to humans or the environment.

[Reference: News release: April 13, 2011 http://news.ncsu.edu/releases/cbpawlakwater/ ]

 

Can polymer reinforced aerogel make a space mission? University of Akron researchers think so!

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It is well known that polymer can act as an agent of reinforcement to improve the strength and the flexibility of a composite. What about its reinforcement capability in silica aerogels? This is what Professor Sadhan Jana and his team reported in a recent article that could provide an ideal material for a space mission.

Silica aerogels are simply a highly porous solid materials. It has an extremely low thermal conductivity and a low density. A perfect combination for thermal insulation materials as is used in space missions. Unfortunately, unmodified silica aerogels are fragile. Even at low stresses, it could fall apart. This is where polymer reinforcement comes to play.

Professor Sadhan Jana and Jason Randall of the University of Akron, and Dr. Mary Ann Meador of NASA Glenn Research Center reported how a polymer coating on the silica nanoskeleton not only improves the strength of aerogels, but their elasticity and flexibility as well. As a result, the nanocomposites structure is capable of withstanding compression and bending stresses while resisting temperature extremes. Researchers have studied density, pore structure, modulus and elastic recovery of epoxy-reinforced aerogels.

[Reference: J. P. Randall, M. Ann B. Meador, and S. C. Jana; ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces, 3 (3), pp 613–626 (2011)]  

 

Can you “Cool Your Roof” - reports researchers from Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing

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A team of Chinese scientists has developed a “cool-roof” coating mimicking the poplar tree leaf. The poplar tree leaves has microfibers beneath its leaves. It allows them to reflect both light and heat from the sun. In other words, when the sun shines directly on the tree, the tree turns its leaves upside down to protect the insides of the leaves from high heat and consequently the loss of moisture from it. By this way the light is reflected rather than absorbed. It is that simple. Can this idea be transformed to cool your roof? Not yet!

Chinese researchers used electrospun polymers to produce microfibers like poplar tree leaves. To test their idea, they coated the film with hydrophobic diarylethene which changes colour from red to colorless in presence of visible light due to structural changes (closed ring to an open one). The test showed promise. The issue is the durability of the polymeric material under heat, wind, and cold when put on your roof.    

[Ref: C. Ye, M. Li, J. Hu, Q. Cheng, L.Jiang and Y. Song, Energy Environ. Sci., 2011, Advance Article. DOI:10.1039/C0EE00686F]

 

Work of North Carolina State Univ. researchers shows how to remove radioactive elements from drinking water

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North Carolina researchers use natural polymers (hemicellulose and chitosan) to remove radioactive contaminants from potable water.

Hemicellulose and chitosan, both are natural polymers.  Hemicellulose is a polysaccharide and found in most of the plant cell walls along with cellulose.  Unlike cellulose, hemicellulose is amorphous and thus easily hydrolysable (undergoes hydrolysis).  On the other hand, chitosan comes from chitin, another polysaccharide.  Chitosan is known for its use in wastewater and potable water treatment plants.  (for more on chitosan please read in the popular article section “Chitin and Chitosan” by Dr. Clermont Beaulieu of this site).

Prof. Joel Pawlak and Prof. Richard Venditti collaborated on the project.  Researchers stated that the new material developed from hemicelluloses and chitosan binds iodide in the water and could be disposed easily without any risk to humans or the environment.

[Ref: News release: April 13, 2011 http://news.ncsu.edu/releases/cbpawlakwater/ ]

 

Can polymer reinforced aerogel make a space mission? University of Akron researchers think so!

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It is well known that polymer can act as an agent of reinforcement to improve the strength and the flexibility of a composite.  What about its reinforcement capability in silica aerogels?  This is what Professor Sadhan Jana and his team reported in a recent article that could provide an ideal material for a space mission.

Silica aerogels are simply a highly porous solid materials.  It has an extremely low thermal conductivity and a low density.  A perfect combination for thermal insulation materials as is used in space missions. Unfortunately, unmodified silica aerogels are fragile.  Even at low stresses, it could fall apart.  This is where polymer reinforcement comes to play.

Professor Sadhan Jana and Jason Randall of the University of Akron, and Dr. Mary Ann Meador of NASA Glenn Research Center reported how a polymer coating on the silica nanoskeleton not only improves the strength of aerogels, but their elasticity and flexibility as well.  As a result, the nanocomposites structure is capable of withstanding compression and bending stresses while resisting temperature extremes.  Researchers have studied density, pore structure, modulus and elastic recovery of epoxy-reinforced aerogels.

[Reference: J. P. Randall, M. Ann B. Meador, and S. C. Jana; ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces, 3 (3), pp 613–626 (2011)]

 

Can you “Cool Your Roof” - reports researchers from Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing

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A team of Chinese scientists has developed a “cool-roof” coating mimicking the poplar tree leaf.  The poplar tree leaves has microfibers beneath its leaves. It allows them to reflect both light and heat from the sun. In other words, when the sun shines directly on the tree, the tree turns its leaves upside down to protect the insides of the leaves from high heat and consequently the loss of moisture from it.  By this way the light is reflected rather than absorbed. It is that simple.  Can this idea be transformed to cool your roof?  Not yet!

Chinese researchers used electrospun polymers to produce microfibers like poplar tree leaves. To test their idea, they coated the film with hydrophobic diarylethene which changes colour from red to colorless in presence of visible light due to structural changes (closed ring to an open one). The test showed promise.  The issue is the durability of the polymeric material under heat, wind, and cold when put on your roof.

[Ref:  C. Ye, M. Li, J. Hu, Q. Cheng, L.Jiang and Y. Song, Energy Environ. Sci., 2011, Advance Article. DOI:10.1039/C0EE00686F]

 

A novel technique to manufacture continuous twisted yarn from aligned PAN nanofibers

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Electrospinning is a simple and yet a versatile technique to manufacture nano-fibres from a variety of materials.  At issue has been to physically manipulate the electro-spun nano-fibres due to its lack of strength and small sizes produced.  However, aligned/arrayed/bundled electro-spun nanofibers could alleviate the strength issue for some applications.  Sure enough, researchers have been able to produce aligned, arrayed, and bundled nano-fibres.  Problems remained however, in making long enough structurally uniform aligned fibres.

In a recently reported study, Dr. Seeram Ramakrishna et al described the new technique where electro-spun poly-acrylonitrile (PAN) yarn was taken from the top of the water vortex so that it could be twisted simultaneously while producing the yarn continuously.  Yarn length could be as long as required and was limited to the volume of solution available for the electro-spinning process.  The researchers claim that this new technique could open up avenues for nano-structured carbon yarn production.

[Reference: M. Yousefzadeh, M. Latifi, W-E. Teo, M. A-Tehran, and Seeram Ramakrishna; Polymer Engineering Science, 51 (2) pp. 323-329 (2011) ]
 

Are you an injection moulder, you may want to read the ultimate in mould cooling article

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Mould cooling is crucial to plastics end part quality and part’s production rate.  There are several ways by which mould cooling is accomplished.  Nevertheless, no one technique is optimal.  The problem is non-uniform temperature distribution due to uneven cooling which produces variable cycle times, shrinkage and part warping.

In a recent article, Greg Gibbons of the University of Warwick, UK explained how cooling efficiencies of two types of inserts showed how Electronic Beam Melting (EBM) could deliver optimum mould cooling.

[Reference: G. Gibbons, Injection World, pp. 17-21, February 2011]

 

Plastrec, a Quebec recycler unveils recycled PET production combining two plastics technologies

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Plastrec, a Quebec based plastics recycler, has been recycling polyethylene terephthalate (PET) since 1992.  Now, the recycler will make food grade recycled PET (approved by FDA and Health Canada ) combining Gneuss extrusion technology (Multi Rotation System, MRS extruder) and a decontamination technology by Buhler.

[Reference: Resource Recycling]

 

Current status in graphene based polymer nanocomposites – a review

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Andre K. Geim and Konstantin S. Novoselov of the University of Manchester, UK were awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics for their ability to isolate graphene from graphite.  Graphene is a single atomic layer of carbon.  Professor Andre Geim commented, “Graphene is a wonder material with many superlatives to its name”.  Questions arise: Why graphene is a wonder material?  How come such an interest in graphene research world-wide?  Is this simply graphene hype or are there application opportunities for graphene-based composite structures?

If you are curious and want to know the answers to above questions, you may wish to read the review just appeared in the January 2011 issue of Plastics Engineering. This review described different routes to synthesizing both defect-free graphene and functionalized graphene.  How graphenes could be used as reinforcing nano materials to make polymer nanocomposites are explained. The article also presented emerging trends in graphene-based polymer nanocomposites (GPNC) while giving a glimpse of numerous possibilities that await GPNC researchers.  The main challenge on the effective use of graphene nanoplatelets for graphene based polymer nanocomposites depend on how to produce a large volume of graphene safely and of course, cost-effectively.

[Refercence:  P. Mukhopadhyay and R.K. Gupta; “Trends and Frontiers in Graphene-based Polymer Nanocomposites”, Plastics Engineeering, pp. 32-42, (2011)]

or

to view the full article: http://www.multibriefs.com/briefs/spe/Graphene-based%20nanocomposites.pdf

 

GM recycles oil soaked booms from the Gulf of Mexico for its Chevrolet Volt under hood parts

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We have heard about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  Plastic boom made of polypropylene (PP) material was used to soak up the spilled oil.  Now GM is recycling the polymeric material recovered from the oil soaked plastic boom to produce auto parts for its Chevrolet Volt, the Green Car.

According to the report, recycling of the booms will provide 100,000 pounds of plastic resin for the under-hood parts which otherwise would have been incinerated or sent to landfills.  Thanks to GM’s overall strategy to reduce environmental impact by working with several partners throughout the recovery process and the development.  Partners included Heritage Environmental, Mobile Fluid Recovery, Lucent Polymers, and GDC Inc.

[Reference: www.gm.com/corporate/responsibility/environment/news/2010/volt_boom_parts_122010.jsp]

 

German researchers unveiled a green approach to electrospinning technique for making biodegradable nanofibres

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The technique of Electrospinning is an age old technique.  Unlike typical fibre spinning methods yielding fibres with diameters in the micrometer range, electrospinning process could be utilized to make polymer fibers with diameter lower than 100 nm (nanofiber).  This is done using an electrostatically driven jet of polymer solution.  Significant progress has been made in this area throughout the past decade.  However, most of the current work on electrospinning technique has been either on trying to control nanofibre morphology, structure, surface functionality, and strategies for assembling them or on establishing right conditions for electrospinning of various polymers and biopolymers.

Researchers from Phillipps-Universitat Marburg, Germany touted that this new green electrospinning approach avoids the use of harmful organic solvents, instead takes advantage of aqueous suspensions of biodegradable block copolymers.  The result is PHA-b-PEO nanofibers.  Basically, opening up a new approach to making nanofibers those could be used for applications in medicine, pharmacy and agriculture.

[Reference: J. Sun, K. Bubel, F. Chen, T. Kissel, S. Agarwal, A. Greiner; Macromolecular Rapid Communications, 31 (23), pp. 2077-2083(2010)]
 

Something old... Something new.... produces an interesting marriage

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David Schiraldi of Case Western Reserve University, in Ohio, and his colleagues have shown that combining an old material with a new one can provide a material with similar stiffness, strength and compressibility to expanded polystyrene, but which has loses 20% of its mass after less than three weeks in a dump-like environment.

These workers reached back into history and attempted to revive the use of casein as a plastics feedstock. Traditional formulations used formaldehyde as a crosslinking agent; to avoid the toxicity of this material Dr. Shirald and his team replaced this with dl-glyceraldehyde.

The resultant polymer is fragile but this problem was resolved with the help of the sponge like aerogel obtained by freeze-drying Sodium montmorillonite. Although the aerogels are notoriously week, filling the pores with foam removes this fragility and the clay provides a reinforcement for the casein based polymer.

[Reference: Biomacromolecules; vol.11, No. 10, pp. 2640-2646 (2010) (http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/bm100615a)]

 

UCLA scientists showed how simple it could be to make conducting polymer thin films

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Conducting polymers are often touted as having great potential in applications such as electronics, solar cells, supercapacitors, smart glass and sensors.  The challenge is to grow uniform thin films with nano-scale consistently.  Now Professor Richard B. Kaner’s group in conjunction with Fibron Technologies Inc. has developed a thermodynamically driven solution based technique that takes advantage of directional fluid flow.

The authors claim that monolayer films of conducting polymer nanofibers (polyaniline, polythiophene, and poly 3-hexylthiophene films of) can be made in seconds.  Not only can these films be made rapidly, but the high quality transparent films can be inexpensively deposited in large areas on any substrate.

[Reference: R.B. Kaner et al.; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Published on-line Nov. 01, 2010;  DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1008595107]

 

Will your windows generate power one day?

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According to scientists at the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Brookhaven National Lab. and Los Alamos National Lab, electricity  can be generated when transparent thin films of a semiconducting polymer doped with fullerenes absorbing solar energy.

These materials can form a self-assembled structure, whose interesting optical properties depend on the consistency of micron-sized hexagon shaped cells over a relatively large area.  These optical properties result from polymer chains, which are packed densely at the edges of the hexagon but loosely packed and thinly spread at the center.  The  resultant structure prevents the center from absorbing much light and so remain relatively transparent.  The densely packed edges of the hexagon strongly absorb light and allow the conduction of  electricity.  It was found that the rate of solvent evaporation determined the polymer packing.  Further work is planned to find ways to control the degree of polymer packing, which influences the rate of charge transport.

[Reference: H-L. Wang, M. Cotlet et al. Chemistry of Materials; Web publication date: Nov. 1, 2010; DOI: 10.1021/cm102160m]

 

 

Binder free multilayer graphene based polymer composite for high performance supercapacitor electrodes

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Professor Larry Drzal’s group from Michigan State University, USA has reported a novel nanoarchitecture by combining conductive polypyrrole with high electrically conductive graphene nanosheets.  Graphene having a high surface area and the ability to facilitate electron transfer along its 2-dimensional surface made it an attractive candidate for electrode material.

Biswas and Drzal exploited the advantages of both the nano-carbon and the polymer to develop a multilayered configuration of graphene-polymer composite which gave high specific capacitance and low electronic resistance required for high performance supercapacitor electrode applications.  Researchers touted that the the multilayer composite structure is 100% binder free.  The composite electrode exhibited a high specific capacitance of ~ 165 F/g and a high electrochemical cyclic stabilty.

For those interested in this area of research may wish to follow the work of Professor Rod Ruoff’s group of the University of Texas at Austin.

[Ref: S. Biswas and L.T. Drzal; Chemistry of Materials; Web publication date: September 29, 2010]

 

World’s first all-plastic LED lamp comes from Japan

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High power consumption in outdoor illumination is always an issue.  LED lamp provides an alternative: low power consumption and long life.

Iwasaki Electric and Teijin both from Japan have jointly developed world’s first all plastic LED lamp which weighs only 300 grams.  Normally aluminum is used for heat dissipation while attaining luminous flux but results in excessive weight.  Teijin’s proprietary RAHEAMA (“Rapid” and “Heat”) which is high thermal conductivity carbon material conducts heat better than metals, and also helps dissipate the heat of electric devices.  RAHEAMA compounded polycarbonate resin is ideal for a range of products including LED lamps requiring light weight, design flexibility and moldability.

[Reference: Teijin News Release September 07, 2010] 

For more info visit:  www.teijin.co.jp/english/news/2010/ebd100907.html

 

Alberta scientists help to make Canada’s first bio-composite based electric vehicle body design

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Scientists at Alberta Research Council (ARC) are at the forefront of bio-fibres research.  The bio-fibres include flax, hemp and jute.  In ARC’s annual report of 2007-2008, Dr. John Wolodko predicted that hemp fibres would be commonly used in consumer products such as car parts and building materials around the world within the next decade.  Process development for blending hemp fibres with locally produced plastics have been ARC’s years of experience.

Recently, Motive, a full vehicle development firm has announced the development of Canada’s first bio-composite bodied electric car.

The car, called the Kestrel, will make its full marketing debut during the September EV 2010 VÉ Conference and Trade Show in Vancouver. The body of the car is made from impact resistant bio composite material. Kestrel designer Darren McKeage says – “electric cars need to be efficient, therefore the Kestrel design had to be simple (minimized part count) and light weight, while still being unique and eye catching.”

The bio composite material is made from Hemp mats produced by Alberta Innovates Technology Futures (AITF) in Edmonton Alberta from Hemp stock grown in Vegreville, Alberta.

For more information see: http://www.motiveind.com/news-motiveunveilskestrel-aug2010.html

 

Singapore researchers touts corn starch can help solve body armour and protective sports padding

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Based on the same principles of how a cornstarch solution hardens on impact, Singapore researchers have invented a new flexible, lightweight, impact-resistant composite material. Not quite body armour made out of cornstarch but scientists from Singapore Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s (A*STAR) Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) and the National University of Singapore have used the same scientific principles to invent a new made-in-Singapore lightweight, flexible, and simple to make composite material capable of dissipating high impact energy.

The material is a composite which consists of a polymer and a combination of other materials engineered through a patented method developed in Singapore. It works based on the concept of shear thickening, meaning the material is soft and fluid at rest but becomes rigid upon impact, just like a cornstarch solution. When moved gently, the molecular chains that hold the material together can ‘slide’ past one another, hence giving the material a soft consistency. In other words, the material will bend and flex smoothly under lightly applied force. But hit it or make sudden movements and the molecular chains do not have time to react properly and become entangled turning the material rock-solid. Similar shear thickening fluid-based materials technology involves encapsulating it within a foam matrix. The secret to the new IMRE-NUS material lies in how it’s made - with a patented method that not only allows it to be more flexible and soft without the need for foam encapsulation, but also helps the material spread out high-impact force much more effectively and quickly than other products.

[Ref: Press release: July 28, 2010;  http://www.news.gov.sg/public/sgpc/en/media_releases/agencies/astar/press_release/P-20100728-2/AttachmentPar/0/file/Bullet%20proof%20cornstarch%20armour_260710.pdf

 

French scientists tout first use of nano-structured assemblies that could revolutionize dentistry

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Millions of teeth are restored each year by root canal therapy.  “Been there done that” – you could say that.  During the procedure, a dentist removes the painful, inflamed pulp, the soft tissue inside the diseased or injured tooth that contains nerves and blood vessels.  Although current treatment modalities offer high levels of success for many conditions, an ideal form of therapy might consist of regenerative approaches.   

A group of French scientists reported the development of a multilayered, nano-sized film — only 1/50,000th the thickness of a human hair containing a substance that could help regenerate dental pulp.  Fibroblasts are the main type of cell found in dental pulp. The scientists showed in laboratory tests alpha-MSH combined with a widely-used polymer produced a material that fights inflammation in dental pulp fibroblasts.  Nano-films containing alpha-MSH also increased the number of these cells. This could help revitalize damaged teeth and reduce the need for a root canal procedure, the scientists suggest.

[Ref: F. Fioretti, C. Mendoza-Palomares, M. Helms, D. Al Alam, L. Richert, Y. Arntz, S. Rinckenbach, F. Garnier, Y. Hakel, S.C. Gangloff and Nadia Benkirane-Jessel; ACS Nano,  4 (6), pp 3277–3287 (2010)]

 

 

Using biodegradable polymer, University of Basque country researcher report on bone regeneration

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Bones are known to have a capacity to regenerate themselves after suffering a partial damage.  This is not the same when a serious break occurs and the loss of tissue is substantial.  One could treat with various kinds of grafts, but they do have a number of disadvantages, e.g., rejection, contamination or limitations on donors.

Ms. Beatriz Olalde, researcher at the Health Unit of Tecnalia at the University of Basque Country (UPV/EHU), in her Ph.D. thesis entitled, “Development of a new porous, biodegradable nanocompound support for the regeneration of bone tissuedesigned and studied biodegradable porous support.

Ms. Olalde utilized polylactic acid (PLA), hydroxyapatite and carbon nanotubes as constituents for the porous support.  PLA being biodegradable disappears as the bone grows. To this the researcher added a bioceramic — hydroxyapatite  which provides calcium, facilitating the integration of the support into the surrounding bone cells. Finally, the carbon nanotubes provide the essential mechanical properties of the polymers.   For more information, follow the referenced link below.

[Ref: News release, July 30, 2010, http://www.basqueresearch.com/berria_irakurri.asp?Berri_Kod=2814&hizk=I ]

 

A review on polymer/bioactive glass nanocomposites provides current trends in polymer research

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Bioactive glasses or Bioglass materials were first developed by Prof. Larry Hench’s group at the University of Florida in the late 1960s.   Due to its biocompatibility, surface reactive glass-ceramic biomaterials are called “Bioactive glasses”.  Many variations have been developed since.  These glasses have shown excellent biocompatibility in the bone regeneration field.  This is because of their ability to form a bi-active layer at the interface in contact with living tissues.  Silica based bio-glasses are an integral part of such bioactive materials, and have been used in many orthopaedic and dental applications.  The recent development of nano-scale bioactive glasses which enhances osteoconductivity i.e., a scaffold’s ability to support cell attachment to deposition to bone formation has opened up a promising new research area.

Are you a biomedical researcherHow polymers can play a critical role in your research work?  Read on ….

One could use bioactive glass nanofibers as fillers for bone or embedding them into biodegradable polymers such as PLA, PHB, poly caprolactone, starch, chitin or collagen as polymer nanocomposites.  Essentially, polymer based bioactive glass nanocomposites broadens the application potential of bioactive glasses to orthopaedic applications including tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.  Recent developments have been reviewed by a group of European scientists.

[Ref: A. Boccaccini et al, Comp. Sci. and Technol., doi: 10.1016/j.compscitech.2010.06.002]


 

Polymers help Addidas to launch lightest soccer boots and 2010 FIFA World cup match ball never seen before in the field

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Leo Messi together with David Villa, helped Adidas AG launch lightest-ever football boot.  The new boot weighs only 165 grams and made of various types of polyurethane.  Leo Messi, playing for Argentina in the World cup 2010, will be the first player to wear the F50 boot which has a distinct purple and white colour to it. However, 11 more world cup player will have the same privilege of wearing the F50 boot.

The boot design provides a wider footbed and heel to uniformly distribute forces throughout the boot which is vital in any lightweight product. The SprintSkin upper utilizes a single layer of microfiber polyurethane fabric to decrease weight and to make sure the shoe fits snugly and comfortably.  On the other hand asymmetric parallel lacing creates a large, clean kicking surface for optimal ball contact.  Also, the boot has a perforated Ultra Light insole not only to reduce weight but to increase speed.

[Ref: Plastics News: May 17, 2010]

The soccer match Ball for the 2010 FIFA World Cup also features a brand new, ground-breaking technology called a new Grip’n'Groove technology.  The ball is designed to show power, swerve and control never seen before. Again, plastics make all the difference!

Comprising only eight, completely new thermally bonded 3-D panels of polyurethane, which for the first time are spherically molded.  The ball is perfectly round and even more accurate than before.

For more visit:

http://www.soccerballworld.com/Jabulani_2010.htm

http://www.worldcupbuzz.com/world-cup-2010-match-day-ball-revealed/

 

A team of researchers demonstrate plastics and graphene can work together to make touch screen device a reality

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Graphene’s outstanding electrical, chemical, and mechanical properties are known for applications in flexible electronics.  The problem however, has been to attain the quality required to produce touch screen device at a scale so that it could challenge indium tin oxides (ITO) based transparent electrodes.

Now, a team of researchers led by J-H. Ahn and B. H. Hong of Sungkyunkwan University, Korea, made a rectangular graphene film measuring 30 inches (76 cm) in the diagonal and reported in the Nature Nanotechnology Journal.  After the graphene was doped by nitric acid treatment, graphene sheet behaved as a large and transparent electrode.  Also, by using layer-by-layer stacking they developed a doped four-layer film and studied its sheet resistance at values as low as ~30 ? ??1 at ~90% transparency.  In fact, this result is superior to commercial indium tin oxides transparent electrodes. The researchers further showed that the graphene film could work in a touch screen device.

How plastics played a role in all these?

Initially, polymer adhesive acted as a support by etching the copper away.  Then PET film substrate assisted in roll to roll production of 30 inch grapheme film for transparent electrodes.  The advantages of graphene over ITO are numerous.  ITO is fragile and thus touch screen based on ITO has a finite lifetime.  On the other hand, the graphene production is very environmentally friendly than ITO production.

[Ref: S. Bae, H. Kim, Y. Lee, X. Xu, J-S. Park, Y. Zheng, J. Balakrishnan, T. Lei, H. Ri Kim, Y. Il Song, Y.-J Kim, K. S. Kim, B. Özyilmaz, J-H. Ahn, B. H. Hong and S. Iijima, Nature Nanotechnology, doi:10.1038/nnano.2010.132 Published online: 20 June 2010 ]

 

ZogglesTM earns Invention of the year 2010 award and keeps the fog away

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One of the ten Invention of the year 2010 award by Popular Science Magazine went to Integrity Engineering's Zoggles™ electronic predict-and-prevent anti-fog and anti-frost technology.

We all have encountered fog one way or the other.  Fog forms when warm water vapor hits a cooler object in the form of droplets.  The idea behind the invention is to sense the fog before it forms and prevent it from happening.  How ZogglesTM works?

Tiny sensors measure the lens’s inner surface temperature.  Also, the temperature and humidity of the surrounding air between the lens and the face.  Simply, a chip calculates how close the lens is to the fog forming point and activates a mechanism to warm it up if necessary.  The goggles can keep the fog away in fog-prone conditions for at least eight hours.  Don A. Skomsky, and Valerie Palfy invented ZogglesTM  technology and has been awarded three U.S. Utility Patents.  Weighing only 0.10 unces, ZogglesTM anti-fog and anti-frost technology has been claimed to maintain any object fog and ice free in environments down to -35° F. 

Potential applications for plastics: Windshields to eyeglasses to military to spacesuits.

[Ref:  Popular Science Magazine; June 2010, Also, Integrity Engineering press release: West Chester, PA - May 24, 2010 http://integrityengg.com/index.php?mact=News,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=9&cntnt01origid=57&cntnt01returnid=65]

 

Yale scientists develop high performance thin film composite membrane

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Water has been vital since the beginning of the civilization.  Drinking water shortage has prompted researchers to focus their attention to the desalination of water.  Polymers have been materials of choice for membrane research.

Researchers from Chemical Engineering Dept. of Yale University (Connecticut, USA) utilized interfacial polymerization to construct a polyamide active layer on the top of polysulfone support layer.  This support layer appears to look like finger-like and sponge-like structuer that is responsible for the high performance of the membrane.  The group compared this composite membrane with those of commercially available ones and found the results very promising.  Not only water fluxes exceeded expectations but also maintained salt rejection rate.

[Ref: N.Y. Yip, A. Tiraferri, W.A. Phillip, J. D. Schiffman, and M. Elimelech; Environ. Sci. Technol.; 44 (10), pp. 3812-3818 (2010)]
 

Siver nanowire electrodes for flexible electronics

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Indium tin oxide (ITO) is widely known for its electrical conductivity and optical transparency.  This is why ITO is favoured material for flexible electronics, solar cells, antistatic coatings, and EMI shieldings.  The issue with ITO, however, is the cost.

Now a group of researchers from Stanford University claim that conductive silver nanowire (Ag NW) electrodes could be an immediate ITO replacement for flexible electronics and solar cells. They reported that Ag NW electrodes provide 2- fold higher optical transmission than ITO in near-infrared wavelengths.  Addionally, Ag NW electrodes exhibit excellent robustness when subjected to bending.

[Ref: L. Hu, H.S. Kim, J-Y. Lee, P. Peumans and Y. Cui; ACS Nano, 4 (5), pp. 2955-2963 (2010)]

 

US researchers develop shape memory polymer nanocomposites exhibiting fast actuation speed

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The primary issue in the high speed actuation application is the material design that works.  Shape memory polymers (SMPs) could provide the necessary matrix.  But to make it work in seconds requires proper design.

Prof. Mather’s team at Syracuse University, New York used non-woven carbon fibers (CNFs) into an epoxy based shape memory polymer matrix.  The idea is to fabricate a highly interconnected network which is supposed to facilitate a continuous flow electron between the CNFs.  By doing so, transfer of heat is enhanced resulting in a faster actuation speed. Nano-scale carbon fibers provided the large interfacial area for efficient heat transfer.

This work opens up application possibilities for polymer nanocomposites ranging from medical to automobile to aerospace.

[Reference: X. Luo, and P.T. Mather; Soft Matter, 6, pp. 2146-2149 (2010) ]

 

Scientists from IBM and Stanford University are developing new plastics recycling process

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Conventional catalysts for making polymers/plastics are metal based.  Now, researchers from IBM and Stanford University are developing rival catalysts based on organic molecules.Their targets include new ring opening polymerization catalysts for cyclic monomers that provide a synthetic route for high molecular weight cyclic polyesters, which could be used for biomedical applications.

A research paper from these workers describes how polymer recycling and polymer degradation strategies could be incorporated to enable a "closed-loop" life cycle.  They have also developed a strategy that could work for recycling of widely used PET water bottles.  For instance a highly efficient N-heterocyclic carbene catalyst could replace the less effective metal alkoxide depolymerization catalysts.

[Refs: M.K. Kiesewetter, E.J. Shin, J.L. Hedrick and R.M. Waymouth;Macromolecules;43 (5), pp. 2093-2107 (2010) and J. Chemical Education; DOI: 10.1021/ed800152c Web publication date: March 23, 2010]
 

Polymer helps to designing higher capacity Li-ion battery

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Researchers are relentlessly improving the power, life and safety of lithium-sulfur batteries, which are increasingly used as power sources for gadgets such as smart phones and notebook computers. Problems arise when unwanted reactions decompose the organic liquid electrolyte and foul the metallic lithium electrodes.

Scientists from the University of Rome have designed a novel way to construct a tin-sulfur-lithium-ion battery that has an energy density value of the order of 1000 kW h kg-1, which is five times higher than those of conventional batteries.

How does this electrochemical process work?

The new lithium-metal-free cell uses a cathode made from a carbon/lithium sulfide composite. At the cathode, lithium sulfide is split into elemental sulfur and lithium ions. The design novelty is to replace the organic electrolyte solution with a lithium-ion-containing liquid enclosed in a polyethylene oxide/lithium trifluoromethane sulfonate gel membrane. The polymer membrane prevents the liquid from decomposing.  The lithium ions migrate through the electrolyte membrane to a tin/carbon nanocomposite anode, where they take up electrons to become uncharged lithium atoms. These are then bound into an alloy by the tin nanoparticles, minimizing the dissolution of the electrode components.  This new battery provides sufficient energy density to be considered as a possible power source for electric vehicles.

[Ref: J. Hassoun and B. Scrosati; Angewandte Chemie International Edition,  49 (13), pp. 2371-2374 (2010)]
 

MIT researchers show how to draw Polyethylene as nanofibers and get a very high thermal conductivity

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We all know polymers or plastics are very good insulators for both electricity and heat. Plastics are known to have thermal conductivities on the order of 0.1 Wm-1 K-1. It is about time to change that understanding.

Prof. Chen's group at MIT has shown that polyethylene (PE), a commodity thermoplastic could be made highly conductive. The group fabricated high quality ultra-drawn PE nanofibers having diameter of 50 to 500 nm and lengths up to 10 mm and realized that thermal conductivity has increased to ~ 104 Wm-1 K-1. This value is the highest thermal conductivity seen in any polymer. The group attributed this attractive property to restructuring of polymer chains by stretching. However, this drawing process makes the plastic conduct heat very efficiently in just one direction while metals conduct heat in all directions. Perhaps that is why this work is creating a buzz in the scientific community. Now, one could use these ultradrawn nanofibers for applications to draw heat away from an object such as a computer processor chips, solar heat collectors or heat exchangers.

The main question is: could this invention be made cost effective to commercialize plastics with high thermal conductivity?

[Reference: S. Shen, A. henry, J. Tong, R. Zheng, and G. Chen; Nature Nanotechnology; doi:10.1038/nnano.2010.27 Published online: March 7, 2010]
 

Practical Devices provide useful power from the body

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There is lots of energy available from the motion of the human body that we are now learning to capture it, to generate power for medical implants, removing the need for batteries. Previous materials were either too rigid or too inefficient to be practical as pliable power generators. One approach to produce practical devices is being investigated by Yi Qi and Michael McAlpine of Princeton University.  They have have developed a way to soften up one of the most efficient piezoelectric materials known, crystal lead-zirconate-titanate (PZT), which is usually inflexible. But he and Qi found that when an extremely thin film of the ceramic is grown on a solid substrate and cut into strips about 5 micrometres thick, the resulting material can flex (http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-01/pues-ers012710.php ). These "nanoribbons" are like fibre-optic cable made using glass, says McAlpine. Being long and thin, they can still bend despite being made of a material that is rigid in bulk. The strips were attached to conducting silicone rubber to produce a flexible sheet that converts motion to electricity about half as well as traditional, rigid PZT (Nano Letters, DOI: 10.1021/nl903377u).

Chieh Chang and Liwei Lin of the University of California at Berkeley took a different approach. They created piezoelectric fibres from PolyVinyliDine Fluoride (PVDF, a thermoplastic fluoropolymer also known as KYNAR®. The researchers spun this into fibres by drawing the molten material through a nozzle using a strong electric field, creating a material in which the charged domains were aligned, providing them with unique properties(Nano Letters, DOI: 10.1021/nl9040719). Various applications are being investigated, including medical devices and textiles that contain wearable electronics.

 

Mannigton converts large stickers from 2010 winter games into commercial flooring

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If you have attended 2010 Winter Olympic in Vancouver, Canada, you have seen them.  The look and feel of Vancouver 2010 winter games is partly due to the large format graphics (Huge stickers) that 3M has developed.  Stickers are composed of layer materials such as polymer films, adhesives, and ink.  They are everywhere decorating VANOC's buildings (the Richmond Olympic Oval and the Pacific Coliseum), numerous vehicles, buses, ice resurfacing machines etc.  Technology does not stop here.

Mannigton Commercial plans to recycle all these sticky graphics (trash) to flooring tiles (treasure).  It is estimated Mannigton will incorporate about 200,000 square feet of 3M's large format graphics from the 2010 winter games in Canada into Premium Flooring Tiles diverting it from the landfill sites.

[Ref: http://solutions.3mcanada.ca/wps/portal/3M/en_CA/Olympics/Home/ , Press Releases, Ontario, Feb. 18, 2010 and Mannigton Commercial, Calhoun, Georgia, Feb. 18, 2010] 
 

Scientists from Sweden and USA showed electronics can truly be organic or say truly be plastics

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Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) can be used in cell phones, cameras and ultra-thin TVs. The entire buzz about “organic” or “plastic” electronics is due to OLED.  But OLED has several drawbacks. It is expensive and the transparent electrode is made of inorganic (indium tin oxide) material that is hard to recycle.

 

Researchers from Sweden and USA utilized graphene to provide an alternative to OLED and termed it Light Emitting Electrochemical Cell (LEC) made of all organics (carbon based materials). Scientists touted that not only technologically this development is interesting but also important from environmental standpoint.

 

[Ref: N.D. Robinson et al ACS Nano; DOI: 10.1021 / nn9018569, Web publication date Feb. 04, 2010]
 

Univ of Texas @ Austin scientists reported method to produce a large scale reduced graphene oxide

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Rod Ruoff’s group from the University of Texas at Austin claimed first to have reported the formation of a stable suspension of graphene oxide in propylene carbonate. Furthermore, they have been able to reduce a significant amount of oxygen functional group by thermally treating the suspension at 150°C which resulted in an electrically conductive film.

 

Researchers expect the method to be an economical processing route for electrode materials for ultracapacitor applications. By constructing an ultracapacitor cell with the electrode made of this reduced graphene oxide, researchers showed that the cell could yield specific capacitance values greater than 120 F/g which could rival current commercial ultracapacitors.

 

[Ref: R.S. Ruoff et al. ACS Nano, DOI:10.1021/nn901689, Web publication date Jan. 29, 2010]
 

Princeton university researchers embedded piezoelectric material onto polymer as energy harvester

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Researchers from Princeton University (USA) developed a scalable process for transferring crystalline piezoelectric smart nanothick ribbons of lead zirconate titanate (ceramic) from host substrates onto flexible silicone rubbers. Thus they created piezo-rubber chips. Silicone being biocompatible, this new electricity-harvesting stretchable devices could be implanted in the body. Authors believe that the excellent performance of the piezo-ribbon construction coupled with stretchable, biocompatible rubber could open up a host of exciting avenues in fundamental research and novel applications.

 

[Ref: Y. Qi, N.T. Jafferis, K. Lyons, Jr. C.M. Lee, H. Ahmad & M.C. McAlpine, Nano Letters DOI: 10.1021/nl903377u; Web publication date Jan. 26, 2010]
 

Plastics help design non-shatter pint glass to prevent pub attacks

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Pint glasses cause terrible injuries – no surprise there! Prototypes of non-shattering pint glasses design has been called revolutionary. Designed to be safer, “Glass Plus” is a pint glass that has a thin layer of transparent coating of bio-resin on the inside. The other design is called “Twin Wall” made by bonding 2 ultra-thin layers of glass together like a laminated car windscreens. The prototypes were produced by Design Bridge in UK.
 

Nanoparticle coating prevents ice build up

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Di Gao, a chemical and petroleum engineering professor at the university of Pittsburg Swanson School of Engineering, reports a nanoparticle-based coating that thwarts the build up of ice on solid surfaces and that can be easily applied.

His team treated aluminum plates with silicone resin solutions that had been combined with silica nanoparticles (20 nanometres to 20 micrometres in size). As described in Langmuir Letter, DOI: 10.1021 these plates not only were able deflect supercooled water (-20°C) in lab tests, but the team was also able to demonstrate the performance of coatings containing 50 nanometer particles that would not support ice build up in freezing rain where untreated parts of the surface became encrusted in ice.

 

Swedish researchers show highest reported charge capacities for all polymer paper-based battery

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Researchers from Uppsala University (Sweden) prepared a novel nanostructured high-surface-area electrode material that could be used for energy-storage applications.  This material is made of cellulose fibres extracted from Cladophora algae(collected at sea) coated with a 50 nm layer of polypyrrole.  Conductive polymers can be used in many applications such as electrochemically controlled ion-exchange membranes, energy storage devices, etc.  Current drawbacks however, are insufficient functional charging rates and the cycling stabilities for any practical applications.

This study reported that the composite conductive paper material have a specific surface area of 80 m2 g?1 and batteries based on this composite material can be charged with currents as high as 600 mA cm?2 with only 6% loss in capacity over 100 subsequent charge and discharge cycles.  Seemingly, this material could as well be used in smart packaging and other paper-based products and textiles.  Indeed, quite a feat in the field polymer paper battery.

(Ref:  G. Nyström, A. Razaq, M. Strømme, L. Nyholm, A. Mihranyan Nano Letters, published in the web Sept. 09, 2009 DOI: 10.1021/nl901852h)
 

Advanced nanocomposite membrane technology of NanoH2O turns it to a Global clean technology company

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If any new technology could easily produce potable water from salty water, fresh water scarcity that is looming over our planet could be put on halt.  This is what NanoH2O is aiming for its advanced thin-film nanocomposite (TFN) membrane technology.

NanoH2O is advancing the work of Professor Eric Hoek of UCLA’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science. Polymer membrane technology in the desalination process is not a new one. The problem however, is in the increased production of water.  Increased production means to achieve enhanced membrane permeability but this allows too much salt to escape.  The other issue is to stop bacteria to flourish in the membrane known as fouling.  Dr. Hoek developed a polymer nanocomposite membrane using zeolite nanoparticles dispersed in one of the 2 monomer solutions by the interfacial polymerization process.  The idea of introducing nanoparticles was to increase the water permeability (preventing the salty ions) while changing the surface membrane properties to avoid fouling.  The process is known as Sea Water Reverse Osmosis (SWRO).  Dr. Hoek went further by adding traces of silver onto the nanoparticles.  Silver compounds are well known for their antimicrobial properties.

NanoH2O’s TFN membrane is expected to increase the production from 6,000 to 7,500 gallons/day/8”membrane to 12,000 gallons/day.  Since the size and the shape of the TFN membrane would remain the same, desalination plants could retrofit the membranes conveniently.  
No wonder NanoH2O becomes a Global Cleantech 100 clean technology company.

(Ref: NanoH2O Press release; Los Angeles, California, September 9, 2009 www.nanoh2o.com)

To follow more on Prof. Hoek’s recent work, see references below:

E.M.V. Hoek et al., “Influence of Solute-Membrane Affinity on Rejection of Uncharged Organic Solutes by Nanofiltration and Reverse Osmosis Membranes,” Environmental Science & Technology 43 pp. 2400-2406 (2009).

E.M.V. Hoek et al., “Effect of Mobile Cation on Zeolite-Polyamide Thin Film Nanocomposite Membranes,” Journal of Materials Research 24, pp. 1624-1631 (2009).

A.K. Ghosh, and E.M.V. Hoek, “Impacts of Support Membrane Structure and Chemistry on Polyamide-Polysulfone Interfacial Composite Membranes,” Journal of Membrane Science 336, pp. 140–148 (2009).

E.M.V. Hoek et al., “Influence of Feed Water Temperature on Separation Performance and Organic Fouling of Brackish Water RO Membranes,” Desalination239, pp. 346-359 (2009).

E.M.V. Hoek et al., “Influence of Feed Water Temperature on Inorganic Fouling of Brackish Water RO Membranes,” Desalination 235, pp. 44–57 (2009).
 

For the first time, IBM researchers showed 3D molecular structure could be observed

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When we go for an x-ray after a broken arm or a leg, we know x-ray will pass through the soft tissues and will show a clear image of our broken bone.  That was not the case for a molecule until now.  IBM researchers of Zurich research lab., Switzerland along with the scientists from Utrecht University, Netherlands managed to resolve the puzzle by using noncontact atomic force microscopy (known as AFM) to see the structure of pentacene, a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon molecule.

Researchers demonstrated imaging of molecules with unprecedented atomic resolution by probing the short range chemical forces.  Experimental findings were corroborated by ab initio density functional calculations.

Pentacene is an organic molecule consisting of 22 carbon atoms and 14 hydrogen atoms measuring 0.14 nm.  How about observing other interesting molecules such as graphene, carbon nano-tube, DNA etc.  Exciting time for the surface scientists!

(Ref: L. Gross, F. Mohn, N. Moll, P. Liljeroth, and G. Meyer, Science 325 (5944), pp. 1110-1114, 2009)
 

Non-toxic, liquid bandage from Chesson Labs of Durham, NC is ready for the healthcare market

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Non-toxic NUVADERM™ liquid bandage that utilizes poly(urea-urethane) liquid emulsion polymer provides a non-toxic, hydrophobic, elastomeric coating that gives a barrier against moisture and yet permeable to oxygen.  It’s an one component easily sprayed or could be applied by brush.  Once in contact with the air, the liquid bandage becomes solidand keeps moisture & dirt from entering the wound site.

(Ref: Press Release: August 05, 2009 Chesson Labs, NC, USA)

 

New ambipolar polymer beats others: reports US researchers

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Prof. Jenekhe of Univ. of Washington in Seattle and Prof. Watson of Univ. of Kentucky in Lexington have developed a new ambipolar polymer that can perform faster in polymer circuit than those were made in the past.  This type of polymer is a not a new one.  However, researchers demonstrated the novelty in the speed at which charges move through a semiconductor by using a donor-acceptor type copolymer. The promise is a possible faster printable circuits.

Ref: F.S. Kim, X. Guo, M.D. Watson, & S.A. Jenekhe: Advanced Materials, Published online August 11, 2009
 

Bayer uses PC film Makrofol? for it's new Innosec Fusion? technology to stop counterfeiting

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Federal German Printing Office(Bundesdruckerei GmbH) has developed a technology with Bayer MaterialScience AG's Innosec Fusion®,that can color-personalize high-security cards made of the polycarbonate films Makrofol® with a
photo and signature of the holder.  Innosec Fusion® process uses digital printing process that yields particularly high color brilliance.

This process is innovative since the color print image is created inside the card and cannot be tampered with without destroying the laminated film structure.  In other words, cards produced (ID cards & passports) using this process are difficult to counterfeit.
Until now, it has only been possible to apply black-and-white “print images” to the inside of polycarbonate cards using laser engraving.

(Ref: Press release, Leverkusen, July 29, 2009 Bayer MaterialScience AG)

 

Innovations in design come from plastics to win several 2009 International Design Excellence Awards

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Whether it is LED TV, or minimally invasive catheter, or anti-vibration protective work gloves, they all have one thing in common: the polymer resins.  Designers are continuing their creativity utilizing plastics.

(Ref: Plastics News, August 10, 2009)
 

IKV researchers report thermoplastic/metal hybrid materials for Direct manufacturing electronic part

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Authors decribe using conductive thermoplastic/metal hybrid materials how some of the manufacturing steps could be integrated into the injection molding process.

(Ref: W. Michaeli, and T.G. Pfefferkorn; Polym. Eng. Sci.; 49 (8), pp. 1511–1524, 2009)
 

Researchers review how to characterize polymer nanocomposites by different microscopicy techniques

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If you are a researcher in the field of polymer nanocomposites, you might wish to read this article by the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg researchers for reference.  How nanometer resolution could assist you to assess the fundamental and yet an accurate information of the polymer matrix morphology as well as the filler and the adhesion between them.

(Ref: R. Adhikari, and G.H. Michler; Polymer Reviews, 49 (3), pp. 141-180, 2009)
 

MIT team aims to develop application specific surgical adhesives to seal tissues

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One could reduce the healthcare costs by cutting medical complications after an operation or by quickly healing the wounds.  The team of researchers from MIT tried to do just that by characterizing  interactions between one type of glue to tissues from rat’s heart, lung, liver, and dudenum.  The objective is to develop a platform of adhesive materials.

(Refs: N. Artzi, T. Shazly, A.B. Baker, A. Bon, E.R. Edelman; Advanced Materials Online 2 June 2009, E.A. Thompson, MIT News release July 9, 2009)
 

3D systems introduces non-halogenated flame retardant for aircraft applications

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3D systems announced that its DuraForm® FR100 passes the flame, smoke, and toxicity tests for aircraft applications and has a UL 94 V-0 rating.  Applications could include aircraft parts such as cockpit and cabin composnents and direct manufacturing of parts for consumer products such as lighting, electronics and appliances.

(Ref: Press release June 24, 2009: www.3dsystems.com)
 

McMaster university (Canada) researchers developed flexible solar cell technology

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In the pursuit of a clean and an affordable power source, Prof. Adrian Kitai's group at McMaster University, Canada has developed a flexible solar cell technology which has the ability to bend the solar cells to fit the curved roof of a bus shelter.  In fact, a prototype for the bus shelter is located on the west side of University avenue between John Hodgins Engineering building and the Life Science Building in Toronto.

The flexibility comes from tiling a large number of small silicon elements into an array, and mounting them onto a flexible plastic sheet while connecting them via a proppietary method.  Each strip has 720 one centimeter square solar cells and generates upto 4.5 Watts of power.

More info available @ www.eng.mcmaster.ca/news/feature.html
 

Arkema unveils a range of "green" polymers for its textile market

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At TECHTEXTIL 2009 in Frankfurt (June 16 - 18, 2009), Arkema is unveiling its 100% bio-sourced "green" technical polymers.  They are Rilsan PA 11, Pebax Rnew and Platamid Rnew.  The new Rilsan PA 11 is 100% biobased while keeping the unique set of properties such as soft touch, light weight, resistance to bacteria, wear, and abrasion. Pebax Rnew is the first engineering TPE made from renewable resources.  Likewise, Platmid Rnew is the first 100% biobased hotmelt adhesive.

(Ref: www.fibre2fashion.com)
 

Brazilian scientists are actively pursuing bioplastics research and innovation

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In a recent artcle, researchers from Braskem S.A., and University of Campinas reviewed how the concept of biopolymers and bioplastics emerged, where these industrial developments are taking place, and what trends are expected in the near future.

(Ref: A. U.B. Queiroz and F.P. Collares-Queiroz, J. Macromolecular Sci., Part C: Polymer Reviews, 49, pp.65-78, 2009)
 

Braskem S.A. is leading the way to manufacture biobased polyethylene using catalytic dehydration

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An effective way to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is through the plants.  Braskem S.A. is using sugarcane as feedstock to produce ethanol.  Production of ethylene through the catalytic dehydration of ethanol is the core of the technology.    This bio-based polyethylene not only provides an alternative to commodity plastics based on fossil feedstocks but also reduces carbon footprint.

(Ref: A. Morschbacker, J. Macromolecular Sci., Part C: Polymer Reviews, 49, pp.79-84, 2009)
 

Battelle researchers are improving PLA for injection molding applications

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Researchers from Battelle Memorial Institute, Columbus (Ohio), analysed effects of filler size on crystallization rate and it’s content, effects of clarifiers and others on the final properties of the injection molded PLA parts.  Mr. Corey Linden presented the work in SPE’s GEPEC 2009 conference in Florida.

(Ref: C. Linden GEPEC 2009 Proceedings, Feb. 25 – 27, Orlando, Florida) 
 

Researchers gather to discuss advances in organic photovoltaics (OPV)

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Scientists from academics and OPV manufacturers including Konarka Technologies, Luna Innovations, Plextronics and Solarmer Energy met to discuss the challenges, such as lifetimes of OPV cells and their efficiency levels.  Intertech Pira organized the Organic Photovoltaics 2009 in Philadelphia, USA.

Conference summary is available at http://www.printedelectronicsnow.com/articles/2009/05/organic-photovoltaics-2009-examines-gains-in-opv-t
 

Japanese researchers are developing stereo-block type PLAs for high performance materials

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Neo-PLA fiber gets all the attention since it has high thermal resistance and can be processed by high pressure dyeing.  Industrial uses of neo-PLA such as in car sheets or textiles are on the rise.  This bio-based polymer could compete with poly(butylene terephthalate), an engineering plastics. A consortium of Japanese companies are developing neo-PLAs consisting of stereo-block PLA that would provide a wide range of properties not attainable with PLA only.

(Ref: M. Kakuta, M. Hirata, and Y. Kimura, J. Macromolecular Sci., Part C: Polymer Reviews, 49, pp.107-140, 2009) 

 

Prof. Alan Heegers group demonstrated the potential of plastics solar cells

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A group of scientists from Univ. of California (USA), Univ. of Laval (Canada), and South Korea reported fabrication of solar cells with 6% of power conversion effeciancy.  They have used alternating copolymer in bulk heterojunction composites with the fullrene derivative. This work of good engineering could provide the future direction of plastics solar cells.

(Ref: K. Lee, M. Leclerc, A.J. Heeger et al; Nature Photonics, pp. 297-302, 2009)

 

Chinese researchers made a bendy polymer that could separate aromatics hydrocarbons from aliphatic

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It is costly & challanging to separate aromatic hydrocarbons from aliphatic hydrocarbon mixtures. Researchers from Shanghai (China) made a porous 3D polymer using a flexible 1D polymer made from metal units attached to salen ligands, known as metallsalen.  The uniqueness of the polymer is that it could recognize the guest molecule through host-guest interactions and thereby separating aromatics with high selectivity from aliphatic mixtures.

The future lies not only separating hydrocarbon mixtures in the refining process but also to recycle the polymers without adsorption and losses.

(Ref: Y. Cui et al. Chemical Communications, pp. 2118 - 2120, 2009)

 
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