Flexible Polymer Heralds the Future of Conductive Coating
If researchers at Kent State University's Liquid Crystal Institute have their way, the technology we currently put in our purses and pockets will be incorporated into the very clothes that we wear.
Kent State University's interdisciplinary chemical physics researchers recently developed a revolutionary new electric conducting polymer with vast potential. Dr. Antal Jakli, associate professor, and doctoral student Wilder G. Iglesias-Gonzalez call their invention ω-flex (omega-flex), and it's a conducting polymer that can bend and fold without changing its properties. It's lightweight, easy to fabricate and inexpensive.
The conductive polymers market is expected to reach 240,000 tons by 2015. However, traditional conductive polymers cannot be used in flexible applications, because constant bending causes cracking and peeling. Omega-flex can be peeled off the substrate on which it was polymerized for easy manipulation and also used as an electrode sheet with large flexibility.The innovative omega-flex system is dissolved in water and can be applied using a variety of coating techniques, for example, screen and ink-jet printing. When dry, a thin, flexible, elastic layer – with excellent conductivity – is formed on the coated surface.
Another unique aspect of omega-flex is its peel-and-stick feature – it's similar to a static sticker used on car windows. To make the material, Jakli and Iglesias-Gonzalez spread an even coating across a smooth surface, such as clean glass. Once dry, the extreme flexibility of omega-flex allows it to be peeled from the surface of the glass and affixed or laminated onto any other relatively smooth surface. This property will permit a conducting polymer to be applied to surfaces that repel liquid, might be damaged by water or on which liquid beads up.Jakli and his fellow researchers routinely use omega-flex for various investigations. "This coating has the potential to be used in a vast number of applications, such as flexible displays, organic light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and antistatic coatings for glass and polymer," says Iglesias. "Cheap, durable, peel-able and flexible are appealing features to have in a single substance," adds Jakli.
Omega-flex is currently available for licensing from Kent State University. To find out more go to: http://www.kent.edu/research/otted/availabletechnologies/ksu369.cfm.