Boffins develop electrically conductive plastic

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Boffins develop electrically conductive plastic

Mobile phones can soon survive being dropped.

A Dutch researcher has demonstrated a next-generation electrically conductive plastic which she claims can pave the way for a revolution in devices such as MP3 players and mobile phones.

Paulette Prins, from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, believes that the conductive plastic could be used to make cheaper consumer products that do not break if accidentally dropped.

The material could also be used in the manufacture of devices with flexible screens that can be rolled up.

Although conventional plastic conducts at least 1,000 times less well than current semi-conductors, Prins showed that the specially developed material can conduct just as well as existing semiconductors.

Conduction occurs when charge moves through the material. Prins discovered that in plastics, the movement of charge is mainly hindered by the structure of the material.

Plastic is constructed from polymers which consist of complex chains. The greatest hindrances for conduction are the ends of the chains, fractures in the chains, and the chaos in and along the chains.

Prins produced a polymer with a relatively fixed, ladder-like structure that could conduct 1,000 times better than conventional plastics.

She bombarded the material with electrons from a particle accelerator, which enabled her to study the rapid reactions in the plastic to an accuracy of 100 microseconds.
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