A team of researchers at the Pennsylvania State University has created a new polymer that is able to store energy at higher temperatures than conventional polymers without breaking down. In their paper published in the journal Nature, the team describes how they created the polymer and why they believe it could be useful in many products.
Harry Ploehn with the
University of South Carolina offers a brief history of polymers created for use
in electronics, in a News & Views piece in the same journal issue, and
describes the work done by the team on this new effort—he also offers an
opinion on the prospects for the newly development polymer.
As Ploehn notes, dielectric capacitors are used in wide variety
of applications that require holding onto a charge and then offering a short
burst of power when needed. In many applications dielectrics are made of
polymers (because they are light, relatively easy to make and because defects
can be easily controlled), but there are still some areas where they cannot be
used because they cannot function correctly under temperature extremes—that
prevents their use inside car engines, for example. In this new effort, the
researchers have taken a new approach to creating a polymer that allows for use
in extremely hot applications.
The new polymer was created by the team by adding
nanometer-scale sheets of boron nitride to a conventional polymer, which
testing showed increased its energy density by 400 percent (which means
capacitors made using it could be smaller and thus lighter). And testing also
showed the newly improved polymer was able to remain stable at temperatures as
high as 300°C, and was able to withstand rigorous bending.