Thin Layers as Conductors
Giving plastics parts a conductive antistatic surface as early as in the mold – this is now possible thanks to a new technique developed by Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology IWS in Dresden, Germany.
In a simple process step, a highly conductive net of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) is integrated into the top nanometers of the polymer surface. The process is affordable and is not very demanding in technical terms. It can also be integrated in existing manufacturing plants. Unlike conventional conductive additives, the material is not added to the bulk polymer. This reduces material costs significantly, because only very few nanometers of CNT layer are required. To furnish a 1 m2 surface with a 50 nm layer, only few milligrams of carbon nanotubes are necessary. The polymer’s mechanical and optical properties are barely affected. The process is able to achieve up to 10-3 S conductivity. A conventional material is considered to prevent electrostatic charging at values starting from 10-9 S. CNTs can be very transparent and flexible, thus enabling application as transparent electrodes linked to polymer films for flexible optical components, e.g. electroluminescent films.
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