Scientists are developing ferroelectric nylons that can be processed into solutions.
Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) scientists led by Dr. Kamal Assadiah was dealt with four decades the long-standing challenge of producing very thin nylon films that can be used, for example, in electronic memory components. Thin nylon films are several times thinner than human hair and can therefore be attractive for use in coiled electronic devices or for electronics in clothing.
As the microelectronics industry is now shifting to wearable electronic devices and electronic (e-) textiles, electronic materials like ferroelectricity should be integrated into our clothing. Nylon, a family of synthetic polymers, was first introduced in the 1920s for women's socks and is now among the most commonly used synthetic fibers in textiles. They consist of a long chain of repeating molecular units, ie.polymers, where each repeating unit contains a specific arrangement of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen.
In addition to its use in textiles, some nylons have also been found to exhibit so-called "ferroelectric properties". This means that the positive and negative electric charges can be separated and this condition can be maintained. Ferroelectric materials are used in sensors, actuators, memories and energy collection devices. The advantage of using polymers is that they can be liquidated by the use of suitable solvents and therefore processed from the solution at low cost to form flexible thin layers that are suitable for electronic devices such as capacitors, transistors and diodes. This makes ferroelectric polymers a viable choice for integration with e-textiles. Although nylon polymers have found significant commercial applications in fabrics and fibers over the years, their application in electronic devices has been difficult because it was impossible to create high quality thin films of ferroelectric nylons by processing solutions.
MPI-P scientists, in collaboration with researchers from Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz and the Technical University of Lodz, have now solved this forty-year problem and developed a method for producing thin-layer ferroelectric nylon capacitors by dissolving nylon. in the trifluorooctene mixture acid and acetone and re-hardening under vacuum. They were able to produce thin nylon films, which are typically only 100 nanometers thick, several times thinner than human hair. "With this method, we have produced extremely smooth thin films. This is very important because it prevents the failure of, for example, capacitors and the destruction of electronic circuits. At the same time, the smoothness allows for transparent thin films and ultimately transparent electronic devices. “Says Dr. Kamal Asadi, Group Leader at MPI-P.
Using their newly developed method, the group around Kamal Assadi was able to produce high-profile nylon capacitors. Scientists have subjected prototype capacitors to extended voltage cycles and demonstrated the robustness of ferroelectric nylons in millions of duty cycles. Thin nylon films could in the future become an important component for flexible electronics and find application in coiled electronic devices or for electronics in clothing. These new discoveries have paved the way for multifunctional fabrics that serve as a patch to cover our body and at the same time can generate electricity from our body movements.
Their results have now been published in the renowned journal Science Advances.