Study: 'Grease' good electrical conductor

June 27, 2007 at 1:25 PM

PITTSBURGH, June 27 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists have discovered a process by which a kind of grease can make some plastics vastly better electrical conductors.

Carnegie Mellon University chemists said their process might become widely adopted to produce the next generation of tiny switches for transistors in radio frequency identification tags, flexible screen displays and debit or key cards.

"This research brings us closer to developing organic semiconductors with electrical and physical properties far superior to those that exist today," said principal investigator Professor Richard McCullough, dean of the Mellon College of Science. "We were surprised and amazed with our findings."

He said the new process involves adding a little grease in two ways. The first step involves chemically combining an inherently conducting polymer, or ICP, with a grease-like chemical. The second step involves depositing that hybrid material -- called a block copolymer -- onto a greased platform.

"This is the first report that copolymers are good organic semiconductors," McCullough said. "These results mean that we could soon design devices that are both flexible and highly functional."

The complex research is explained in the current issue of the journal Advanced Materials.

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