CD plastic may improve aircraft avionics

May 20, 2009 at 2:26 PM

HOUSTON, May 20 (UPI) -- A U.S. physics professor says he is using U.S. Air Force grants to create highly conductive nanocomposites to improve aircraft and other electronics.

University of Houston Associate Professor Shay Curran says he has demonstrated the ultra-high electrical conductive properties in polycarbonates, such as used to make compact disks, mixed with a type of carbon nanotubes could improve the integrity of computers, iPhones and aircraft avionics.

"While its mechanical and optical properties are very good, polycarbonate is a non-conductive plastic," Curran said. "That means its ability to carry an electrical charge is as good as a tree, which is pretty awful. Imagine that this remarkable plastic can now not only have good optical and mechanical properties, but also good electrical characteristics.

"By being able to tailor the amount of nanotubes we can add to the composite, we also can change it from the conductivity of silicon to a few orders below that achieved by metals," he added.

The findings appeared in a recent issue of the Journal of Applied Physics.

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