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Scientists are developing a solution for transparent electronic devices



  Transparent nylon building block

Transparent nylon may be an important building block for the development of transparent electronic circuits in the future. Credit: Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research

Scientists develop solution-treated ferroelectric nylons.

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P), led by Dr. Kamal Asadi, have solved the forty-decade long 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 thus be attractive for applications in mobile electronic devices or for electronics in clothing.

As the micro-electronics industry is now moving to wearable electronic devices and electronic (electronic) textiles, containing electronic materials such as ferroelectrics must be integrated with our garments. Nylons, a family of synthetic polymers, were first introduced in the 1

920s to women's socks and are nowadays one of the most widely used synthetic fibers in textiles. They consist of a long chain of repeating molecular units, ie. polymers, where each repeat unit contains a specific arrangement of hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen with carbon atoms.

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 state can be maintained. Ferroelectric materials are used in sensors, actuators, memory and energy storage devices. The advantage of using polymers is that they can be eliminated using suitable solvents and therefore treated with a low-cost solution to form flexible thin films suitable for electronic devices such as capacitors, transistors and diodes. This makes ferroelectric polymers an acceptable choice for integration with electronic textiles. Although nylon polymers have found significant commercial applications in fabrics and fibers over the years, their application in electronic devices has been hampered as it was impossible to produce high quality thin films of ferroelectric nylon by solution processing.

MPI-P scientists, in collaboration with researchers at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz and the Technical University of Lodz, solved this forty-year problem and developed a method for the production of ferroelectric nylon thin capacitors by dissolving nylon in a mixture of 45 triflu014 acid and acetone and re-cured in vacuo. They were able to produce thin nylon films, which are usually only a few 100 nanometers thick, several times thinner than human hair. "Using this method, we created extremely thin films. This is very important because it prevents the electrical destruction of, for example, capacitors and the destruction of electronic circuits. At the same time, smoothness allows for the presence of transparent thin films and possibly transparent electronic devices. – says Dr. Kamal Asadi, MPI-P group leader.

Using their newly developed method, the group around Kamal Asadi was able to produce high performance nylon capacitors. The scientists prototypeed the capacitors for continuous voltage cycles and demonstrated the strength of ferroelectric nylons in millions of service cycles. Thin nylon films can become an important component for use in flexible electronics in the future and find application in mobile electronics or electronics in clothing. These new breakthroughs pave the way for multifunctional fabrics that serve as a fabric to cover our body and at the same time can generate electricity from our body movement.

Their results have been published in the renowned journal Science Advances.


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