15 May 2012

Hybrid copolymer films could pave way for next gen flexible electronics

Researchers have developed new thin films based on hybrid copolymers which could increase the capacity of hard discs and the speed of microprocessors, as well as aid the development of next generation flexible electronics.

The team at the Centre de Recherches sur les Macromolécules Végétales (CNRS) used a combination of polymers associating sugars with oil based macromolecules to enable the possibility of ultra thin films capable of self organisation with a 5nm resolution.

The films derived from petroleum that are currently used in electronic circuits are limited by a minimum structural resolution of around 20nm and cannot be reduced further by combining petroleum derived polymers because of low incompatibility. This has been one of the main obstacles to the development of a new generation of high resolution, flexible electronic devices.

The new hybrid material combines sugar based and petroleum derived (silicon containing polystyrene) polymers with different physical and chemical characteristics. These highly incompatible elementary building blocks make it capable of organising itself into sugar cylinders within a petroleum based polymer lattice, with each structure having a size of 5nm. Being made from sugar, it is also utilising an abundant, renewable and biodegradable resource.

The researchers believe the technology could lead to the miniaturisation of circuit lithography, a six fold increase in information storage capacity and enhanced performance of photovoltaic cells and biosensors.

Simon Fogg

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