Researchers at Purdue University have created a new plastic material that can reliably conduct electicity in enviroments up to 220 degrees Celsius (428 F).
Most impressive about this new material isn’t its ability to conduct electricity in extreme temperatures, but that its performance doesn’t seem to change. Usually, the performance of electronics depends on temperature – think about how fast your laptop would work in your climate-controlled office versus the Arizona desert. The performance of these new polymer blend remains stable across a wide temperature range.
Extreme-temperature electronics might be useful for scientists in Antarctica or travelers wandering the Sahara, but they’re also critical to the functioning of cars and planes everywhere. In a moving vehicle, the exhaust is so hot that sensors can’t be too close and fuel consumption must be monitored remotely. If sensors could be directly attached to the exhaust, operators would get a more accurate reading. This is especially important for aircraft, which have hundreds of thousands of sensors.
“A lot of applications are limited by the fact that these plastics will break down at high temperatures, and this could be a way to change that,” said Brett Savoie, a professor of chemical engineering at Purdue. “Solar cells, transistors and sensors all need to tolerate large temperature changes in many applications, so dealing with stability issues at high temperatures is really critical for polymer-based electronics.”