This column presents technologies that have applications in commercial areas, possibly creating the products of tomorrow. To learn more about each technology, see the contact information provided for that innovation.
3D Printing Approach Using a Conductive Filament
NASA's Ames Research Center has developed a versatile method for constructing and using a conductive filament in various applications of 3D printing. It uses an attractive polymer formulation that exhibits low melting temperature — even when combined with conductive material — as the printing filament material. It may be used with a commercial 3D printer to generate custom 3D conductive geometries such as integrated circuitries, electrical connectors, supercapacitors, and flow cell batteries. This invention should be useful wherever such materials are needed, with modest fabrication costs.
Contact: Ames Technology Partnerships Office
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Flexible, Organic, and Biodegradable Electronics
A new semiconductor developed by Stanford University is as flexible as skin and easily degradable. It could have diverse medical and environmental applications without adding to the mounting pile of global electronic waste. The flexible electronic device can easily degrade just by adding a weak acid like vinegar. In addition to the polymer — essentially a flexible, conductive plastic — a degradable electronic circuit and a new biodegradable substrate material for mounting the electrical components were developed. This substrate supports the electrical components, flexing and molding to rough and smooth surfaces alike.
Contact: Stanford University News Service
Process Makes Sustainable Rubber and Plastics
Researchers from the University of Delaware have invented a process to make butadiene — a petroleum- or natural gas-based molecule used to make tires, toys, and other products — from renewable sources like trees, grasses, and corn. The novel dehydra-decyclization process includes three steps starting from biomass-derived sugars. This research could transform the multi-billion-dollar plastics and rubber industries.