Researchers from the University of Delaware (UD) discovered a new class of ultra-thin polymer films with potential applications ranging from coating tiny microelectronic devices to plastic solar cells. The research focused on formerly nonpolymerizable ethylenes.
The UD researchers developed a polymer-making technique that eliminates the need for a solvent. Their deposition-polymerization (DP) process takes place in a vacuum chamber. The material to be coated, such as a piece of metal, is placed in the chamber, and the metal is cooled below the monomer's freezing point, which causes the monomer vapor to condense on the metal. Then the resulting film is exposed to ultraviolet light to initiate polymerization. While the DP technique was developed a few years ago, the class of materials the UD scientists have applied it to lately is new and unique.
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