Most electronics only function within a certain temperature range but blending two organic materials together creates electronics that withstand extreme heat. The new plastic material could reliably conduct electricity up to 220 °C (428 °F).

A new organic plastic allows electronics to function in extreme temperatures without sacrificing performance. (Purdue University/John Underwood)

One of the materials is a semiconductor that can conduct electricity and the other is a conventional insulating polymer. One of the plastics transports the charge and the other can withstand high temperature. When blended together, the correct ratio must be found so that one material does not dominate the other. The two materials need to be compatible to mixing and should each be present in roughly the same ratio. This results in an organized, interpenetrating network that allows the electrical charge to flow evenly throughout while holding its shape in extreme temperatures.

Usually, the performance of electronics depends on temperature; the performance of the new polymer blend remains stable across a wide temperature range. Applications for the extreme-temperature electronics include car exhaust, aircraft, solar cells, transistors, and sensors.

Further experiments will be conducted to determine what the true temperature limits are (high and low) for the new material. Making organic electronics work in the freezing cold is even more difficult than making them work in extreme heat.

For more information, contact Jianguo Mei at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; 765-494-7156.

Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the March, 2019 issue of Tech Briefs Magazine.

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