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Hybrid Polymers : A New Route Towards Unique Properties for Nanofilms, Nanocoatings, Smart Polymers and Many Other Applications

SpecialChem / Oct 19, 2009

The success of hybrid polymers is based on special and often unusual characteristics combined with easy and cheap processing methods, leading to dramatic cost savings versus equivalent devices based on silicon technology. That is satisfying for many mass-produced devices even if performances are sometimes of a lower level. Among the various suitable forms of hybrid polymers, the multilayer films, thanks to the multiple possible arrangements and the ease of fabrication, open the door to a multitude of applications.
Intrinsic hybrid polymers are block copolymers, mineral backbones with organic pendant groups or even copolymers with hard segments arranged in hard domains distributed in a soft matrix. Extrinsic hybrid polymers consist of nanofillers such as nanoclays dispersed in the plastic matrix or hybrid films made of a polymer film and an inorganic coating, or made of two or more layers of two or more different polymers.
All the polymers, more or less modified, are concerned, from commodity resins to top of the range engineering plastics or even biodegradable polymers, very specific materials such as conducting polymers, polyethylene oxides, ionic resins etc.
Inorganic nano-materials are often nanoclays and carbon nanotubes (CNT) but can be various metals and their derivatives, ceramics, silicon carbide (SiC), silicon, low melting glass (P-glass). Specific organic additives are also used such as, for example, dyes. Continuous multilayer film processing methods, high speed injection, coating techniques, compounding, mass-produced printed technology lead to far lower costs than semiconductor technology.
The versatility of hybrid polymers leads to a number of applications concerning a multitude of industrial sectors, for instance Electricity and Electronic (Conducting and Semiconducting polymers, Batteries, Solar cells, P-LED, Flexible displays...), Gas Barrier coatings, Doping, Active coatings, Optical and opto-electronic applications, Smart polymers, Characteristic enhancers, Mass Data Storage, Non-volatile Memories...
Intensive research and development efforts concerning hybrid polymers started in 1990s leading to contrasting situations, from promising developments to industrial reality such as the mass production of batteries or the gas barrier coating of bottles. In contrast, certain applications are limited to laboratory uses.

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