New plastic could lead to unbreakable cell phones

Posted on Monday, April 02 2007 @ 08:31:11 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
DailyTech writes about a new sort of plastic thay can lead to portable devices that "bounce back":
"Dropped calls" have a very different meaning to Dutch researcher Paulette Prins. The Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter (FOM) doctoral candidate has proposed a way to make mobile phones and other personal electronics more resilient, and much less likely to break when dropped.

In her research paper, recently published in the journal Physical Review Papers, Prins states that portable electronics are prone to malfunctioning because of the nature of the materials used in their microchips. The key to improving mobile devices ability to survive a fall, according to Prins, is to manufacture semiconductors made from plastic rather than silicon.

The problem is that today's plastics aren't good conductors of electricity. In fact, as a conductor, plastic is about a thousand times worse than the existing semiconductors, Prins says. Her solution was to utilize a plastic developed by German engineers which exhibits a remarkably different structure than most polymers. Polymers are made up of molecular "chains," and most polymers have chains that are fractured and asymmetrical. However, the new polymers have chains that exhibit a fixed, "ladder-like" structure which is more akin to conventional semiconductor materials.