Virtual Experience

The Bausano world, to always stay in touch

Electrically Conductive Polymers and their promise for the Medical Industry

Electrically Conductive Polymers and their promise for the Medical Industry

When we think of polymers, the very first images to pop into our heads are most likely of the water bottles currently polluting our oceans, or the insulating layer of plastic covering our electrical chargers and devices.

It can be very difficult, especially in our day and age to still be able to view polymeric materials as being an advantage to our societies and not just a liability we inevitably have to succumb to. The purpose of this article is to shed light upon a class of polymers, which differentiate themselves from the rest due to their conductive properties. Electrically conductive polymers show great potential and are currently employed in various applications such as supercapacitors, light emitting diodes (LED), artificial muscles and biosensors.

A brief history of polymers and conductive polymers

Natural polymers have been around us since the beginning of time, surrounding us in various forms and shapes. The earliest production of synthetic polymers in industry, on the other hand, dates back to 1907, in which Baekeland made the first synthetic thermoset polymer, phenol-formaldehyde also commercially known as Bakelite. The commercialisation of Bakelite sparked the industry of synthesised polymers and continued in a manner such that engineering plastics we encounter daily such as polyamide (PA) and polyethylene (PE) were later developed.

Although engineering polymers such as PA are known for their great mechanical strength, stiffness and chemical stability, it is also intuitively assumed that they are great electrical insulators. Even though this is true for PA, it is also very possible to stumble upon electrically conductive polymers as well.

It was not until the 1970s that the development of conducting polymers gained traction and attention throughout the world of scientists and engineers. In 1975 polysulfur nitride was discovered to be superconducting at low temperatures, and this discovery paved the way for intensive research in the field of conductive polymers.

Although engineering polymers such as PA are known for their great mechanical strength, stiffness and chemical stability, it is also intuitively assumed that they are great electrical insulators. Even though this is true for PA, it is also very possible to stumble upon electrically conductive polymers as well.

It was not until the 1970s that the development of conducting polymers gained traction and attention throughout the world of scientists and engineers. In 1975 polysulfur nitride was discovered to be superconducting at low temperatures, and this discovery paved the way for intensive research in the field of conductive polymers.

One of the most well-studied conducting polymers, polyaniline, has found its way into various applications in some of the most research-heavy industries of recent times. Polyaniline is, for instance, used as a sensor in the detection of ammonia. This is an area subject to a lot of research regarding how to improve the environmental stability and repeatability of the sensors by addition of different fillers.

Ultimately, the possibility of having organic materials with the conductive properties of non-organic materials along with the intrinsic polymeric features of mechanical flexibility and relatively low-cost production gives rise to endless opportunities.

Application in the medical industry

The use of conductive polymers in medical application is a field of on-going research, due to the inherently interesting properties of said polymer group.

The use of conductive polymers in medical application is a field of on-going research, due to the inherently interesting properties of said polymer group.

So, what does the future hold for conductive polymers? As mentioned throughout the article, the promises of said polymers are many, and potential application in biosensors, supercapacitors and corrosion protection are merely some of the places in which they can be utilised by substituting metallic components.

The future is looking very promising, which can be deduced from the forecasted global market size in 2021. We are moving towards a greater industrial commercialisation of conductive polymers, and as a consequence, we should not be surprised if our future medical treatments or electrical devices are based upon the intriguing conductive properties of an inherently simple polymeric material.

Credits: matmatch.com

Check out the other #MadeinBausano news

post image

CRS: a new variable to consider

LEER MÀS
post image

Screw wear: causes, consequences and solutions

LEER MÀS
post image

The patented technology that raised the extrusion industry standards

LEER MÀS
PIDE TU COTIZACIÓN