Are fractals the new nanotechnology?

By Michael Lauzon
Correspondent

Published: May 24, 2013 12:52 pm ET
Updated: May 24, 2013 12:54 pm ET

Related to this story

Topics Materials, Materials Suppliers, Product News, ANTEC

CINCINNATI -- Researchers in the Netherlands have found ways to making fractal structures in polymers that are more finely organized than nanostructures now taking the market by storm.

Fractal examples include the roots of a plant, where rootlet patterns are similar to the main root patterns. Other natural fractal examples include lightning strikes, structures of trees and the topography of coastlines. Essentially a fractal pattern is one whose fine structure mirrors its gross structure. By magnifying the fine structure one gets similar patterns in the overall structure.

Han Meijer described fractal structures in an Antec 2013 plenary session. The talk was the first public report of the phenomenon. Meijer, a professor of materials technology at Technical University of Eindhoven in the Netherlands, and Peter Neerincx of Sabic Innovative Plastics reported their results in the journal Macromolecular Chemistry and Physics, Vol. 214 in early 2013.

Meijer predicted the fractal technology could lead to advances in photovoltaic electric generating systems, membranes for fuel cells or gas separation, soft-touch polymers, unique thermal properties and high-resolution touch screens.

The researchers’ work showed special injection molds can create fractal, or treelike, structures with 65,000 or more “leaves” that drastically change polymer properties. Their work included examining epoxies, polystyrene, polycarbonate and polypropylene. Special static mixers co-injected the polymers through injection molds to align in fractal patterns.

“It’s pretty impressive,” said Akron University’s Department of Polymer Engineering professor Mike Cakmak in a telephone interview. “It’s a way of ground-breaking processes.”

Cakmak said it remains to be seen how well the fractal technology could be applied commercially. One issue is how to preserve the fractal structure in a manufacturing environment.

“But it’s worth broadcasting,” Cacmak stated.

In an email, Meijer said fractal technology gives ordered structures to polymer mixtures, unlike interpenetrating and other systems where mixing is unordered.

“Basically we do prefer to work on controlled organization rather than uncontrolled self-organization,” he said. “The research is unique and in its infancy,” Meijer said, adding that the work is not tied yet to a commercial partner.

Cakmak concurred the research in unique.

Cakmak leads other research that could be a game-changer in polymer films. His group is working on specialty films with particles electromagnetically aligned perpendicular to the film’s surface. The process can make high-value-added films using mono¬mers for polyimides, polysulfones and other polar components.


Comments

Are fractals the new nanotechnology?

By Michael Lauzon
Correspondent

Published: May 24, 2013 12:52 pm ET
Updated: May 24, 2013 12:54 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Akro-Plastic buying German subsidiary from Metabolix

October 24, 2014 3:32 pm ET

Akro-Plastic GmbH, a Niederzissen, Germany-based plastic compounder, has purchased the assets of Metabolix Inc.'s subsidiary in Germany.    More

Image

BASF pre-tax earnings rise, but will miss financial targets for 2015

October 24, 2014 10:16 am ET

BASF SE has raised its expectations for pre-tax earnings in 2014 but warned that it would not hit its financial targets for next year.    More

Image

Sabic, Shell cancel expansion for SADAF joint venture in Saudi Arabia

October 24, 2014 9:19 am ET

Saudi Basic Industries Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell have cancelled plans to expand an existing petrochemical joint venture in Saudi Arabia following...    More

Image

Sadara CEO says Middle East now has 20 percent of global ethylene capacity

October 24, 2014 9:33 am ET

Sadara CEO Ziad Al-Labban claims that the Middle East's ethylene capacity is now 20 percent of global production.    More

Image

PolyOne increases quarterly profits despite falling sales

October 23, 2014 4:55 pm ET

North American compounding leader PolyOne Corp. saw its third-quarter profit increase, even as sales fell vs. the year-ago period.    More

Market Reports

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Plastics in Mexico - State of the Industry Report

This report analyzes the $20 million dollar plastics industry in Mexico including sales of machinery & equipment, resins and finished products.

Our analysts provide insight on business trends, foreign investment, top end markets and plastics processing activity. The report also provides important data on exports, production, employment and value of plastics products manufactured.

Learn more

Plastics Caps & Closures Market Report

The annual recap of top trends and future outlook for the plastics caps & closures market features interviews with industry thought leaders and Bill Woodís economic forecast of trends in growing end markets. You will also gain insight on trends in caps design, materials, machinery, molds & tooling and reviews of mergers & acquisitions.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

More Events