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

Indorama's purchase of Sasa to give wider access to multiple markets

April 16, 2014 10:07 am ET

PET maker Indorama Ventures Public Co. Ltd. is expanding in Turkey with the acquisition of a majority of Sasa Polyester Sanayi.    More

Axiall resumes operations at damaged Lake Charles PVC feedstock plant

April 15, 2014 4:41 pm ET

Axiall Corp. has resumed operations at its PVC feedstock plant that was damaged by a fire in December.
More

Image

Power failure shuts down two PE resin units in Texas

April 15, 2014 3:35 pm ET

Two polyethylene resin units operated by Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. LP in Baytown, Texas, were closed from April 8-11 because of a power failure.    More

Shell Chemical to host public meetings to discuss plans in Pennsylvania

April 15, 2014 3:27 pm ET

Shell Chemical LP will host two public meetings on April 16 to discuss the possibility of building a major petrochemicals plant in the Pittsburgh...    More

Image

Despite struggles, Europe still key market in global resin picture

April 15, 2014 2:06 pm ET

Challenges and opportunities facing international plastics and chemicals markets were tackled by a trio of top executives at the IHS World Petrochemic...    More

Market Reports

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook North America

This in-depth report provides analysis and discussions of economic and political conditions, market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies. In addition, there are reviews of 25 leading thermoformers in the packaging segment, assessing their growth initiatives and performance metrics over 10 years.

Learn more

Automotive Market Review and Outlook 2014 The Americas

This 75-page report features in-depth analysis of the automotive industry for the Americas. It includes discussions of market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting production and threats as well as design strategies being implemented by the major automakers. Detailed charts and data tables outline North American automotive production over the last five years.

Learn more

Plastics Building & Construction Market Review and Outlook 2014 with MS Excel chart data

This report provides in-depth analysis of the plastic building and construction market for North America, including discussions of trends, opportunities, threats and the latest developments in construction trends that impact plastics processors.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

May 6, 2014 - May 8, 2014Plastics in Medical Devices 2014

May 12, 2014 - May 12, 2014Plastics News Brazil Pharma Summit

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

February 3, 2015 - February 7, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events