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

2014 sees modest sales increase, but profit decrease, for Dow Chemical

January 29, 2015 4:20 pm ET

Dow Chemical Co. delivered modest sales growth in 2014, but the firm's profit took a tumble.    More

Image

Resin prices continuing to tumble

January 29, 2015 2:24 pm ET

The ongoing slide in crude oil prices is taking commodity resin prices down as well.    More

Image

Materials firms look for stock rebound

January 29, 2015 1:52 pm ET

DuPont Co., A. Schulman Inc. and Rogers Corp. thrived amid the stock market chaos of 2014, but the other 12 publicly held materials firms tracked by...    More

Image

Chemtrusion, Mytex Indiana compounding plant set for expansion

January 29, 2015 1:35 pm ET

Japanese and American partners in a compounding plant in Indiana plan to expand the facility.    More

Image

DuPont-Chenguang JV to produce fluoroelastomers in China

January 29, 2015 12:30 pm ET

DuPont Fluoropolymer Solutions and Zhonghao Chenguang Chemical Research Institute Co. Ltd. are proceeding with a 50-50 joint venture to serve the fast...    More

Market Reports

Plastics in Automotive: Innovation & Emerging Trends

This special report newly released by PN and sponsored by The Conair Group examines current trends in the use of plastics in automotive, materials innovations and the changing landscape. It includes a review of legislative/regulatory activity impacting vehicle development and lightweighting, market opportunities & challenges for mold and toolmakers, innovative design strategies being implemented by major OEMs and suppliers, as well as a review of key indicators in Canada, Mexico, Brazil and China.

Learn more

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

Injection Molding Market Analysis & Processor Rankings

Plastics News BUNDLED package contains our in-depth Market Analysis of the Injection Molding segment. You will gain keen insight on current trends and our economic outlook.

As a BONUS this includes PN's updated 2014 database of North American Injection Molders RANKED by sales volume. Sort, merge, mail & prospect by end market, materials processed, region, # of plants and more.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

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