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

PP prices rise 5 cents

August 28, 2014 3:59 pm ET

After a one-month break, volatility has returned to the North American polypropylene resin market, with prices increasing by an average of 5 cents...    More

Image

DuPont fined for 2010 chemicals release

August 28, 2014 1:37 pm ET

DuPont Co. has been fined almost $1.3 million for the release of several chemicals — including plastics feedstock phosgene — at its plant ...    More

Image

LyondellBasell to build feedstock plant on Gulf Coast

August 28, 2014 11:05 am ET

LyondellBasell Industries will build a world scale propylene oxide plant on the U.S. Gulf Coast with a capacity of 900,000 metric tons per year.    More

Image

Bayer seeing success in project to replace petroleum with C02

August 28, 2014 10:18 am ET

Bayer MaterialScience says its research into the potential of using carbon dioxide as a raw material already is paying off in studies showing that...    More

Broad spectrum purging compound from Shuman

August 27, 2014 9:39 am ET

Shuman Plastics Inc. has developed a broad-purpose purging compound suited to a variety of processing conditions in injection and blow molding, extrus...    More

Market Reports

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook North America

This in-depth report analyzes economic and market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as growth strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies.

Learn more

Pipe, Profile & Tubing Extrusion in North America 2014

U.S. demand for extruded plastics is expected to grow by 3 percent in 2014, with PVC remaining the largest segment.

Plastic pipe will post the strongest gains through 2018, continuing to take market share from competing materials in a range of markets.

Our latest market report provides in-depth analysis of current trends and their financial impact on the pipe, profile and tubing extrusion industry in North America.

Learn more

2014 Injection Molding Industry Report

GROWTH, OPPORTUNITY IN SIGHT FOR INJECTION MOLDERS IN 2014

In the wake of the economic turbulence earlier in this decade, molders today find themselves in much better shape. Molders are gaining a competitive advantage by investing in people, equipment and seeking inroads into new markets on a global scale.

Growth in the injection molding industry is going to be driven by low financing costs and a continued move to reshore some business.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

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

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

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

More Events