Penn State Engineers Developed New Heat-Resistant Polymer

A group of Penn State engineers have produced lightweight, flexible dielectric polymers that are heat resistant and easily manufactured. Because of its resistance to heat, the new polymer is ideal for use in power electronics in both aerospace and automotive industries, as well as in high temperature applications.

“Ceramics are usually the choice for energy storage dielectrics for high temperature applications, but they are heavy, weight is a consideration and they are often also brittle. Polymers have a low working temperature and so you need to add a cooling system, increasing the volume so system efficiency decreases and so does reliability,” Qing Wang, professor of materials science and engineering at Penn State, said.

“Dielectrics are poor electric conductors that can store electricity when exposed to an electric field. They are capable of discharging energy rapidly, thus assisting engine start-ups or transforming a battery’s direct current to the alternating current required for operating motors,” according to

The newly produced polymer can withstand temperatures up to 480 degrees Fahrenheit and is easily manufactured by combining the polymer with nanosheets. After curing the combination with heat or light, the material remains flexible and measures only 2 nm thick and 400 nm in size. The combined material offers high heat resistance, high bendability and high voltage capability.

“Our next step is to try to make this material in large scale and put it into a real application. Theoretically, there is no exact scalability limit,” Wang concluded.

The team’s research has been published in a recent issue of Nature and a patent has been filed to protect their work.

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