The world of technology may soon take to making cell phones and iPods with all-plastic chips, which would allow them to survive being dropped over and over again, as a Dutch researcher has shown that specially rebuilt plastic conducts electricity as well as the silicon wafers, that are currently used to make the semiconductor chips.
The findings of Paulette Prins of the Delft University of Technology, published in the journal Physical Review Letters, suggest that plastic can also be used for making electronic devices with flexible screens that can be rolled up.
She says that the limiting factor in making droppable electronics is the chips inside them, which can absorb pavement bounces better than the ones that are presently being used in iPods and cell phones, which stop working when their microscopic pathways get disturbed due to shocks.
Prins, however, admits that it may take several years for launching such products in the markets.
She noticed that the currently available chips inside electronics conduct electricity at least 1,000 times better than plastic, and that in plastics, the movement of charge was mainly hindered by the chain-like structure of the material.
The researcher extended the work of a German group that had rebuilt the chain in plastics to form a ladder-like structure. By bombarding the specially developed plastic with electrons from a particle accelerator, she was able to study rapid electrical reactions and demonstrate the new plastic's ability to conduct electricity much better than regular plastic and as well as silicon chips.
"My research shows that the mobility of charges along isolated chains can be as high as the mobility of charges in conventional semiconductors," LiveScience quoted Prins as saying.
"When the organisation of the polymer chains in electronic devices is optimized, all-plastic electronic devices can be developed that benefit from this high mobility," she said.