This paper introduces a technique of inducing bulk conductivity in a polymer. The technique uses coiled copper ‘cells’ embedded into a polymer during fabrication which can subsequently create highly redundant series-parallel networks. The preceding body of work aimed to improve the conductivity of non-conducting polymers by embedding particulates (of metal, carbon, etc.) into the polymer, or by altering the polymerization chemistry to incorporate conductive elements. The technique described here keeps the process independent of the specific polymer chosen by not relying on the polymerization chemistry to aid in the incorporation of the cells. The embedding drastically lowers the resistivity of the polymer, from 1012 Ω -cm (approx.) for pure silicone rubber to less than 50 Ω -cm for the composite at room temperature: a drop of 12 orders of magnitude. A secondary consideration of this paper is the mechanical stiffness changes brought about by the embedding of metal inside a flexible polymer. Although the connected network of copper cells allows the rubber to be highly conductive in bulk, the cells are themselves compliant and thus have minimal effect on the stiffness of the cured silicone rubber.
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Design of a Bulk Conductive Polymer Using Embedded Macroscopic Copper Cells
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Nawroj, AI, Swensen, JP, & Dollar, AM. "Design of a Bulk Conductive Polymer Using Embedded Macroscopic Copper Cells." Proceedings of the ASME 2013 Conference on Smart Materials, Adaptive Structures and Intelligent Systems. Volume 1: Development and Characterization of Multifunctional Materials; Modeling, Simulation and Control of Adaptive Systems; Integrated System Design and Implementation. Snowbird, Utah, USA. September 16–18, 2013. V001T01A014. ASME. https://doi.org/10.1115/SMASIS2013-3155
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