scientists create material with properties that ‘cannot be explained’

scientists create material with properties that ‘cannot be explained’

Scientists at the University of Chicago have achieved a real feat: creating a whole new type of material, as flexible as plastic, but conductive like metal. Its unique properties “cannot be explained”, according to the team. The review was published October 26 in Nature.

The group of University of Chicago scientists responsible for the discovery © John Zich, University of Chicago

Scientists have created an entirely new material properties that cannot be explained. This material, which looks like and is made like plastic, conducts electricity like a metal. The finding goes against what scientists expect to see and could lead to new kinds of breakthroughs, the researchers say.

In principle, this paves the way for the design of a whole new class of materials that are electrically conductive, easy to shape and very robust. said John Anderson, associate professor of chemistry at the University of Chicago and lead author of the studyin a press release.

A material that is both metallic and plastic

If scientists have succeeded in creating, bending and streamlining conductive materials for the manufacture of electronic devices, this new material ” breaks many scientific rules “, as the researchers indicate. ” From a fundamental point of view, it shouldn’t be able to be a metal added Professor Anderson. The material can be bent and stretched to make various thingsall in allowing electricity to pass.

If you’re making any type of electronic device, whether it’s an iPhone, solar panel, or TV, conductive materials are absolutely essential. Metals, such as copper, gold and aluminum, are the oldest conductive elements. However, fundamentally, metallic conductors, whether organic or not, share a common characteristic. They consist of straight, tight rows of atoms or molecules. This means that electrons can easily flow through the material, much like cars on a highway. Before this discovery, scientists believed that a material had to have these straight, orderly rows in order to conduct electricity efficiently. This is therefore not the case here.

To read : This new plastic is 2 times stronger than steel

Jiaze Xie, one of the study’s authors, experimented with some materials discovered years ago but largely ignored since. He has strung nickel atoms like pearls in a chain of molecular beads made of carbon and sulfur, and began testing.

To his great astonishment, this new material thus easily and strongly conducted electricity, in addition to being very stable. ” We heated it, cooled it, exposed it to air and moisture, and even ran acid and base over it, and nothing happened. said Xie. The end result is unprecedented for a conductive material. ” It’s almost like conductive Play-Doh: you can put it in place and it conducts electricity said Anderson.

So what could such a material be used for? A myriad of experimental designs could be standardized, especially in the smartphone industry, which has become stagnant.

Source : Nature