High thermal conductivity, cold resistance and chemical resistance make it ideal for cryogenic and heat dissipation applications
Toray Industries has created a plastic film almost as strong as stainless steel, with a maximum tensile strength of 1,200 megapascals. The material also offers the lightness, insulation, flexibility, and other benefits of polymers.
Ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene is an engineering plastic. Its molecular weight is 10 times greater than that of regular polyethylene. High-strength fibers incorporate this material for its outstanding strength. A shortcoming is low processability because molecular chains are long and highly entangled. This makes it difficult to produce high-strength films with biaxial stretching.
Toray overcame that challenge by creating a nanostructure with highly oriented molecular chains of UHMWPE across two dimensions by leveraging its proprietary extrusion and biaxial stretching technologies. The resulting film is nearly as strong as stainless steel, with more than twice the tensile strength of polyethylene terephthalate film that serves in common industrial applications. It is also as strong as the toughest plastic film, made of aramid. Toray’s film could serve in superconductivity, space, and other cryogenic applications. Its high strength saves weight and space.
Because of its nanostructure, the film offers a maximum in-plane thermal conductivity of 18 watts per meter-kelvin. This is more than 10 times higher than that of polyethylene terephthalate film. Toray’s film could function as a heat-dissipating material for flexible devices and other applications requiring miniaturization, lightness, insulation, and flexibility.
UHMWPE has attracted attention in recent years as an alternative to fluoropolymer, about which there are environmental and human health concerns. This film also delivers high chemical resistance, low moisture absorption, a low dielectric constant, and other properties comparable to fluoropolymers. It can offer high chemical resistance in semiconductor manufacturing processes.
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