Plastics are excellent insulators, meaning they are efficient in trapping heat, a property less desirable in products such as laptops and mobile phones, which can overheat because their plastic coverings trap the heat that the device produces.
A team of engineers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology has developed a polymer thermal conductor, a plastic material that works as a heat conductor, dissipating heat rather than insulating it keeping the devices light in weight. The new polymers are lightweight and flexible and can conduct 10 times as much heat as most commercially used polymers do.
Normal polymers are both electrically and thermally insulating. The development of electrically conductive polymers has led to novel electronic applications such as flexible displays and wearable biosensors," says Yanfei Xu, a postdoc in MIT's Department of Mechanical Engineering. "Our polymer can thermally conduct and remove heat much more efficiently. We believe polymers could be made into next-generation heat conductors for advanced thermal management applications, such as a self-cooling alternative to existing electronics casings."