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Engineered Parts & Solutions

Viennese researchers develop an improved class of polymers

Scientists from Vienna University of Technology have patented a new method of synthesis with which a special class of polymers can be manufactured, the so-called S-PPVs. They have improved conductivity, are biologically compatible, and will therefore be of interest to many branches of industry.

20 Jan. 2019
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Viennese researchers develop an improved class of polymers (picture: Vienna TU)

The uses of organic polymers (PPVs) include sensors, LEDs, displays and solar cells. They are characterized by high electrical conductivity and their interaction with light. After four years of hard work at Vienna University of Technology , these characteristics were improved significantly by replacing the oxygen atom that links the side groups to the rest of the polymer with sulfur: the O-PPV (O for oxygen) has become the new S-PPV (S for sulfur).

The researchers have also discovered a simple and cheap method of synthesis for the use of S-PPV on an industrial scale. Monomers are first produced using microwave radiation and are then polymerized and modified in the side groups. The method is scalable for industrial quantities and the process is easy to reproduce, according to Florian Glöcklhofer from Vienna University of Technology. In addition, the new class of polymers has greater stability, is “comparatively non-toxic”, and is biologically compatible.

Electroluminescence of polymers was first observed in 1989 in the study of the dielectric properties of a thin PPV film; “Spektrum der Wissenschaft” reported on this in 1995. At that time, organic electroluminescence was regarded as “a respected area of research” and the “first small-scale products” were anticipated over the following years. Nowadays many branches of industry could not do without it.

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