At Fluorotherm™, we're continually inspired and excited by new innovations; in fact, we're always pursuing new applications and uses for our products and find that the rise of emerging industries like green technology holds limitless possibilities for innovators. Our work with fluoropolymers, which are known for their unique properties and exceptional versatility, makes us well-positioned to embrace new opportunities.
When we're not creating our own heat exchanger designs, aerospace applications or other customized products, we also like to recognize other innovations in the field. Take recent research that demonstrates new uses for PVDF (polyvinylidene fluoride), one of the seven types of fluoropolymers we offer. While PVDF has always been known for its high purity and chemical resistance, the American Chemical Society has announced that under certain creation conditions, the material can also be made to be highly piezoelectric, which means it generates electricity right from its surface. While PVDF's piezoelectric properties have been a known fact since 1969, what hasn't been known is how to further increase the material's potential for piezoelectricity.
Already, PVDF and its piezoelectric properties makes possible the advanced touch-screen technology and tilt sensors we've come to know and love in our tablets and smartphones. PVDF is also used for:
- Traffic lights
- Weighing vehicles in motion
- Light-up shoes
- Respiratory inductance plethysmography
With heightened piezoelectric properties, the potential for these types of PVDF applications becomes far greater. A researcher from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University has already found that by introducing carbon nanotubes to PVDF, piezoelectric potential doubles. The carbon nanotubes, christened "buckyballs," have thus made PVDF the best piezoelectric material known to date. Talk about a breakthrough!
So what specifically could be done with this enhanced electrical capability? Many are throwing around the term "artificial muscles". PVDF enhanced with buckyballs could facilitate applications that contract or relax in response to an electric or temperature stimuli; in other words, they would act like authentic muscles. This opens up the possibility for artificial limbs that could more accurately move and contract in response to stimuli. One test already demonstrates that enhanced PVDF can lift 16 pounds and contract by 50 percent. Researchers are also looking ahead to possibilities for using PVDF to conserve energy on planes by harvesting passengers' motion energy.
Fluoropolymer innovations like these continue to drive our passion, and while research and development continues for PDVF piezoelectricity, there's no telling what other fluoropolymer application innovations will be discovered next.