SPE Industry Update
May. 30, 2012

Graphene developers seek routes out of the lab
Plastics & Rubber Weekly
Graphene is one of the lightest but also the strongest and most thermally and electrically conductive materials known. It is transparent and provides a barrier to gas. To listen to many researchers, the "wonder material" graphene will metaphorically transform base metal into gold. But what is in it for plastics manufacturers and what does the road ahead hold in store?More

Toward better bone repair
SPE Plastics Research Online
Polycaprolactone is biocompatible and biodegradable. As a result, it is widely used in biomedicine for bone tissue engineering and drug delivery. For example, PCL composites are used as a substrate for supporting cell growth from a 2-D bone marrow stromal cell culture when bones damaged by accident or disease need to be repaired. However, its poor mechanical properties and degradation rate limit its applications as a biomaterial.More

Determining drug solubility in polymer by rheological methods
SPE Plastics Research Online
Hot-melt extrusion has been widely used in the plastics and rubber industry to manufacture a broad variety of products. The process involves mixing different materials using a screw extruder at an elevated temperature and pumping the mixture through a die to form a product of a desired shape. Recently, the process has attracted a great deal of interest from the pharmaceutical industry as a way of avoiding solvents during processing and because it is much more efficient for mass production of generic drugs. More

Electric vehicles driving plastics applications in China
Plastics News China
In the past few years, China's automakers have thrown themselves into the development of electronic vehicles. According to Du Cao, the vice president and director of Chang'an Automobile Group's Global R&D Center, their interest in alternative energy vehicles is driving demand for new plastic applications in the country's automotive market.More

Los Angeles makes history with ban on plastic bags at stores
Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles became the largest city in the nation to approve a ban on plastic bags at supermarket checkout lines, handing a hard-fought victory to environmentalists and promising to change the way Angelenos do their grocery shopping. The City Council voted 13-1 to phase out plastic bags over the next 16 months at an estimated 7,500 stores, meaning shoppers will need to bring reusable bags or purchase paper bags for 10 cents each.More

Bioplastics — cleaner world or bigger mess?
EE Times
VideoBriefWith energy resources dwindling and "sustainability" becoming a must-have word in the lexicon of almost every company in the developed world, the debate over the use of cleaner materials is intensifying, especially when it comes to plastic. Some claim the "war on plastic" is unjustified, with people to blame for pollution rather than the material itself, while others argue that taking simple steps to replace traditional plastics with more natural biological substitutes would cut back on carbon emissions drastically.More

Recycled resin demand drives support for EPR
Plastics News
With demand for recycled resins continuing to outstrip supply, the voices are getting louder — and more organized — for creating some sort of extended producer responsibility program to increase the recycling of packaging materials, plastics and otherwise. An alliance of more than 30 public interest groups and other supporting organizations recently formed a coalition to push for public policy changes that would make manufacturers responsible for collecting and recycling the products and packaging they make.More

Nano-structured, polymer-based materials from scrap
Cordis via Nanowerk News
EU-funded researchers developed polymer blends and processing techniques facilitating recovery of scrap from industrial processes. Advances in this area have the potential to decrease costs and waste while protecting the environment.More

Solar cell raises the bar for low-cost designs
Northwestern University via Futurity
Researchers have tapped a novel material to develop a low-cost, efficient and environmentally friendly solar cell. In particular, the device is the first to solve the problem of the Grätzel cell, a promising technology with a significant disadvantage: it leaks. The dye-sensitized cell's electrolyte is made of an organic liquid, which can leak and corrode the solar cell itself.More

Solar plane takes off for its 1st transcontinental flight
The Associated Press via MSNBC
VideoBrief An experimental solar-powered airplane took off from Switzerland on its first transcontinental flight, aiming to reach North Africa. Pilot Andre Borschberg planned to take the jumbo jet-size Solar Impulse plane on its first leg to Madrid, Spain. His colleague Bertrand Piccard will take the helm of the aircraft for the second stretch of its 1,554-mile journey to the Moroccan capital Rabat.More

TPU with a memory opens up new application areas
Plastics Today
A new shape-memory polymer based on a thermoplastic polyurethane has been released with the ability to "remember" its original shape when heated to a certain temperature. Developed by Bayer MaterialScience and the BAM Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing, Desmopan DP 2795A SMP has a switching temperature of approximately 40 degrees Celsius, with proposed applications, including remote temperature sensors, artificial muscles, hinges, self-loosening screws, packaging and shrink tubing.More

Singapore-made, anti-reflective plastics to be commercialized
A*STAR via PhysOrg
Researchers have developed a new plastic that offers improved performance and wider viewing angles over existing anti-reflective plastics in the market. This plastic uses a locally developed nanotechnology method that creates a complex pattern of tiny structures that mimic the patterns found on a moth's eye, which has a unique method of diffusing light.More

Engineers use cloak to hide light detector
Stanford University via Futurity
For the first time engineers have used "plasmonic cloaking" to create a device that can see without being seen. At the heart of the device are silicon nanowires covered by a thin cap of gold. By adjusting the ratio of metal to silicon — a technique the engineers refer to as tuning the geometries — they capitalize on favorable nanoscale physics in which the reflected light from the two materials cancel each other to make the device invisible.More

Polymers can be used to stabilize proteins
Researchers from the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA and the UCLA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry have developed a way to stabilize proteins using polymers. The polymers, synthesized by the team, comprise a polystyrene support and side chains made of trehalose, a disaccharide found in several animals and plants that can live for longer periods with little or no water.More

Antibody-coated particles slow tumor growth
Chemical & Engineering News
Polymer nanoparticles coated with therapeutic antibodies arrest tumor growth in mice, chemists have discovered. To get the same effect with antibodies alone would require 30 times the dose. The researchers who made the discovery think the particles could lead to cancer therapies with few side effects.More

Good vibes: Coupling electron spin states and carbon nanotube vibrations
An electron's spin is separate from its motion, and is suitable for use in both highly-precise magnetic sensing as well as a qubit in quantum computing. Recently, scientists at the University of Konstanz in Germany have theoretically investigated the coupling of electron spin in carbon nanotube quantum dots, showing that the carbon nanotube's nanomechanical vibrations can significantly affect the spin of an electron trapped on it. More

Lightweight door panels incorporate natural fiber
Plastics Today
The German subsidiary of Johnson Controls is supplying a series of innovative door panels, seat structures and instrument clusters for the new BMW 3 Series. The nonvisible door panel elements employ a combination of wood fibers and polypropylene that are 20 percent lighter than conventional components. The natural fiber carrier is directly molded with the plastic matrix.More