Toray Industries, Inc. 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.
The Ultra-high Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE) is an engineering plastic with a molecular weight that is 10 times greater than that of regular polyethylene. High-strength fibers incorporate this material for its outstanding strength. However, its low processability because of long and highly entangled molecular chains are its a shortcoming. 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. Particularly, it leveraged its proprietary extrusion and biaxial stretching technologies. Accordingly, 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. Also, it is 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. Additionally, this film 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.
Toray will exhibit the film at nano tech 2024, the world’s top international nanotechnology exhibition, at Tokyo Big Sight from January 31 to February 2.
Toray will keep leveraging its core technologies of synthetic organic and polymer chemistry, biotechnology, and nanotechnology to innovate materials in keeping with its commitment to delivering new value and contributing to social progress.