Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Exhibits that I liked at ANTEC

These four exhibits at ANTEC caughty my eye:

1) The combination IR/AFM instrument offered by NanoIR. I never got a chance to ask how they got around the diffraction limit (seeing objects smaller than the wavelength of the photos), a real concern since IR wavelengths are much larger than even visible light. I suspect that the IR is absorbed from the sample, rather than reflected off of it.

2) The scratch hardness tester sold by Surface Machine Systems (and prototyped by the Polymer Technology Center at Texas A & M). In a world that still uses pencil hardness testing and other antiquated methods, this is what a hardness tester should be - a fully instrumented stylus that continuously records normal and tangential forces as it is dragged across the surface with a controlled pressure. The challenging part is left to you however: interpreting the data. If a force of 'x' Newtons is needed to scratch a coating, what does that tell you? Certainly it is helpful for making relative comparisons (a coating that scratches at '2x' Newtons is better than a coating that scratches at 'x' Newtons), but is the actual value of 'x' meaningful on it's own? I don't see that it is, much as we (technical people) like to have quantiatitive numbers for reassurance.

3) Halloysite clay offered by Applied Minerals. This clay is naturally in a nanotubular form, easily dispersible and much cheaper than carbon nanotubes. The outer and inner walls also have permanent charges on them.

4) The water-based coating that adheres to PP without any additional processing steps (although a 40 minute cure time @ 85 oC is required). PP is always a challenge to adhere to with only fluoropolymers and silicones being more difficult. (PE and other olefins are no joy either.)

My time was short at ANTEC this year, so I didn't get to see as much as I would have liked. Consider these just my personal view of what I saw and what drew my attention.

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