Efforts to further miniaturize electronics such as Apple iPhones may get a boost from engineering plastics compounded with industrial diamonds.
A Finnish development company called Carbodeon is attempting to commercialize new plastic compounds that act like heat sinks. The beauty is that the injection molded parts are housings and reduce the need for special thermally conductive components, saving weight, space, and costs.
“The nanoscale diamond with surface functional chemistry unlocks the potential of the compound for gains in thermal conductivity of 100 percent or more without compromising electrical or mechanical properties” says Carbodeon. That’s a large improvement since the technology was first announced two years ago. The diamond content is typically just 1 percent and is used in conjunction with boron nitride or alumina in thermoplastics such as polyphenylene sulfide (PPS) or polyamide 66. To reduce costs, diamond concentrations can be as low as low as 0.03 percent.
Carbodeon would like to have a polymer producer partner to develop the technology because it works best when nanodiamonds are introduced as a liquid dispersion in a compatible solvent during polymer synthesis. But nanodiamond powder can be pre-milled with a micron-scale thermal filler such as boron nitride or alumina. “This will de-agglomerate the nanodiamond powder and distribute it over the surface of the micron scale filler particles. The resultant filler may then be compounded into the thermoplastic in the conventional way.”
There is a delicate balance in the amount of fillers that can be placed in a thermoplastic without sacrificing important mechanical properties of the molded part. A U.S. patent was recently awarded for the nanodiamond plastic compound. The listed inventors are Vesa Myllymaki, interim CEO, and Jesse Syren, a development engineer who left Carbodeon in September.
Detonation nanodiamonds were first synthesized in the Soviet Union in 1963 through decomposition of high-explosive mixtures such as TNT with negative oxygen balance in a non-oxidizing medium.
Carbodeon is a small, privately held company founded in 2006.