TPL Develops New Polymer with High Dielectric Constant

January 18, 2001 by Jeff Shepard

A new polymer, developed with funding by TPL Inc. (Albuquerque, NM), may halve the size of the military's truck-borne pulsed-power capacitor banks, leading to more mobile weaponry. The polymer has a dielectric constant of 8.0, twice that of other insulating polymers used in capacitors, with the potential to go even higher. As a result, it can double the energy density of thin-film capacitors used to deliver extremely short, very strong bursts of power for applications such as military pulsed-power devices. Other possible uses include portable cardiac defibrillators and pulsed lighting.

Until TPL can produce the polymer with enough body to be wound into a capacitor, the company is coating its polymer onto porous kraft paper. Traditional capacitor dielectrics currently offer energy densities of 0.5 to 1J/cc. TPL's polymer/paper design, however, should offer energy density of at least 2J/cc, according to tests conducted by Aerovox Inc. (New Bedford, MA). TPL predicts that its polymer product alone will offer an energy density twice that of its polymer/paper design, which translates into the corresponding reduction in capacitor size. In addition to reduced capacitor size, these capacitors will be designed to operate at temperatures above 150 degrees C. TPL is currently seeking partners to investigate commercial applications of this technology.