The Fascination of Parylene

Posted by Jake Hinojoza on Dec 12, 2017 9:00:00 AM
Jake Hinojoza

The protective properties of parylene also this conformal coating to be used in industries from common individual products to aerospace, and military forces.

Parylene, unlike other conformal coatings, provides a uniquely thin and pinhole-free coverage to mediums and protects it from environmental damage, high temperatures, oxygen, chemicals, and more. A parylene coating is micro-cleaned with intricate procedures that guarantee a reliable and long-lasting coating. Although it can be applied to almost anything, including medical devices for placement inside the body, parylene isn't used everywhere; its benefits are usually reserved for products that have specific requirements.

Parylene in Our World

Let's review the three most common parylene types, and why each has, it's own individual characteristics.

  • Parylene C. By far the most widely-used type of parylene, Parylene C is known for it's physical and electrical properties that make it a safe and reliable choice for protection. It provides long-lasting defense from gases, chemicals, moisture, and other environmental stress.

  • Parylene N. Parylene N is similar to Parylene C, but the former brings a set of new benefits to the table. Combining unrivaled levels of conformation and functionality at higher temperatures (up to 220° C without oxygen) with all the other benefits, this type of coating is especially valuable.

  • Parylene D. Unlike its two predecessors, Parylene D is not as widely used in any industry. Although it offers many of the same benefits, it also comes with the lowest conformation levels. However, it does provide higher levels of thermal stability thanks to two chlorine atoms that the other parylene types don't possess.

Now that we have covered the basics of Parylene, like its reliability, longevity, and versatility, let look how it's being used today at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and the big technological advances happening.

Innovations

Sustainable and efficient "green energy" has been a goal for the past few decades across many continents. But back here is the United States, four doctoral students are looking at a solar solution (with a little help from parylene). Their solution is to create a solar cell so small and thin enough that it can be placed on the surface of a bubble without popping it. That's a pretty substantial size difference in the car-sized panels we are used to seeing. Talk about one giant leap for mankind!

Although this tiny solar cell is still far from ready for the commercial market, the students at MIT have been experimenting with parylene to make the technology more reliable and practical.

A Closer Look at Nano Technology

Parylene is known for its versatility, but for this breakthrough technology, it is playing two roles at once--substrate and coating. The MIT students chose parylene for its versatility and reliability. The students found that parylene provides one of the thinnest and lightest coatings available for solar cell protection. Parylene has been used to cover a bubble without popping it.

New ideas

One of the most interesting parts of this innovation is the new manufacturing process applied. Rather than using the harsh chemicals and extreme temperatures necessary for traditional solar cell manufacturing, MIT used a vacuum chamber and the unique dimer process. According to MIT professor Vladimir Bulović, "The innovative step is the realization that you can grow the substrate at the same time as you grow the device."

Although this new type of solar cell technology is just one possibility in a sea of variables, details are already starting to emerge about other possible applications. For example, this cell has an extremely high power-to-weight ratio, which makes it useful in fields where mass production is crucial. By using this new technology in other industries, the solar cell could be altered for different purposes.

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Topics: Parylene