Engineer patents waterlike polymer to create high-temperature ceramics

This graphic shows the structure of a ceramic created from a Kansas State University-patented waterlike polymer. The ceramic has a random structure that provides stability at high temperatures. The silicon in the ceramic bonds to nitrogen and carbon but not boron; boron bonds to nitrogen but not carbon; and carbon bonds to another carbon to form graphenelike strings. Credit: Kansas State University

Ceramic textiles, improved jet engine blades, 3-D printed ceramics and better batteries may soon become a reality, thanks to a recently patented polymer from a Kansas State University engineer.

Using five ingredients—silicon, boron, carbon, nitrogen and hydrogen—Gurpreet Singh, Harold O. and Jane C. Massey Neff associate professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering, has created a that can transform into a ceramic with valuable thermal, optical and electronic properties. The waterlike polymer, which becomes a ceramic when heated, also can be mass-produced.

“This polymer is a useful material that really works,” Singh said. “Of all the materials that we have researched in the last five years, this material is the most promising. Now we can think of using ceramics where you could never even imagine.”

Singh is the lead inventor of the patent, “Boron-modified silazanes for synthesis of SiBNC ceramics.” Romil Bhandavat, 2013 doctoral graduate in mechanical engineering, is a co-inventer.

The engineers developed the clear polymer that looks like water and has the same density and viscosity as water, unlike some other silicon- and boron-containing polymers.

“We have created a liquid that remains a liquid at room temperature and has a longer shelf life than other SiBNC polymers,” Singh said. “But when you heat our polymer, it undergoes a liquid to solid transition….

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