DuPont expects to introduce a family of thermoplastic nanocomposites next year that promise to open new opportunities for design and production of plastic parts delivering higher performance, lighter weight and increased molding productivity. The offerings will be targeted to automotive, electrical, electronic and industrial applications. According to Dr. Nandan Rao, vice president of technology for DuPont Performance Materials, the nanocomposites will be based on fundamental DuPont research on the behavior of nanomaterials in polymers. "These nanocomposites are novel, yielding substantial improvements in key desirable properties. While the polymers and additive we are using are existing materials, the innovation lies in the proprietary process technology developed by DuPont scientists," explained Rao. "With proper dispersion in a polymer, we have found that small amounts of a naturally occurring material form nanoscale reinforcement structures that can produce substantial improvements in mechanical properties, high-temperature properties, barrier properties and processing characteristics." An example of such performance benefits is in lighter weight plastic parts that do not sacrifice critical properties.