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Monday
Mar252013

Paint-On Plastic Electronics

Mar. 24, 2013 — Semiconducting polymers are an unruly bunch, but University of Michigan engineers have developed a new method for getting them in line that could pave the way for cheaper, greener, "paint-on" plastic electronics.

"This is for the first time a thin-layer, conducting, highly aligned film for high-performance, paintable, directly writeable plastic electronics," said Jinsang Kim, U-M professor of materials science and engineering, who led the research published inNature Materials.

Semiconductors are the key ingredient for computer processors, solar cells and LED displays, but they are expensive. Inorganic semiconductors like silicon require high temperatures in excess of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and costly vacuum systems for processing into electronics, but organic and plastic semiconductors can be prepared on a basic lab bench.

 

This is certainly some interesting development. For those of you who aren't sure what this means, let me break down the basic idea behind this. Painting on Conductors to plastic to make electronics. So think of it this way:

3D Printers can print plastics and non-conductive material for the most part, but combined with this they could potentially paint electronic conductors onto 3D printed products. I.E. 3D printed laptops, tablets, phones and the like. Now, this does not mean they can print a fully-programmed ready to use laptop or tablet. But it could potentially cut the cost production dramatically if they can at least get the conductive material on the product.

As they explain in the article, creating conductive parts is costly and requires separate machines in order to achieve. However, this "Organic Conductor" could potentially change the game of cheap electronics. It could allow for greater distribution for education materials and access to the internet for less-priveledged persons. Including 3rd world countries.

Keep your minds open folks, the possibilities are still to be seen! 

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