Despite its name, this useful, small conference by European Plastics News/ Plastics and Rubber Weekly was concerned with both semiconducting and conducting polymers. This was at both the bulk materials and printed level. Of course, unlike their inorganic equivalents, many conducting organic compounds can be modified to act as useful semiconductors.
A startling statistic was quoted: Motorola estimates that the new organic electronic materials address a potential market twice that of silicon chips, it being $300 billion and consisting of light, sensors, circuitry and power.
About 45 people attended the conference and some of the recurring themes were:
- Conducting polymers do not ie when needed for more than the crudest uses such as antistatic coatings, conductive polymers often have one thousand times less conductivity than that which is required and is achieved with metals. The first printed polymer transistor circuits, for example, will have metal conductors and electrodes in the main as we wait for conductive polymer films "that do".
- Most of the technologies should be seen as ways of doing things differently. It is not very useful to see them as direct substitutes for existing processes.
- The moulding of various laminar polymeric electric and electronic devices into plastic products as they are formed is imminent. Co-moulding of laminates or printed layers emitting light are examples of this. An example is all-in-one illuminated keys for cellphones.
- Direct printing of electronic circuits onto products is also imminent.