The biggest opportunities for printed electronics include displays, printed transistor circuits, RFID and sensor networks. Of course, these overlap. Some RFID tags include sensors and some have displays, many displays need transistor circuits to drive them. So this forms a tight pack of technologies all marching in step, with investment and invention nicely coordinated to tackle the fabulous market opportunities ahead? Not so.
One thing is missing as we seek to print all of them and it is non volatile, preferably large memory. There may be 100 hundred companies developing OLEDs and thirty developing thin film transistor circuits yet compatible printed memory - needed for almost everything we have mentioned - is being tackled only by a handful of organisations, most of them at the university - write a scientific paper - stage and with no chance of being ready on time. The result is that the first printed RFID tags will appear within the next two years with only a few bits of memory, making them virtually unsaleable.
Some of the tiny group of contestants for suitable printed memory technology are given below.