The Market for Organic and Printed Electronics
Wearable electronics has passed from the realm of childrens’ books to reality and there is much more to come. In the last year, Ubiquitous Sensor Networks USN have been trialled in Korea for monitoring rivers, buildings, hospitals and industrial greenhouses and Telepathx in Australia has bid to put them on very large numbers of trees, the better to control forest fires and save lives. Below are some of the current developments enabled by organic and printable electronics. Perhaps the old saying, “What one man can dream of, another man can do.” is right after all.
Let us look at the significance of a few of the new paradigms.
If we make very thin and lightweight products that are foldable we have the ACREO concept of packaging that refolds to become something useful. We also have large area self assembly electronics. Konarka has a laptop charger that is a solar panel that folds to the size of a pack of cards and Orion Solar has solar panels for your house that fold up so you can easily get them home after purchase.
Somark Innovations has patented edible printed RFID for tracing cattle and meat and Eastman Kodak has recently patented edible printed RFID for drug monitoring. There is no silicon chip involved in either case. Tokyo University and others have announced various forms of stretchable electronics that will have many uses from healthcare to fashion.
However, the potential uses of organic and printed electronics are now so many and so varied that no one talks any more about organic materials taking over in all cases. Indeed, composites of organic and inorganic materials are becoming very common. They include ruthenium organic dyes on titanium dioxide nanoparticles for Dye Sensitised Solar Cells. In the UK, G24i now has a factory producing these on flexible substrates using ink jet. Elegantly, the factory is powered by solar cells and wind turbines.