Conductive polymers (or conductive plastics) have led to major advances in technology because they do not conduct electricity and act as an insulator. Many industries have adopted this into their products, most of which we use today. Plastics have many advantages to them: they are durable, weather resistant, and they last a very long time. Conductive polymers have allowed new products to be created, all of which could not have existed without their invention. The creation of conductive polymers has led to noble prizes for its creators.
Below is a list of industries that utilize the technology:
An up and coming industry is working with electrostatic discharge (ESD), which is a serious problem that the electronic industry is facing because of voltages that are too high for products. All of that is changing because they are now beginning to use conductive polymers to allow for higher voltage. Also, conductive polymers are utilized for items in which there is a lot of weathering or usage. They are even utilized in items found around your house. Essentially, they are used because they are very durable and can withstand a lot of harsh conditions. They are used to suppress static on computer screens, on films and in windows.
Now is the age where people take their electronic devices everywhere with them. Because of this, battery technology is constantly changing and improving to allow for such a society to exist. These devices need a lot of power to operate fully, and more importantly, they need the battery power to last longer. Conductive polymers are utilized in the batteries instead of metals. Replacing the metals with conductive polymers has been proven to be less costly, less toxic and lighter weight. Considering how technology is changing and people are utilizing more cell phones and laptop computers, batteries need to be redesigned to suit the shifting technologies. As technology continues to change and technological devices keep getting smaller, batteries need to be made for such devices. These batteries need to be smaller, yet they need to be equally or more powerful. Producing a batter of that size and strength needs to be smaller and more durable, hence the usage of conductive polymers.
Printed Circuit Boards
Advanced electronic devices have tiny printed circuit boards within them that acts as their central nervous system. These circuit boards are made up of fiberglass and covered in a thin layer of copper. These circuit boards needed to be updated with their parent devices. As the devices continued to improve, polymers were then being used instead of the copper and fiberglass. Copper was originally used for conductive reasons; however, considering how lightweight plastics are, it was more economical to use them instead of metals. Conductive polymers are cheaper, therefore more economical to use in these devices.
A unique and interesting property of conductive plastics is that it swells when it conducts electricity. When it conducts electricity, it then changes it into mechanical energy. Unlike other forms of conductive materials, conductive polymers work well at low voltages. This property has made them the perfect material for micro tools. Advances in this field are still ongoing; however, major technological changes have already been made.
Continuing research is looking in to how to replace the usage of silicon. The ultimate goal is to create integrated circuits and other electronic devices by avoiding the use of silicon. The major problem with silicon is its availability. In order for silicon to work correctly in electronic devices, it has to be in a complete crystalline form before it can be utilized in electronic devices. The cost of silicon at this state is very high, thus it is not very economical to keep utilizing it in devices. Conductive polymers are the best replacement because they work just as well as silicon and is far cheaper.
Overall, industries are continuing to advance further with conductive plastic usage. Today, it is utilized in switchboards and for batteries in electronic devices. While it is still not yet perfect, conductive polymers are cheap, light weight, less toxic and more durable than traditional materials. Top industries are advancing technologies by changing how they are made.