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Disposable single use digital cameras could be reality sooner than you think - A team of scientists from the UK and US have succeeded in creating a conductive plastic that could soon lead to cheap printable electronics such as, single use digital cameras or electronic paper.
The new material, is an organic polymer called semi-conducting polythiophene and can be laid down by simple printing methods as a fluid rather than the expensive and elaborate techniques used to process silicon. The material can be printed using traditional inkjet printers or techniques similar to those used to produce magazines and wallpaper. The material is also flexible which opens up a wealth of opportunities for its application.
Transistors have already been printed using the technique, and they are similar in performance to those used in the manufacture of flat panel display screens.
In the new polymer material, individual molecules align with each other more effectively than ever before. The result is an electronic performance six times better than previously reported. This, coupled with good stability in air, makes such polymers ideal candidates to replace more traditional materials such as silicon, providing cheap and easy routes to future products.
Iain McCulloch, a senior project manager from the team behind the discovery said, "Initial applications might be in simple, disposable electronic items, followed by small reflective displays for PDAs or e-paper"
The research team incorporated members from Merck Chemicals in Southampton, UK; Palo Alto Research Centre, California; Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Stanford University; and the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory.