Table of ContentsConductive PolymersTechnical Developments in Conductive PolymersApplications of Conductive PolymersPotential Markets for Conductive PolymersConclusionsAbout Nanomarkets
Conductive polymers were often dubbed a group of polymer-based photovoltaics, which will revolutionize photovoltaics and electronics. However, commercial applications of conductive polymers were mostly restricted to low-value anti-statics applications. According to NanoMarkets, the future of these polymers will largely depend on their high-value applications which make use of the unique properties of conductive polymers and also on solving the technical problems which are a major setback for conductive polymers.
Technical Developments in Conductive PolymersNanoMarkets
hopes that technical developments will help expand conductive polymer markets in the upcoming years. The most significant development will be nanostructuring of conducting polymers to enhance their surface area and improve dispersability. However, a number of other opportunities for improvement such as enhancing the solubility of polymer materials will make conductive polymers viable in the electronics sector. Doped polymers are mostly salt-like and hence are less soluble in organic solvents, diminishing their processability. Currently, adding solubilizing substituents is the only solution to this problem and that complicates the synthesis. Better solubility will improve the use of solution processing, which in turn will help reduce manufacturing costs. Conductive polymers are also relatively unstable under normal atmospheric conditions, warranting better encapsulation.
Applications of Conductive Polymers
Conductive polymers find applications in EMI/RFI shielding, anti-statics, OLEDs (for lighting and displays), ITO replacement, sensors, PVs, organic thin-film transistors, and smart fabrics. This shows that conductive polymers can play key roles in booming sectors within electronics as well as optoelectronics; some exceptions to this will be in communications chips and memory and high-performance processors.
Potential Markets for Conductive Polymers
According to NanoMarkets, a detailed analysis of the scope for conductive polymers in the electronics industry is the need of the hour. This report is aimed at that kind of analysis and briefly examines the areas where conductive polymers might have potential applications. It also studies the expansion possibilities of these potential markets in the near future and the extent to which conductive polymers can be competitive rivals for other materials.
The size of the potential market is also very important and the anti-static market share that conductive polymers can address is no doubt large. In comparison, the organic thin-film transistor market is not really booming and even though polymers can seem like a better bet in this sector, considering the revenues from this sector it does not make much of a difference.
Other application areas of conductive polymers are more likely to be successful. The anti-static market is one sector to keep an eye on as it is a big and well established market for conductive polymers. It is also an expanding market as antistatic products will find more use in the integrated electronic chips sector. Also, conductive polymers are low cost options and can rapidly siphon off “waste” electrons, which is useful for the EMI/RFI shielding market. This market is also likely to be boom as wireless communications is increasingly in demand.
Although Nanomarkets sees the EMI/RFI shielding and anti-static markets as good revenue generators, these sectors rather use low-grade polymers as opposed to conductive polymers. Hence the sector will be a major challenge for conductive polymers despite the relatively big size of this market. This is discussed in detail in this report.
Nanomarkets also mentions that that there are some business sectors where considerable market growth is possible and where enhanced conductive polymers can enter easily and find better use. Such business areas include organic PV (OPV), which according to NanoMarkets will eventually be accepted as good technology for some types of building-integrated PV (BIPV) and for mobile solar devices.
Another sector which can come under these business areas is the OLED (displays and lighting) market, where polymers have been always preferred due to their low cost manufacturing methods, though the situation in this market has become rather complicated in the recent past due to the launch of small-molecule inks.
Nanomarkets makes it clear that the above does not mean that conductive polymers should focus only on these areas. There are a lot of other sectors where conductive polymers can penetrate, though these areas may be more interested in low-value polymers or they are yet to accept the enhanced capabilities of conductive polymers. These sectors include sensors and energy storage (batteries and fuel cells), where conductive polymers are playing a peripheral role for a long time now; and replacement for ITO in displays, PV and lighting, where the capabilities of conductive coatings seems questionable.
NanoMarkets is a leading provider of market research and industry analysis of opportunities within advanced materials and emerging energy and electronics markets. Since the firm’s founding, NanoMarkets has published over one hundred comprehensive research reports on emerging technology markets. Topics covered have included OLED displays, lighting and materials, thin-film electronics, conductive inks, transparent conductors, renewable energy, printed electronics and other promising technologies. Our client roster is a who’s who of companies in specialty chemicals, materials, electronics applications and manufacturing.
This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by NanoMarkets.
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