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Organic Electronics

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About Organic Electronics

Most materials that have desirable electrical or electronic properties are metals or inorganic compounds such as copper, silver, gold, doped silicon, or indium tin oxide (tin-doped indium oxide). This Technology Map focuses on organic electronic materials: carbon-based chemicals and polymers that exhibit electrical conductivity, semiconductivity, electroluminescence, or photovoltaic properties. Examples of organic electronic materials include light-emitting small molecules and polymers, organic semiconductors, and conductive polymers.

Much of the interest in organic materials is due to a fairly mundane attribute: their potential for use in low-cost, high-volume manufacturing processes. Organic electronic materials play a key role in reducing production costs for flat-panel televisions, flexible displays, RFID tags, and other electronic devices. In addition, these materials offer design flexibility because of their compatibility with flexible and rigid substrates.

This technology has the potential for widespread application and could lead to ubiquitous, inexpensive—even disposable—electronic devices. Industry players include both large, diversified powerhouses of the materials and consumer-electronics industries and start-ups that focus on a single technology application. Current commercial products include OLED displays for smartphones all the way up to large-screen televisions, capacitors, electroluminescent lamps, and static-control coatings. Emerging end uses include solar cells, lighting, and printed RFID tags for logistics tracking and monitoring.