Strong, flexible, lightweight and cheap, plastics have acquired an additional attribute in recent years: the ability to function as semiconductors, forming diodes and transistors in plastic integrated circuits. Now, as the first plastic electronics products are hitting
the market in displays that use organic light-emitting diodes, the stage is set for a new era of pervasive computing with polymers. Plastics may never match the sheer processing speed and miniaturization of silicon, but they will be able to go places that silicon cannot reach: ultracheap radio-frequency identification tags; low-end, high-volume data storage; displays that are inexpensive, even disposable, or that can be wrapped around a wall column; and wearable computing. Other uses for conductive plastics include photocells, chemical sensors and pressure-sensitive materials.
This article was originally published with the title Next Stretch for Plastic Electronics.