Developing Organic Technologies that Can Make Plastic Environment Friendly
The word “organic” is a technical term which means something or anything that has to do with any carbon-based chemical compounds. Since carbon compounds are almost always associated with natural life, it is not surprising that we try to unconsciously link the term to anything that can be environment friendly.
Of course, that is not always the case. Anything that is organic is not automatically considered as environment friendly, as best exemplified by plastics and commonly used industrial polymers.
This mindset though about “dirty plastics” is bound to change again, as we unravel three emerging technologies in organic electronics that would definitively improve the design efficiency and power consumption cost of current machines and gadgets.
Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLED)
One of the technologies in organic electronics that have gained substantial popularity in the last few years, organic light emitting diodes hold the promise of paper-thin display devices that consume a lot less power than what is ever conceivable in LCD displays. It works by exposing select organic compounds with electricity to produce light, with different compounds producing a different color.
The main factor that makes it energy efficient is the fact that it is a type of light emitting diode (LED). The second factor is its ability to produce its own light; it can stand on its own without back illumination. Lastly, it can simply turn itself off and consume no energy at all to produce a black color (LCD screens have to filter light from the backlight). Should it eventually lower in production cost in the future, it might even be able to do what LCD’s have previously done to the CRT regime.
Organic Solar Cells
Solar energy remains an elusive source of free energy today, because of the comparatively slow development of breakthrough technologies to increase photon absorption and charge conversion efficiency of solar cells. Organic solar cells attempt to address this efficiency issue by making organic compounds absorb as much light energy as it possibly could. The economic prospects behind this technology is the fact that producing the cells is very cheap in large amounts, and are typically more flexible than regular silicon-based solar cells.
Though development limitations still make it look inferior to more developed solar cell technologies, research to make it commercially viable still goes at a considerably steady pace. The latest achievement in organic solar cell research has made a single cell reach energy levels that are already near the point where it could efficiently charge current lithium ion batteries.
Organic Field Effect Transistors (OFET)
Transistors are an essential part in almost any kind of electronic device today, and are especially crucial for computers. Costs of transistors have gone down dramatically over the years, but the size limitation of current transistors could put this downward movement of cost to a grinding halt. An organic field effect transistor can make the electronics industry continue its movement towards smaller circuits, through its low cost, all-plastic construction, and paper-thin form factor.
OFET technology was widely revealed to the public when Sony first demonstrated its potentials and capabilities last 2004 at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC). The eventual production of a cost efficient, consumer-level organic field effect transistor could spell the ultimate end of silicon technology’s reign in the electronics industry.
As these technologies in organic electronics move steadily forward as the years pass by, the only perceivable problem in the near future is the proper recycling and disposal of the plastics.
But we probably won’t have to worry about that if we have prepared for it.
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