Organic electronics, plastic electronics or polymer electronics, is a branch of electronics that deals with conductive polymers, plastics, or small molecules. It is called 'organic' electronics because the polymers and small molecules are carbon-based, like the molecules of living things. This is as opposed to traditional electronics (or metal electronics) which relies on inorganic conductors such as copper or silicon.
Polymer electronics are laminar electronics, a category that also includes transparent electronic package and paper based electronics.
In addition to organic charge transfer complexes, technically, electrically conductive polymers are mostly derivatives of polyacetylene black (the "simplest melanin"). Examples include polyacetylene (PA; more specificially iodine-doped trans-polyacetylene); polyaniline (PANI), when doped with a protonic acid; and poly(dioctyl-bithiophene) (PDOT).
In 1862, Henry Letheby obtained a partly conductive material by anodic oxidation of aniline in sulfuric acid. The material was probably polyaniline. In the 1950s, it was discovered that polycyclic aromatic compounds formed semi-conducting charge-transfer complex salts with halogens. This finding indicated that organic compounds could carry current. High conductivity of 1 S/cm in linear backbone polymers (in an iodine-"doped" and oxidized polypyrrole black) was reported in 1963. Likewise, an actual organic-polymer electronic device was reported in the journal Science in 1974. This device is now in the "Smithsonian Chips" collection of the American Museum of History (see figure).
However, Alan J. Heeger, Alan G. MacDiarmid, and Hideki Shirakawa are often credited for the "discovery and development" of conductive polymers and were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2000 for their 1977 report of similarly-oxidized and iodine-doped polyacetylene.
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