Available Technologies: Mining and Materials

Flexible conductive polymers

Polymer coatings for touchscreens, printable electronics, smart displays and new age sensors

Benefitsflexible conductive polymer

Conductive polymers are organic, recyclable and inexpensive, and can now rival the performance of metallic coatings. UniSA has developed a unique patented method of producing thin film coatings of the conductive polymer PEDOT.

This coating process has very broad application, ranging from new sensors to new display technologies and “smart” windows. UniSA has already secured a license with one industry partner and the next step is to build a pilot manufacturing plant to realise these opportunities.

Background

The demand for thin film conductive materials has grown exponentially. The availability of traditional metallic materials, however, is decreasing and their price has increased significantly. A single material – Indium Tin Oxide (ITO) – currently dominates the transparent conductor industry.

Considerable research has been invested into developing flexible and more sustainable materials.

Technology

Our research team has developed a unique polymerisation technique for poly (3,4-ethylene dioxythiophene), or PEDOT, which incorporates a complementary coating process and delivers conductivity up to 3400 S/cm (i.e. 24Ω/□), with transparency typically in excess of 80%.

Commencing over five years ago, the team has continually improved the source PEDOT and the coating process, to arrive at our current Generation 3 coating.

Conductivity and transparency along with flexibility are the key factors for a broad range of industry applications. Our PEDOT coating process provides world-leading performance, with very high conductivity while remaining transparent.

We are now looking for opportunities to build out our manufacturing capability to meet specific product applications.

Potential markets

The platform technology is now ready for the commercial arena and incorporated into a wide range of products including:

  • Consumer electronics:
    • ITO replacement material for touchscreens and printed electronics,
  • Agricultural Sensors:
    • unique world leading soil nitrate sensors,
  • Augmented Reality (AR) / Virtual Reality (VR) headsets:
    • unique see-through headset displays for the emerging AR / VR headset market,
  • Other displays:
    • Ranging from smart windows to contact lens displays.

IP Status

The intellectual property associated with this groundbreaking development has been protected under a platform patent application.

Partnering opportunities

UniSA Ventures is targeting the completion of a PEDOT pilot manufacturing plant, and its operation over a 12-month period. The Pilot Plant will be dedicated to proving out the manufacturing process to service the products/markets identified.  We are seeking partners to provide industry input and funding into this development.

Inventors

The team of researchers at UniSA’s Future Industries Institute that have spearheaded this development include:

Commercial lead