Electrics and Electronics Becomes User-Dedicated Smart Material

Dr Peter Harrop
Electrics and Electronics Becomes User-Dedicated Smart Material
An important new trend is buying electrics and electronics you customise to function not just shape. See the new IDTechEx report, "Electronics Reshaped 2020-2040". Builders, textile manufacturers, those doing home improvement and others are starting to buy electrically-smart materials direct from materials companies, bypassing the electronics industry. For example, InfinityPV self-adhesive solar tape cuts to any length and that decides voltage and power produced, not just shape. Layering gives other options. Increasingly, other reconfigurable electrical and electronic material can be stretched, pressed, or cut to shape on arrival. Expect electrically smart material fed into 3D printers - another a huge opportunity for the added-value materials industry.
Power From Area Rather Than Efficiency
Raghu Das, IDTechEx CEO advises, "If you can get your battery, supercapacitor or solar power from area, you do not need the highest efficiency. This is often the logic behind the new plastic-film forms of new thermoelectrics, piezoelectrics, triboelectrics, electrets and photovoltaics and of wide-area cuttable, printed or painted sensors. Biodegradable papertronics with ink and pens using, resistive, conductive, light-emitting and semiconductive inks are also part of this."
Ubiquitous Electronics
University of Tokyo researchers demonstrate plastic film hybrid electronics saying, "You can do more than just cut this sheet into fun or interesting shapes. It is thin and flexible. You can mold it around curved surfaces such as bags and clothes. Our idea is anyone could transform various surfaces into wireless charging areas." See the IDTechEx report, "Flexible Hybrid Electronics 2020-2030: Applications, Challenges, Innovations and Forecasts".
Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory has polymer-sheet batteries you cut to shape for chosen energy storage and locations. They work even after being shot and soaked. The University of Buffalo fabricates kirigami-inspired stretchable electronics you cut and shape and that also alters electric and mechanical properties - three things. Nanyang Technological University, Singapore shows a fabric-like wearable supercapacitor that can be cut, folded, or stretched and it even demonstrates customisable stretchability of its wearable electronics.
Microgrid Carpet
Unrolling like a carpet, Renovagen photovoltaics will soon be available up to a huge 300kW output. You choose power by choosing length and width. It can unroll across a field as a temporary microgrid for outdoor events or charging the farmer's new robots in distant places. The basic copper indium gallium diselenide CIGS technology has been applied as film to buses and building facades competing with the more colourful, less-efficient Heliatek organic photovoltaic film which both refreshes a building and makes it greener. A German grouping plans to double the CIGS efficiency so it can usefully be applied to many more locations.
Buy a Pot of Solar Power
Get your electronics and electrics as paint or ink? NYU Tandon, University of Buffalo, Peking University and others have demonstrated painted photovoltaics and now seek efficiency high enough to commercialise them. Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology even has solar paint that creates hydrogen fuel.
Stamping Cars From Reels of Electrics
Cars were made with huge rolls of steel stamped into bodywork by the car factory. One day they may be stamped out of huge reels of solar + supercapacitor sourced by the car factory from materials companies. "Free" electricity reducing the weight, taking no space, more reliable and lasting much longer. What's not to like? Then aircraft, trains, ships, laptops? Self-healing supercapacitor bodywork has been demonstrated by Lamborghini. See the IDTechEx report, "Solar Cars, Buses, Trucks, Trains 2020-2030". The more savvy materials companies sense a new megatrend in all this, perfect for them.