Reinventing usability of Paper
The first type of electricity discovered was static electricity. The discovery of static electricity was mankind’s first step towards learning about electricity. This was many years ago.
The best known example comes from our physics class. Where we were asked to run the comb through our hair and place it near tiny bits of papers. What happens next is due to Static. This is an age old theory and now the goal is to put electronics into paper.
Recently there have been many researchers trying to accomplish this and according to Daniel Torbjork, a physics graduate student at the Abo Akademi University in Finland suggest,
“While most electronic applications require patterned conducting structures, conducting paper could be used in applications such as energy storage devices, sensors, electric heaters, electric field emitters, antistatic coatings, and electromagnetic shields”.
The major task is not about developing it; instead its how to produce it economically. Torbjork has been trying to combine flexibility, low-cost and recyclability of papers with the information carrying ability of electronics.
The concept has already been implemented by a few. For e.g. Professor Karen K. Gleason have figured out how to put a solar cell into a piece of folding paper and the German researchers have successfully embedded electronic chips in paper bank notes to thwart counterfeiters.
Currently Torbjork and Professor Ronald Osterbacka at the university’s Center for Functional Materials are developing a low-voltage organic transistor as well as a special roll-to-roll printing system for electronic devices. A Finnish paper firm Srora Enso is also supporting these developments.
Some say that given the challenges that papers bring with it like large surface roughness, porosity and chemical impurities could be an obstacle. We all know that the best substrate is glass, then plastics and beyond that there are also metal solutions. So if we are thinking of paper as a substrate it looks like a few more years of research and struggle to make this dream come true. And certainly a worthy patent petition when someone comes up with a conductive paper.