Organic electronics (OEs) use carbon-based polymers and small molecules, as opposed to traditional electronics, which use inorganic conductors such as copper and doped silicon. While there are many hurdles to widespread adoption of OE technology, if perfected it could lead to innovative, and lower-cost, devices, according to a white paper published by Productronica, an international trade fair for innovative electronics production. “From ‘electronic newspapers and magazines’ to smart windows, flexible film solar cell sheets to luminescent wallpaper, organic electronics has the potential to change the way we use computers and other electronic devices,” according to the white paper.

Some of the improvements that need to be made in organic electronics are in performance – silicon conductors still perform better – as well as durability. Susceptible to damage by water vapor and extreme temperatures, OEs currently require expensive encapsulation or barrier treatments.

Another big problem is the lack of funding opportunities:

“Despite making remarkable technical progress over the last five years, lack of funding could stall some OE company’s efforts to transition from research to production.,” according to the report.

If OE funding trends continue as they have, there is the danger that the tech could get lost in the competition.

“To date, the majority of external funding in the organic electronics market in Europe and the US has come from government sources rather than private equity,” according to the report. “This balance needs to shift in order to meet investment for production capacity during the next three years.

Among Productronica’s projections for organic electronics in the near future are:

RFID devices will generate $12.4 billion by 2015.

Point-of-purchase e-paper displays could be worth $1.6 billion by 2015.

Devices using organic transistors and memory will be a $1.2 billion market by 2015.

Disposable electronics will generate $17.5 billion in 2015.

Paper and board substrates for electronic devices will reach $1.8 billion by 2015.

The OLED display marked will reach $7.1 billion in 2016. Last year, the market was worth $0.6 billion.

Productronica believes that 80 percent of the organic electronics market in 2015 will be used in three applications: RFID, display backplanes and OLED lighting and displays.

Apparently, they forgot OE's most promising use: androids.

By Mark Alvarez