Is polymer electronics the future of TV screens

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Tom Pick                Research Brief

Are Polymer Electronics the Future of Television Screens?

Until recently all televisions used to contain a Cathode Ray Tube (CRT). This was the basis of the TV screen, and without it, we would have no picture on the screen. As Marshall Brain stated the CRT is a vacuum tube containing 3 electron guns, and a phosphor-coated screen. The electron guns give out a red, green and blue beam of light. The mix of the light can then be altered to give you any colour you want on the TV screen. These beams were then bent by magnetic deflection, which gave you a picture all over the screen. Because every TV contained a CRT they had to be fairly large and thick.

As this technology got old and inefficient, and people wanted to have thinner TV screens. Plasma and LCD screens were developed. These are much thinner, and according to Tom Harris, they draw much less power than CRTs which mean they are cheaper to run. Plasma screens work by having 1000s of tiny pixels all over the screen, and each individual pixel has its own supply of red, green and blue fluorescent light. Each pixel is then lit up in slightly different colours to create a picture.

This technology is now starting to become obsolete, as the public are wanting thinner more efficient TVs, that don’t have to be the centre piece of a room, but placed on a wall like a picture, and go reasonable unnoticed. People are also seeking a better quality picture, which is like real life. The picture quality of TVs has change hugely since the CRT screens, but people still demand a better picture.

The most recent advance in TV screens is the development of polymer electronics, producing TV screens known as OLEDs. These tend to create a brighter, crisper picture, while drawing less power. Hans-Jorg Bullinger says that polymer electronics is an emerging technology the concentrates on the development of electronics devices incorporating electrically conductive and semi-conductive materials, especially organic polymers. Polymer conductors and semiconductors open up prospects for microelectronic systems that go beyond the scope of conventional TVs and electronics based on silicon as the semiconductor.

        According to Richard S. Muller a semiconductor is an element which is neither a good conductor nor a good insulator, but rather lies somewhere between the two. They are characterized by a valence shell containing four electrons. Semiconductors are now used as a preference in most electronic devices for 2 main reasons; they are smaller to use than other alternatives, which make the device using it smaller. They are also easy to manipulate, so the electronic properties that are needed for a certain job, for example conductivity can be easily obtained, this process is known as doping, which is a process by which electrons are either added or taken away

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Properties of Polymers

Plastic materials are organic polymers, which mean that they consist of large molecules with long repeating chains of smaller organic units. Depending on the structure of the materials, they are electrically insulating, conducting or semiconducting.

Special polymers, such as conductive polyacetylene, consist of many identical single units, or monomers, combined in a chain. Typically, these organic polymers are based on chains of carbon atoms combined with hydrogen atoms. Conjugated chains comprise alternating single and double bonds between the carbon atoms, which results in delocalised electron states, which is a semiconductor. These can then be transformed within ...

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