One technology still in the laboratory today that many want to see enter industry is printable organic electronics. Organic electronics are made of relatively inexpensive polymers that can be bent and folded as desired, unlike rigid and fragile silicon. As the polymers used can be dissolved in solutions, researchers have been working to develop methods of printing it, like an inkjet printer, and those at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have developed a new process for doing so.
Fluid-Enhanced Crystal Engineering, or FLUENCE, is the name of the process which preserves previous developments for printable electronics, while improving them as well. An issue with printed electronics is that the materials do not conduct electricity very well, and this is partly because the crystals within the material are chaotically aligned. This impairs the flow of electrical current, but the researchers designed a special printing blade that mixes the ink to create a more uniform film. They also patterned the substrate the polymer is printed on to, in order to prevent unruly crystals from forming.
When tested the new thin films were more than 10 times better at conducting electricity, than films created with similar methods. Now the researchers are testing FLUENCE on other polymers, to see what materials it works with, and have seen some success already.