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Carbon Nanotubes: Re-Inventing Organics
Thursday, August 06, 2009 | Cathleen Thiele, Technical Analyst, IDTechEx

Carbon nanotubes and graphene exhibit extraordinary electrical properties for organic materials, and have a huge potential in electrical and electronic applications such as sensors, microelectronic and semi-conductor devices, field emission displays (FEDs), nanoelectrodes and energy conversion devices (e.g., fuel cells and batteries).

Depending on their chemical structure carbon nanotubes (CNTs) can be used as an alternative to organic and inorganic semiconductors, as well as conductors, but the cost is currently the greatest restraint. However, that has the ability to rapidly fall as applications grow and manufacturing costs improve. Interest is high as CNTs have demonstrated carrier mobilities which are magnitudes higher than silicon, meaning that fast switching transistors can be fabricated. This is in contrast to polymer organic materials that many companies are developing for transistors, where the mobility is currently very low, severely restricting possible uses. Seventy-eight organizations working on the topic are profiled in a new IDTechEx report. For more details, visit www.IDTechEx.com/nano.  

In electronics one of the first applications for CNTs will be transparent conductors. Here, applications are for displays, replacing ITO, touch screens, photovoltaics and display bus bars, connecting TFTs to the front plane, such as OLEDs.

IDTechEx's sixth annual Printed Electronics & Photovoltaics USA Conference, December 2-3, 2009 in San Jose, California, covers all the applications, technologies and opportunities in the field of printed electronics and photovoltaics. This event, the world's largest on the topic and growing rapidly every year, will have over 100 world-class speakers--some presenting exclusively for the first time here--covering components, materials and applications. End user speakers include representatives from Procter & Gamble and Kimberly Clark, among others.

For the first time, IDTechEx will have a session dedicated to the rapidly growing topics of CNTs and Graphene for electronics applications, with key companies and research institutes presenting their work:

Founded in 2004, Canatu is a spin-off from the Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) producing films based on carbon nanotubes and their NanoBud™ nanomaterial CNT films. Dr David Brown, CEO, will speak about graphene and carbon nanotubes, especially key innovations and their commercialization as transparent electrodes, semiconductors, resistors, capacitors and saturable absorbers in the display, solar, touchscreen and laser markets. These key innovations are Carbon NanoBuds™, hybrids between traditional CNTs and fullerenes, their CNT and NanoBud™ synthesis processes and the component production method called Direct Dry Printing™, which is able to produce superior quality homogeneous and patterned films, either free-standing or on virtually any substrate at room temperature.

Canatu is focusing on applications of conductive and semiconductive thin films, which range from transparent electrodes in solar cells and displays, saturable absorbers in pulsed lasers to semiconducting films in field effects transistors. Their patterned transparent conductive films are suitable for replacing ITO in LCDs, OLED displays, thin film solar cells, etc. Canatu is working with companies on integrating their films into applications in the areas of e-readers, touch screens, thin film displays and solar cells.

Canatu told IDTechEx, "We will be selling homogeneous and pre patterned films in various conductivities, transparencies, patterning and fractional coverage. We will begin by supplying selected strategic partners with specialty films made to their specifications." Brown tells IDTechEx that they see 300% growth in shipments over the next five years.

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