The smart device revolution is upon us with the emergence of a new generation of organic, flexible, printed, lightweight, ultra-thin electronics. Arkema is contributing to this through its subsidiary Piezotech, which specializes in the production of high-performance electroactive polymers derived from PVDF. Their properties open up opportunities for a wide range of applications in the electronics, robotics, aeronautics, medical and automotive industries.
These unique polymers undergo deformation under the action of an electric field and, conversely, generate an electric current under mechanical pressure. They will be incorporated into a host of interactive, smart and everyday objects, in powder, thin film or ink form. “Our polymers will be part of wearable technology initiatives providing new sensory properties,” predicts Fabrice Domingues Dos Santos. For example, our researchers are working on haptic applications, in which these polymers make surfaces vibrate when you touch them. A control panel, a watch strap, or an intelligent glove in virtual or augmented reality could give the user tactile information via vibration. Paper covered in our materials could be used as a loudspeaker. These capabilities are revolutionizing the way that information is communicated via smart products.
Another market for these polymers is for new generations of thin sensors, which can now be printed onto flexible surfaces such as fabric, paper, and flexible plastics. These polymers can make objects intelligent, and sense heat, vibrations and changes in shape. For example, a textile can feature countless sensors and transmit biomedical data about the wearer. “Many applications – smart labels, flexible screens, ultra-thin sensors – will develop on a large scale in the robotics, aeronautics, medicine and automotive industries in the next decade,” continues Piezotech President Fabrice Domingues Dos Santos. These polymers still hold many surprises in store!