It was believed by everyone in basic science that plastic is an insulator while beginning a career in science under physics and chemistry, the science students would always be told that plastic is an insulator; for that reason, they do classify plastics as an insulator whenever the need to classify conductors and insulators arise.
However, at the advanced stage of engineering career; a lot had been revealed that actually contradict the early beliefs in science and the actual properties of plastics are one of them. While it was referred to as an insulator at the early stage of scientific studies, it has been proven that some plastics can actually conduct electricity. These categories of plastics can either work as semiconductors or conductors of electricity depending on their quantum arrangement.
The category of plastics that can conduct electricity can be referred to as the INTRINSICALLY CONDUCTING POLYMERS (ICPs), they are organic polymers that conduct electricity, it is believed that such polymers may have some metallic conductivity or can be semi-conductor at a particular condition. The good advantage such material can offer to science as conductors or semiconductors is the processing ability which is mainly through dispersion. It has also been found that such polymers are generally not thermoplastics, which means they cannot be formed through heat. The electrical conductivity of such polymers can be fine-tuned through the method of organic synthesis and advanced dispersion techniques.
Polyaniline is one of the polymers known to conduct electricity, it was first described in the mid-19th century by Henry Letheby after investigating the electrochemical and chemical oxidation products of aniline in acidic media. Another highly conductive polymer was discovered on the 1950s which the researcher referred to as charge transfer complexes, it was reported that polycyclic aromatic compounds formed semi-conducting charge-transfer complex salts with halogens. In the year 1954, another researcher at Bell Lab revealed similar discovery and reported that organic charge transfer complexes with the low resistance of about 8 ohms-cm were obtainable. Later in 1970 researchers conducted experiments with the salt of tetrathiafulvalene which showed full metallic conductivity, while the improved experiments on the same material were done in the 1980s with improved results.
The continued experiments to see how some organic materials can become conductors of electricity had been proving to be positive especially with polymers. It is in this regard that the world is looking up to the polymer technology for the next generation of panels and dashboards of electronics to be made with organic materials such as a polymer.
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