Plastic electronics have been available in many labs since last decade. The promise is to create chips that can be embedded on any surface thus transforming our ambient by providing them sensing, processing, storage, interacting capabilities, in other words making them aware or, as we say at the EIT ICT LABS "smart".
However it has not been able to generate an industrial production process because it is both expensive to produce in large quantity and way slower than silicon based electronics.
Now cooperation between teams at Stanford University and Nebraska/Lincoln University has resulted in the invention of a new method for producing plastic electronics that is yielding much faster transistors and that should ultimately result in low cost industrial manufacturing.
As shown in the graphic, the creation of the electronic substrate is achieved by placing the organic material on a spinning disk. The centrifugal force takes care of spreading the material in just the right way to get a very fast conducting layer that can be used for creating transistors and circuits. The organic crystalline material used creates transistors that are transparent, up to 90% of lights can go through them. Hence they are ideal for use on any surface.
You can look at the details on the paper published on Nature Communications.
We are not there yet, since the industrial yield has yet to be perfected but it is a step forward and it clearly points to a future where Smart Spaces will be the norm!