Process Economics Program Report 164
Polyacetylene and Other Inherently Conducting Polymers
Published: May 1984
In recent years It has been discovered that polyacetylene and a number of other organic polymers can be made good conductors of electricity when "doped" with certain chemical species. These "inherently conducting polymers", or ICPs for short, comprise a new class of materials with novel and fascinating combinations of properties. As such they are of major scientific interest, and may ultimately have considerable technological impact. For example, plans have been announced by one major company for the development of novel rechargeable batteries that use ICPs as the active electrode materials, with a view to commercialization before the end of this decade. It has also been proposed that ICPs could provide the basis for low cost solar cells, and that potential usage in wire and cable applications could run to hundreds of millions of pounds.
However, there is considerable controversy in regard to both the nature of the basic conductive process in these materials, and the extent to which their technological promise may be realized. In their conducting state the ICPs typically lack longer term stability, are difficult to fabricate, and have poor mechanical properties. Success in mitigating these disadvantages has not been spectacular.