Catalyst for Manufacturing Conductive Polymers at Lower Cost

Technology #14772

Invention

The University of Florida is seeking companies interested in commercializing an inexpensive catalyst that rapidly polymerizes substrates to synthesize conductive polymers, potentially lowering the manufacturing cost of products that use these polymers, such as solar panels, LEDs and batteries. Composed of long repeating molecular chains, conductive polymers are designed to exhibit specific properties such as high electrical conductivity and heat resistance. Although they look and feel like ordinary plastics, these polymers actually transmit (or “conduct”) the flow of electricity instead of insulating against it. This unique feature enables their use in solar cells, light-emitting diodes (LEDs), anti-static materials and batteries. Another important application is in the production of flexible displays and devices. The need for conductive polymers has been rising steadily over the past several years, reaching $1.8 billion in 2011, and is projected to reach $2.4 billion by 2016. This growth could accelerate if conductive polymer fabrication could be simplified. Manufacturing conductive polymers using existing technology has proven costly and labor-intensive. Moreover, the cost of catalysts can be prohibitive. Researchers at the University of Florida have remedied this problem by developing an innovative catalyst that rapidly and efficiently produces tailor-made conductive polymers. Moreover, the catalyst exhibits long lifetimes resulting in more polymer product per mol of catalyst, resulting in substantial cost savings. The invention, which could lower the cost of many consumer and industrial products, will likely attract attention from a wide range of industries.

Application

Catalyst that facilitates conductive polymer production, lowering the manufacturing cost of solar panels, LEDs, batteries, and flexible displays.

Advantages

  • Faster reaction times ensure more efficient production
  • Costs less to manufacture than existing substances, increasing profits
  • Long catalyst lifetime and turnover number
  • Permits the development of new polymer types, providing multiple market opportunities
  • Reduces solar cell and LED manufacturing costs, promoting the use of these energy-conserving products

Technology

Researchers at the University of Florida have developed a catalyst for inexpensively synthesizing substances that are used in conductive polymer manufacturing. The catalyst features the use of a tungsten-alkylidyne complex for alkyne metathesis and polymerization. The resulting substances have faster reaction times and allow for the production of various compounds with a multitude of different properties and applications. Reducing the cost of conductive polymers will lower manufacturing costs for solar panels, batteries, LEDs, anti-static materials and light-emitting diodes for backlights and displays.