Electronics are currently dominated by silicon. Rigid chips, circuits and transistors are made from this material. However, organic conductive polymers are opening the door to a new era dominated by flexible, and cheaper, electronics. Bartłomiej Kołodziejczyk, who was born in Poland, dedicated his doctoral thesis to the development of these materials. Now in the United States, his research and patents directed at improving the production of these materials have led to Kolodziejczyk´s recognition as one of MIT Technology Review´s Innovators Under 35 Poland 2016.
Kołodziejczyk researches how to improve the polymerization of new materials extracted from, for example, a specific type of olive tree. This allows his to create organic electrochemical transistors which, although less powerful than other silicon-based devices, present certain advantages such as a lower cost and flexibility. The young innovators explains: "Imagine trying to bend a silicon-based solar panel. You´ll break it. That doesn´t happen with conductive polymers." Kołodziejczyk calculates that the cost of an organic solar cell, one of the most advanced areas within organic electronics, could be somewhere between five and 10 times smaller than the cost of conventional solar cells.
Smart textiles, mobile devices, and flexible screens and sensors are just some of the areas that will benefit from the advancement of conductive polymers. Currently a research fellow at Carnegie Mellon University (USA), this young innovator uses his polymers to develop biosensors that could, for example, measure a person´s gluten levels – an idea that he is already hard at work developing in collaboration with the start-up Glu10 and others.
Kołodziejczyk aims to continue researching, but he does not want to remain confined to a lab. "I would like to take my ideas further, to a market and commercialization scenario," and he stresses his interest in solar fuels.
The University Adam Mickiewicz (Polonia) professor and jury member for the Innovators Under 35 Poland 2016 awards, Maciej Wiesner, highlights that some of Kołodziejczyk´s patents could "be applied very soon". The expert explains: "nanoelectronics based on soft polymers is one of the fastest developing areas. Companies are very interested in flexible electronic devices."