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Earth & Energy

We Accidentally Invented Plastic That Conducts Electricity

And the world was never the same.

Kelsey R. MarquartApril 15th 2017

The Birth of Conductive Plastics

Before the 2000s, conductive plastics were virtually unheard of. The recycle bin fodder was only utilized as an insulator to protect electricians from any fatal electric shocks until 1974, when a scientist stumbled upon a plastic that could conduct electricity.

SciShow’s Hank Green explains the birth of conductive plastics and the inner scientific machinations of a new form of plastic. He highlights the particular properties of the plastic that enable its conductivity while also talking about other methods used today to conduct electricity.

Take a look below:

These advances have spilled over into consumer technology. A conductive plastic called PEDOT protects electronics from static electricity by dispersing the charge. Through these methods, scientists have created the innovations needed to print electronics on inkjet printers. Companies are transforming heavy, expensive silicon solar panels to more affordable and lightweight options. The problem with using plastics for solar panels is that they’re not as efficient as the silicon ones, at least not yet. Even so, scientists predict that one day we will have solar cells printed on almost everything, and conductive plastic could change how we think about our electronics.

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