Piezotech, fluorinated materials of the future
Acquired by the Group in 2010, Piezotech is part of Arkema’s incubator. This company develops a range of ultra high added value electroactive fluorinated polymers derived from PVDF (a thermoplastic fluoropolymer). These polymers are materials of the future, offering an inexhaustible source of innovation. Their properties hint at a wide scope of applications in the robotics, aerospace, medical, automotive and electronics fields.
A distinguishing feature of piezoelectric polymers is their electroactive nature. They undergo deformation under the action of an electric current or an electric field, and, conversely, generate an electric current under mechanical pressure.
These are intelligent materials, capable of significant deformation. Available as powder, thin film or ink, these innovative polymers are being used increasingly in connected and interactive everyday devices (e.g. tactile watches and tablets).
Electroactive fluoropolymers, a technological and industrial revolution
Thanks to the material resources provided by the Group and the know-how of its R&D experts, Piezotech operates in an environment that is conducive to its application development. Electroactive polymers have numerous and diverse application fields. As part of a textile, these polymers are able to make the item of clothing smart. The textile comprises countless sensors with sensory properties and so is able to transmit biomedical data on the individual wearing it.
Piezoelectric polymers also have applications in medicine with the development of catheters and surgical guides steerable to the nearest millimetre. Eventually, these polymers will play a role in the development of haptic technologies (haptics is the science of touch, just as optics is to light and acoustics is to sound).
The boom of printed electronics
Printed electronics emerged a few years ago. A market with high growth potential, it offers an extensive range of possibilities for Piezotech polymers. Research in this field of applications is conducted jointly with CEA and Creative Papers (world leader in technical paper).
Piezotech offers a unique range of electroactive inks that meet the needs of the actuators (devices that convert the energy provided into a usable physical phenomenon) and sensors industry. Hence, simple electronic components like transistors, sensors or connections can now be printed using conductive inks and thin layers of electroactive polymers.
Therefore it is possible to manufacture electronic devices on flexible surfaces such as fabric, paper or flexible plastics. In the near future, a large number of applications will benefit from printed electronics: from smart labels to flexible screens to ultra thin sensors… Polymers have plenty of surprises in store!