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Agfa is the only company that uses the conductive polymers principle on an industrial scale in the field of photography.
Mortsel (Belgium), 13 October 2000 – As known, Alan Heeger, Alan MacDiarmid and Hideki Shirakawa received the Nobel Prize 2000 for Chemistry on October 10th. Less known maybe is the fact that Agfa-Gevaert N.V. is the only company world-wide that applies this technology of conductive polymers on such a massive scale. Agfa produces about 200 million m² of film with an antistatic coating that contains conductive polymers.
About thirty years ago scientists discovered how conductive polymers (materials that are composed of long chains of molecules, e.g. in synthetic materials) can be produced. However, the discovered polymers were not soluble and thus almost not practically usable. In the early nineties, Agfa developed a method to make these conductive polymers soluble and to make them suitable for industrial applications.
This enabled Agfa to apply these polymers on photographic film. At present, Agfa is the only imaging company that uses polymers to make its film (graphical and medical as well as photographic) antistatic. In doing so, it is avoided that the film, when touched, gets illuminated by an electrical discharge. The developing process also goes more smoothly thanks to the lasting antistatic effect of the conductive polymers, which helps to prevent film obstructions in the film processing devices and the attraction of dust particles.
Agfa also used the conductive polymers when developing its new Orgaconä film. This transparent conductive film was recently marketed. It is among other things used in the production of electroluminescence lamps, which can be produced in virtually any shape thanks to their thin and flexible design. The lamps work on the basis of certain inorganic materials that can emit light in the presence of an alternating electrical field generated between two conductive films. In comparison with existing transparent conductive films, Orgaconä differs by virtue of its good deformation capability and damage resistance. This makes it possible to develop totally new applications like flexible lamps, relief and 3D structures and flat lamps used for signaling.
Another application that can be commercialised in the future is a printing ink on the basis of conductive polymers. This printing ink makes it possible, for example, to print luminous patterns on a poster. If only for the world of advertising, one can think of numerous applications. On the basis of the principle of the conductive polymers Agfa also works on the development of new products like touch screens, plastic transistors and flexible displays.
With this technology Agfa has tapped new fields of application for its core activities in booming markets like electronics and telecommunications.
The Agfa-Gevaert Group headquartered in Mortsel, Belgium ranks among the world’s leading imaging companies. Agfa develops, produces and markets analog and digital systems, primarily for the graphics industry, medical radiology, non-destructive testing, micrographics, motion picture film and consumer imaging and photography markets. Agfa employs about 22,000 people in 40 countries, and has 120 agents throughout the world. Together, they achieved a turnover of 4,731 million Euro in 1999. Product and company information can be found on Agfa’s home page on the World Wide Web at: www.agfa.com and http://sfc.agfa.com.
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