Conductive polymers are lighter, more flexible, and less expensive than inorganic conductors. This makes them a desirable alternative in many applications. It also creates the possibility of new applications that would be impossible using copper or silicon.
New applications include smart windows and electronic paper. Conductive polymers are expected to play an important role in the emerging science of molecular computing.
Conductive polymers have a higher resistance and therefore conduct electricity slowly and inefficiently, as compared to inorganic conductors. For many applications, inorganic conductors will remain the only viable option.
Conductive properties of plastics were first discovered in the late 1970s. The men principally responsible for their discovery and development were Alan J. Heeger, Alan G. MacDiarmid, and Hideki Shirakawa, who were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2000.