This story was written by Keith Dawson for the Industry Standard's Media Grok email newsletter. It is archived here for informational purposes only because The Standard's site is no more. This material is Copyright 1999-2001 by Standard Media.

Plastics + Semiconductors = Money
Nov 28 2000 12:00 AM PST

The media swarm around a U.K. company that says it can make plastic behave like silicon, though maybe not right away.

If Dustin Hoffman's character in The Graduate had just emerged from Cambridge University, some boozy old guy at a cocktail party might offer him this career advice: "Plastic semiconductors." Two U.K. outlets picked up the story of Plastic Logic, a new venture-funded startup in the Silicon Fen that hopes to pioneer the production of cheap electronic devices made of hydrocarbons. Stateside, TechWeb ran a credible wrap of the story.

Making plastic behave like silicon has been a topic of research for years, but Plastic Logic is the first firm with announced plans to commercialize the technology. The company hopes to demonstrate prototype plastic chips next summer, said the Financial Times. Production-quality devices are a few years away, according to TechWeb.

The Financial Times' Peter Marsh gathered enough material to file three stories. One focused on the history of research into plastic semiconductors, a second on the business prospects for Plastic Logic, and a third on the city of Cambridge as a candidate to become "Plastics Valley," the hydrocarbon mirror to Silicon Valley.

The EE Times' Peter Clarke, writing in TechWeb, made the most of his interview with Plastic Logic's chairman and lead investor, Herman Hauser. Clarke elicited details not mentioned in other coverage, such as the imminent publication in the respected journal Science of details of Plastic Logic's patented production processes. Clarke also listed the other investors in Plastic Logic.

The Register's reporter quoted no sources but introduced the useful term "mega-boffins" to refer to the Cambridge scientists. The Register also quoted Plastic Logic CEO Stuart Evans on the real reason everyone is covering the company - it's a "machine for making money." - Keith Dawson

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