Project Details Terminology for Conducting, Electroactive and Field-responsive Polymers

Project No.:
Start Date:
01 September 2006
End Date:
Division Name:


With the awarding of the 2000 Nobel Prize in chemistry for work on semiconducting polymers and the recent advances in the realm of organic electronics for displays, solar cells and other applications, the entire field of electroactive polymers is of growing importance. This project is aimed at proposing a list of terms and definitions to be accepted and respected by chemists and others working as materials scientists within academia and industry.


The physical and chemical properties of electroactive and field responsive polymers and polymer molecules are being increasingly investigated for scientific study, technology development and commercialization by diverse scientific communities. In view of the rapid development and steadily increasing number of applications of polymers as active functional materials in a construction of integrated circuits and electronic and optoelectronic devices such as diodes, light-emitting diodes, switches, photovoltaic cells, analytical sensors, storage batteries, etc., a need for effective and clear communication among chemistry, polymer physics and materials communities is of increasing importance. Chemical acronyms for the polymers being used, terms for their properties and tools for characterization are diverse and used with inconsistency. It is the aim of this project to provide chemists, physicists and materials scientists with a useful glossary that can facilitate this interdisciplinary communication and help to understand the rationale lying behind the terms and definitions originating from various fields of science and technology. In the proposed glossary, the objects, processes and phenomena related to this interdisciplinary field of science and technology will be defined and reasonably explained. Particular attention will be paid to relations between terms concerning identical or closely related topics, which are independently defined in different ways in different fields of science, such as delocalized radicals, ions and ion-radicals on the one hand and various solitons and polarons on the other hand. Both chemical and physical viewpoints will be presented and rationally explained. An extended nomenclature is required to describe these macroscopic systems, as already evidenced by the impossibility of writing these introductory sentences without resorting to the use of two such terms. Some terms will be of relatively recent introduction. Other, older terms will be in common usage by physical chemists and some by materials scientists, and perhaps more familiar to such specialists than to polymer scientists. Many of the terms might also be totally unfamiliar to scientists whose background is not rooted in chemistry or material science. It is therefore necessary to identify terms specific to field responsive polymers, and to harmonize and enforce their use by the people active in the field.

The document will consist of a list of terms selected to describe the different electroactive and field responsive polymers, their methods of formation, their characterisation, their processing and any terminology that is idiosyncratic to the techniques used for their investigation. The definitions will be harmonized for acceptance by the chemistry, polymer and materials communities.

We will also involve members of the polymer physics community. To assist in achieving this assent, members of the learned societies of different countries will be consulted to ensure that the definitions are accepted worldwide.


Nov 2019 update – A draft of the document has been finalized by the task group and is to be sent for approval to theĀ Subcommittee on Polymer Terminology. Submission to PAC and including public review will follow.

April 2021 update – The provisional recommendation is available for comments till 31 August 2021 >

Page last updated 27 Apr 2021