Materials science and processing technologies of electronics materials have been central to the rapid progress that we have experienced in electronics and its applications. Drastically new options are being realized and these can have a major impact on mobile devices, based on applications related to, e.g., flexible and polymer electronics and roll-to-roll processes. Mobile devices are, however, balanced combinations of electronics and peripheral structures, in which the latter are also strongly dependent on the advanced materials that are available. There is expected to be relevant progress in materials science contributing to the structural parts of mobile devices, e.g., promoting lightweight construction, rigidity, flexibility, adaptability, functional materials, sensing, dirt repellency, adhesive properties, and other surface properties. In this chapter we will review some of the potential future developments, leaving some others to be discussed in later chapters since they are intimately related to the developments of the electronics. We expect the most significant developments to take place in “soft” organic and polymeric materials and nanostructured organic-inorganic hybrids and therefore the main emphasis is there. Biological materials offer illustrative examples of advanced materials properties providing versatile lightweight, functional, and sustainable structures, showing potential for the design of novel materials.
It is expected that new multifunctional materials with specific combinations of properties will extensively be developed for the structural parts and user interfaces of future mobile devices. Adaptivity, sensing, and context awareness are key sought-after features, and are described widely in the different chapters of this book.