My work with polymers is currently very fundamental, so mass market applications are not really a concern right now. It is quite possible that at some point in the future, some devices that utilise the effects that I’m studying will be made, but this is not why I’m researching them.
We’re simply trying to understand how these materials and structures react on a very basic level. Until this is done, it’s impossible to say what the potential applications of these materials might be. When the laser was invented, no-one really saw it’s potential quickly, it was just scientific study. Since then, the laser has revolutionised the world in ways that were impossible to predict. That’s one of the things I love about science, you never know where your discoveries might take you!
It’s currently a topic of some debate, whether science for science’s sake is a worthwhile endeavour. I emphatically believe that it is (as I guess you probably do if you’re a fan of particle accelerators?). The minute we stop trying to understand the world on a fundamental level, we lose the very thing that has led to all our major technological advances.
Sorry, I’ve realised I’ve started to rant so I’ll wrap the answer up here. I hope I’ve answered your question, if not, do let me know.