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A project to develop materials that can be printed on flexible, lightweight substrates, enabling the manufacture of electronics with novel form factors such as roll-up displays and flexible solar panels has been successfully completed by FlexTech Alliance and Polyera Corporation.
"The outcome of this FlexTech Alliance funded project will have significant impact on the printed electronics industry," said Michael Ciesinski, CEO of FlexTech Alliance. "Applications like radio frequency identification tags (RFID), disposable diagnostic devices, rollable and low-cost solar cells, and flexible displays represent a multi-billion-dollar market for printed electronics in the future. This project has enabled Polyera to develop viable materials to help build this market."
CMOS processes have long been the standard for traditional semiconductor manufacturing. Historically, CMOS, which utilizes both n-type and p-type materials, has not been possible with printed and flexible electronics, because only p-type organic semiconductors have shown the requisite level of performance on flexible substrates. With the advent of Polyera's high-mobility n-type organic semiconductors, printable CMOS circuits are now possible for the first time, leading to simpler circuit design and lower device power consumption.
Additionally, organic materials have several advantages over inorganic materials. These new organic materials function similarly to traditional inorganic materials but with a major difference: they can be dissolved into solution. Because the materials are like ink, electronics devices can be printed using ink-jet, rotogravure, and other roll-to-roll printing processes, significantly reducing fabrication costs.
"There is a growing list of novel applications previously impractical due to the limitations of traditional materials," said Brendan Florez, Assistant General Manger, Polyera. "During the project we have developed and optimized several new n-channel organic semiconductors for printed thin film transistors demonstrating unprecedented performance. These environmentally friendly formulations are now available to customers."
Nick Colaneri, Director of Flexible Display Center, Arizona State University said, "In addition to achieving targeted performance metrics, Polyera has successfully printed functional thin film transistors, CMOS inverters, and complementary ring oscillators--basic building blocks for consumer devices, displays and photovoltaics."