A new sheet-to-sheet pilot line installed at Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research (IAP) marks a key step in the institute's goal to support development of printable organic electronics for commercial applications.
The semi-automated line, 15 metres in length, is the result of two years of collaboration between Fraunhofer IAP in Potsdam and turnkey plant manufacturer MBraun. The equipment is installed in Fraunhofer IAP's new Application Centre for Innovative Polymer Technologies. The line comprises inkjet and slot die coating machines as well as vacuum evaporation tools, for the processing of device electrodes on 15 cm (6 inch) substrates. The line also includes encapsulation processing tools, for glass-to-glass encapsulation, glass-to-foil and also atomic layer deposition (ALD) for encapsulation.
Fraunhofer IAP has a long background in organic electronics. Since 1994, the institute has carried out research into OLEDs, OPVs and organic field effect transistors based on polymer semiconductor materials.
'The line will aid efforts by Fraunhofer IAP, working with our industrial partners, to bring this promising research to commercial fruition. This equipment is coupled with the research team's many years' experience of these materials and devices,' explains Dr Armin Wedel, division director, functional polymer systems at the institute.
Sheet-to-sheet production processes allow for more optimised device structures, but the next step is to install a roll-to-roll (R2R) line at Fraunhofer IAP. This will be located nearby, as at 35 metres in length, it will be too long to fit in the Fraunhofer building. The line should be installed by early 2014.
The challenge will be to translate the efficiencies and performances achieved by making OPV and OLED devices on the sheet-to-sheet line to the R2R line; the target for OPV is 8% efficiency. Champion cells in the lab have achieved 12% and produced on the sheet-to-sheet line OPV efficiencies will be about 5% and will be increased from there.
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