ICON rolls out 2 roll-to-roll nano imprinting processes

July 27, 2011 – ACN Newswire — The Industrial Consortium On Nanoimprint (ICON), led by A*STAR’s Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE), will roll out 2 commercial-volume roll-to-roll (R2R) manufacturing process for creating nano-scale textures on films and other surfaces. The fab method should enable viable scale-up of nanoimprinted structures in flat panel displays, biomedical devices, plastic electronics and flexible solar cells.

R2R nano imprinting can form optical films for flat panel displays, anti-reflective coatings for solar cells, and other textured products in mass quantities on large-area pieces, and at a high speed. "With this method we can merge nanoimprint technologies into real-world applications and on an industrial scale," explained Dr Low Hong Yee, an IMRE senior scientist who heads the team developing the roll-to-roll nanoimprint technology. Nanoimprint technology produces nanometer-sized structures of greater complexity using fewer processing steps, while minimizing wasted materials. It has evolved from the semiconductor industry’s lithography technology to a platform process technology that can be adapted to a wide range of applications.

ICON’s thermal roll-to-roll method makes patterns on the substrate directly, can accommodate a variety of plastics for different applications, and suits fabrication of micro- and nano-fluidic devices, biochemical assays, and other biomedical devices. ICON’s UV technique allows quicker processing because it takes place at room temperature, and offers the advantage of fabricating the nanostructures on cross-linkable resins, thus imparting higher thermal and mechanical stability to the imprinted products.

The roll-to-roll imprinting project includes local and international partners from materials and equipment suppliers to end users: Solves Innovative Technology Pte Ltd (Singapore), Advanced Technologies and Regenerative Medicine, LLC (ATRM) (USA), Young Chang Chemical Co. Ltd (South Korea), EV Group (Austria), Micro Resist Technology GmbH (Germany) and NTT Advanced Technology Corporation (Japan).

EV Group (EVG) worked on the roll-to-roll thermal nanoimprinter under ICON’s project. Hermann Waltl, Executive Sales and Customer Support Director, EVG, said the value of collaboration was to not just design equipment, but see "how this equipment can be applied." Koh Teng Hwee, Managing Director of Solves, a small and medium enterprise that had worked with IMRE to develop the roll-to-roll UV nanoimprinting tool, agreed that the project put developers in contact directly with the industry using the tools.

The transition from lab to high-volume manufacturing of nano-structured films will enable enhanced solar cells and displays, noted Kim Woo Yong, Global Marketing Director of Young Chang Chemical Co. Ltd, South Korea. Gabi Gruetzner, Managing Director of Micro Resist Technology GmbH sees the potential for photoresists and polymers for micro and nanolithography.

The Industrial Consortium On Nanoimprint (ICON) is led by the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE), a research institute of Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). ICON is a nanotechnology consortium in Singapore that encourages companies to adopt versatile, industry-ready nanoimprinting technology that can bring products to the market through sustainable manufacturing. For more information about IMRE, please visit www.imre.a-star.edu.sg.

The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) is the lead agency for fostering world-class scientific research and talent for a vibrant knowledge-based and innovation-driven Singapore. For more information about A*STAR, please visit www.a-star.edu.sg.

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