Nanoident opens facility for organic semiconductors


In March, Nanoident opened in Linz, Austria, what it claims to be “the world’s first dedicated manufacturing facility for printed organic semiconductors.” The company started building its organic fab (OFAB) in late 2005. Located on Nanoident’s headquarters campus, it measures 850 square meters (9,150 sq. ft.) and includes 250 sq. meters (2,700 sq. ft.) of Class 100 cleanroom.

Rather than using traditional chipmaking techniques, the company employs an advanced inkjet-printing process, which can deposit specialized inks onto flexible and rigid substrates, including various polymers, glass, and silicon. The current process can print feature sizes down to the tens of microns on 30 x 30-cm-square substrates as thin as 20 microns, with film thickness of about 300nm for a typical four-layer device, says Wasiq Bokhari, CEO of the company’s U.S. subsidiary, Bioident.

“We work with different kinds of inks, to get different properties and sensitivities,” he explains. “We can add carbon nanotubes or other nanomaterials, and mix and match to create more-complex structures to make highly customized, highly specific semiconductors. You can design a new application and have it volume-manufactured in a very short time, in a matter of hours or days. It opens the whole idea of just-in-time production.”

A technician at Nanoident’s new OFAB performs substrate cleaning, a key manufacturing step.
Click here to enlarge image

With output volumes for the initial production line in the thousands of square meters per year, the company’s goal is to hit 100,000 sq. meters within a year. Ultimate capacity could reach 100,000 sq. meters per hour, once OFAB transitions from sheet-fed or batch processing to roll-to-roll (R2R) manufacturing, says Bokhari.

“One of the beauties of printed electronics is scalability.” Although the fab has one printer line, it “could have three to four lines and could be scalable by adding different lines or by changing the printer system. We have the flexibility to do both, depending on market demand.”

The company has been working diligently on process development and yields for the past three years, explains Bokhari. Yields are “very device-dependent” and are also a function of the “complexity of the whole system, not just the devices you’re printing but everything you’re printing around it, as well as the materials details-substrates, inks, the whole stack you’re building.”

“For each of the specific components-substrate, materials, specific devices-we’ve been working on all of these different combinations to get a good handle on what the yields are and how to improve them. As we ramp up into higher production levels, it will help us improve on yields because we will be tuning and optimizing the process.”

Bokhari says the company will deliver the products manufactured at OFAB to its internal family of subsidiaries, including Bioident’s offering of what he calls a “radically simplified” lab-on-a-chip solution: low-cost devices for mobile analyses and in-vitro diagnostics. - TC