FlexEnable spearheads breakthrough in flexible electronics

FlexEnable, a leader in the development and industrialization of flexible electronics, has successfully validated a new class of high performance organic semiconductors in a million pound project funded by Innovate UK. It combined materials developed by Flexink with FlexEnable’s proprietary industrial process for making flexible electronics and culminated in a proof of concept plastic LCD display.

The project, Printable Organic Semiconductors for Highly Enhanced Displays (PORSCHED), is part of the UK government’s bid to inspire technological innovation in the areas of electronics, photonics and electrical systems. FlexEnable collaborated with partners Flexink, Imperial College London, and the University of Cambridge, each bringing expertise in the area of organic semiconductors, from materials to device testing and optimization.

The main objective was to create an organic semiconductor that would ensure excellent film uniformity for large-area, flat panel displays. Proof of the performance of this semiconductor is seen in the plastic LCD display demonstrator fabricated at FlexEnable.

Chuck Milligan, CEO of FlexEnable said: “Cutting edge organic semiconductors combined with our industrially proven process and toolkit for flexible electronics have resulted in a high performance transistor platform - as demonstrated by its ability to drive full color video rate plastic LCD. High volume manufacturing for flexible electronics requires semiconductors not only with sufficient mobility, but also with uniformity over large areas and electrical stability. Organic Semiconductors processed at low temperatures enable the use of ultra low cost plastic substrates — even cheaper than glass — and make conformable, flexible, thin and light weight displays possible — transforming where and how we use electronics in our daily lives.”

FlexEnable has developed a complete set of processes to manufacture flexible organic thin film transistor (OTFT) devices and arrays. This has led to the successful volume production of thin, lightweight, and robust backplanes for flexible displays. FlexEnable’s process is very low temperature (<100°C) which opens up a host of manufacturing and cost benefits.

A maximum processing temperature below 100°C brings manufacturing advantages by allowing for the use of lower cost plastic substrates (e.g. PET), minimizing distortion (to improve yield) and enabling low cost mount and demount. However, implementing such a low temperature process presents significant challenges, for example in low temperature deposition and patterning of materials. These challenges have been addressed by FlexEnable’s low temperature process technology for flexible electronics.

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