On 1st July, The UK Trade & Investment Chemical Sector Initiative on Printed Electronics hosted a Masterclass at Haydock Park Racecourse in North West England. It was attended by 40 delegates from 20 companies in the chemical sector, interested in printed electronics as a new outlet for their skills and products. The training consists of that event and, on 7-10 October 2008, a UK Trade Delegation to the IDTechEx Printed Electronics Asia event in Tokyo, Japan with its many visits to local centres of excellence in printed electronics. In Tokyo, the UK delegates will also have the support of the British Embassy.
The Masterclass consisted of 2.5 hours education on the basic printed electronics technologies, applications and markets from a chemical viewpoint, given by Dr Peter Harrop of IDTechEx. In the afternoon, this was followed by the UK Displays and Lighting Knowledge Transfer Network and the Organic Materials Innovation Centre OMIC giving more on those aspects.
Some participants are shown above, namely L-R: Eifion Jewell, UKD&LKTN,; Ilesh Bidd, FujiFilm Imaging Colorants; Peter Harrop: Tricia Francis, UKTI; Simon Read, Innovia Films; Professor Mike Turner, OMIC; Dave Reeves, Syntor Fine Chemicals; Professor Steve Yeates, OMIC.
Opening the event, UK Trade & Investment pointed out that the UK has a world leading Science and Technology position in Printed Electronics underwritten by the development of innovative materials, low cost deposition, high precision patterning and additive printing.
Whilst viewed as a high risk/high reward business for the UK the supply chain starts with the design, synthesis, manufacture and formulation of high value added organic and inorganic chemicals. We want to ensure that, in this fast moving technology sector, the UK builds on its strengths and capitalises on all available opportunities. UK Trade & Investment are funding a chemical sector initiative on Printed Electronics to ensure UK chemical sector companies are aware of where they fit in the supply chain, the opportunities in the global market and how to move forward and stay at the cutting edge.
UK Trade & Investment explained that the 2-stage initiative started with this Printed Electronics Masterclass for the UK Chemical Sector with headline speakers from IDTechEx - globally acknowledged experts in printed electronics for consultancy, published research and conferences - and other organisations who can assist in keeping your knowledge and R&D requirements up to date.
Phase 2 is the UKTI supported trade delegation to Printed Electronics Asia , Tokyo, East Asia's largest event dedicated to Printed Electronics and a further opportunity to access additional focussed workshops and high-level networking. UKTI has negotiated an excellent "full package" delegate rate plus travel grants for eligible UK Small and Medium Enterprises SMEs.
Reflecting the balance of the emerging market for chemicals in this sector, Peter Harrop covered both inorganic and organic opportunities with rather more emphasis on inorganic. This was because most of the materials used in printed electronics today are inorganic and because the afternoon was largely dedicated to organic options, thus giving a balanced view. In future, the split of organic and inorganic chemical usage in this new sector will be about 50:50 inorganic/ organic, much of it being composites.
The global market for Printed Electronics was estimated by IDTechEx to have been at $1.18 billion in 2007, and it is forecasting a rise to $48 billion in 2017 and an astounding $300 billion by 2027.
Surge in interest
Dr Peter Harrop noted that chemical companies are dashing into printed electronics. Companies making the materials include Nissan Chemical, Cabot, Mitsubishi Chemical, Solvay, Merck Chemical, Akzo Nobel, Hitachi Chemical,
He noted that the market for printed and potentially printed electronics, including organics, inorganics and composites is 64% mature electronics today, including conductive inks for membrane keyboards, Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) that really are printed, flex connectors, RFID antennas, membrane keyboards, heated clothing etc, sensors (e.g. disposable glucose sensors for those with diabetes) and Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLEDs) on glass substrates that are not printed as yet. The number of organisations involved has doubled in the last few years, priorities including:
- Flexible low cost devices
- The new photovoltaics - heavily subsidised, badly needed and feasible.
and where many different types of performance and therefore technology are needed
- Electrophoretic displays which will be the first to sell strongly in flexible form
he said that materials expenditure between organic and inorganic will be roughly 50:50 for the next ten years but there will be an increasing number of composite materials
He gave comprehensive market forecasts and trends by type of device and noted that the main centres of excellence and priorities in printed electronics are:
- Europe - Focus on Cambridge UK, Eindhoven Netherlands and Dresden -- Germany - Photovoltaics commercialisation first
- USA - military money etc, startups overtaking giants? Record breaking in the laboratory eg GeGaAs 40.7% PV efficiency
- Japan, Taiwan, Korea - big corporations with displays the priority.
He noted that, particularly in East Asia, the giant corporations are investing heavily in this subject with a recent surge in patents from Matsushita, Mitsubishi, Canon, Ricoh, Asahi Kasei, Pioneer, Samsung, Sumitomo, Sony, Toshiba, and other giants. Lighting is being pursued by GE, Siemens, Konica Minolta etc. He gave many examples of applicational thinking "outside the box" including plastic film as a disposable scanner, the self cleaning, morphing phone, reprogrammable Braille, ubiquitous sensor networks and cloaking by printed metamaterials. However, he warned that too many players are just trying to improve existing products using printed electronics.
He illustrated the complexity of the chemistry of the different parts of the various printed electronic components with some examples from printed transistors:
- metals such as silver
- organic eg polyanilenes or
- PEDOT-PSS Poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) -poly(styrenesulfonate) by H.C.Starck
- Organic eg polythiophenes (Merck Chemical etc), pentacene via precursors (IBM etc)
- A new research interest - tailor made oligomers that are printable without precursors unlike the small oligomers such as pentacene - but structure affects electronic properties in a very complex manner that is not yet fully understood
- Inorganic eg InGaZnO (Toppan Printing/ Tokyo Institute of Technology or Cambridge University/ 3T Technologies or HP/ Oregon State University etc)
- Nano-silicon ink (eg Kovio and Japanese companies) - gives the best printed transistors but needs stainless steel foil reel to reel for high temperature curing
Gate dielectrics with high permittivity
- Organics showing ionic effects, but there are stability challenges
- Inorganic compounds - eg Hf salts, zirconium/ lanthanum etc oxides - but there are issues of printabilility and annealing temperature