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Posted on December 16, 2011 by  & 
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A fascination with organic electronics

The 2011 Deutscher Zukunftspreis awarded to three scientists from Dresden

Three researchers, a shared success: Prof. Karl Leo (TU Dresden/Fraunhofer IPMS (COMEDD)), Dr. Jan Blochwitz-Nimoth (Novaled AG), and Dr. Martin Pfeiffer (Heliatek GmbH) - three scientists from Dresden - have won the 2011 Deutscher Zukunftspreis (German Future Prize) for their combined achievements in the research of organic semiconductors.
German President Christian Wulff presented them with the President's Award for Technology and Innovation on the evening of December 14, 2011, in Berlin.
The three scientists succeeded in adapting organic semiconductors for use in a wide range of products, thereby creating the basis for innovative applications in displays, lighting, and photovoltaics. Organic semiconductors could soon open up whole new possibilities for use in electronics that are impossible with today's conventional crystalline materials such as silicon.
The big advantage of organic semiconductors is how they make it relatively easy and inexpensive to process electronic products with unusual properties, such as transistors, light emitting diodes, or solar cells: as thin, flexible, and transparent films of almost any size.
The team began its basic research into organic electronics 17 years ago at the Technical University of Dresden. Applied research was begun at Fraunhofer IPMS after initial successes, with a number of successful start-ups emerging from this line of research in and around Dresden in recent years. This created Europe's most important network for the further development of organic semiconductors. The team is proud of this success story, which has now culminated in winning the Zukunftspreis.
"We are delighted to receive such a prestigious recognition of our work. Our thanks go out to all our colleagues who helped bring organic semiconductors out of the research stage at the Technical University of Dresden and into the industry via the pilot production facilities for OLEDs and organic solar cells at Fraunhofer IPMS. We hope that our example inspires other teams to believe in themselves and to realize their common visions!" says Prof. Leo.
Organic electronics can be used for either OLEDs (organic LEDs), in the form of displays and lighting, or for OPV (organic photovoltaics), in the form of flexible and lightweight solar panels. OLEDs require relatively little energy to generate light, whereas the principle is reversed in OPV panels with the efficient conversion of sunlight into green energy.
The spin-off Novaled is a world market leader in the field of OLED technologies and materials, supplying highly efficient and brilliant color OLED displays to international display companies for use in smart phones and other products. OLEDs can also be very efficient when used as a source of light, providing natural light while enabling the use of innovative lighting concepts in offices and living spaces at the same time.
"We envision ultra-thin, large, long-lasting, even transparent and flexible displays and area lighting using technologies and materials from Novaled," says Dr. Blochwitz-Nimoth.
Whereas Novaled made a big splash on the market a few years ago with its technology, Heliatek is just now constructing their first production facility - the first of its kind in the world. From mid-2012, the Dresden-based company expects to begin producing organic solar panels using a resource-saving, roll-to-roll process, which will enable the development of entirely new areas of application. Dr. Pfeiffer explains some of these new possibilities: "The semi-transparent panels are ideal for integration into windows or car windows. The panels can be used in an ever increasing range of mobile applications as well as to soon generate solar power on roofs with low load-bearing capacities, thanks to their minimal weight and flexibility. This was previously unimaginable with conventional solar panels."
The potential of organic electronics is tremendous, with experts expecting a global, multi-billion dollar market for the industry in just a few years. Besides being a driving force behind this technology, the Zukunftspreis-winning team from Dresden has created excellent opportunities to benefit significantly from this rapid market growth.
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