In Åbo Akademi University in Finland there is a program on Organic Electronics run by Professor Ronald Österbacka in the Applied Physics department. Electronics on paper, board, plastic and fiber based materials is in their sights. There is also a Center for Functional Materials (FunMat, http://www.funmat.fi) that collaborates. This is a "National center for excellence in functional materials for printed intelligence" which also has a base in the University of Helsinki. FUNMAT is combining the expertise in chemistry, physics, polymer technology, paper coating and printing to develop functional materials and devices for printed intelligence. The multidisciplinary research is done in close collaboration with industry and an extensive collaboration network throughout the world.
One goal is to understand the electro-optical properties of disordered organic materials in order to create novel devices. Transport studies show they are using novel transient techniques. This unusual approach is reminiscent of how Tokyo Institute of Technology created amorphous inorganic compound semiconductors useful in printed transistors. Much of Professor Österbacka's research to date has involved organic photovoltaics and OLEDs. One current PhD program by N. Kaihovirta, together with Carl-Eric Wilén of FUNMAT, has the tentative title "Printable organic electronics". It is planned for submission in 2009.
Professor Österbacka (pictured right) tells us this week that, "Our main strategy has been that if we should print electronic devices ON PAPER or BOARD then we need to think out of the silicon world to find simplicity and robustness. We have recently demonstrated an even better and simpler transistor. Within FunMat we are building a R2R printer for demonstrating purposes, and we are currently striving towards a R2R printed 1V transistor."
The main target for the Functional Printing Laboratory (FPL) is to develop novel printing techniques for functional materials and devices. The FPL hosts versatile functional printing equipment in the laboratory scale including a modular table-top printer with five printing units, coaters, ink-jet, analyses equipment, etc. See www.abo.fi/aa/engelska.
Further north, in Tampere, Finland, packaging giant M-real has been testing printed RFID on its Tako Carton packaging. This does not employ an electronic circuit but just ink stripes using polyanilene from Panipol in Finland and technology from VTT Technology in Finland. Each stripe is one bit of data - typically 128 bits in all - and they are read by capacitive coupling from a few millimeters away as the package moves past the reader, or vice versa.
To find out more read Printed and Chipless RFID Forecasts, Technologies & Players, which has ten year forecasts 2007-2017.
Source top image: Åbo Akademi University