Organic electronics is a platform technology that enables multiple applications that vary widely in terms of product specifications. Since the technology is still in its early stage - and is in the transition from lab-scale and prototype activities to production and commercialization - it is important to develop a common opinion about what kind of products, processes and materials will be available and when. The OE-A roadmap attempts to do just that.
The OE-A roadmap is a key activity of the Organic Electronics Association - the international key industry association for organic and printed electronics - and represents the common perspectives of the OE-A members.
"This second edition of the roadmap of The Organic Electronics Association OE-A helps the industry, government agencies and scientists plan and align their R&D activities and product plans. It provides a forecast for the market entry of printed electronics through 2015 and beyond.
"We will frequently update and expand the roadmap with the international experts along the value chain," says Wolfgang Mildner, chairman of the OE-A.
Organic electronics overview
Organic electronics is based on the combination of new materials - organic and inorganic - and cost-effective, large area production processes that open up new fields of application.
They are thin, light-weight, flexible and environmentally friendly. Organic electronics also enable a wide range of electrical components that can be produced and directly integrated in low cost reel-to-reel processes. Intelligent packaging, low cost RFID (radio-frequency identification) transponders, rollable displays, flexible solar cells, disposable diagnostic devices or games, and printed batteries are just a few examples of promising fields of application for organic and printed electronics.
Figure 1: OE-A Roadmap for organic electronics applications. Forecast for the market entry in large volumes (general availability) for the different applications. The table expands and updates the first version of the OE-A roadmap presented in 2006
A number of key applications have been chosen to demonstrate the needs from the application side, identify major challenges, cross checked with the possibilities of the technology and to forecast a time frame for the market entry in large volumes. Key results are summarized in Figure 1 that illustrates the expected market entry in large volumes for seven application fields.
First organic electronics products have already reached the market, including passive ID cards, flexible lithium polymer batteries and sensor devices. Additional products, such as displays with organic TFT backplanes, printed radio frequency tags, organic photovoltaic cells and printed memories, are likely to reach the market later this year or early in 2008.
Within the next several years, it is expected that mass markets will be reached and that all the above mentioned applications will be available in large volumes.
There are many approaches on the material and process side. The resulting questions organic or inorganic, printed or not - are still under discussion. But further improvement of material, patterning processes and device design are necessary in order to meet the demands of future product generations. In Figure 2, a forecast for the charge mobility of semiconductor materials for devices that are manufactured in high throughput processes is given. New material classes and optimized materials are necessary.
Figure 2: OE-A roadmap for the charge carrier mobility of semiconductors for organic electronics applications. The values refer to materials that are available in commercial quantities and to devices that are manufactured in high throughput processes. The values for amorphous silicon (a-Si) and polycrystalline silicon (poly-Si) are given for comparison.
Organic electronics as give-aways
In order to illustrate the potential and the integration possibilities of organic electronics, flexible multi-functional demonstrators and give-aways have been built at the initiative of the OE-A.
Organic sensors, logic circuits, push buttons, electrochromic and OLED displays, printed conducting paths, and batteries have been combined to several flexible multifunctional systems. They clearly demonstrate where the journey of organic electronics is heading. From Sweden, Acreo and Thin Film Electronics participated. From Germany, Fraunhofer IAP, H.C. Starck, HDMStuttgart, MAN Roland, BASF Future Business, Plastic Electronic,VARTA Microbattery and PolyIC participated. From the Netherlands, COPACO and Agfa Gevaert and Mitsubishi Polyester of japan and Europe were also involved on this project.
About the OE-A
The Organic Electronics Association (OE-A) is a working group within the German Engineering Federation (VDMA). It was founded in December 2004. OE-A is the international key industry association for organic electronics and represents the whole value chain of this emerging industry.
Members are international leading companies and institutions, ranging from R&D institutes, component and material suppliers, and equipment and tool suppliers to producers / system integrators and end-users. More than 80 companies from Europe, the US and Asia work together
To find out more attend Printed Electronics USA.