Masdar delves into printed electronics
Researchers at the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology have taken the initial steps towards printed organic optoelectronics, placing the UAE firmly on the global map of this promising sector.
Printed electronics is a combination of the technologies employed in printing, electronics, chemistry and material science. Industries across the world are embracing this nascent sector for commercial implications. New innovations are much sought after because this technology can offer benefits such as low cost, high throughput, ease of manufacturing and use in new applications.
Dr Samuele Lilliu, a post-doctoral fellow working at the Nano-Optics and Optoelectronics Research (NOOR) Laboratory under Dr Marcus Dahlem, Assistant Professor, Microsystems Engineering, is leading a major project on organic photodetectors, including solar cells and photodiodes. Novel research strategies and innovative concepts are also being developed to make Masdar Institute a strong player in the printed electronics arena.
A current study by IDTechEx, a consulting company for printed electronics, shows that the market for printed and potentially printed electronics is already worth $9.4 billion. A study by Silicon Valley-headquartered business consulting firm Frost & Sullivan predicts the market for organic and printed electronics will increase by more than 100 per cent to around $25 billion by 2015.
Tracking the global trend, the Masdar Institute recently installed Fujifilm Dimatix DMP2831, one of the most flexible tools for ink development in inkjet-printing. The application of inkjet-printing as a fabrication tool for organic devices shows the potential of these organic materials for low-cost third-generation electronics and optoelectronics.
“Dr Lilliu fabricated the first high-quality inkjet-printed organic photodiodes at Dr Sandro Tedde’s labs in Siemens AG, Germany, which currently holds the largest patent portfolio on organic photodiodes. His experience holds the key and his research project brings value to Abu Dhabi and the UAE,” Dr Dahlem stated.
Training programmes on operating the Fujifilm Dimatix DMP2831 for graduate students are currently being scheduled. Students will also learn to print polymers on (Indium Tin Oxide) ITO-coated glass and flexible substrates such as paper, textiles and plastics.
“Organic semiconductors are highly attractive for electronic applications thanks to their ease of processing and tunability, which offers great potential for low fabrication costs. Bulk-heterojunction organic photodetectors based on semiconductive polymers and small molecules are currently among the best performing organic electronic devices,” Dr Lilliu said.
The development and the optimisation of semiconductor and nanoparticle inks is an essential step for the commercialisation of low-cost organic photodetectors. Since organic solar cells can be coated on flexible transparent substrates, their potential applications range from self-powered electronic newspapers to building-integrated photovoltaics. The combination of organic photovoltaics with inkjet-printing also offers interesting opportunities in the field of multi-colour aesthetic solar cells, a field that is currently unexplored and that could be highly attractive for designers and artists.
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