Organic electronics (OEs) is a rapidly emerging field that is expected to change conventional electronics, energy, and photonic applications. Some of the most important OE applications include organic photovoltaics (OPVs), e-paper, organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs) for displays and lighting, sensors, thin film batteries (TFBs), and radio frequency identification (RFID).
The main benefits of OE devices are that they are flexible, light in weight, and can be produced by low-cost roll-to-roll coating techniques such as printing. Currently, the major drawbacks that limit their further improvement are the lack of pilot lines and machines for the efficient synthesis of OE nanomaterials and precise tools for the inline characterization of the material structure and thickness during the deposition of the layers. Another challenge is to create efficient synthesis strategies for the reproducible production of the nanomaterial structure.
Against this background, the aims of the SMARTONICS project are as follows:
- Development of nanomaterials for OEs (polymeric and small molecule organic semiconductor films, plasmonic nanoparticles, and high-barrier materials) by process optimization and numerical simulation;
- Development of r2r printing and organic vapor phase deposition machines combined with precision sensing and laser tools;
- Integration of the nanomaterials and technologies into pilot lines, device optimization, and demonstration as well as evaluation for industrial applications.
Four institutes of the Fraunhofer Polymer Surfaces Alliance (POLO®) are involved in the project. They are responsible for the development of a transparent ultra-high barrier film for the encapsulation of the OE device. This lightweight film maintains the device flexibility and improves the device lifetime. The encapsulation material is produced based on the Fraunhofer POLO® concept. It consists of alternating inorganic and inorganic-organic hybrid polymer (ORMOCER®) layers deposited on top of a polymeric substrate.
Fraunhofer IVV is responsible for the application of the barrier layers using roll-to-roll wet-chemical coating processes. Further responsibilities of Fraunhofer IVV are characterization of the barrier films (barrier performance, morphology, adhesion, stability) and numerical simulation of permeation mechanisms.
The SMARTONICS consortium consists of nine research organzations and eight industrial partners from four different European countries. Their expertise covers the fields of nanomaterials, precision sensing, industrial processes, and the manufacture of commercial products.