What is Flexible, organic and printed electronic all about?

SmartEEs – Smart Emerging Electronics Servicing, offers an organized European innovation network to facilitate SMEs’ access to competences and technologies to implement flexible electronics in their product lines.

Let’s have a closer look at who are SmartEEs’ experts and what are the solution SmartEEs can provide!

The word of the experts

Dr. Christian May, Head of Business Unit Flexible Organic Electronics at Fraunhofer FEP, explains why it was important for his team to be part of SmartEEs consortium.

Fraunhofer FEP has more than 10 years of experience in research and development of flexible organic electronics and their integration into later applications in various industries. Our focus on always application-oriented research and customer-specific solutions matching the requirements of industry and SMEs predestines Fraunhofer FEP as a partner in this European innovation hub.”

What were the main challenges Fraunhofer FEP had to face when developing those technologies?

Starting from the first small OLED on rigid substrates, our scientists have now been able to establish a broad-based competence center for flexible organic electronics. In addition to the development of flexible OLEDs in sheet-to-sheet processes, we also have the possibility of cost-efficient technology development of OLEDs in roll-to-roll processes. “

What are the main achievements you would like to highlight?

We can proudly look back on a large number of pioneering projects with the automotive industry, which have enabled us to build up very extensive know-how in the development of organic based components and OLED lighting solutions precisely for this industry. This has also led us to a joint development project for OLED integration in automotive interiors as part of SmartEEs. In the future we of course hope to be able to contribute our expertise to other interesting projects as part of the network”.

You recently published a paper to outline the present status of Roll-to-Roll OLED fabrication on ultra-thin glass “OLED Manufacturing on Flexible Substrates Towards Roll-to-Roll”. https://doi.org/10.1557/adv.2019.62 What was the aim of this study?

We know that the biggest obstacle to Roll-to-Roll mass production for OLED lighting application is to solve the challenge of reliability because OLED devices are still very sensitive to moisture and oxygen. This study aims at testing the feasibility and effectiveness of Roll-to-Roll OLEDs fabrication on ultra-thin glass and at comparing its performance with conventional OLEDs fabrication on small rigid glass in lab-scale. Thanks to our experiments, we were able to demonstrate that given proper barrier materials, Roll-to-Roll OLED technology can deliver OLEDs with comparable performance as sheet-to-sheet technology. This will enhance the OLED production capability and will reduce this technology manufacturing cost. This also mean new application fields that we are eager to explore.

What kind of application could be now developed that wouldn’t have been before?

Beside OLED lighting for automotive interior and exterior we also think on further applications in transportation, like aircraft cabins and rail vehicles. Other fields of application are in healthcare, e.g. for wound healing, but also the integration in wearables, textiles and particularly furniture. Last, but not least, OLED enables a high quality human centric lighting.

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