Organic thin film electronics project

An EU-funded project is attempting to combine high-performance organic electronic circuits with large-area fabrication techniques on a massive scale.

The Printed, Organic and Large-Area Realisation of Integrated Circuits (POLARIC) is a four-year, €9.9m project involving 13 partners from seven European countries.

Launched in January, the project aims to remove the barriers preventing large-scale production of organic thin film electronics to develop electronic products such as flexible sensors, photovoltaics, batteries and lighting.

Currently, the use of organic thin film transistors and circuits has been limited due to the inability of organic electronic components to maintain high-performance when using conventional high-volume production methods.

If we can do this, I believe we will open up many more applications for this technology

Project manager, Kimmo Solehmainen, said: ‘The main trick we are about to do in the project is to add a roll-to-roll compatible high resolution step in the transistor fabrication process. This will lead to smaller transistor dimensions and thereby increase performance.’

Roll-to-roll methods involve printing electronic devices on flexible plastic or electronic foil with rollers used to define the correct tension and position of the material.

The project also hopes to deliver the circuit design, modelling, and characterisation of organic electronics to offer a system similar to that of silicon-based microelectronics.

Solehmainen said: ‘The performance of the printed electronics does not have to reach that of the silicon based electronics for new applications to appear. However, a significant improvement from the current performance level is indeed required.’

He added: ‘The challenge we are facing is to achieve this without sacrificing a large-area and high-throughput fabrication concept. If we can do this, which I am confident we can, I believe we will open up many more applications for this technology.’