European project to support flexible semiconductor adoption in Asia

7th September 2016
Anna Flockett


A €1.8million grant has been secured by SmartKem, to support the industrialisation and technology transfer of its semiconductor platform to display makers in Asia. 

With a €850k contribution from SmartKem, the €2.65million project will accelerate the adoption of organic semiconductors as a universal Thin Film Transistor (TFT) backplane platform for the mass manufacture of flexible and curved mobile, embedded and large area OLED and LCD displays.

Organic semiconductors, a key enabling component in the evolution of flexible active matrix displays, is competing to offer manufacturers a route to the production of high performance curved, foldable and even roll-able OLED and LCD displays. SmartKem is at the forefront of this market as a leading innovator of organic semiconductors for the low temperature, solution coat production of high performance TFTs on plastic.

Adoption of the SmartKem semiconductor platform, truFLEX not only offers an ultra-flexible TFT platform for new form factor displays but also a transistor that delivers simplified pixel drive circuitry through high transistor electrical stability. It also provides world leading reduction in power consumption in any display format, translating to weekly and not daily charging of mobile OLED and LCD display based devices such as smartwatches and smartphones.

SmartKem will lead the two year project, which will focus on the industrialisation and transfer of their organic semiconductor platform over large area plastic substrates using standard slit coat processing. The main objective will be to maintain electrical and physical uniformity and quality of transistor performance over large area formats for mass production on existing production lines in Asia.

The requirements for the project deliverables are driven by a number of commercial agreements that SmartKem have with display OEMs for the adoption of the truFLEX technology platform for flexible display manufacture. The success of the project will ensure a strong European position in the supply of specialised, high value materials to this new, high growth sector of the display industry in Asia.

Project lead and COO Dr Hugh Williamson said: “The resource and expertise required to transfer a new technology platform such as truFLEX is a demanding and time consuming endeavour. This funding under a collaborative EU project will ensure access to the very best complementary expertise within Europe to significantly accelerate the pre-production and scale up of the technology to meet the high and immediate demand we are seeing in the OLED and LCD display industry in Asia for our materials.”

SmartKem CEO Steve Kelly also commented: “We are delighted to receive this funding boost, which will accelerate our current work to industrialise the development of our TFT platform technology for the manufacture of flexible and curved displays in Asia. Flexible OLED an LCD displays will be integral to a new generation of display based devices for mobile, automotive, industrial and large area applications. The demand we are seeing for our technology emphasises the strength of the EU chemicals industry and the unique enabling nature of materials innovation in generating the growth of new markets such as the flexible display industry.”

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