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EETE DEC 2013

Future OLEDS and solar cells to come straight from the printer By Paul Buckley scientists at the fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP in Potsdam-Golm have been working together with mechanical engineering company MBRAUN to develop a production facility capable of creating OLEDs as well as organic solar cells on an industrial scale. The innovation makes it now possible to print OLEDs and solar cells from solutions containing luminescent organic molecules and absorptive molecules respectively, which makes printing them onto a carrier film straightforward. Usually, printing them involves vaporizing small molecules in a high vacuum, making it an expensive process. Scientists had previously only ever used various printing technologies to design components on a laboratory scale. They can now produce larger sample series – and this is advantageous for the applications that feature large illuminated surfaces and information systems that require tailored solutions produced in relatively small numbers. “We’re now able to produce organic components under close-to-real-life manufacturing conditions with relative ease. Now for the first time it will be possible to translate new ideas into commercial products,” explained Dr. Armin Wedel, head of division at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP. At the heart of the pilot plant is a robot that controls different printers that basically act like an inkjet printing system. OLEDs are applied to the carrier material one layer at a time using a variety of starting materials. This produces a homogenous surface that creates a perfect lighting layer. “We’re able to service upscale niche markets by offering tailored solutions, as we can apply the organic electronic system to customers’ specifications, just like in digital printing,” explained Wedel. “The main hurdle, as far as I’m concerned, is the high level of investment required to set up manufacturing,” said Wedel. This is why, at least where lighting is concerned, he expected OLEDs to complement rather than replace conventional lighting devices. Wedel’s view of where OLED production technology could head is less modest: “My vision is that the day will come when all we need do is switch ink cartridges in our printers in order to print out our own lighting devices.” Amazon bets on GPS-driven drones to deliver goods to your door-step By Julien Happich On the CBS show 60 minutes, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has discussed the company’s plans to use drones to deliver customer packages within 30 minutes after ordering online. This would apply to customers within a 15km perimeter of one of Amazon’s warehouses, under a premium service agreement dubbed Amazon Prime Air. The octocopters would pick up a yellow box containing the customer’s order, and use GPS coordinates to fly directly to the customer’s address, dropping the box in front of the house. The drones are being tested and Bezos sees this delivery scheme become a reality within a few years. He said that one of the most difficult challenges would be to convince the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) that these drones do not impact air safety negatively. Today, small drones are not permitted to fly in U.S. airspace without special permission, then there are also concerns about privacy issues, especially with cameraequipped drones. Another argument in favour of these drones, from Amazon’s perspective, would be the low cost of delivery for small packages (about 85% of Amazon’s deliveries). 18 Electronic Engineering Times Europe December 2013 www.electronics-eetimes.com


EETE DEC 2013
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