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EETE JULAUG 2013

Organic electronics another step closer to commercialisation By Christoph Hammerschmidt Organic and printed electronics has been a promise for the future - over ten years or more. But now the technology is ready for commercialization, believes Wolfgang Mildner, president of industry association OE-A (Organic and Printed Electronics Association). At the LOPE-C organic electronics trade fair recently held in Munich, he claimed that this technology already became commonplace in a number of applications, in particular in automotive pharmaceuticals and packaging industries. Mildner cited printed antennae and seat occupancy sensors which are said to be already in use in the automotive industry. The next steps will be the availability of touch sensors and displays for deployment in vehicles. At the fair, the OE-A also distributed a brochure with printed batteries and LEDs integrated into the front cover - upon the push of an equally printed button, the LEDs were lit – see figure 1. In order to drive commercial viability, “it now is necessary to refine the technology, but also to rethink it at some points where the dynamics of this technology and its markets have changed,” Mildner said. Towards this end, the industry association also introduced a modified roadmap for the further development of this technology and its commercialization. The roadmap breaks the technology down into five segments - organic photovoltaics, flexible displays, OLED lighting, electronics and components, and integrated smart systems – see figure 2. At the present level, the technology is at a stage where relatively simple products are possible - for example, portable chargers in the field of organic photovoltaics, or garments with integrated sensors, or anti-theft products in the segment of integrated smart systems. The state of OLED technology only permits design studies. The roadmap now states the goals in the short, medium and long term. In the segment of organic photovoltaics, report: lopec these goals include, for example, customized mobile power; in the segment of flexible displays, the companies organized in the OE-A intend to develop bendable OLED displays, plastic LCD, or rollable colour displays. In OLED lighting, they are going for transparent and decorative lighting modules. Short term refers to the time span from 2014 to 2016. Long-term goals (year 2021 and beyond) include building integration and grid connection for the segment of organic photovoltaics, rollable OLED TVs and telemedicine applications in the segment of flexible displays, while OLED lighting will be part of the general lighting technology. In the field of electronics and components, the scientists regard directly printed batteries as longterm goals, and in the integrated smart systems segment, OLEDs will be Fig. 1: Printed electronics in real-world applications - the LEDs on the cover of an OE-A brochure can be lit by the push of a button. Fig. 3: Impressive lighting effects from Audi - longevity is still a challenge. integrated into garments, and health monitoring systems will be made of organic electronic parts - to name just a few goals. During a presentation at the fair, Audi discussed its “Swarm” study of an OLED-lit car body – see figure 3. While the mock-up offers a spectacular look, the technology is not quite ready for realworld deployment, particularly not for automotive requirements. “OLED is the right technology, but it is not yet up to automotive standards”, said Stephan Berlitz, Head of Lighting Innovations at Audi. The main challenge remains the lifetime of the delicate electronics. The curved OLEDs don’t withstand bad weather conditions, and also at very high or low temperatures they tend to fail. Another issue is cost, Berlitz admitted. Nevertheless, he insisted, OLED will have a great future. “The entire automotive industry has already begun to integrate OLEDs into their cars,” he said Fig. 2: From simple to complex functions and applications - the new roadmap for organic electronics. www.electronics-eetimes.com Electronic Engineering Times Europe July/August 2013 11


EETE JULAUG 2013
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