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Germany houses new production plant for organic devices

23 Nov 2007

Next-generation fabrication technology is being installed to establish a European center for producing small-molecule organic devices.

Fraunhofer IPMS is installing Europe's first pilot production system for manufacturing OLED lighting and organic solar cells. Three production lines will be built at its new Center for Organic Materials and Electronic Devices Dresden (COMEDD) at a cost of €25m.

The sizeable investment comes from Germany's state and federal government and the EU, with the system supplied by Sunic Systems of South Korea, in combination with Aixtron, Germany. Fraunhofer hopes that the new production plant will speed up the time-to-market for OLED lighting, organic solar cells and OLED-on-CMOS devices. They also hope to establish COMEDD as the leading European institution for R&D and pilot production of small-molecule organic devices.

"It is the first real pilot production tool in Europe," Jörg Amelung, business unit manager at Fraunhofer IPMS, told optics.org. "The OLED lighting and organic-based photovoltaic (OPV) market is an important future market segment for Europe and although research in this field is strong, we will only create a strong business if we also establish the fabrication in Europe."

COMEDD aims to keep Europe competitive with the USA, Japan and Korea by establishing a high volume fabrication infrastructure. "COMEDD is the first center in Europe which covers organic-based device manufacturing from demonstrators to pilot production," commented Amelung.

The plant will produce useable substrate sizes of 370x470 mm2 on glass substrates and foils. The targeted tact time is three minutes, resulting in an annual capacity of approximately 13,000 m2. The first of the three lines is designed for OLED lighting and OPV fabrication, the second line is dedicated for OLED-on-CMOS fabrication, and the third line is a novel roll-to-roll prototype line for OLED and OPV fabrication on metal foils.

"Researching the fabrication aspects of OLED lighting and OPV is important to achieve reasonable costs in future production. The fabrication lines are designed to investigate yield and large-area scaling effects," explained Amelung. "The lines could also cover the first pilot production volumes, allowing lighting designers or SMEs to integrate new lighting technology into products at a very early stage."

Access to the plant will be organized by bilateral and publicly funded projects between Fraunhofer and industry. "The business concept is subdivided by the different types of customers," explained Amelung. "Material, machine and technology suppliers need an independent center to test and develop their products. Luminaire production companies and lighting designers have to know how to integrate new lighting technology into their products. For this they need pilot samples to speed up integration into the market."

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