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Organic projects dominate European funding round

23 Nov 2011

Photonics and organic electronics projects with aggregate funding of more than €110M have kicked off in the past few weeks.

Over twenty new multi-year European photonics projects with total aggregate funding of more than €110 million have officially started in the past two months, with organic photonics and electronics projects featuring prominently.

The technology development projects are funded through call seven of the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). Thirteen projects are bracketed under “disruptive photonics” while a further ten fall within the “organic and large-area electronics and photonics” designation.

And it is the organic electronics and photonics projects that appear to have grabbed the lion’s share of the available funding – the ten funded projects are collectively worth just over €70 million.

Going organic
Among the projects receiving the largest funding are “SUNFLOWER” (short for the somewhat clumsier ‘SUstainable Novel FLexible Organic Watts Efficiently Reliable’), a four-year, €14.2 million effort to develop organic photovoltaics (OPV) led by the Centre Suisse d’Electronique et de Microelectronique (CSEM), with partners including chemicals giants BASF, Dupont and Agfa, as well as the OPV pioneer Konarka.

Like another FP7 project, the €11.9 million IMEC-led “X10D” (Efficient, low-cost, stable tandem organic devices) effort, its priorities include extending the lifetime and cost-performance of OPV technology through improved process control and materials understanding. A third OPV project receiving new FP7 funding is “ROTROT” (ROll To Roll production of Organic Tandem cells). Headed up by the French Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique (CEA), ROTROT will focus on low-cost manufacturing of OPV materials through simple printing techniques.

On the organic light-emitting front, the €5.1 million “IMOLA” (Intelligent light management for OLED on foil applications) project – another to be led by IMEC - will seek to develop organic LED tiles attached and interconnected to a flexible backplane foil. “SCOOP” (OLED Microdisplay with enhanced brightness and Color Performance for Imaging and Augmented Reality Applications) is another CEA-headed effort that will look to combine OLED technology with CMOS electronics to develop a new generation of microdisplays.

In addition, the EC is providing €6 million towards “OLAE+”, which has a total value of €18.4 million. This is a funding competition aimed at developing the full range of organic electronic materials and devices. Co-ordinated by Greg May at the UK’s Technology Strategy Board, the competition is currently open, with first-stage applications being received until January 31, 2012.

Disruptive photonics
Overall, the thirteen “disruptive photonics” projects funded through the latest call will have a total budget of around €40 million. They include “ISLA” (Integrated disruptive componentS for 2 µm fibre Lasers), which is being co-ordinated by the UK optics firm Gooch & Housego. High-power fiber lasers operating at this wavelength, for example using thulium- or holmium-doped active media, would have the potential to open up a new range of industrial and medical applications, but a lack of suitable components has been a handicap so far.

Also funded is “CHARMING” (Components for Highly Advanced time-Resolved fluorescence Microscopy based on Nonlinear Glass fibres), a €3.6 million project focused on developing visible lasers for fluorescence spectroscopy and high-resolution confocal microscopy systems. Co-ordinated by Belgium’s Multitel, the project aims to develop fiber-based frequency conversion technologies, with a particular emphasis on microstructured fibers.

While a number of the new projects will work on novel photonic microsystems with applications in high-speed communications and sensing, one aimed at developing photonic antennae is perhaps the most radical. NANO-VISTA (Advanced photonic antenna tools for biosensing and cellular nanoimaging) will aim to develop new “bionanophotonic” tools for ultrasensitive detection, nano-imaging and nano-spectroscopy of biomolecules.

Led by the Institute of Photonic Sciences in Barcelona, and including the French company Pixinbio, the €4.1 million, four-year project also targets high-throughput fabrication of the photonic antennae as one of its key objectives.

For the full list of projects funded under call seven of the “Photonics and Organic Electronics” element of FP7, visit the EC’s web site for FP7-funded photonics projects.

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