03 Jul 2013
New research programme to push graphene into LCDs, OLEDs, transistors and plastic electronics.Graphene Centre and Plastic Logic have signed a collaboration agreement, marking Plastic Logic joining the Centre to work on a research project aimed at revolutionising the commercial exploitation of graphene in flexible plastic electronics, of which the Graphene Centre says, “the UK enjoys a world-leading position”.
Plastic Logic has donated large-scale deposition equipment to the Centre to support the acceleration of manufacturing scale-up of developments on graphene. The new research programme will initially have three main project objectives:
LCD and OLED - to develop graphene as a transparent, highly conductive layer for plastic backplanes for unbreakable Liquid Crystal Displays and flexible Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) displays; a market forecast to be worth $40bn by 2020 (IHS 2013).
Transistors - to develop novel transistor structures with graphene-like materials as the active layer, delivering a step change over the device performance currently possible on plastic, while retaining the flexibility of the devices.
Plastic electronics - to leverage Plastic Logic’s expertise in the industrialization and volume manufacture of electronics on plastic, by exploiting the commercialisation of graphene for flexible electronics. The latter will include key high value segments in the developing new market for flexible plastic sensors, forecast to be worth $2.2bn overall in 2020 (IDTechEx 2011).
Cambridge Graphene Centre’s Director, Professor Andrea Ferrari, commented, “The mission of our Centre is to investigate the science and technology of graphene, carbon allotropes, layered crystals and hybrid nanomaterials. This engineering innovation centre allows our partners to meet, and effectively establish joint industrial-academic activities to promote innovative and adventurous research with an emphasis on applications.
Indro Mukerjee, CEO Plastic Logi,c said, “I am delighted that we are working on this transformational research programme for the application of graphene in our flexible plastic electronics process. This will enable higher levels of customisation and open up new commercial applications, such as the huge potential market for large area distributed sensors.”
Cambridge Graphene Centre
Cambridge Graphene Centre, based in Cambridge, UK, investigates the science and technology of graphene, carbon allotropes, layered crystals and hybrid nanomaterials. The engineering innovation centre enables partners to meet and establish joint industrial-academic activities to pursue such research with an emphasis on applications.
The Centre’s facilities and equipment are chosen to promote alignment with industry, by addressing two challenges. The first is a lack of intermediate-scale printing and processing systems where industrial scale-up and optimization of inks based on graphene, related carbon nanomaterials, and novel 2D crystals can be tested and optimized.
The second challenge stems from the special properties of graphene: the Centre aims to exploit these properties to achieve the goal of "graphene-augmented" smart integrated devices on flexible, transparent substrates, with the necessary energy storage capability to work autonomously and wirelessly.
Plastic Logic is a developer of organic thin-film transistors and has been at the forefront of research and investment into plastic electronics since the company was founded by researchers from the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University. The company has industrialised the process and now manufactures flexible plastic displays (colour and monochrome) of various sizes.
These rugged daylight-readable displays are said to be conformal, thin and lightweight with low battery consumption, offering advantages over conventional screens as they are flexible with operating lifetimes over five years offering more than 10 million “page updates”. The company is backed by investors such as Oak Investment Partners and Rusnano.
About the Author
Matthew Peach is a contributing editor to optics.org.