Materials for flexible electronics – testing and qualification
May 02, 2018
The rise of the flexible electronics industry and the exciting applications it enables, continues to push the development of new materials that are inherently flexible while still matching or exceeding the performance of their non-flexible counterparts.
Materials companies in the supply chain for rigid displays or sensors are investing in developing new materials in order to become part of the new supply chain for flexible electronics. One of the challenges in developing new materials, is that materials may need to be processed and characterised differently – for example to take into account both electrical and mechanical performance attributes – a new performance envelope in both manufacturing and product use, must now be considered. Materials companies can benefit from companies like FlexEnable who have deep experience processing flexible electronics materials for displays and sensors and understand the requirements of scaling up these processes to large areas and higher volumes
There are other materials companies who are not part of the supply chain for rigid displays or sensors but are finding that some of their materials may be suitable for use in flexible electronics. For example these could be companies who make plastics and want to develop a new class of plastic substrates. They may need help understanding the supply chain as well as the attributes of their materials that make them relevant for use in the manufacture of flexible electronics for flexible displays and sensors.
Some examples of the material types used in flexible electronics for flexible displays and flexible sensors are:
- highly functional materials that form part of the device structure like organic semiconductors, dielectrics, photo-sensitive or pressure sensitive materials
- flexible, robust films used in organic electronics manufacturing, including adhesives, substrates and polarizers
Each class of materials needs to undergo a comprehensive set of tests that gauge how ready it is for mass manufacture of flexible electronics. For example, substrates need to be tested for flexibility, adhesion of different layers, chemical compatibility and distortion, while organic semiconductors need tests like compatibility to the metal layers and the dielectric stack, electrical performance and stability, uniformity and ease of manufacture.
To enable flexible displays and electronics, FlexEnable has pioneered a low temperature manufacturing approach which replaces the hard ceramic materials with soft, flexible organic materials. The name for the key organic materials that enable this manufacturing approach is FlexiOM™ and they are supplied by FlexEnable.
These materials have higher mobility values than amorphous silicon (~1.5cm2/Vs), lower off current than amorphous silicon and polysilicon and have excellent bias stress stability. Organic thin-film transistor (OTFT) backplanes using FlexiOM™ materials are still fabricated in standard flat panel display factories which are repurposed for the novel material set.
The FlexiOM™ OTFT materials are available as ready-optimised formulations for use in existing flat panel display factories. For more information, please get in touch with FlexEnable at firstname.lastname@example.org.