A displays milestone? - First flexible, plastic, organic AMOLED technology revealed

February 10, 2014 // By Paul Buckley
For as long as researchers have been working with organic LEDs, one of the hope-for end-points has been the concept of high-volume, low-cost, light-emitting displays produced on continuous media - or a "reel-to-reel" process. Now, that objective might be one step closer with the demonstration of what is claimed as the world's first truly flexible, plastic, fully organic AMOLED display, shown by two European partners at the Flextech Conference in Phoenix, Arizona, USA.

Cambridge-based Plastic Logic, flexible organic electronics specialist, has partnered with Dresden-based Novaled, an organic electronic materials and technology for OLED applications to accelerate the market for flexible and wearable displays.

The Flextech deomonstration will be the first of a planned series of technology demonstrators during 2014, which will form part of each company's development of partnerships to enable the market for truly flexible, unbreakable AMOLED displays.

The demonstrator heralds a breakthrough by combining for the first time a functional all-plastic AMOLED display with an industrialised turnkey manufacturing process for the backplane electronics. The combination marks the beginning of a new chapter for display makers searching for a path to ultra-flexible, ultra-thin, lightweight AMOLEDs, using a low temperature process which has a number of key industrial benefits, including superior uniformity, yield and hence ultimately a route to low cost solutions for volume manufacturing.

Novaled's PIN OLED technology enables the use of non-standard electrode materials needed for the flexible AMOLED development. Plastic Logic's fully industrialised plastic, flexible Organic Thin Film Transistor (OTFT) backplane and IP enabled the first fully organic, flexible display. The partners are looking for the flexible AMOLEDs, and the increased usable screen areas they make possible, to power the next generation of products for the wearables market.

Through the OTFT industrialisation process Plastic Logic has created IP and a transferable process-flow. With an entire supply chain in place, OTFT manufacturing has now, the company believes,  reached a tipping point in performance with leading organic semiconductor (OSC) materials suppliers, including Merck, whose OSC material was used in the demonstration, now showing [carrier] mobilities required to drive OLED displays. The process is compatible with existing mainstream display manufacturing operations, underpinning a new technology licensing business model. Plastic Logic has already established a partner program to work with leading global display makers and consumer electronics companies to enable flexible, plastic AMOLED supply chains through licensing and technology transfer to mass volume producers.