Printed Electronics News

9 May 2016

China develops graphene electronic paper

China has developed a new electronic paper, a huge breakthrough that will catapult the material to a new level.

The new material has been heralded as “the world’s first graphene electronic paper,” by Chen Yu, general manager of Guangzhou OED Technologies, which developed it in partnership with a company in Chongqing.

Graphene is the world’s strongest and lightest known material; a single layer of graphene is only 0.335 nanometers thick, and it can conduct heat and electricity. The material can be used to create hard or flexible graphene displays, used in electronic products such as e-readers and wearable smart devices.

Compared with traditional e-papers, graphene e-paper is more pliable and has more intensity and its high-light transmittance means optical displays will be much brighter.

In addition, graphene is derived from carbon, meaning production costs will be much lower than for traditional e-papers, which use the rare, expensive metal indium.

Read more at: thin and printed batteries – a new era for energy storage


Cooling graphene-based film close to pilot-scale production

 Heat dissipation in electronics and optoelectronics is a severe bottleneck in the further development of systems in these fields. To come to grips with this serious issue, researchers at Chalmers University of Technology have developed an efficient way of cooling electronics by using functionalized graphene nanoflakes.

The results were published in the renowned journal, Nature Communications. “Essentially, we have found a golden key with which to achieve efficient heat transport in electronics and other power devices by using graphene nanoflake-based film. This can open up potential uses of this kind of film in broad areas, and we are getting closer to pilot-scale production based on this discovery,” says Johan Liu, Professor of Electronics Production and Head of the Electronics Materials and Systems Laboratory at the Department of Microtechnology and Nanoscience – MC2 – at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden.

The researchers studied the heat transfer enhancement of the film with different functionalized amino-based and azide-based silane molecules and found that the heat transfer efficiency of the film can be improved by over 76% by introducing functionalization molecules compared to a reference system without the functional layer.

This is mainly because the contact resistance was drastically reduced by introducing the functionalization molecules. Meanwhile, molecular dynamic simulations and ab initio calculations reveal that the functional layer constrains the cross-plane scattering of low-frequency phonons, which in turn enhances in-plane heat-conduction of the bonded film by recovering the long flexural phonon lifetime. The results suggested potential thermal management solutions for electronic devices. In the research, scientists studied a number of molecules that were immobilized at the interfaces and at the edge of graphene nanoflake-based sheets forming covalent bonds.

They also probed interface thermal resistance by using a photo-thermal reflectance measurement technique to demonstrate an improved thermal coupling due to functionalization. “This is the first time that such systematic research has been done.

The present work is much more extensive than previously published results from several involved partners and it covers more functionalization molecules and also more extensive direct evidence of the thermal contact resistance measurement,” says Johan Liu.

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 IDTechEx Printed Electronics Europe 2016 Award Winners

At the 12th IDTechEx Printed Electronics Europe conference and exhibition, four companies were awarded for their great achievement in developing and commercializing printed electronics technologies.

The awards were presented to the four winning companies by Mr Stéphane Egret, R&D Packaging Innovator at The Coca-Cola Company, who was also one of the judges of the awards. The two other judges were Dr Cristina Bertoni, Project Leader, Electrolux Italia and Ashutosh Tomar, Principal Engineer, Technology Strategy, at Jaguar Land Rover.

Raghu Das, CEO of IDTechEx, the host of the event, reports “Our esteemed judges are all from companies that are potential users of the technology. This adds great gravitas to the winners and an indication of the ongoing move to adoption of the technology in different industries. There were over 40 entries for the awards this year – a record number.”

The awards were hosted at Printed Electronics Europe 2016 External Link, Europe’s largest event on the topic, which was host to over 170 exhibitors and attendees from 57 countries in Berlin. A summary of the awards and winners are as follows:

Best Technical Development Materials Award – BASF

Best Technical Development Manufacturing Award – BotFactory, Inc. Academic R&D Award – NSF Center for High-rate Nanomanufacturing, Northeastern University

Best Product Development Award - Cartamundi, Holst Centre, IMEC

The awards were given to the winners by Mr Stéphane Egret, R&D Packaging Innovator from The Coca-Cola Company.

Best Technical Development Materials Award – BASF

BASF was the recipient of this award for their development of high performance semiconducting inks and photo patternable dielectrics. The company has developed a set of organic semiconducting (OSC) and dielectric inks that take several needs into account: mobility as key performance parameter of the semiconductor inks is reaching 4 cm2 /Vs, while the dielectric ink is exactly matched to the semiconductor ink (does not dissolve the OSC) and allows for direct photo-patterning. Therefore, it helps to enable a simplification of the production process. While comparable mobilities are known from small‐molecule inks, BASF managed to achieve the results using polymeric OSCs which are easier to process and adjustable to a wide variety of coating and printing processes.


Best Technical Development Manufacturing Award – BotFactory, Inc.

BotFactory has created a product that integrates all of the steps of PCB fabrication into a compact, intuitive package. When BotFactory started on this path in 2013, they took advantage of the maturation in conductive nanoparticle inks, image recognition technology and the drop in costs in control system costs. Called the BotFactory Squink, this Desktop PCB Printer can print conductive traces, dispense solder and pick-and-place components, creating PCBs on anything from paper to FR4 to flexible kapton.

According to BotFactory, Squink delivers a solution at several magnitudes of cost lower than in-line manufacturing equipment, heralding one of the rare moments where the rules of manufacturing and innovation are up-ended by miniaturization.

One of the judges commented on the reason why they chose this company, “Because of its wide array of use and potential value to a number of very valuable consumer targets (engineers, students, makers…).”


Academic R&D Award – NSF Center for High-rate Nanomanufacturing, Northeastern University

The NSF Center for High-rate Nanomanufacturing (CHN) won this award for developing what they claim to be the world’s first nanoscale 3D printer for electronics and sensors, the Nanoscale Offset Printing System (NanoOPS). The printing process works through the use of new nanoscale directed assembly of nanomaterials for the printing of nano and microscale devices and structures which have applications in electronics, sensors, biomedical, energy and materials.

At the heart of the printer is a directed assembly based printing process utilizing templates that can print conductive, semiconducting or insulating organic or inorganic materials. The organization reports that NanoOPS is orders of magnitude faster and higher resolution than current inkjet based electronic printing and 3D printing. The printing process takes place at room temperature and pressure, and the ink can include variety of nanomaterials (nanoparticles, nanotubes, graphene or polymers) suspended mostly in water, thus offering a substantial energy saving and a green additive manufacturing approach.

Best Product Development Award – Cartamundi, Holst Centre, IMEC Cartamundi’s ambition is to embed wireless RFID tags in their game and trading cards products. The new technology will connect traditional game play with electronic devices like smartphones and tablets. For economic reasons this will only be feasible when the device and integration cost of the RFID tag is significantly lower than the price increase the market is willing to pay for additional functionalities.

The company reports that, “With traditional silicon based RFID technology, it’s hard to imagine putting RFID inlays into each and every card in a standard playing-card deck, which typically contains 52 cards.

Fortunately, an advanced alternative technology for ultra-low-cost RFID inlays is available: (printed) metal-oxide (IGZO) thin-film transistor (TFT) technology on thin plastic films.” Metal oxide technology on plastic allows for cost reduction, ultra-thin form factor and flexibility, according to the entry.

This technology is can be very thin, matching well with paper thin game cards. With technical help of IMEC and Holst Centre, Cartamundi is currently making first all-out attempts to bring this printed electronics product to the market. One judge selected this winner because, “Games are known to be a good way to scale up a new technology and accelerate adoption. With scale will come lower costs which will enable further scaling.”


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