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Roll-2-Roll and Photolithography post-processed with LAser digital technology for FLEXible photovoltaics and wearable displays

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Advancing flexible organic and large area electronics

Through new applications and solutions, the EU-funded RoLA-FLEX project is opening the door to new market opportunities for organic and large area electronics.

Industrial Technologies icon Industrial Technologies

Organic and large area electronics (OLAE) have the potential to revolutionise consumer electronics, including smartphones, wearables and electronic displays. “Made from carbon-based materials, OLAE devices are cheaper and less toxic than traditional silicon-based electronics and offer flexible form factors,” says Ioanna Zergioti, a professor at the National Technical University of Athens. While OLAE are ideal for use with applications that require flexibility and adaptability, their market uptake has been limited by a range of scientific and engineering challenges. But thanks in part to initiatives such as the EU-funded RoLA-FLEX project, this is starting to change. Bringing together academia and industry and with a focus on advanced materials and laser-based processes, the project developed innovative solutions to the challenges associated with the performance and lifespan of OLAE. “The RoLA-FLEX project made a significant contribution to increasing the technological readiness level of OLAE,” adds Zergioti, who served as the project coordinator. “The applications we developed open up new market opportunities and answer real market needs.”

Making solar panels more efficient

According to Zergioti, the project’s impact extends well beyond the lab, reaching the forefront of industries and shaping the future of OLAE. “The applications developed offer a seamlessly integrated and always available source of green energy, as well as thinner, lighter and flexible wearables that can adapt to the user rather than the other way around,” she explains. One of those applications is an organic photovoltaic (OPV) incorporating innovative organic semiconductors offering high-performance and stability in a lightweight and flexible configuration. To achieve this, researchers employed innovative laser-based processing for the metallisation and interconnection of these OPVs. Overall, the project significantly improved the lifetime performance of OPVs by a factor of five. “Achieving a 12 % increase in power conversion efficiency for OPV applications and overall green energy is a major achievement,” remarks Zergioti.

Flexible solutions for wearable devices

On the wearable devices front, the RoLA-FLEX project developed an Organic LCD/Organic Thin Film Transistors (OLCD/OTFT) display prototype. OLCD is an innovative display technology that enables curved form factors while reutilising the LCD manufacturing infrastructure. OTFT are the basic building blocks of flexible integrated circuits and displays, offering superior mechanical flexibility, low-temperature processing and low-cost manufacturing compared to silicon-based equivalents. During the project, researchers successfully demonstrated the operation of integrated gate drivers on flexible substrates for driving the OTFT backplane, an innovative approach improving the performance and almost eliminating the bezels of the display. A functional curved display was eventually assembled and demonstrated in a concept that will be further developed towards commercialisation. “This OLCD display will be integrated into a smart watch and will offer superior performance in terms of brightness and contrast, a longer lifespan and an innovative curved design,” notes Zergioti.

Significant progress in OLAE

While all these individual achievements address specific scientific and engineering challenges, together they represent a major advancement for the use of OLAE. “The RoLA-FLEX project has demonstrated significant progress and achievements in flexible OLAE,” concludes Zergioti. The project has presented these achievements at 12 international conferences and through the publication of more than a dozen peer-reviewed scientific articles.


RoLA-FLEX, Organic and Large Area Electronics, OLAE, green energy, consumer electronics, laser-based processes, solar panels, wearable devices

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