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Multi-component oxides for flexible and transparent electronics

Final Report Summary - MULTIFLEXIOXIDES (Multi-component oxides for flexible and transparent electronics)

Added value features associated with high performance transparent displays have the potential to catapult the electronics industry into a new era of growth. Features such as transparency and flexibility promise the emergence of a plethora of new application spaces in sectors ranging from the automotive to computer based industries, where applications will be based on the discreetness of the devices as much as the electronic functionality. The flexible nature of devices will have impact on both the device application space and also on the manufacturing of flexible electronics.

The use of flexible plastic substrates will facilitate a migration away from fab based batch processing to large area, roll to roll manufacturing technology which is perceived as offering a significant advantage in terms of reduced cost with increased throughput due to fewer manufacturing steps and as such will have tremendous industrial impact. There are significant challenges to overcome in order to enable the vision of low cost, environment ally friendly manufacturing and to achieve high performance electronic devices with the required mechanical and optical attributes.

This consortium aimed the development of new ceramic thin films containing multicomponent oxides (amorphous or nanostructured) to be used as transparent materials as conducting, semiconducting, or insulating components in rigid and flexible electronic devices. The inorganic nature of these metal oxide materials will result in environmentally stable and long lifetime devices using existing and novel room temperature deposition techniques and non fab based patterning. The central focus of this project was the design, synthesis, and processing of novel multicomponent oxide materials in terms of electronic, mechanical, and optical properties.

Due to the large number of materials combinations that are available for these oxides, truly optimum properties were identified through simulation study coupled with experimental feedback into the model. Precursors suitable for novel deposition routes, including low temperature chemical vapour deposition, chemical solution deposition and inkjet were also developed and the deposition parameters for producing homogeneous films defined. The project delivers for the first time multicomponent oxides as active semiconductors processed at low substrate temperatures as an alternative to silicon and emerging organic semiconductors.

The MULTIFLEXIOXIDES project addressed the need for Europe to develop novel materials and processing techniques which will facilitate the sustainable and competitive manufacture of new displays with low cost non-fab continuous-write technology. The successful development of this project opens up significant opportunities for numerous potential long-term applications due to both the availability of transparent materials with high electrical performances for flexible applications and the use of multicomponent oxides, reducing manufacturing costs.

The envisaged applications could therefore range from the use of the multicomponent oxides as a true semiconductor to substitute silicon in a wide range of electronic applications such as switching, memories, sensors, on body health monitoring systems, smart cards, lightweight and flexible displays for signage, entertainment industrial and military applications, flexible electronic paper and radio frequency ID (RFID) tags, UV sensors, and novel blue light emitting diodes.

The project achieved the main goals that were:
- sintering of new target materials;
- development of new semiconductor materials with improved electron mobility and optical transparency which are stable under mechanical stress and strain;
- development of deposition techniques at temperatures < 150 degrees Celsius compatible with flexible substrates;
-non-fab based patterning of the oxide semiconductor films, both rigid and flexible;
- production of multicomponent oxide films for thin film transistors (TFTs) and data drivers;
- production of test vehicles such as TFT and passive and active matrices based on the set of materials developed.