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Transparent and flexible conductive polymers to boost the photovoltaic industry in Europe

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - OHMIO (Transparent and flexible conductive polymers to boost the photovoltaic industry in Europe)

Reporting period: 2018-05-01 to 2018-09-30

During the last years, the conductive polymers technology has lived a great development, driving to different industries to include them inside their products and processes. Two of the industries where they had more effect are photovoltaics and printed electronics. Two of their characteristics are the most important in this case, their transparency and the possibility of regulating their conductivity, which allows them to be adapted for the great majority of applications. The industry standard for transparent printable conductive polymers is PEDOT: PSS, a versatile material that can be used in a variety of applications, from hole transport material in the photovoltaic industry to as a flexible electrode in printed electronics. Despite its advantages, it also has its counterparts, such as its aqueous and acid nature, the need for additives, the need for treatment after application, the high costs of application or the problems of handling it. All this makes it a hard and expensive to apply material that also needs continuous maintenance, making its adoption by the market very low, so silver or silicon, less efficient and adaptable materials, continue to dominate the market.
The proposed solution to these problems is OHMIO, a conductive and transparent polymer whose main characteristic is that it can be easily applied, allowing thin layers to be created on any surface without the need for subsequent treatment. In addition, due to its different formulation it offers better characteristics than the materials present in the market, with less maintenance, more transparency or greater ease of handling.
During the project a number of tasks have been carried out in order to ensure the technical and commercial viability of OHMIO. The first task has been a product feasibility study, that has allowed us to ensure the reliability of the product, achieving stable formulations that offer different conductivities. The second task was a market analysis, by conducting interviews with relevant market players present throughout the value chain of both target markets. The aim was to find out the needs of these players, as well as their impressions of the sector and how they see the future, so we can adjust the product to the needs of the market. Finally, an IPR and Legal Framework analysis has been made with the objective of meet the requirements and protect the intellectual property generated by the project. All these analyses have been condensed into a business plan that contains all the necessary steps to bring the business to a successful conclusion.
Also, it is foreseen during Phase 2 to carry out a product optimisation in order to identify the gaps required to start with the testing and semi-industrial production of OHMIO. Within this process a more specific IRP & Regulations analysis will be carried out, adapting the conclusions to the product. The other main objective is to adapt the product to the specific needs of the market by carrying out pilot tests in real environments. With this we seek to create different versions of OHMIO adapted to the needs of each of the applications studied. The final objective of this is to exploit the developed product developing and scalable and repeatable sales model and revenue plan and disseminate it promoting the project and its findings during the period of the grant, engaging potential buyers and stakeholders.
In recent times the use of silicon and silver as conductive materials has been consolidated. The maturity of their technology, their level of reliability and their adaptability have made them the most widely used on the market. This solidity and adaptability make them the most useful materials on a global level, as they offer a good performance in the majority of applications, but when the aim is to offer the maximum output in a particular application they cannot do it. For this reason, new solutions that can be adapted to each of the applications without costly handling processes are being sought. These solutions consist mostly in the use of materials based on organic substances, such as PEDOT: PSS, which can adapt their formulation to each of the applications. The only counterpoint is that this adaptation is usually a costly and difficult process that needs, in some cases, even specific treatments to ensure its proper functioning.
This is why this project is a breakthrough since it allows to enjoy the advantages of the organic materials without having to suffer its disadvantages, since it is a product simple to apply and manipulate and that also has better characteristics than those currently on the market.