Skip to main content

Innovative manufacturing processes and in-line monitoring techniques for the OLED and thin film and organic photovoltaic industries (CIGS and OPV)

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - OLEDSOLAR (Innovative manufacturing processes and in-line monitoring techniques for the OLED and thin film and organic photovoltaic industries (CIGS and OPV))

Reporting period: 2018-10-01 to 2020-03-31

In the OLEDSOLAR H2020 EU project we are developing innovative manufacturing processes and in-line monitoring techniques for the OLED and thin film photovoltaic industries (CIGS and OPV). We have been particularly focused on not only improving the quality and yield of the fabricated devices; but also improving the processing efficiency and sustainability.

Novel uses of opto-electronic devices are showing promise to revolutionize the electronics industry. With new display options using pliable substrates such as plastic and flexible glass, OLEDs manufacturers are bringing a wide range of new applications in lighting (e.g. energy efficient lighting) and different type of displays. Similarly, with the emergence of thin-film technologies in the solar cells market, new applications ranging from installations on curved surfaces to building integrated PV has become possible. However, to meet the industry requirements for mass production, including low cost, large manufacturing volumes, and highly efficient production, many challenges still need to be overcome. These necessary improvements, for OPV, OLED and CIGS, are related to the selection of efficient manufacturing processes; employing inspection, control and measurement techniques to improve yield, as well as improving quality and time-to-market. OLEDSOLAR aims to tackle these challenges by developing innovative manufacturing processes for critical steps in the production of opto-electronic devices including OLEDs, OPV and CIGS solar cells.

In OLEDSOLAR we are scaling up innovative characterization and control processes to be tested on pilot lines and implemented on existing production lines. This is accomplished through a combination of quality control and functional testing measurements using innovative systems and sensors. Recycling and re-use strategies are also being developed allowing resource efficiency and the reduction of high value product wastes. Automation and advanced processing software is being pursued for overall control and monitoring of roll-to-roll (R2R) and sheet-to-sheet (S2S) manufacturing process.

OLEDSOLAR is halfway through the 36 month project, and is thriving from the multidisciplinary team of leading RTOs and industries in this field which is fostering a combined effort to innovate this field of next generation electronics mass production.
In the first half of the three year project, the 16 member consortium has achieved a substantial level of interaction in terms of joint development and planned routes for exploitation. At the beginning of the project the primary focus was related to work package one (WP1), in which all members determined the core focus and content to be developed in the project. WP1 was used as Identification of opto-electrical components manufacturing and inspection requirements at production scale.

Subsequently work has been fruitful in the development of work packages 2, 3, 4, and 5. WP2 brought significant advancement in the development of innovative manufacturing processes for OLEDs and solar cells. With WP3 realizing the development of in-line inspection and quality control system to be used in the pilot and production scale up. At the same time as the hardware development, WP4 was dedicated to the development of AI driven production process automation and quality control system. Which in fact is being used to better exploit the advances in the second and third work packages. Beyond the improvements of the production processes themselves, the project also has begun to develop processes for materials recycling, repair and reuse approaches for OLEDs and solar cells in WP5.
The OLEDSOLAR project has had great expectations and a high level of exploitation potential for the field of industrialized printed and mass manufactured opto-electronic devices. The existing TRL of the components and their associated mass production has improved greatly over the past decade, however, there has been a prudent need for industrialization aspects such as: inline quality control, improved innovations for automated production, and sustainable end of life options for the produced components. Furthermore, the innovative results from the first four WPs will be put to the test in operating environments in the consortium pilot and production lines.

At this point in the project, there have been several instances in which we have produced proven innovations to improve our production capabilities in all aspects of the project. For example, OPVIUS has implemented production improvements related to late stage customization of OPV modules, developed in OLEDSOLAR, for customer projects. Moreover, they have published this improvement in ACS Applied Electronics Materials. Another highlight included the work done in collaboration at VTT with Coatema, DupontTF, and Brunel University to improve the registration accuracy of roll-to-roll screen printing on the large scale MAXI line. This R2R registration research work related to WPs 2 (web handling) and 3 (registration camera development) will be fully implemented in WP6 following initial implementation and testing. This route from technological development to full exploitation is a common thread among the whole consortium and several use cases.

Further results and related research activities are underway and will expand beyond state of the art in areas such as barrier film fabrication and sustainability of the production process and end of life of the produced components.