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

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - RoLA-FLEX (Roll-2-Roll and Photolithography post-processed with LAser digital technology for FLEXible photovoltaics and wearable displays)

Reporting period: 2020-05-01 to 2021-10-31

OLAE advancements have offered the potential of creating new manufacturing sites in Europe, in the context of less toxic and sustainable perspective. However, the wider market penetration of OLAE is blocked by scientific and engineering challenges to be overcome. These challenges are mainly related to low electronic material performance (e.g. low mobility and low power conversion efficiency), the lack of synergy among versatile and digital OLAE fabrication processing technologies, and issues with organic semiconductor manufacturing reproducibility and limited stability against environmental hazards e.g. oxygen, water vapor, temperature which compromise the overall OLAE device performance and lifetime. All these issues have resulted in a market mainly driven by technology progress rather than by end-use requirements. After the recent highlights of OLAE technology in Organic Displays and Organic PhotoVoltaics (OPV), more than ever, the need for a novel, comprehensive technological scheme incorporating versatile processing technologies and flexible integration schemes, along with high performance solution processed electronic materials, has become essential.
The RoLA-FLEX project will make a significant contribution to the technological readiness of OLAE. Both applications open up new market opportunities answering apparent market needs – independent, discreet and always available source of “green” energy, as well as thinner, lighter and flexible wearables that adapt to the user, rather than the other way around. In addition, the project addresses the main issues currently hindering wide adoption of OLAE technology in displays and OPVs by reducing the processing costs, improving device stability and lifetime, and introducing new processing techniques to increase manufacturing speed and process yield.
Therefore, a lot of new market opportunities are foreseen in the entertainment area, telecommunication, automotive, healthcare, lighting, signage, PV, consumer electronic devices, etc., due to high customization rate, easy operational usage and low manufacturing costs of the new technologies developed in RoLA-FLEX.
Altogether, RoLA-FLEX creates an opportunity for a yearly increase in revenues of almost €400 mil. only 6 years after its end, accompanied by almost 150 new jobs. The estimated cumulative profit in this period amounts to more than €700 mil., thus promising exceptional Return on Investment. A timely investment in the early days of these new markets can ensure significant market share for the companies involved and greatly boost EU’s competitiveness globally.
The overall goal of the project is to develop:
-Materials: Solution processed organic and inorganic electronic materials designed according to the end-user requirements for charge carrier mobility, conductivity and environmental stability, developed at TRL5+ and scaled-up at industrial quantities with high uniformity.
-Processes: Innovative OLAE manufacturing processes, by seamlessly introducing laser printing, sintering and patterning in OLAE process lines, the goal of which is to achieve five times higher resolution with respect to R2R OPV module interconnection, ten times shorter lead time for photolithographic processing of OTFTs, and 50% reduced cost for both.
-Devices: Advanced flexible integration schemes demonstrated by two TRL5+ OLAE prototypes.
The overall progress carried out within the reporting period is in line with the objectives of the project and consistent to the description of action, both in terms of timing and work description. Minor deviations in the former are fully justified with the appropriate documentation.
Within WP1, RoLA-FLEX’s consortium has determined all the specifications necessary for the demonstration of the two TRL5+ prototypes in flexible photovoltaics and wearable electronics. Their innovative features will be enabled by the high-performance materials and the laser digital processes developed within the project.
Within WP2, five different polymers, designed to improve on the state-of-the-art polymer IDT-BT, were synthesised and tested on the TEG platform. IDT-BS delivered an enhanced performance in the TEG devices relative to IDT-BT and was identified as the target for upscaling for the OTFT application.
In WP3, n-type (ZnO, AZO, SnO2) and p-type (WO3, Ta:WO3, ATO) metal oxides were developed and synthesized for solution processed electron transporting layers (ETLs) and hole transporting layers (HTLs), respectively.
Other activities under WP3 included metal ink development for gridlines (OPV) and gate electrode (OTFT). Several iterations of Ag ink were provided, whereas the Cu ink development has just begun with a first version evaluated for laser printing.
In the frame of WP4, isolating ink LIFT printing inside P1 scribes has been carried out and evaluated. ITO-free OPVs have been achieved with 10 % Power Conversion Efficiency.
In WP5, the laser printing of Ag patterns based on the IGD design, according to the specified dimensions, with a tolerance of ± 10% has been achieved. Laser printing and sintering of Ag electrodes on TEG platforms for OSC testing, resulting in successful evaluation of the OSC’s performance, with less than 50% drop owing to the laser processing has been verified.
Within the current reporting period, significant progress has been realised in terms of the following Key Performance Indicators:
Use case 1: development of an indium tin oxide (ITO)-free, flexible Organic PhotoVoltaic (OPV) prototype for the powering of a smart energy platform used in IoT environment.
• ITO-free OPVs: the metal grid technology facilitated by laser printing and laser sintering of Ag nanoparticle inks has already demonstrated bottom electrodes with over 80% transparency and over 35000 S/cm conductivity. This electrical performance is by far superior to the ITO counterparts, which show on average 9,500 S/cm.
• Increased PCE: PCEs of over 11% for OPV cells and modules have already been measured, and the target of 16% is expected to be reached at the cell during the next reporting period.
Use case 2: OLCD/OTFT display prototypes and their application in wearable smart watches.
• Lightweight & small bezel design: the laser processing of the gate electrode and the laser fabrication of integrated gate drivers enable a lightweight design with minimized bezels, in line with the latest requirements of the wearable displays industry.
• High resolution and brightness in flexible form factors: A resolution of up to 165 x 300 pixels pixels will be achieved and a curved display will be integrated to a matching back light unit.

The RoLA-FLEX project impact relates to the main issues currently hindering wide adoption of OLAE technology in displays and OPVs by reducing the processing costs, improving device stability and lifetime, and introducing new processing techniques to increase manufacturing speed and process yield.
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