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  • Periodic Reporting for period 2 - CLEARSILVER (Industrial manufacturing of conductive, transparent and flexible electrodes with nanoinks fororganic electronic devices such as OPV and OLED lighting)

CLEARSILVER Report Summary

Project ID: 733723

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - CLEARSILVER (Industrial manufacturing of conductive, transparent and flexible electrodes with nanoinks fororganic electronic devices such as OPV and OLED lighting)

Reporting period: 2017-03-01 to 2017-08-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Nowadays, Indium Tin Oxide (ITO) is the main material used for transparent conductive films (TCF). These films have significant drawbacks such as fragility, indium depletion and high manufacturing cost. A promising alternative is a conductive patterned grid based on silver nanoparticles covered with a protective and conductivity enhancing zinc oxide nano-layer.
To accelerate the uptake of this processing technology, the printed electronics market needs a complete solution of industrial inks and inkjet printing at large scale and high speed. This is the objective of the CLEARSILVER solution proposed by KELENN Technology (KT) - manufacturer of industrial solutions for inkjet printing - and Genes’Ink (GNK) - leader on the conductive and semi-conductive nanoinks market.

The CLEARSILVER project is coordinated by GNK in collaboration with KT. This partnership benefits from their core technical and business expertise. Since beginning 2014, GNK and KT have successfuly developed a complete pilot solution including nanomaterials kilo-scale manufacturing and an online demonstrator printer, KSCAN-PE400 presented at LOPEC 2016. The SME Instrument funding will support our objective to bring to the market a sustainable industrial solution for TCF manufacturing.

CLEARSILVER’s main objectives concerns business, technological, environmental and social aspects:

• Provide a higly conductive TCF manufacturing solution to customers to penetrate the new emerging markets of OPV and OLED.
• Take the leadership in the field of TCF first in OPV and OLED and at a later stage in flexible display.
• Offer a cost-effective process by direct patterning with inkjet printers for conductive designs.
• Decrease the consumption of raw material by 50 times (customers feedback).
• Increase the throughput by a factor of 100: process time reduced from 40 min to 20 s (customers feedback).

• Develop a solid alternative to ITO based TCF: Printed conductive nano-Ag grid onto PET substrates covered with a ZnO nanoink layer allowing surface homogenization and TCF properties enhancement.
• Transpose printed TCF technology from pilot scale to industrial scale (TRL 6 → TRL 8).
• Enable the use of nanoinks at industrial scale.
• Develop an industrial inkjet printing solution with a high printing speed of 40 m/min.
• Integrate online substrate pre-treatment and TCF post-treatment allowing high speed production.

• Promote safe-by-design approaches to comply with the EU regulatory strategies .
• Propose environmentally friendly and sustainable solutions allowing greener and cleaner world for present and future generations.

All these objectives are in direct line with long-terms investments and funding done by the EU to push from “lab to market” cutting edge technologies.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

From GNK side, Pilot line for ZnO nanoparticles manufacturing was implemented and is now operational. Risk analysis and EHS (Environment, Hygiene and Security) management documents are now ready and applied.
Production capacity of ZnO NPs and nanoink for year 1 is, thus, achieved: NPs production is realized at pilot scale (15 liters batch). 55 g of NPs are produced by batch, ZnO inks are loaded at 1% ZnO NPs per weight. Thus, with one synthesis of ZnO we can produce 5,5 Liters of ZnO nanoink. 2 syntheses at pilot line are, then, necessary to produce 10 liters of ZnO nanoink (100 g of NPs required). ZnO nanoink formulation can be realized on pilot line. Thus, 10 liters batches can be produced at one go.
NPs and inks produced on pilot line were sent to our partners and potential end-users (Solliance, Inuru , ZAE Bayern and CNR Italy) for evaluation in OLED and OPV devices and for validation process following ISO 9001 standard norm. Promising results were obtained. Inks and NPs produced on pilot line show the same properties as the ones produced at laboratory scale.

Synthesis of Ag NPs was upscaled. Synthesis can be performed now on a 4 liters reactor (batch size) and 6 syntheses (2 runs of 3 simultaneous batches) can be performed per day. This allow the production of 50 g of NPs per synthesis on a 4 liters batch. This allows the production of 300 g of Ag NPs per day, 2100 g of Ag NPs/week and 109,20 kg Ag NPs/year. Ag nanoinks are loaded at 20%. Thus, with this volume of produced Ag NPs, 546 L of Ag nanoinks can be produced per year.
Genes’Ink is aware that their present production capacity of Ag NPs and nanoinks does not meet the Grant Agreement of CLEARSILVER project.A recovery plan will be present in this activity report for more details.
Ag ink for inkjet printing (CS01130) is commercialized by Genes’Ink. Many customers and end-users are, now, identified in different domains and activity fields for connectivity, lighting and photovoltaics applications. Among these customers we can cite Innovation Lab, Xaar, Ricoh, KELENN Technology, ST Microelectronics, Sigma Aldrich, Microdrop, and many others. This allow allows printing of lines as narrow as 40 µm with an electrical resitivity of 3 µ, close to that of bulk silver.

From KT side, concerning the printer part of the project, main activities from KELENN Technology side were focused on more tooling and characterization with the S2S process and design and production of the R2R machine.
• More tooling and characterization on S2S enables us
o To confirm a critical option that KT has taken to create a compact and cost-effective solution: ZnO to be deposited by inkjet as well as Ag in one single pass.
o To better control print yield. Extra focus has been made on drop watcher and waveform control developments.
• First samples printed with Ag and ZnO are promising.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The next generation of TCF must be lightweight, flexible, cost effective and compatible with large scale manufacturing. These requirements seriously limit the use of ITO as transparent conductor because ITO films deposition methods are expensive and time consuming. Finally, ITO films lack of flexibility and indium is a scarce material. The OPV and OLED lighting applications is the first targeted market. The next mid-term step (5 years), after the integration of the technology by these early adopters, will be the flexible displays market.

The CLEARSILVER project will open the field of new possibilities for the entire printed electronic value chain. The foreseeable expected impacts are:

• To create new markets for GNK as nanoinks supplier and for KT as electronic printer manufacturer.
• To participate to the development of a competitive European printed electronics (PE) value chain.
• To promote closer collaboration between an ink supplier, an equipment manufacturer and end-users, addressing the full value chain and leading to a competitive advantage in the market introduction of the final products.
• To bring the flexible PE technology from lab to fab.
• To reduce the influence of mineral supply (Indium) on geopolitical conflicts.
The EU offers the best tool to support SMEs, allowing their transition to the industrial stage and enhancing their competiveness. According to GNK and KT business plans, the SME EU funding will accelerate the companies’ organic growth, their sales enhancement and profitability as well as their capacity to respond to market demand on time.

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