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Sticking with printed electronics

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A proprietary adhesive technology could solve the persistent problem of delamination in printed electronics.

Compression of different rates of heat-induced expansion between the thin films and substrate, results in delamination.

Developed by an advanced materials company, Oxford Advanced Surfaces group (OAS), UK, the adhesive ensures that the different interfaces stick strongly together.

The research conducted at the Printable Electronics Technology Centre (PETEC), Durham, UK, and the Organic Materials Innovation Centre (OMIC) in Manchester, UK, brought together the firm’s surface modifier chemistry with flexible transistor backplane processing for display systems.

The process involves coating the material with Onto technology and can be applied to various forms, such as sheet, fabric, fibre, powder or pellet. This is followed by curing with heat or UV treatment, which generates a molecular layer bonded permanently to the material.

‘Any multilayer device is put under strain if it is bent across a roller in manufacturing. The likelihood of layers coming apart is exacerbated by their difference in surface properties and bulk chemistry,’ explains Brown.

According to researchers the process does not require priming or roughing of the substrate. Dr Beverley Brown, a chemist at PETEC, says the adhesive can stick to most surfaces including polymers, inorganic materials and metals.

Chief Executive of IDTechEx, Raghu Das independently comments, ‘It would certainly impact the commercialisation of some printed electronics devices,’ in particular longer life devices, such as organic light-emitting diode displays and photovoltaics. However, he also notes that delamination is ‘a lower order priority,’ compared to other challenges, such as the migration of materials from one layer to another, or the development of higher performance, longer life materials and structures.

‘There are a huge number of elements that are used – organic and inorganic – and if this can work across many different types of materials it will be very interesting,’ he adds.

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Ben Roeves