Latest Research is Key Focus at PE Conferences

By David Savastano

There has been much talk about the potential for printed electronics (PE), but the ultimate success of PE will occur when the so-called “killer applications” come to fruition. We have already seen good opportunities come forward – eReaders and thin-film photovoltaics (PV) come to mind – but there needs to be more development coming through the pipeline.

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
As I noted in a recent article (“Universities are Playing a Major Role in PE”), companies are not the only innovators in the printed electronics (PE) space. In fact, much of the innovation that we see today came from universities. Some of the work being done today at the university level will become the start-ups of tomorrow.

For the nascent PE industry, there are two major conferences held in Germany this spring. Printed Electronics Europe 2010 was recently held in Dresden; LOPE-C will be held in Frankfurt from May 31 to June 2. Both conferences feature numerous talks by university officials discussing their recent research efforts; LOPE-C includes two peer-reviewed tracks featuring recent research efforts, which are highlighted below.

Printed RFID

Printed Electronics Europe 2010, held by IDTechEx, featured a wide range of talks from university and research officials.

On the subject of printed RFID, Prof. Chang Hee Lee of Seoul National University, Korea, discussed "UHF Antenna and High-Frequency Rectifiers." He noted the potential use of ZnO: film as exhibiting high performances in thin film transistors and diodes.

Prof. Gyou-Jin Cho of Sunchon National University, Korea, also tackled the area of printed RFID in his talk on "Roll-to-Roll Printed 13.56 MHz Operated 16-Bit RFID Tags and Smart RF Logos." Prof. Cho demonstrated the use of printed 16-bit radio frequency circuit using roll-to-roll gravure printing, which could be a significant opportunity.

Along those lines, Prof. Edgar Dörsam of the Technische Universität Darmstadt, Germany spoke of the possibilities of "Flexography for Functional Printing," and how flexo can be used to print PE.

Prof. Kee Hyun Shin, director of FDRC & e-Printing Cluster, Department of Mechanical Engineering at Konkuk University in Seoul, Korea, discussed "Matching Technology for the R2R Printed Electronics." His work centers on developing matching logic for printed RFID tags produced in roll-to-roll systems utilizing gravure and gravure offset.

Prof. David Britton, associate professor - Department of Physics at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, talked about "Printed Silicon in Electronics." Prof. Britton utilizes screenprinting with water-based acrylic inks to create his printed silicon systems, which appears to be a promising approach.

Printed Displays

The display business is promising, and university officials offered insights into their work. Prof.Vladimir Chigrinov of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology examined the topic of "Flexible LCD E-paper." Prof. Chigrinov noted that there is flexible LCD technology is rapidly developing, although it is not yet commercialized, and spoke of the advantages of using roll-to-roll technology for optically rewritable (ORW) paper.

“Optical writing and erasing e-paper is a valuable contribution to the green technology,” he concluded.

Dr. Flora Li, Research Associate at Cambridge University’s Department of Engineering, discussed "Advances in Zinc Oxide-Based Transparent TFTs Produced at Low Temperature." Dr. Li showed how the rise of metal oxide electronics is driving transparent solar cells, displays and sensors, as weel as the growing opportunities for these technologies going forward.

Printed Batteries

The field of printed batteries offers strong potential, as flexible power sources can easily take the place of coin cell batteries in many applications at a much lower cost basis. Two university presenters offered research on the issue.

Dr. Albert Mihranyan, researcher from Uppsala University, Sweden, presented "Salt and Paper Battery." Their idea is to create batteries made from cellulose, which is the most abundant polymer on Earth, found in algae, plants, bacteria and fungi. Uppsala researchers are working on creating paper-based batteries utilizing cellulose.

Prof. Gunter Huebner of Hochschule der Medien, Stuttgart, Germany, analyzed "Printed Primary and Secondary Batteries." Prof. Huebner discussed the potential of printing batteries, focusing primarily on nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) materials.

In the field of energy harvesting, Dr. Steve Beeby of the University of Southampton, UK, discussed "Screen-Printed Piezoelectric Films for Energy Harvesting." Dr. Beeby demonstrated a vibration energy harvesting generator fabricated solely by screen printing on a stainless steel substrate.


The field of PV could indeed be the largest area for PE, and universities are very involved in research.

Prof. Chan Im, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry at Konkuk University, Korea, discussed “R&D Activities for Next Generation Solar Cells (DSSC and OPV) in Korea.” Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSC) and organic photovoltaics (OPV) are new technologies that can utilize printing, and spoke of the university’s collaboration with Fraunhofer ISE of roll-to-roll solar cell technology.

Dr. Moritz Riede, head of the organic solar cell group at the Institut für Angewandte Photophysik (IAPP) at TU Dresden, spoke about the potential of "Organic Tandem Solar Cells."

Prof. Juan Bisquert of Universitat Jaume I, Spain, presented his talk on "Optimizing the Performance of Sensitized Solar Cells.” He focused on DSSC technology, and approaches to attain higher photovoltage.


Large-area, Organic and Printed Electronics Convention, or LOPE-C, is the official annual conference and exhibition of the Organic Electronics Association (OE-A). LOPE-C also has an impressive array of university leaders on hand at its conference, as it includes two peer-reviewed tracks.

Among the scheduled speakers are:

• Prof. Vivek Subramanian, University of California, who will give a keynote talk on “Printed Electronics: Where are We, and Where are We Going?”

• Prof. Reinhard Baumann, Technische Universität Chemnitz, Fraunhofer ENAS, Germany – “Printed Smart Objects: Energy and Communication Considerations.”

• Prof. Ulrich S. Schubert, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität, Jena, Germany –
“Synthesis and Inkjet Printing of Functional Materials for Plastic Electronics.”

• Rungrot Kitsomboonloha, University of California, Berkley, US – “Highly-Scale Gravure-Printed PBTTT Organic Field-Effect Transistors: Device Characteristics and Bias Stability Analysis.”

•Minhun Jung, Sunchon National University, South Korea – “R2R Printed Logic Circuits using Single Wall Carbon Nanotube Thin-Film Transistor (SWNT-TFT) on PET Foils.”

• Nenad Marjanovic, TU Chemnitz, Germany – “Printed Oxide Electronics.”

• Teymur Bakhishev, University of California, Berkeley, US – “Solution-Processed Non-Volatile Filament Memory Based on ZnO Nanoparticle Films.”

• Dr. Danick Briand, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Switzerland – “Mechanical and Electrical Characterization of Platinum Lines used in Sensing Devices on Polyimide Foil.”

• Ali Kemal Havare, Ege University/Solary Energy Institute, Turkey – “Modification of ITO Surface with Self-Assembled Monolayer (SAM) Technique for Organic LED Applications.”

• Huai-Yuan Tseng, University of California, Berkeley, US – “Downscaling of all Inkjet-Printed, Fully Self-Aligned Organic Circuits.”

• Dan Soltman, University of California, Berkeley, US –  “Methodology for Two Dimensional Pattern Generation in Inkjet Printing

• Dr. Thomas Blaudeck, TU Chemnitz, Germany – “Evaporation-Assisted Self-Assembly of Functional Layers Upon Inkjet Printing.” 

• Dr. Jolke Perelaer, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Laboratory of Organic and Macromolecular Chemistry, Germany – “Microwave Flash Sintering of Inkjet Printed Silver Tracks.”

• Dr. Marie-Beatrice Madec, University of Manchester OMIC, UK – “Optimising the Properties of TIPS-Pentacene: Polystyrene Thin Film Transistors by Inkjet Printing.”

• Prof. Jin-Woo Park, Yonsei University, Division of Materials Science and Engineering, South Korea – “The Effect of Inserting Ti Interlayers on Internal Stresses and Microstructures of ITO Coatings on Polymeric Substrates.”

• Klaus Villforth, Technische Universität Darmstadt, Germany – “Smart Labels - Recycling Strategy and a Recyclability Assessment.”

• Prof. Shlomo Magdassi, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel – “Low Cost Metallic Nanoparticles and Inkjet Printing of Conductive Patterns.”

• Prof. Dr. Lieva Van Langenhove, Ghent University, Belgium – “Potential and Challenges of Smart Textiles.”

• Prof. Gyoujin Cho, Sunchon National University, Dept. of Chemical Engineering, South Korea – “Roll to Roll Printed 13.56 MHz Operated 16-Bit RFID Tags and RF Logos.”

• Prof. Henning Sirringhaus, University Cambridge, Hitachi Professor of Electron Device Physics, FRS, UK – “Organic Field Effect Transistors for Flexible Electronics.”

• Prof. Sunglim Ko, FDRC, University Konkuk, Vice Director, South Korea – “Matching Technology for R2R Printed Electronics.”

• Dr. Johann Bouclé, University of Limoges/CNRS, Institute XLIM, France – “Laser Pyrolysis for Up-Scaling the Porous TiO2 Photocathodes in Nanocrystalline Solid-State Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells.”

• Dr. Jinsoo Noh, Sunchon National University, South Korea – “Single Walled Carbon Nanotube (SWCNT)-Based Thin Film Transistor Using Roll-to-Roll Gravure.”

• Dr. Hans Martin Sauer, Technische Universität Darmstadt Institute of Printed Science and Technology, Germany – “An Investigation of the Screen Printing Process for Electroluminescent Panels and the Influence of Printing and Operation Parameters on the Performance of the Panels.”

• Nils Bornemann, Technische Universität Darmstadt, Germany – “Thin Film Behavior After Ink Transfer in Printing Processes.”

• Dr. Philippe Delaporte, CNRS-Mediterranean University, France – “Laser Printing of P-Type and N-Type Organic Thin Film Transistors.”

• Özlem Usluer, Ege University/Solary Energy Institute, Turkey – “Organic Light-Emitting Diodes Based on Novel Amorphous Carbazole Dendrimers as HTM.”

• Dr. Mikhail A. Parchine, XIOS University College TIW, Belgium – “Influence of Annealing on Charge Carrier Transport in White Light-Emitting Polymer.”

• Dr. Michal Ciez, Institute of Electron Technology, Poland – “Influence of Phosphor Grains Sizes on Brightness and Life of Electroluminescent Light Sources.”

• Dr. Sung Min Cho, Sungkyunkwan University School of Chemical Engineering, South Korea – “Full Vacuum-Free Fabrication of Large-Area Polymer OLED for Signage and Lighting Applications.”

• Hyun-Kyoo Kang, Konkuk University, South Korea – “Correlation of Two-Dimensional Register in a Multi-Layer R2R Printed Electronics.”

• Prof. Tim C. Claypole, Welsh Centre for Printing and Coating, UK – “Improving the Resolution of the Flexographic Printing Process for R2R Electronics.”

At the end of the day, there is plenty of promising research on PE occurring at the university level that may lead to commercial success in the future.