Functionalized and curved surfaces made of glass or plastic, rollable displays, high-quality bended surfaces for architecture or interior design in automotive or luxury furniture sector – flexible materials with integrated functionalities are not just a technological trend but capture markets already. Pioneering ideas like fully featured, curved and high-class panels in cars or a touch remote control within the armrest of a design chair are close at hand. All these features could be sealed with haptic comfortable, scratch-resistant and anti-reflective glass.
A fundamental prerequisite for such applications is a suitable and flexible substrate material, which needs to fulfill appropriate characteristics and requirements. Flexible, ultra-thin glass offers the ideal basis for printed electronic devices. Flexible electronic devices need to be protected against water and oxygen in a reliable way. Glass offers that protection, but in certain applications glass may not be used due to technical or regulatory limitations.
Since 2015, Fraunhofer FEP is acting as a competence center for flexible glass, and ultra-thin glass can now be processed right from the roll. Resulting from this, a full 100 meters roll of flexible thin glass has been processed with highly conductive ITO completely with roll-to-roll technology together with long-term collaborator Corning Incorporated. These results have been achieved on the FOSA LabX 330 Roll-to-Roll Thin Glass Coating line.
“This paves the way for coatings on flexible glass as a substrate, which can directly be implemented into applications,” said Dr. Manuela Junghähnel, coordinator of all thin-glass activities at Fraunhofer FEP.