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Displays

Display makers have long been intrigued and excited by the potential of organic TFT (OTFT) to enable the manufacturing of high performance, low cost flexible displays. Interest emerged in the mid 2000’s when performance of organic semiconductors reached levels similar to amorphous silicon (a-Si), the dominant display TFT backplane technology. Sony’s first ever flexible OLED panel demonstrated in 2007 used an OTFT backplane.


But the technology remained mostly a science project until 2009, when start up Plastic Logic entered volume manufacturing of flexible electrophoretic displays based on OTFT.

Since then, organic semiconductor material developers such as Merck, BASF, SmartKem, Neudrive and many others have worked tirelessly to improve their material toolboxes and develop turnkey processes. In collaboration with display makers, the effort aimed at making OTFT compatible with the existing display manufacturing infrastructure, enabling the retrofit of existing fab with the new plastic-based, low temperature TFT process with minimal capital expenditure.

The technology now seems to be at a pivotal moment, with LCD display makers getting close to commercialization of OTFT based conformable displays for various applications such as automotive, wearables, home appliances or signage. In a July 31st press release, Flexenable, a company which focuses on developing a broad and robust organic TFT technology platform, announced a technology transfer agreement, with China-based display maker Truly to bring Flexenable Organic LCD (OLCD) technology into mass production on Truly’s lines within 2018. The OLCD platform includes Flexenable organic TFT technology and flexible LC cells enabled by new developments at leading liquid crystal supplier Merck. The “polymer walls” stabilize the gap in the LC cell when the display is bent to radius as low as 20 mm.

Prior to the Flexenable-Truly announcement, OTFT material and technology developer SmartKem revealed in June that a leading display maker has committed to dedicate a Gen 3.5 LCD TFT line to organic TFT manufacturing. At the same time, the company announced it had finalized a Gen 2.5 industrial grade process for the mass production of OTFT backplanes on large area glass or plastic at one of its Asian customer which is now preparing to enter volume production within the next 12-18 months.

Those announcements are a turning point for organic semiconductors with the promise of high volume consumer applications potentially materializing in the very near future. This stepping stone could enable further development: as performance keep improving, OTFT could be used to manufacture highly flexible OLED displays at a fraction of the cost of current plastic OLED. OTFT could also replace a-Si in larger displays such as TVs, with the higher mobility and stability enabling the manufacturing of high performance 8K displays without having to deploy more complex and expensive technologies such as oxide TFT.

Yole Développement’s Organic Thin Film Transistor 2016: Flexible Displays and Other Applications report features detailed presentation of OTFT technology, current status and roadmaps, comparisons with other flexible TFT, SWOT analysis for 13 display applications segments, various adoption scenario with associated volume and revenue forecast as well as a detailed overview of the industry landscape and key players.

OTFT YOLE

(Source: Organic Thin Film Transistor 2016: Flexible Displays and Other Applications, Yole Développement, Oct. 2016)

Source: www.yole.fr 

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