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Fraunhofer ready for continuous roll-to-roll processing on flexible thin glass

Technology News |
By Julien Happich


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. Especially for those applications and devices flexible barrier films are the solution to be used. Both ultra-thin glass and permeation barrier films require a broad technical know-how and particularly adjusted processes and technologies for successful processing and coating.

Fraunhofer FEP, a leading research partner for surface treatment and vacuum coating as well as the deposition of organic electronics on flexible substrates, has been extending and improving its expertise in the field of roll-to-roll process development and since 2015, Fraunhofer FEP has been acting as a competence centre for flexible glass.

Ultra-thin glass can now be processed right from the roll and in partnership with Corning Incorporated, the research centre has just processed a full 100m roll of flexible thin glass with highly conductive ITO. This was achieved on the institute’s FOSA LabX 330 Roll-to-Roll Thin Glass Coating line put into operation recently. The full 100m of flexible glass were coated at a process temperature of 350°C without any defects.


“This paves the way for coatings on flexible glass as a substrate, which can directly be implemented into applications”, says Dr. Manuela Junghähnel, coordinator of all thin-glass activities at Fraunhofer FEP.
Outstanding progress has been made in large-area roll-to-roll manufacturing technology for barrier films, as well. Dr. John Fahlteich, research group leader at Fraunhofer FEP explains the latest results: “Following an upgrade of the coating line coFlex® 600 we succeeded to produce a functionalized plastic web consisting of a permeation barrier and a transparent electrode with a defect density under 1 cm-2 without operating in a complex and expensive clean room environment. The functional film has a surface sheet resistance of under 12 Ω. Such specifications are ideal for the use and integration in flexible OLED sheets or as a substrate for flexible solar cells.”

Another positive side effect is an increase of the process reliability and high yield in pilot scale. Especially for further applications like high quality packaging foils, membranes and for printed electronics these effects are resulting in a significant cost reduction and increase of the performance.

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP – www.fep.fraunhofer.de
Corning Incorporated – www.corning.com

 

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