OLED Commercialisation with MENDIPS
Prior this project there was no consensus within the ‘OLED’ community as to what was the best methodology to enable the manufacture OLED devices in volume. A number of solutions were being proposed and investigated and it was not obvious if a dominant manufacturing platform would emerge.
The market requirements are for OLED devices with high resolution, high efficiency, and several years of operational life. Current manufacturing processes depend on clean room technology (similar to silicon wafer plants) within which manufacturing is done in batch mode, in nitrogen enclosures and vacuum chambers, utilising very expensive chemicals in an inefficient manner. The technology is expensive in terms of both materials and capital costs and has major problems with scale up, as the processes do not easily lend themselves to expansion.
The project evolved considerably during the programme delivery to remain aligned with the wider developments in the OLED industry. When the first application was submitted there was no company within the UK that had any large-scale pilot production capability for the manufacture of POLED or SMOLED devices, with all work being undertaken in development laboratories.
The project designed, procured and commissioned a state of the art pilot line for the production of both small molecule and polymer light emitting device technologies to address the scale up issues that are still central to developing a route to market. The prototyping line can produce OLEDs on both glass and flexible substrates, with built in flexibility for a range of device architectures. Large area OLED demonstrators are currently being developed on the line using a range of processing techniques with the potential to be commercialised via roll to roll production.
As a result of the MENDIPS project, PolyPhotonix has been able to devise a low cost, high volume manufacturing process whereby micron thick OLED devices can be manufactured continuously. The process uses standard plastics industry film making equipment, in a normal factory environment, using low cost OLED chemicals that are readily available and has the potential to completely change the manner in which OLED’s are used and manufactured.