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HiBPE Project Develops High Performing Barrier Material

23 Mar 2016

High Barrier Performance for Plastic Electronics HiBPE’ was a collaborative research and development project which focused on developing a high performance barrier material for flexible photovoltaic (PV) and organic light emitting diode (OLED) applications. The three year Innovate UK project ran from April 2013 to February 2016 and brought together technology developers CPI and Specific, alongside technology provider Camvac and end users Inside2Outside, G24 Power Ltd and Tata Steel.

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The flexible, lightweight and low cost nature of photovoltaic and OLED devices is attractive for a number of future applications in the built environment, such as lighting, solar power generation, and industrial roofing. However the technology is not yet in the mass market as developmental progress is needed to produce OLED and PV devices at the price points, manufacturing volumes, and cell efficiency requirements that industry desires.

The aim of the HiBPE project was to develop a high performance barrier material for OLED and PV which would increase the lifetime of these devices and help bring these new innovative technologies to market. The development of OLED and PV with flexible form factors opens up a host of opportunities for designers to embed energy harvesting and added functionality into their products.

Project Achievements

The project produced a robust, high quality barrier film with a water vapour transmission rate of 10 – 4 g/​m2/​day and at a price lower than the films currently available on the market. The barrier film was made using CPI’s roll to roll atomic layer deposition (ALD) technologies and tested on flexible OLED and PV devices at pilot production scale.

Another key achievement of the project was the successful adaptation of Camvac’s patented In-Vacuo-Coating system, used in its non-electronics’ commercial business e.g. food packaging, to the more demanding barrier applications required in flexible electronics such as OLED and PV.

CPI’s role in the project was to utilise roll to roll ALD techniques to produce the barrier film. ALD is a specialist barrier coating technique which is being utilised by CPI to add protective layers to flexible polymer substrates and devices.

Films deposited by ALD give ultra-barrier levels of protection against the ingress of moisture and oxygen, to flexible substrates that are used in the production of optoelectronic devices amongst other applications. ALD has the potential to deliver a single layer coating which is both highly dense and conformal, giving rise to excellent barrier performance. This barrier film produced in HiBPE was tested on photovoltaic and OLED devices, with G24 Power making the photovoltaic devices, and CPI producing the flexible OLED device.