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Technical Themes

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Areas of expertise

CPI has brought together sophisticated equipment alongside industry experts in key technology areas related to printable electronics, including:

  • Opto Electronics (SSL/PV)

    OLED, organic photovoltaic and light emitting, electro-chemical technologies

    CPI has extensive capability to support the development, scale-up and characterisation of organic light emitting diode (OLED), organic photovoltaic (OPV) and light emitting electrochemical cell applications. Offering a versatile equipment set, CPI allows customers to scale up their products and processes supporting feasibility proof of concept at small scale (100mm), sheet-to-sheet operations at GEN 2 (370x470mm) and roll to roll operations at pilot production scale.

    We can offer you

    • Prototyping, demonstration and scale up capability for optoelectronic devices
    • Material characterisation, device manufacture and test
    • Process route development and integration of manufacturing processes
    • Expertise in solution based slot die coating technologies for R2R scale up
    • Rheological / formulation expertise for optimisation of coating processes
    • Batch, pilot production and R2R process capability

    Proof of Concept

    CPI provides small scale (100-150mm substrate size) glove boxes with spin coating / evaporation technology that supports material and device design feasibilty studies.

    These systems focus on quick turnaround, proof of concept studies where the onus is on understanding the material and electrical characteristics, thereby aiding development of the device structure by speeding up process development and aid troubleshooting. The systems are typically manually loaded by the operator and are situated in a Class 1000 clean room environment.

    Pilot Production

    In order to scale up an optimised material set or device design, CPI offers an OLED/OPV prototyping line situated in a Class 100 clean room environment. Here the emphasis is on ensuring optimised manufacturing protocols. Substrates are transferred within dedicated processing cassettes with manual intervention kept to a minimum. Minimising defectivity within an OLED/OPV structure is a pre-requisite in guaranteeing device yield as the technology scales up to larger substrate sizes. A typical lighting structure can consist of 8-10 layers with layer thicknesses of < 50nm. CPI’s pilot prouction scale system is dedicated to processing both air sensitive and non air sensitive material sets for the production of devices on substrates up to 200mm2. The tool can accommodate the processing of both small molecule and solution based polymer materials and includes both slot die and spin coating techniques. Evaporation technology provides both inorganic cathode and organic small molecule capability. Device performance and lifetime are enhanced by the use of a dedicated encapsulation module to apply getters and adhesives. Fully automated robotic control, cassette to cassette handling and HEPA filtered laminar flow modules provide a unique environment to support high yield, low defect device production.

    The high resolution wide area line also has the ability to handle substrates of size 8 inch, 12 inch and GEN 2 scale (370mm x 470mm) The pilot line features sputter, dry etch, wet etch and cleaning capability and provides the ability to produce high quality lighting devices at pilot-production scale.

    Roll to Roll Production

    CPI also provides further scale up capability in the form of a 300mm web roll to roll coater for the printing of a range of organic material sets. The system comprises of both slot die and screen printing capabilities, with options to upgrade to 500mm web width and to incorporate other printing techniques such as reverse gravure.

    The roll to roll machine houses a complementary encapsulation module, configured to allow the organic devices manufactured within the coater to be laminated with a barrier film. The tool provides protection to the device from water and oxygen ingress, both of which are known to be detrimental to device performance and lifetime.

  • Barrier and Vacuum Encapsulation

    High performance large area coatings and processes

    CPI has extensive experience in the deposition and characterisation of barrier layers. We offer access to a wide variety of thin-film deposition systems including batch and roll to roll atomic layer deposition (ALD), roll to roll sputtering and also a range of other sputtering and vacuum coating technologies.

    CPI is engaged in a wide range of projects initially focussing on thin-film barrier technology for long-lasting and efficient flexible electronic devices. Further developments, up to pilot scale, are targeted in printable electronics applications in the display, photovoltaics, lighting and sensor fields with both rigid and flexible substrates utilising batch and processing techniques.

    CPI’s equipment includes

    • Roll to roll atomic layer deposition
    • Batch atomic layer deposition
    • Pilot scale roll to roll sputtering
    • In-line and batch sputtering
    • In-line HiTUS sputtering coater (low ion energy bombardment during film growth)
    • Analysis, characterisation and metrology

    CPI can offer:

    • Access to a wide variety of thin-film deposition systems
    • Industry experts in a wide range of vacuum processing and deposition technologies
    • Expertise in combining vacuum coatings with more conventional coating technologies
    • Expertise in a wide range of applications, including barrier and other coatings for application in printed electronics, optical, photovoltaic and other applications
    • Access to a network of coating support and analytical capabilities, including barrier permeation characterisation
  • Integrated Electronic Systems

    Combining the benefits of conventional and printable electronics

    The Internet of Things promises to be one of the most revolutionary transformations in technology since the emergence of the Internet, with predictions indicating that more than 50 billion devices will be connected by 2020.The commercialisation of associated applications requires devices which combine sensing, energy source, processing power and communications with a thin, flexible form factor.

    This is best achieved by integrated smart systems; adopting a hybrid approach where the processing power of conventional electronics is combined with the form factor and cost benefits of printable electronics. The manufacture of such devices requires a mix of capability such as placement techniques; adhesion, connectivity and encapsulation, all of which are housed at CPI.

    CPI’s open access facilities and knowledge allows clients to test, develop and scale up a range of intelligent devices including smart labels, intelligent ticketing, printed switching, printed sensing, smart packaging and also wireless based applications such as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and Near-Field Communication (NFC).

    Working with CPI companies can develop their specific applications from initial device design, right through to the pilot production volumes needed for market testing and investment purposes.

    CPI’s Capability

    CPI operates a reel-to-reel Nilpeter printing press which has the capability to perform flexo, gravure, offset litho and rotary screen printing processes alongside cut/crease operations and pick and place technology. The custom-built, multi-process narrow web Nilpeter press is available for development work, prototyping, scale-up and pilot production. It provides a test bed to allow clients to develop intelligent print for a variety of applications such as labels, switches and sensors, flexible packaging and near field communication.

    In addition, access to CPI’s team of experienced printers, scientists, engineers and commercial experts can provide specialist support to de-risk the process of taking commercial ventures to market. CPI has extensive formulations capability allowing clients to develop products and processes quickly and cost effectively with minimal risk before moving towards manufacturing scale. This current capability is being used on projects such as REMEDIES, Silent Sensors and Emerging Electronics.

    Rapid Prototyping of Flexible Copper Circuits with Inkjet Flex®

    CPI’s Inkjet Flex® is a two-stage print and plate process that enables copper to be printed onto PET substrates. The technology is applicable for a range of applications including printed antennae, sensors, electrodes, flexible pcbs and other components suitable for machine to machine communication devices.

    The Inkjet Flex® capability allows clients to upload their copper based circuit designs and rapidly turn these designs into printed prototypes for initial feasibility and new product development work. Inkjet Flex® is capable of producing copper features on flexible PET film (clear and opaque) using a continuous roll to roll printing and plating process. CPI can offer • Prototyping, demonstration and scale-up of RFID, NFC, smart packaging, labelling and machine to machine communication devices • Testing, validation and optimisation of speciality inks: surface roughness, conductivity, scratch resistance, adhesion, sintering and high magnification microscopy • Substrate evaluation • Formulations and analytical capability • Incubator space

    Markets

    CPI’s expertise in printable electronics can be applied to a range of market applications, which have the potential for significant impact on the future of manufacturing in the UK.

    CPI focuses on the integration and manufacturing of new innovative electronic devices, developing the technologies that will drive the manufacturing process forward. The printing of electronic functionality opens up a host of design opportunities and will lead to the creation of a range of future electronic applications in key market sectors.

  • Thin Film Transistors and Sensors

    Driving flexible electronic devices

    CPI has significant experience of working with clients to formulate a wide range of functional inks for printable electronics applications including sensors and organic thin film transistors; and using electronic materials, from graphene and carbon nanotubes to bio-materials and organic semiconductors.

    Working with CPI, companies can develop and characterise new ink formulations applicable for a number of printing techniques such as inkjet and aerosol jet, gravure, flexographic, offset lithographic and screen. We combine expertise in chemistry and device physics with advanced processing knowledge to produce optimal performance and stability from organic electronic device applications. CPI can also help to develop inks suitable for slot die and spin coating allowing companies to quickly scale up and integrate their new inks into a range of electronic products.

    Our facility is conveniently collocated with CPI’s National Formulation and Graphene Application Centres, bringing together a multi-partner network that spans key knowledge partners and SME innovation enablers and providing industry-trained experts and open-access facilities to companies to develop and scale up advanced formulated products. By utilising our underpinning dispersion technologies, CPI provides the capability and experience to help companies to produce stable formulations that are suitable to scale up from the lab and into printed electronics based applications at pilot production scale. In addition, we can also help companies to select and optimise solvent systems, surfactants and resins.

    CPI can offer:

    -Evaluation and development of inks for printed electronics applications -Materials formulation development

    • High resolution patterning and process development for displays
    • Device design expertise
    • Analytical capability
    • Incubator space