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OLEDS and solar cells to come straight from the printer in future

November 18, 2013 // Paul Buckley

OLEDS and solar cells to come straight from the printer in future

Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP in Potsdam-Golm have been working together with mechanical engineering company MBRAUN to develop a production facility capable of creating OLEDs as well as organic solar cells on an industrial scale.


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The innovation makes it now possible to print OLEDs and solar cells from solutions containing luminescent organic molecules and absorptive molecules respectively, which makes printing them onto a carrier film straightforward. Usually, printing them involves vaporizing small molecules in a high vacuum, making it an expensive process.

Scientists had previously only ever used various printing technologies to design components on a laboratory scale. They can now produce larger sample series and this is advantageous for the applications that feature large illuminated surfaces and information systems that require tailored solutions produced in relatively small numbers.

Were now able to produce organic components under close-to-real-life manufacturing conditions with relative ease. Now for the first time it will be possible to translate new ideas into commercial products, explained Dr. Armin Wedel, head of division at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP.

At the heart of the pilot plant is a robot that controls different printers that basically act like an inkjet printing system. OLEDs are applied to the carrier material one layer at a time using a variety of starting materials. This produces a homogenous surface that creates a perfect lighting layer. Were able to service upscale niche markets by offering tailored solutions, as we can apply the organic electronic system to customers specifications, just like in digital printing, explained Wedel.
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