Electronics & Computers

HTA to Advance Organic Electronics Production

May 8, 2012

The European alliance aims to revolutionize the way printed electronic circuits are made by the developing p- and n-type OTFTs, integrating them with complementary logic, and increasing electronic performance by minimizing critical OTFT dimensions.

DRESDEN, Germany & ESPOO, Finalnd & GRENOBLE, France & NEUCHATEL, Switzerland /BUSINESS WIRE/ -- The Heterogeneous Technology Alliance (HTA), a team of leading European technology institutes (VTT, Fraunhofer, CSEM, and CEA-Leti), announced that it strongly contributes to the development of high-performance organic electronic circuits due to their extensive efforts in processing, circuit design, modeling, and characterization.

So far, the appearance of organic thin-film transistors (OTFTs) and circuits in industrial products has been limited. The main obstacle for substantial market penetration of such organic electronic components has been the inability to achieve the necessary device performance, combined with the necessary high-volume production methods. In response to this, two European Union funded research projects, COSMIC and POLARIC, aim to revolutionize the way printed electronic circuits are made.

One of the key elements making such progress possible is the recent progress in air-stable, printable, n-type semiconductor materials, which have not been previously available. Thus, it is now possible to combine p- and n-type thin-film transistors into complementary logic, which offers many advantages in terms of performance of the printed electronic circuits. The related technology in the silicon-based electronics, complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor, or CMOS, has proven to be very competent in terms of noise and power consumption.

The main target in the COSMIC project is the development of p- and n-type OTFTs and their integration to complementary logic. This adds processing tolerance to organic integrated circuits, improves the noise margins, allows higher complexity, increases yield, and allows lower supply voltage demand. COSMIC will demonstrate an A/D converter coupled with a temperature sensor, showing "for the first time the potential of OTFTs in the sensors and actuator market." A silent authentication tag, comprising a "first organic RF receiver," will also be build to show organic electronics' potential in the field of item-level, secure tracking of goods, using realistic protocols.

The POLARIC project has extensive activities in organic complementary technology development as well. However, the main focus in the project is in increasing the electronic performance by minimizing the critical dimensions of the OTFTs. It is important to do this while maintaining compatibility with high-throughput fabrication methods. The enabling technique here is to apply roll-to-roll-compatible nanoimprint lithography in the transistor fabrication. This high-resolution method will enable smaller transistor channel length (below 1 µm), thereby increasing the performance of the device. The demonstration applications in POLARIC are active matrix liquid displays and radio-frequency identification tags.

High-performing and reliable organic electronic building blocks and manufacturing platforms can be used in all areas of printed electronics—such as sensors, memories, batteries, photovoltaics, lighting, and any combination of these devices—to generate value for the European industry at large.

About the HTA
The Heterogeneous Technology Alliance is a novel approach to creating and developing micro technologies, Nano electronics, and smart systems for next-generation products and solutions. By pooling the capabilities and facilities of CEA-Leti and CEA-Liten, CSEM, Fraunhofer Group for Microelectronics, and VTT, it brings coherence and synergies between leading teams and research infrastructures in the fields of miniaturization and system integration. Operated as a "one-stop-shop" for complete system solutions, HTA guarantees simple access to an enlarged portfolio of technologies, and is structured to facilitate technology transfer to European and international companies. With a combined staff of more than 5000 scientists and a portfolio of more than 3000 patents, HTA is the de facto largest European institute in the field.

Project Participants
The participants in the COSMIC project are Fraunhofer EMFT (coordinator, Germany), Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique (France), IMEC (Belgium), STMicroelectronics SRL (Italy), TNO (Netherlands), Technische Universiteit Eindhoven (Netherlands), Technische Universitat Berlin (Germany), Friendly Technologies LTD (UK), Consiglio Nazionale Delle Ricerche (Italy), Universita di Catania (Italy), Flexink (UK), and Polymervision B.V.

The participants in the POLARIC project are VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland (coordinator, Finland), 3D-Micromac (Germany), AMO (Germany), BASF (Switzerland), CSEM (Switzerland), Cardiff University (UK), Fraunhofer EMFT (Germany), IMEC (Belgium), Imperial College London (UK), Joanneum Research (Austria), micro resist technology (Germany), Obducat Technologies (Sweden), and Asulab, a division of The Swatch Group Research, and Development Ltd. (Switzerland).

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