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Flexible glass for flexible electronics

, SCHOTT AG

The three technology companies SCHOTT AG, tesa SE and VON ARDENNE GmbH have joined together in the consortial project KONFEKT to drive forward the development of ultra-thin glass on roll for use in such application fields as organic electronics, with initial emphasis on the production of future generations of OLED applications. The goal of the consortium is to refine windable glass through lamination with functional adhesive tapes and by applying special functional layers. This will hopefully result in a process-ready rolled substrate that offers unique properties for many applications. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is supporting this development for a period of three years with a total of 5.6 million Euros.

The three partner companies in the research consortium KONFEKT (thin glass for glass-polymer laminates), SCHOTT, tesa and VON ARDENNE, are focusing on two features of thin glass: The first subproject features the development of a laminate made of ultra-thin glass with a barrier adhesive tape that will serve as a hermetic encapsulation of electronic components. The second subproject will center on ways that ultra-thin glass can serve as a functional substrate for demanding applications, such as components for organic electronics.

In subproject one, SCHOTT and tesa are working to protect sensitive electronic components such as OLEDs (organic light-emitting diodes) from humidity and oxygen by using ultra-thin glass. Reliable encapsulation will protect the sensitive components from aging. Flexible glass is well suited as a top ultra-barrier (z barrier) because it forms a chemically impermeable layer that is impenetrable to water vapor and oxygen, even at a thickness of 10 micrometers, and does not feature pinholes.

tesa’s expertise as a developer of specialty adhesive tapes comes into play in lateral sealing. The ultra-thin glass will be delivered to the user laminated with a special adhesive layer. This adhesive layer ensures that the components are not only sealed hermetically by the glass on their surface, but also experience no lateral diffusion of liquids and gases (x/y barrier).

The combination of the two high-tech materials specialty glass and barrier tape provides complete protection, thanks to the functional x/y/z barrier. This roll application will provide processing companies with a high-quality and cost-effective sealing process.

In the second subproject, the equipment manufacturer VON ARDENNE is developing a vacuum coating system specifically for roll-to-roll (R2R) coating of flexible glasses that will meet the special handling requirements of such glasses. Thin glass can thus be used as a functional substrate in sophisticated electronic applications. For example, a conductive TCO layer (transparent conductive oxide) such as ITO (indium tin oxide) is applied in a special vacuum-based PVD coating process (physical vapor deposition) in the same manner as in the manufacture of OLEDs or (organic) photovoltaic cells.

“We expect the consortium to play an important role in the next three years in the development of a new production platform based on glass on roll for innovative use in manufacturing electronic components,” says Dr. Ruediger Sprengard, Director of Business Development for Ultra-Thin Glass at SCHOTT.

, SCHOTT AG

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